It seems bizarre that marijuana has only recently gained some acceptance in this country of ours. For most of our lives it’s been illegal, the purview of teenage drug dealers with crappy mustaches, and yet in just the last few years states have started legalizing it, and making some serious bank as a result. One assumes we’re not far off from a Starbucks-like franchise, filled with all your favorite kind buds. The weird thing is, going off of movies, you never would have known weed was somehow frowned upon. Sure, it may have been illegal, but pot has inspired countless comedies that took it about as seriously as a pie to the face. For the young stoners of the last few decades, that must have been a welcome relief, to see their red-eyed doppelgangers up on the big screen. Or maybe they didn’t even notice. They were stoned, after all. Here are just a few of our favorite stoner comedies, which always give a giggle fit, whether we’re high or just high on life.
10. Smiley Face
Gregg Araki’s Smiley Face may not be the most famous stoner comedy, but it just might be the most silly. The premise is simple: Anna Farris, who always seems a bit baked to begin with, accidentally consumes her roommate’s pot cupcakes, right before setting off on an incredibly busy day. With a murderer’s row of cameos from the likes of Brian Posehn and Danny Trejo popping up, there’s always something to keep your attention, but the real star of the show is Ms. Farris. Whether she’s devouring Sun Chips or fighting to save her pricey mattress, the Scary Movie star is a natural when it comes to playing high off her behind. There isn’t much to this trifle of a movie, but then again, have you ever tried watching it…on weed?!
9. How High
From Animal House to Legally Blonde, you can’t go wrong throwing a bunch of slobs and dummies onto a college campus and letting them tear it up. How High is rap icons Method Man and Redman’s spin on the genre, going full Cheech and Chong in this fried fish out of water comedy. Let’s be clear, this movie isn’t just dumb; it is gleefully stupid in the best possible sense. The premise involves a type of weed that summons a ghost, who helps the East Coast rappers cheat on their THCs, a version of the SATs. (THCS! Get it????) This leads our stoned protagonists to enroll at Harvard, and proceed to turn the school upside-down. Whether they’re getting barnyard animals blotto’d, helping dorky classmates learn how to party, or driving the school’s administration batty, these Wu Tang alums take a tired formula and reinvent it with their lowbrow charm. If you’re a fan of college comedies, hip-hop or just getting toasted, there’s something for the stoner in all of us here.
8. Pineapple Express
James Franco and Seth Rogen got their start playing stoner friends on the much beloved sitcom Freaks and Geeks. Judging by this movie, they really took their roles to heart. Reunited in a movie co-written by Rogen, the two play burnouts on the run after witnessing a murder. Sort of like a Midnight Run for the medical marijuana generation, the two movie stars have no trouble playing blazed. They must just be really good at acting, right?
7. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
With a premise that any stoner can relate to, Harold and Kumar launched a franchise by getting a wicked case of the munchies. Any trip to the store can feel like an adventure after smoking a spliff, but for these two stoners, the adventure was real, compete with a Freakshow foursome, a baked cheetah, and a psychotic Neil Patrick Harris. With the best product placement of all time, this movie makes us crave a joint and a burger every time we watch it.
6. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Everyone was getting stoned or laid in Fast Times at Ridegemont High, THE classic high school comedy of the ’80s. Still, for our money, if we’re talking potheads, there’s only one character worth mentioning. Jeff Spicoli was the stoner we wanted to be when we grow up. Living life like a waking dream, Spicoli knew that pizza cravings wait for no man. That’s why he had one delivered in the middle of class. Sean Penn would never again play such a comedic character, but his riff on the ultimate ’80s burnout was an all-timer, helping propel a generation of kids to take a toke. All Spicoli needed were some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and he was fine. That is called living the dream.
5. Half Baked
Before Dave Chappelle fled to Africa, before he became a household name, before he created one of the most influential sketch shows of the 21st century, he was the brains behind this cult comedy, about a group of dopey friends who decided to sell weed to raise some cash for their friend’s bail. A Day-Glo colored walk through the mid-’90s marijuana scene, Chappelle and company created a real love letter to getting high.
4. Up in Smoke
Before there was Seth Rogen and Dave Chappelle, there were Cheech and Chong, the granddaddies of counter culture cannabis comedy. From their humble roots on the stages of Southern California, the duo parlayed their cult status into a feature film, 1978’s Up In Smoke. No one had ever seen anything like it. A riff on Abbot and Costello, if they were stoned doofuses, the comedy duo tapped into a burgeoning vein in the American psyche and rode it to superstardom. Up In Smoke is the first, best glimpse at what the two could do with a film budget and some kind bud.
3. Dazed and Confused
For teenagers in the ’90s, there was no better example of the life they were living than this ode to the teenagers of a different era. Nostalgia aside, this Richard Linklater classic nailed the trials and tribulations of growing up. With a diverse cast of burnouts and weirdoes, Dazed and Confused showed a real world, full of sexual longing, extreme neurosis, and lots and lots of weed. Everyone knew a kid like Slater, the good-natured stoner who got along with everyone and was going nowhere. Hell, most of us bought our weed from him.
Like a bookend to Ice Cube’s Boyz n the Hood, this comedy riff on getting high in the hood was a smash when it came out in 1995, and is largely responsible for introducing the world to Chris Tucker (for better or worse). Director F. Gary Gray had worked with Cube before, directing the video for “It Was A Good Day.” This reunion sees them explore another good day in the hood, where two friends go on a mad dash for money, ladies and a good buzz.
1. The Big Lebowski
Our favorite stoner character of all time, although granted, that’s just like our opinion, man. Jeff “the Dude” Lebowski is not having a good day, but that doesn’t mean he can’t keep his buzz going, and just try to roll with the punches. (Sometimes literally.) Whether he’s getting tossed out of Malibu, attacked by nihilists or hallucinating the best bowling game ever, as long as Donny would shut up, there isn’t a day we’d rather spend with him.
Spend 4/20 with IFC’s Hit Movie marathon.