Sure you’ve watched Moana, but have you watched the crab scene….on weed? When it comes to “stoner films,” you can make the case that just about any movie is a stoner film if it reaches its full potential if you’re watching it stoned.
But what about comedies that are specifically about weed? That put marijuana front and center and passed the jokes around? We put together a list of our 10 favorite stoner comedies and you’re welcome to pitch in too.
Friends, let us start in the days of yore, when carrying weed, much less making a movie about it, was asking for trouble. Cheech and Chong’s ode to marijuana “Up in Smoke” was a runaway hit when it premiered in 1978, making tons of legal money and birthing an entire film genre.
What’s it about? Two stoners wasting time, smoking weed, getting deported to Mexico, running from the cops, and winning a “battle of the bands” contest.
The movie showed how lucrative (and harmless) marijuana comedy could be and inspired all types of imitators over the decades to come, as well as several forgettable sequels. Regardless, Up in Smoke remains a classic, man.
“I’ma get you high today” “Bye, Felicia!” “hey, smokey back here takin’ a shit” – few stoner movies are more quotable than Friday, which turned the hood movie genre on its head with a look at a day in the life of two friends in South Central, Los Angeles.
The day after Craig was fired (on his day off), he kills time on his front porch with his best friend Smokey, who gets him high for the first time. Emerging from the weed smoke, Craig and Smokey survive a drive-by shooting, avoid and vanquish a neighborhood bully (who “got knocked the fuck out”) and give us a timeless stoner classic about just how much can actually happen between Thursday and Saturday.
We could get into the plot of How High, but what’s perhaps most important is that at some point in the movie, Method Man and Redman smoke the remains of U.S. President John Quincy Adams so they can stay enrolled in Harvard.
It’s the duo’s most famous work besides the Blackout! albums and their promotional ads for St. Ide’s malt liquor, and it portrays our heroes as two stoners who make their way into Harvard after a dead friend’s ghost gives them the answers to an entrance exam. In the years to come, Method Man would become a prolific actor in his own right, while Redman would star in the greatest episode of Cribs in history and remain an idol of hip hop heads worldwide. We’ll always have a soft spot for How High though.
If you live in a state with recreational dispensaries perhaps you don’t remember that feeling of buying weed from an actual dealer. They’re not quite your friend – definitely not an enemy – and if you’re buying weed, you need to budget at least 30 mins or so for small talk, maybe even smoking a cross joint. And as long as you’re not a dick, you probably won’t get sold the snicklefritz.
2008’s Pineapple Express depicted this interaction perfectly, in a hilarious scene between Seth Rogen and his bubbe-loving dealer played by James Franco, who over the next hour and a half or so have to flee from their lives from murderous [not funny] drug dealers.
The movie breathed new life into the stoner film genre when it was released, and produced one of our favorite, and most unique on-screen friendships.
Magellan, Marco Polo, Ponce de Leon, stoners looking for a very particular type of fast food — history is full of tales of adventure and exploration, including that of Harold and Kumar.
In this 2004 classic, two stoners get high and drive to White Castle, and all types of shit ensues. By the time they find those little tiny burgers, they get bitten by a raccoon, get thrown in jail, get invited into an orgy by a guy covered in boils, and reignite the career of Neil Patrick Harris.
Have you ever seen Dazed and Confused? Because it’d be a lot cooler if you did. This 1993 classic follows the last day of school antics of a bunch of central Texas teens in 1976. Their keg party gets busted, they launch another one (at the moontower), drive aimlessly in one badass muscle car after another, and smoke endless weed.
It’s a classic coming of age movie that is very much set in the mid-70s but feels so familiar even if you were only in high school a few decades later. The film is also notable for launching the careers of a pretty insane list of actors, including Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Zellwegger, Parker Posey, Milla Jovovich, Adam Goldberg, and a bunch of others who should have made it big but didn’t (looking at you, Wiley Wiggins). It’s a stoner film – and stoner soundtrack – for the ages.
Who among us has not almost killed a police horse by accident? An accidental equine capital murder launches an adventure for four lifelong friends and potheads in this 1998 stoner comedy classic, which sees a still not extremely famous Dave Chapelle alongside Jim Breuer, Guillermo Diaz, and a cast of cameos including Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, Jon Stewart, Tracy Morgan, and Bob Saget as a cocaine addict who’s done some things he’s not proud of to pay for his habit.
Like many a stoner flick, at the heart of the plot is a confidential, super-potent strain of marijuana made in a laboratory, which would appear to hold the keys to deliverance for the protagonists. Also like many a stoner flick, it was panned by critics and audiences alike, though it has lived on as a beloved cult film.
Kevin Smith looks like how a lot of us feel when we’re high, and Jay (Jason Mewes), looks like how we think the world sees us when we’re really paranoid. In 2001, Smith decided to give the breakout stars (in our book) of Clerks their own feature film, and actually managed to recoup his budget, if not by a whole lot.
In the film, Jay and Bob learn that Miramax Films is making a movie based on a comic book based on them, and they have to race out to LA to get the royalties they’re owed, or to stop it from getting made and killing their street cred. Confused? You wouldn’t be alone, and in what is easily one of the funniest movie cameos in history, Tracy Morgan tries to make sense of it all, and fails.
There’s also an orangutan named Suzanne and an animal liberation group named “CLIT.”
Is it a great film? There’s no right or wrong answer to that question, but if it comes on TV, we’re watching it.
Say what you might about Homegrown, but it has one of the best casts of any marijuana movie – Billy Bob Thornton, Hank Azaria, Bob Lithgow, Ryan Phillippe, Kelly Lynch, and also, how can we forget, Jon Bon Jovi as a weed dealer.
Though billed as a marijuana comedy, Homegrown deals with some really serious shit and is more accurately described as a crime caper or a hippie crime flick. The film centers on some pot growers in Northern California who see their boss murdered before their eyes and decide to keep the murder a secret and sell his weed themselves, pocketing the profits. What could go wrong? Just about everything, and it’s good fun, but also, a unique, cinematic look at the types of Emerald Triangle communities where hippie culture and high-grade weed mix with backwoods intrigue and violence – and the stakes are high.
“It’s the summer of 1994, and the streets of New York are pulsing with hip hop and wafting with the sweet aroma of marijuana.”
About 20% a weed movie and 80% shameless 90s nostalgia, The Wackness centers on teenage Luke Shapiro, who sells weed out of an Italian Ices cart that he pushes across Manhattan over the course of one long summer.
Along the way, he buys weed from his dealer in Brooklyn (played by Method Man doing a bad Jamaican accent while listening to a Method Man and Biggie track), daydreams on the subway while listening to Nas, watches Ben Kingsley make out with an Olsen twin in a phone booth, and sells a lot of weed.
Maybe you had to have come of age smoking (and/or selling) weed in the mid-90s to appreciate it, but The Wackness puts a teenage weed dealer front and center and…pretty much just good things happen.
Honorable Mention: Nature Shows
There’s some wild shit going on there. And what’s up with birds anyway? Doesn’t make sense.
That’s all folks
Marijuana makes life funnier, stupider, and more fascinating — sometimes all at once. It’s no wonder weed has inspired so many comedies over the years, and as we as a people continue in our quest to put a dispensary on every corner, the future should be bright for weed cinema.