Stoner Flicks: A Genre That Never Goes Out Of Style
Estimated 4-minute read
Most of the culture we have today surrounding weed, such as it is, has a veritable history, from the moment in the 60’s that the Hippie movement made it cool to just relax, light a joint and contemplate whatever you wanted to with a totally dazed state of mind, and this has manifested in plenty of ways, with the Stoner Flicks as one of our most enduring parts of the pothead heritage.
You know those types of films, as the site TVTropes.com describes them, “tend not to be especially plot-driven, and often contain long tangents relating to pop culture. Expect 90% of the humor to be either puerile jokes or humor about doing incredibly stupid stuff thanks to being intoxicated. Basically, a Slice of Life genre for stoners.”
And since we celebrate all things weed around here, we bring you a list of the best Stoner Flicks ever made, from stone-cold classics, to more cult recommendations, to some modern examples that you may have already watched (and loved). So grab a bowl of your favorite blend, roll a joint, and check out the best the THC Theater has to offer. Enjoy!
Up in Smoke (Lou Adler, 1978)
If we are talking about definite classics in the Stoner’s Criterion Collection, the flicks of Cheech & Chong definitely take the crown. A pair of comedians that pretty much defined the image of the stereotypical pothead back in the 70’s with a string of comedies centered around how awesome smoking weed is, pretty much any of their films is a good time if you are interested in this type of cinema.
However, for a more specific recommendation to start this list, their very first effort, Up in Smoke, remains also the best. This little comedy, written by Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong themselves, and directed by Lou Adler, centers around a classic weed plot: how to score some green and have a good time. It’s also a pretty interesting window to the general attitude towards weed (and indeed, most drugs), before the heavy anti-drug push that baked (pun intended) most of entertainment in the 80’s and 90’s. Watch it if you ever have the chance.
The Harder They Come (Perry Henzell, 1972)
Not exactly a “stoner flick” per se, although it is an important part of modern weed culture, for plenty of reasons. For starters, is the first feature film ever made in Jamaica; a Blaxploitation musical drama about the life of a musician trying to make it big in Kingston, but falling into the seedy Jamaican underbelly, being forced to smuggle marijuana by a corrupt music mogul. It was a massive hit in its home country, and a cult hit in the rest of the world, popularizing reggae in the process.
This is also part of the heritage of this movie, as the soundtrack, also titled The Harder They Come, was a hit that almost overshadowed the movie. Composed by Jimmy Cliff (who also played the lead role), he was the most famous reggae musician at the time, and notably helped Bob Marley get his first music deal. So with all this said, this movie is the origin of plenty of the weed iconography we all know and love, so never miss the chance to watch it if you can!
Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014)
Stoner Private Investigator Doc Sportello, from the fictional town of Gordita Beach, California, gets hit with three cases almost at the same time: his ex-girlfriend wants proof that the wife of her lover, development magnate Mickey Wolfmann, wants him committed to an institution. Then, a gangster named Tariq Khalil wants Doc to find an ex-con who owes him money, and happens to be one of Wolfmann’s bodyguards. And then, a woman named Hope Harlingen wants the detective to find her husband, Coy. Got that?
If that sounds complicated, well, notice that this films is not only directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (of There Will Be Blood, Punch-Drunk Love and Licorice Pizza fame), but is based on a novel of postmodernist author Thomas Pynchon, whose novels run on conspiracies, paranoia and the darkest of humors. So add a detective running three cases while stoned out of his mind (his natural state), and you got a very interesting crime drama that you will never forget.
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (Danny Leiner, 2004)
On a more light-hearted note, a strength of the stoner flick genre is taking the simplest of plots, adding weed, and seeing how far you can go. And if you have two incredibly charismatic leads like John Cho (Harold) and Kal Penn (Kumar), a Neil Patrick Harris at the top of his game (enough for him to get noticed and joining How I Met Your Mother), and a big advertisement for a pretty weird fast food chain, you have the recipe for a good time.
All in all, a pretty funny comedy with some smart racial commentary courtesy of its leads, this one is an all-timer that you can enjoy with anyone. Just a warning if you watch this stoned, though: your craving for burgers will be astronomical. Prepare accordingly, please.
As you can see, the stoner flick can be more than just weed jokes and random things happening to make you laugh while high; they can be truly good movies where it doesn’t matter if they are musicals, crime dramas, simple comedies or even a giant burger commercial, what a stoner flick brings is what any pothead wants any given afternoon: a good excuse to grind their favorite strain, make some fat joints, sit down and enjoy some good relaxing time.
So, in the spirit of this list, what are your favorite stoner flicks and which ones would you recommend to your fellow pothead? Are these examples the best, or are we forgetting an important one?
Please comment and don’t forget to share! Thanks, and enjoy the high!