We’ve got a great list for all our readers out there today, but before we proceed we want to include a little disclaimer. We’re talking about the 10 greatest stoner films of all time here today, and it’s important to remember that while marijuana remains illegal in some parts of the Western world, it’s very legal in other areas; this article is dedicated to those areas where it is legal, so make no mistake, we’re certainly not condoning any illicit activities (although we don’t judge, either. We’ve 420 friendly). Moreover, it goes without saying that it’s quite possible to enjoy the following movies when you aren’t inhibited at all, but…where’s the fun in that?
Seeing as today in Cheech Marin’s 73rd birthday, join us as we highlight 10 of our favorite stoner movies of all time. Enjoy!
10. This Is the End (2013)
We love being surprised at the movies, so we’ve got a little soft spot for This Is the End, which was released to critical acclaim in 2013. We’ll admit that when we first saw the trailer, it seemed far too goofy to be a success, and really came off as a bunch of Hollywood funny guys taking advantage of a generous producer. Now, we’re not really sure that’s what happened, but apparently, if you give a bunch of funny guys heaps of money and let them make whatever movie they want, it can turn out to be really, really funny (or it can turn into Grown Ups 2, right Adam Sandler?). This Is the End, directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and starring Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and Jay Baruchel as fictionalized versions of themselves, features more cameos than I could list in this entire article, so you’ll have to watch it to see who makes an appearance. Luckily for you, This Is the End has attracted a loyal fan base since its release, among them a large stoner following, who love the film for its meta-humor, ridiculous premise and straight up hilarious performances.
9. Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006)
Written, produced by and starring the members of Tenacious D (Jack Black and Kyle Gass) and directed by Liam Lynch, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny is a film that doesn’t offer a whole lot to the sober population of the world, but is revered by stoners worldwide. Following a pair of down on their luck musicians who discover a demonic guitar pick that gives them legendary musical prowess, The Pick of Destiny reigns supreme among stoners for its ridiculousness, its routine incorporation of marijuana into the plotline, and the rocking tunes of real-world band Tenacious D as they sing, shout and holler their way through this cartoonish romp. With a special appearance by Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl as Satan, this is a flick that any music fan who indulges in the green stuff must check out immediately.
8. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Before Harold and Kumar (but after Cheech and Chong), there was Bill and Ted, and man did they have an adventure. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, which was directed by Stephen Herek and stars Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, and George Carlin, sees the titular protagonists, two slackers whose brainlessness has risen to cult icon status amongst stoners, travel back in time to assemble a group of famous historical figures for their history presentations. Yes, it’s as glorious as it sounds. The film that launched Keanu Reeves to success, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a must-watch for anyone under the influence (and for those just looking to laugh at old school Keanu).
7. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
We could’ve worked almost all of Kevin Smith’s films into here somewhere if we really wanted to, but as it stands we chose the director’s most absurd work, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, as the film to represent him here. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, which was directed, written and stars Smith as Silent Bob who, along with his foul-mouthed cohort Jay (Jason Mewes, in the actor’s career-defining role), must trek from New Jersey to California in order to stop a movie from being made in which characters resembling their likeness are being used. It’s all very meta, but with a laundry list of famous co-stars (and guest stars) that features Shannon Elizabeth, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Jason Biggs, James van der Beek, Eliza Dushku, Jason Lee, Chris Rock, Ali Larter and Will Ferrell (holy hell) and a monkey to boot, this is one stoner film that utilizes star power to great effect.
6. Grandma’s Boy (2006)
One of the great things about stoner films is that they aren’t always a hit with the critics. Sure, sometimes the green crowd attaches itself to a movie that critics adore, but most often the films that stoners relate most to are wacky, off-beat and not sound of the plot if you catch our drift. All of these adjectives describe Grandma’s Boy, the Happy Madison-produced (Adam Sandler’s production company) film which was written by and stars Allen Covert as an adult video game tester who is forced to bunk with his grandmother after being evicted. A ridiculous premise, sure, but one that works when you ladle in copious amounts of drugs, partying and a good dose of Linda Cardellini, who, as far as we’re concerned, should be in all movies. Also starring Nick Swarsden, Joel David Moore and Jonah Hill, Grandma’s Boy was neither a critical nor commercial success upon its release, but has since taken up a treasured position with stoners everywhere as a hilarious flick that hits all the right notes when you’re flying high.
5. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
In retrospect, we’re not sure we needed an entire trilogy of Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) getting high and going on road trips; that said, the first film remains an absolute riot and a favorite among stoners everywhere. Following the titular, marijuana-laden protagonists on the ultimate trip for fast food munchies, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle also stars Malin Akerman, David Krumholtz, Eddie Kay Thomas and, perhaps most importantly, Neil Patrick Harris, who revitalized his acting career playing this fictionalized version of himself.
4. Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke (1978)
The original stoners, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong made their feature film debut in this 1978 film, Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke. A highly influential film that is often cited as the foundation for the “stoner comedy” genre that we’re taking a look at today, Up in Smoke sees the titular actors playing to varying degrees of their well-established stoner personas, and while the film’s plot is pretty ridiculous overall (it revolves around the boys being tricked into smuggling a van made of marijuana from Mexico into America), you can’t help but laugh at the vintage stoner gags and the film’s nostalgia factor.
3. Pineapple Express (2008)
Some films aren’t meant to appeal to stoners, but for some reason, they end up appealing to the green crowd in ways that were never intended. Spoiler alert: Pineapple Express isn’t one of those films. Categorized as a “stoner action comedy,” Pineapple Express, which was directed by David Gordon Green, plays like a high person’s dream film; it’s ridiculous, it’s hilarious, and it’s all about smoking weed. Written by dynamic duo Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (who also wrote Superbad) and starring Rogen and James Franco as Dale Denton and Saul Silver, respectively, Pineapple Express follows a Denton, a devout stoner, and Saul, his dealer, as they go on the run to escape a crime lord after they witness a murder done at his behest. Also starring Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Gary Cole, and Rosie Perez, Pineapple Express is the Cadillac of all stoner films.
2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Adapted from the Hunter S. Thompson novel of the same name, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas remains one of the quintessential stoner films of all time, and after engaging with the novel and film’s subject matter, it’s little wonder why. The film, which opens with the quotation “We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls…,” was directed by Terry Gilliam and details a legendary drug-induced road trip into the heart of America, a.k.a Las Vegas. Starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has become a stoner cult classic due to its insanely weird content and connection with one of the counterculture’s most iconic figures (Thompson).
1. The Big Lebowski (1998)
It’s a tall task for any film to top Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as far as wacked out, high-flying films go, but if there’s any movie that could do it, it’s The Big Lebowski. Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, and John Turturro, The Big Lebowski is a neo-noir crime comedy that sees Jeff Lebowski (Bridges), a.k.a “The Dude” (a stoner legend for his perpetual intoxication and his dedication to a Zenen-like way of life), caught up in a web involving millionaires, heiresses, nihilists and a rug that really, really tied the room together. An absurd, Raymond Chandler-esque adventure that defies all attempts at categorization and instead exists as a sole entity in and of itself, The Big Lebowski is a flick that has everything a stoner needs: a ridiculous plot, hilarious one-liners, plenty of quotable lines and a protagonist who exemplifies the stoner life in ways most of us can only dream of.