|"Green Hit" (inks on bristol / 2008)|
The movie and television industries have slowly but surely helped to bring pot out of the closet for Americans over the past few decades after a long history of demonizing it. So while you celebrate 4/20 today whether it be blunt, bowl, bong, or joint- you may wanna put on one of my picks for the Top 10 Stoner Movies of All Time...
Half Baked (directed by Tamra Davis / 1998)
This is the quintessential modern smoker's classic, which quickly developed a dedicated following. An insanely funny cast including Dave Chappelle, Jim Brewer, Laura Silverman and Harland Williams light up the screen in this ridiculous and absurd comedy about a trio of friends who start selling smoke to raise funds to bail their friend out of jail. Diabetic horses, flying dogs, talking joints, comic books coming to life, and The Squirrel Master (played by Tommy Chong) are only the tip of the iceberg for this stoner masterpiece.
The Beach (directed by Danny Boyle / 2000)
Based on the novel by Alex Garland, this gem of a movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio, who is directed to a hidden island in Southeast Asia by Daffy (played by one of my favorite actors, Robert Carlyle.) Upon finding this hidden paradise, he quickly realizes that the island is not only visually stunning, but serves to house endless fields of marijuana. DiCaprio joins the islanders who live out their Utopian dream peacefully along side the harvesters. The film is a great commentary on society and the ills of human nature and territorialism. It was quickly banned in Thailand, the setting for the story.
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (directed by Danny Leiner / 2004)
Two friends see a burger commercial while they are stoned out of their minds and end up in a journey of epic proportions through various sidetracks from a trip to satisfy their munchies. Of course, I don't think there has ever been a more true-to-life storyline and plot for a stoner flick. We'll never look at Doogie Howser the same way again. The film spawned one sequel where the main characters get arrested in Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay. The first film makes my list but I feel the sequel was in very poor taste trivializing the brutalities of prisoners of war and political detainees (oooooh... there's a buzz kill.)
Thumbsucker (directed by Mike Mills / 2005)
This film is a very insightful and intelligent coming of age movie based on the novel by Walter Kim. Justin Cobb is 17 and still sucks his thumb to the disapproval of his parents, himself, and his dentist. The film tackles a very important subject for me with the dangers of prescription medicines. When Justin is introduced to marijuana by a young girl, he opens his mind and heart and works out many of his problems. This movie makes the list for showing the dark side of pharmaceuticals and the spiritual advantages of cognitively experimenting with a drug such as pot.
American Beauty (directed by Sam Mendes / 1999)
Written by Alan Ball, this is the most celebrated film on my list having won 5 Academy Awards. Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) awakens to find himself middle aged and depressed with his white collar life. A few key incidents including being re-introduced to smoking pot by a neighborhood teenager snap him back to reality. The character quickly regains his lust for life and what is important to him with a little help from cannabis.
Reefer Madness (directed by Louis Gasnier / 1936)
Originally titled, Tell Your Children, this American propaganda film was released to warn of the "dangers" involved with the narcotic which we celebrate here today. The movie was financed by a church group as a public service statement showing the grossest misrepresentation of pot in history. In the film, the characters are driven to robbery, insanity, and murder after getting hooked on the devil weed. Ironically today, this has become a comedy for stoners world-wide. The absurd and misdirected seriousness of the film can only produce hilarity amongst those who know what this drug does and does not do. The snowballed following of the movie let to a musical reinterpretation in 2005 well worth checking out. A colorized version was also released in 2004 adding a psychedelic tone to the flick.
The Big Lebowski (directed by The Coen Brothers / 1998)
The story of The Dude (Jeff Bridges) is set in Gulf War era Los Angeles and has become one of the biggest cult hits of all time. Today, there are Lebowski Fests all over the world, where fans dress up as characters from the film in homage. One of the constant traits of the film's main character is his joint smoking (to keep his mind limber.) An ensemble cast really weaves this complex tale for the audience with spot-on acting to translate the directors' script. This tale is a staple of The Coen Brothers' legacy to be among some of the greatest filmmakers of all time.
Super High Me (directed by Michael Blieden / 2007)
Pot-infused comedian Doug Benson thought he was just joking by making fun of Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me (a documentary about the fast food industry where the director eats McDonald's for 30 days to see its effects on the human body.) Doug said he was going to smoke weed for 30 days and call it... you guessed it - Super High Me. Michael Blieden thought the idea was ingenious and approached the stand-up about a film venture. To up the ante, Doug had to detox and NOT smoke pot for 30 days before smoking for 30 days. The comedian showed no withdraw symptoms despite being an avid smoker. He underwent various tests to gauge the effects of marijuana on his brain. What they found was pretty damn interesting! Doug scored more points on a Psychic ESP test when he was baked. He also scored 50 points higher (pardon the pun) on a SAT exam after burning one. Even his sperm count went up! Wow, maybe this stuff isn't so bad after all!
Grass (directed by Ron Mann / 1999)
Celebrity hemp activist, Wood Harrelson narrates this documentation of America's War on Marijuana rooting back to its initial criminalization and all the propaganda which led the bad rap the drug has today. This is the most insightful documentary on the subject of legalization I've ever seen. It points out and debunks the ridiculous claims by government agencies in the early to mid-20th century about the effects of pot. A main theme of the film is also the ballooning and exorbitant amount of tax dollars used over the past 70-80 years in their unsuccessful attempt stop such spending..
Cheech and Chong's Up In Smoke (directed by Lou Adler / 1978)
Cheech and Chong had been joking and smoking on stage for a decade before landing their first feature film, in which the scorched comedic duo smuggle a van made entirely of marijuana from Mexico to Los Angeles. When the characters first meet, they smoke a very large joint made of what we find out is "mostly Maui Wowi." Come to find out, Chong's Labrador had eaten his stash, so he rolled up the dog's feces to smoke. This is just an indicator of the hilariousness you're in for if you've never seen this classic. The duo went on to make several more sequels, all mostly involving a whole lot of weed smoking and introduced and created pot humor for an entire generation (and those to come.)