This article focuses on some of the best stoner movies. Since the 1970s, when the first stoner film was released on the big screen, stoner movies have created their market.
Up in Smoke, a 1978 pot-loving film, has evolved from a weeded-up reminiscence to one of High Times’ legendary marijuana films.
Man, have you ever heard of Cheech and Chong? These red-eyed stars opened the way for a regular stream of stoner movies that nobody could deny.
Hollywood is sometimes credited with being on the cutting edge of social issues. Although you would not consider a “stoner comedy” a particularly “progressive” genre, some of the wackiest weed-related films have served as crucial moments in representation.
“Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke,” released in 1978, was not only the first modern stoner picture. But also the first film with two Mexican leads in an era of racial persecution.
The Asian characters in the “Harold and Kumar” series had a similar impact decades later. Furthermore, let’s move straight to some of the best stoner movies over the years without much ado.
Table of Contents
- 1. Clerks (1994)
- 2. Up In The Smoke (1978)
- 3. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
- 4. Inherent Vice (2014)
- 5. Under The Silver Lake (2018)
- 6. Pineapple Express (2008)
- 7. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
- 8. American Ultra (2015)
- 9. The Gentlemen (2019)
- 10. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
- 11. Jeff, Who Lives at home (2011)
- 12. Friday (1995)
- 13. The King Of Staten Island (2020)
- 14. Knocked Up (2007)
- 15. Spring Breakers (2013)
- 16. Dazed and Confused (1993)
- 17. The Big Lebowski (1998)
- 18. This is the End (2013)
- 19. Smiley Face (2007)
- 20. Soul Plane (2004)
1. Clerks (1994)
While some filmmakers have developed stoner protagonists and even begun recurring franchises, Kevin Smith has created a whole film universe dedicated to potheads.
For nearly three decades, characters such as Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran). Randall Graves (Jeff Anderson), Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams), and, of course, Jay (Jason Mewes), and also Silent Bob (Smith himself) have appeared in the interconnected “View Askewniverse.
Also, it’s one of the most enduring franchises, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Smith has continued to work on “Twilight of the Mallrats,” which will be released later this year.
Furthermore, the first “Clerks” was the one that started it all, and the film’s production is a terrific underdog story in and of itself.
Also, Smith used all of his credit cards to film a low-budget black-and-white comedy at the same convenience store where he worked. The film, which Smith and his pals shot in three weeks.
With no prior filmmaking experience, became a sensation and even made it to the Cannes Film Festival.
Furthermore, the premise of “Clerks” is ingeniously simple: it’s about bored retail employees who pass the time by talking about “Star Wars,” which many of us can relate to.
2. Up In The Smoke (1978)
Cheech and Chong (Richard “Cheech” Marin and Tommy Chong) smoked huge blunts and even ingested a joint full of a labrador retriever’s feces in the 1978 film Up in Smoke, which got mixed reviews at the time of its debut but rapidly became a stoner cult classic.
The film follows the doobie-fueled duo as they have run-ins with the cops, always coming out unhurt. Though some of the antics haven’t aged well in terms of political correctness, the films were a significant milestone in depicting the variety of Los Angeles, whether purposefully or not. With the character, this is one of the best stoner movies.
“For the most part, we were always high,” Chong said of working with Marin on their films to The Guardian. “Before we went out there, we always smoked a little.”
That was a requirement of the job. As a writer and performer, it was my responsibility to deliver the goods.
So, if that meant getting stoned, I was all for it. The more stoned I was, the crazier the movie became, and we became more popular.”
Furthermore, Chong did confess that marijuana wasn’t their only choice for becoming inspired and in the zone to work. “A little amount of cocaine, a little bit of acid, and then the weed,” he explained. Without a doubt, this is one of the best stoner movies ever produced.
3. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
The film “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” may have gotten away with a PG classification since the main two protagonists don’t smoke on screen, but the implications are clear.
The two weedhead characters, high school slackers and aspiring musicians have a lot in common. The time travel premise of the film appears to be the product of a particularly fuzzy journey.
Furthermore, the fact that Bill S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) appear to be decent guys is what makes “Bill & Ted” stand out.
In movies, stoners are frequently depicted as obnoxious losers, and while Bill & Ted are amusing, they aren’t always the punchline.
Also, they’re not the brightest bulbs in the room, but they’re both well-intentioned and well-mannered. Potheads are stereotyped as slackers, but Bill and Ted have set out to become “Wyld Stallyns” and create music that brings people together.
As time traveler Rufus (George Carlin) explains, they are the foundation of a future utopian society.
4. Inherent Vice (2014)
It’s easy to dismiss the “stoner movie” genre as a collection of slapstick comedies, yet some of our generation’s most talented directors have tried weed-related comedy.
Paul Thomas Anderson is one of today’s most well-known directors. His neo-noir comedy “Inherent Vice” earned him an Academy Award nomination for the best-adapted screenplay in 2014.
Anderson established that the hard-boiled mystery genre is a lot more fun when your main character is stoned to being unable to walk.
5. Under The Silver Lake (2018)
It’s encouraging to see films like “Bill & Ted” and “Inherent Vice” that portray stoners more positively, but not every movie in the category does so.
What’s crucial to remember about Andrew Garfield’s character Sam in “Under the Silver Lake” is that he’s not a toxic character because he’s a stoner; he’s just a misogynistic jerk who enjoys partaking.
In “Under the Silver Lake,” Weed guides Sam’s trip, but it’s not used to explain why he’s such a loser. He’s a tolerable character because he’s stoned the entire time.
Furthermore, “Under the Silver Lake” is an investigative mystery that serves as a satire on toxic masculinity and the sordid underbelly of the entertainment business.
Sam is an aimless, jobless man living in Silver Lake, California, on the fringes of Hollywood. He’s behind on his rent, but a chance meeting with the mysterious Sarah (Riley Keough) offers him reason to hope.
After spending one night together, Sarah vanishes. And Sam is convinced that she’s been kidnapped or is part of a broader scheme.
He never considered that she was simply not interested in seeing him again. Sam starts looking for hidden signals in comic books and pops music in the hopes of finding Sarah.
6. Pineapple Express (2008)
Director David Gordon Green (Halloween, Stronger) seems to be able to tackle any genre.
Including the classic stoner comedy, as he does with this favorite starring Seth Rogen and James Franco on the run from a drug lord who has tracked them down thanks to an extraordinary strain of weed left at a crime scene by Rogen’s character.
Critics Consensus: This loose-knit action/buddy/stoner comedy is humorous and scattershot, bridging genres and maintaining a constant cadence of low-ball chuckles.
7. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
Harold & Kumar Go to the Movies is a fantastic story about how the munchies can transform your life.
Go to White Castle follows the titular duo (John Cho and Kal Penn) on a journey for burgers and marijuana across New Jersey while making some crucial self-discoveries.
Aside from stoner humor and friendship arcs, the film also challenges Asian stereotypes directly. As a bonus? Christopher Meloni, Fred Willard, Anthony Anderson, Neil Patrick Harris, Ryan Reynolds, and even a cheetah are cast members.
Furthermore, The film developed a cult following, but it was not initially an economic success. In a 2008 interview, Cho commented, “We expected it would be a box-office success, and it wasn’t.”
8. American Ultra (2015)
Some people may feel empowered by smoking, which is undoubtedly the case in “American Ultra.” Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) is a stoner who discovers he’s a CIA sleeper agent whose destructive powers can only be awakened by a series of code words.
It would be a hilarious spin on the “Bourne Identity” notion if Matt Damon’s vicious assassin were consistently higher than a cloud.
Eisenberg is already an unusual pick for an action hero, so having him stoned all the time simply adds to the comedy.
Furthermore, Eisenberg is also an excellent option for the role of a stoner due to his fast-talking, anxious demeanor.
Mike has panic episodes and is worried, but these features aren’t ignored as eccentricities. Mike is battling his aversion to commitment to do something good for his girlfriend, Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart).
Also, Mike has an actual aim and something to prove when CIA conspirators threaten their lives. And he’s not sure why she sticks with him.
In Phoebe’s view, he wants to be a hero and prove that her trust in him was not misplaced. In addition, Eisenberg and Stewart treat the romantic moments with conviction in this surprisingly charming love story. This is one of the best stoner movies.
9. The Gentlemen (2019)
“The Gentlemen,” directed by Guy Ritchie, isn’t just about wonderful stoner characters; it’s also about the marijuana smuggling business.
Ritchie’s 90s masterpieces “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels”. And “Snatch” exemplified British gangster humor, although he’s primarily directed blockbuster blockbusters in the last decade.
Ritchie returned to his roots with “The Gentlemen,” but the weed-related mood set it apart from his previous flicks.
The Gentlemen revolves around a conversation between Fletcher (Hugh Grant). An eccentric tabloid journalist, and Raymond Smith, a mob enforcer (Charlie Hunnam).
Moreover, Fletcher attempts to piece together the tale of Raymond’s boss, marijuana magnate Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey).
As they battle a Chinese mobster known only as “Dry Eye,” Mickey and his wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery) form a temporary partnership with Jewish investor Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong) (Henry Golding). They’re also fending off an underground gang commanded by Coach, the trainer (Colin Farrell).
10. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Sean Penn’s pizza-loving surfer Jeff Spicoli, the archetypal stoner kid, is most widely remembered in Amy Heckerling’s groundbreaking high school film, scripted by Cameron Crowe and starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, and others.
The consensus among critics: While Sean Penn’s performance in Fast Times at Ridgemont High is iconic. The film is remembered for perfectly capturing the tiny elements of school, job, and adolescent life.
11. Jeff, Who Lives at home (2011)
“Jeff, Who Lives At Home” follows Jason Segel’s titular unemployed stoner. He, as the title implies, still lives with his mother Sharon (Susan Sarandon), and faces social difficulties.
Also, Jeff rarely leaves the basement, but a strange phone call prompts him to venture outside, searching for the caller.
He reunites with his unpleasant brother Pat (Ed Helms), who is concerned that his girlfriend Linda (Judy Greer) is having an affair with him.
Also, Pat coerces Jeff into assisting him in discovering the truth, and the process brings them closer together. This is one of the best stoner movies.
12. Friday (1995)
Ice Cube (who also co-wrote the screenplay) and an excellent Chris Tucker star in this classic about two buddies. One of whom has recently been fired, and the other owes money to the neighborhood drug dealer.
The consensus among critics: Friday compensates for its lack of tight structure and directorial flair with its lively (if continuously crude) comedy and its lead’s lovely, energetic performances.
13. The King Of Staten Island (2020)
A “stoner movie,” like any other sub-genre of comedy, can use humor to tell a deeply personal story. Pete Davidson has been one of the most popular “Saturday Night Live” breakout performers in recent memory.
He usually includes weed-related jokes in his awkward, harsh humor. The screenplay for “The King of Staten Island,” which Davidson co-wrote with Dave Sirus and the film’s director Judd Apatow, is semi-autobiographical.
14. Knocked Up (2007)
Stoner comedies like “Cheech and Chong” and “Harold and Kumar” center on the craziest scenarios that could occur when under the influence of marijuana.
While Judd Apatow’s 2007 comedy “Knocked Up” depicted a very realistic scenario. Weed aficionado Ben Stone (Seth Rogen).
And television journalist Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) split ways after a wild one-night encounter with no intention of seeing each other again.
When Alison discovers she is pregnant, they are compelled to reunite. This is one of the best stoner movies ever made.
15. Spring Breakers (2013)
Harmony Korine, the auteur writer/director, has a distinct aesthetic, but “Spring Breakers” is about as wild and creative as films go.
Korine’s comedy can be weird and scary, and he can create distinct characters and authentic settings. The film incorporates elements of the stoner film genre with crime, horror, social satire, and a strange piece of existentialism.
However, Faith (Selena Gomez), Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), and Cotty (Rachel Korine) are four college girls who want to get away from their boring classes by going on an adventurous spring break trip.
When they realize they won’t be able to afford the Florida vacation of their dreams, the girls resolve to heist a bank while wearing ski masks.
Also, they meet an eccentric stoner and rapper who goes by “Alien” (James Franco). Franco gives one of his best performances, creating a permanently blitzed guy who is comic and terrifying.
16. Dazed and Confused (1993)
When you’re high, it’s sometimes best to just hang out with your friends.
Thanks to his realistic dialogue, writer/director Richard Linklater has mastered the art of the “hangout movie,” making his films feel like slices of life with people so memorable that it’s a joy to watch them having regular conversations merely.
“Dazed and Confused,” a 1993 coming-of-age comedy directed by Richard Linklater, is one of the best one-night standouts ever captured on film. This is one of the best stoner movies.
17. The Big Lebowski (1998)
There aren’t many writers/directors that can claim to have developed as many memorable characters as the Coen Brothers.
There aren’t many characters who have inspired a genuine religion. But Jeff Bridges’ philosophical stoner “The Dude” from “The Big Lebowski” may be their finest creation ever.
The legendary classic from 1998 has sparked endless hypotheses and interpretations. It is, however, a highly approachable film, and newcomers should have no trouble identifying with the Coens’ particular brand of comedy.
Furthermore, The Dude enjoys bowling with his best friends Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and Donny Kerabatsos (Steve Buscemi).
Also, when The Dude is mistaken for another man named Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston), a millionaire they refer to as “The Big Lebowski,” their relaxing hobby is disrupted.
After being approached by The Big’s wife, Maude, The Dude becomes involved in a crime subplot (Julianne Moore).
18. This is the End (2013)
The apocalypse strikes at a party crowded with A-listers, trapping a group of actors known for playing stoners — Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, and others – in Franco’s home.
The consensus among critics: The shortcomings in This Is the End’s loosely written script are made up of energy. Self-deprecating performances and enough guffaw-inducing humor.
19. Smiley Face (2007)
Although many of the jokes have been made before, Anna Faris’s brilliant acting and Gregg Araki’s snappy direction elevate Smiley Face above the typical stoner comedy.
20. Soul Plane (2004)
Snoop Dogg’s cinesplifferamic oeuvre’s crown treasure. Captain Mack, the pilot of this aerial hooptie, is played by him, and he eats only cannabis and mushrooms. “This is Captain Antoine Mack, your soul-plane chauffeur. “We’re fuckin’ higher than Redman at the Source Awards!” says the crew of NWA Flight 069 from the 310 to the 212.
The gang wonders whether Snoop is actually “Wilt Chamberlain dead”. Or just “Tupac dead” as he goes into a drug-induced coma.