Pineapple Express (2008)
Is this the greatest stoner movie ever made? When process server Seth Rogen buys the wacky weed of the title from dealer James Franco and they have to run for their lives what with bad guys and bullets on their ass, it's hard not to think so. Directed by indie prince David Gordon Greene, Pineapple Express offers primo baked goods. But it got me thinking of the other nine candidates for stoner movie heaven.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
All hail the Dude, played by Jeff Bridges in an indelible performance that deserves pride of place in the stoner pantheon. The ponytailed Dude, real name Jeff Lebowski, smokes pot like other people breathe. He makes poetry out of a simple request like "Mind if I do a J?" The Dude even bowls stoned. And the Coen brothers give him a movie worthy of his mellow approach to life in treacherous Los Angeles. It's good to know the Dude is out there taking it easy for all us sinners. The Dude abides.
Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982)
Before Sean Penn started winning Oscars, he played (immortally) Jeff Spicoli, a stoned surferboy who looks at a wave the same way he looks at life by saying, "Hey, Bud, let's party." Who can forget Spicoli pissing off his teacher, Mr. Hand (Ray Walston), by ordering a pizza delivered to his history class? Cameron Crowe's hilarious script has a classmate inform us that Spicoli "has been stoned since the third grade." He has to be tricked to return to his boring classroom. "You're wrong," says Spicoli, bummed out, "there's no birthday party for me in here!''
Dazed and Confused (1993)
No title better sums up the state in which high school leaves you — sometimes for life. Director-writer Richard Linklater sets his social satire in 1976, with a soundtrack of great relics ranging from Aerosmith to ZZ Top. It's the last school day before summer and trying to get blitzed on grass, not to mention beer, music, brawling and sex, clearly transcends time. Linklater's shitfaced American Graffiti is the ultimate party movie — loud, crude, socially irresponsible and totally irresistible. The key scene involves Matthew McConaughey as a stoned twentysomething grad who still hangs at the school because though he may get older but the babes stay young.
True Romance (1993)
Brad Pitt is glowstick perfection as Floyd, a Hollywood hanger-on who just lays around on a couch — a bong ever handy — while the whole movie happens around him. Since the film is the first script ever written by former video-store clerk Quentin Tarantino, a lot happens. Pitt isn't onscreen much, but what he does is choice, especially the scene where he attempts to give directions. Hilarious. I like to think that James Franco's pot dealer in Pineapple Express is what Floyd grew up to become.
The movie that marked the screen debut of pot- and laugh-peddlers Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (director-writer Kevin Smith). They don't do much except hang around a rundown New Jersey mall, pushing dope and hashing things out with the guy from the Quick Stop (Brian O'Halloran) and his friend from the video store (Jeff Anderson), a Star Wars fanatic. Jay is the motor behind the foulest mouth in movies and Bob speaks rarely, but when he does, watch out. Together, they represent the yin and yang of stoner culture.
Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle (2004)
Expectations for Harold Lee (John Cho) from his Korean family involve a big career in investment banking. Kumar Patel (Kal Penn), like his dad from India, is meant to be a doctor. No wonder these buds toke out. Their desire to munch down hard on a burger from a New Jersey White Castle gets them involved with cops, wildlife and a bizarro Neil Patrick Harris, who snorts coke off the ass of a stripper. If you prefer this year's Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, no sweat. They're both basically baked from the same stoner oven, and both are just as funny.
Half Baked (1998)
Indefensible as a movie, Half Baked still delivers the stoner goods. Come on, just the idea of Dave Chappelle and his pals starting up their own weed business and bringing on the unholy wrath of local dealer Clarence Williams III is enough to give you the munchies. And the cameo from Snoop Dogg as a scavenger smoker belongs in the comedy time capsule.
Up In Smoke (1978)
No list of dope movies would be complete without the godfathers of the joint genre, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. This was their debut, which made a mint much to the shock of critics and tastemakers. My favorite scene involves the guys unwittingly smuggling a truck made entirely of marijuana across the Mexican border with cop Stacy Keach in hot pursuit.
Reefer Madness (1936)
This old-school exploitation film about the dangers of demon weed is a cult classic. It's also a total hoot. Only the black-and-white prologue to Pineapple Express, in which the government does experiments to learn the effects of inhaling maryjane, is as funny. Reefer starts with narration you'll want to memorize about weed as "an unspeakable scourge — the Real Public Enemy Number One! Its first effect is sudden violent, uncontrollable laughter, then come dangerous hallucinations, the loss of all power to resist physical emotions, leading finally to acts of shocking violence, ending often in incurable insanity." Yup, sounds about right.