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The Stoner Movie Hall of Fame

Aloha, Mr. Hand! “Pinapple Express” is the latest addition to a canon of baked goods

Killer Buds: How James Franco and Seth Rogen Made This Summer’s Great American Stoner Movie: “Pineapple Express”

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.

Clerks (1995)
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.

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