The all-time best stoner movies are entertaining, and we’re here to tell you why. Find out what elements can take a weed-focused flick from average to epically funny and which films made our list.
Stoner films are meant to be funny and sometimes they actually succeed in this regard. Over the years, there have been countless movies about using weed, but only a few of them are ones we’d want to see more than once. So, what are the best stoner comedies of all time and what exactly makes them worthy of being part of this selective list?
Elements of a Successful Stoner Film
Not every movie about getting high is top-notch, but the ones we list below are some of the best in the genre. The stoner comedy is a subgenre that has been appealing to moviegoers since the 1970s when Beyond the Valley of the Dolls released and then Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong first showed up together on movie screens in Up in Smoke. Both of these movies, by the way, are on our list of top picks below.
Cheech & Chong, as the pair became known, are credited by many people for creating the mold for on-screen “slackers”. The intention of their movies (yes, there has been more than one) was to smoke or sell vast quantities of marijuana. They were co-leads who knew how to create over-the-top scenes that left viewers wanting more.
Over the years, the template for stoner films has stayed largely the same, involving a lot of pot, gross scenes, hilarious cops, eating food, naked ladies, and, of course, lead characters who were stoned out of their minds. The viewers are smokers and non-smokers, who both know that the best stoner flicks are ones that are refined and clever, rather than being all over the place.
Now that the criteria for a great stoner flick is clear, here are our choices for the best ones of all time:
Up in Smoke
When Up in Smoke released in 1978, few people likely realized that it would go on to develop a cult following. The movie features perhaps the most famous weed-smoking duo ever, Cheech & Chong, who take a road trip to get more weed. They get in legal trouble along the way and, well, they look stoned a lot in the scenes.
You’ll burst out laughing at the part when they realize the van that they’ve been driving in is made of weed. We suggest you devote the evening to watching the wacky pair from the comfort of your couch; start by watching Up in Smoke and follow it with the 1980 sequel, appropriately titled Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie.
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is the 1970 sequel to Valley of the Dolls. In it, “dolls” (pills) are still present, but cannabis is more popular. The plot revolves around three female singers who go to Hollywood to be discovered but instead find themselves in a fast-paced world of partying and smoking up.
Dazed and Confused
Largely known as a coming-of-age flick, Dazed and Confused is also a stoner movie because the teens spend a lot of time getting high on cannabis. The movie is set in the late 1970s in a small town in Texas and features a young Matthew McCaughey.
Almost every moment of these youngsters’ lives is spent doing one of the following activities (or combining a few at a time): listening to music, getting high, having sex, and arguing about insignificant things that are very important to them in the moment.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
If you want to go back to high school, you can live vicariously through the cast of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Immerse yourself in the life of students in Southern California who value marijuana, music, and sex above all else. The standout actor in this 1982 stoner film is, of course, Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli.
We had to include 2008’s Pineapple Express on our list because it is courageous enough to try to combine the stoner genre with action. The movie features Seth Rogan and James Franco, who wind up running from assassins and a bad cop after witnessing a murder. The rare strain of cannabis unveiled in the movie is called Pineapple Express, in case you are wondering about the title’s meaning.
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
While some critics consider Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle to be a social satire, we see it as a contender for the best stoner film of all time. The 2004 movie pokes fun at American society, all while including Neil Patrick Harris in an unforgettable cameo. Or, it could just be one hour and twenty-eight minutes of two guys looking to get a great burger.
Even if it’s not Friday night, you’ll want to watch this one. In Friday, which released back in 1995, Ice Cube and Chris Tucker team up in South Central. The best moment in the movie, in our opinion, is when Tucker teaches Cube how to smoke marijuana properly with the “puff, puff, give” method.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Did you watch this flick when it first released in 1989? It starts innocent enough with two teenagers, played by Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, who have a history presentation to give and a deadline. What could go wrong? Not much until there is a time machine involved and they act baked in every scene.
The movie’s philosophical discussion about “Dust in the Wind” is worth watching twice. We still marvel at Keanu’s blank stare in every scene. “Party on, dudes” is a great catchphrase that came from the movie.
While some people might say that the main characters in 1998’s Half Baked are unintelligent, we would say they are just high on life (or on something else). Stars Dave Chappelle and Guillermo Diaz are hilarious, and it’s a brilliant comedic touch that the janitor has his own weed fairy.
When Refer Madness released in 1936, it was not a comedy. But nowadays, it’s funny as all h*ll. While the intention of the filmmakers was to turn high school students off of cannabis, it is just going to make you crave it more. It is a very exaggerated look at cannabis use. Oh, propaganda.
The Big Lebowski
If you haven’t yet watched “The Dude” Lebowski yet, now is the time to do so. Sit on the couch, grind some pot, and watch the fun unfold in this 1998 stoner film from acclaimed writers Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
The Big Lebowski makes our list of the best of the subgenre primarily because of The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges. He is hairy and a hippie, but we also think he’s a hero, particularly when he’s listening to the songs of CCR.
The writing by Kevin Smith in 1994’s Clerks is second to none. Picture two convenience store employees hanging out and talking and you’ve just figured out the movie’s plot (or lack of plot).
It sounds like something you could handle as you sit back with a King Size doobie on an afternoon at home, right? If you enjoy this one, you may want to watch Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) next, which is also written by and stars Smith.
High on Movies
We suggest you watch one, two, or all of these stoner flicks on 4/20, as a way to celebrate the amazing green plant, or on any other day. These movies are not listed in any particular order as we do not think it is appropriate to rate one better than the other; they are all standouts in the subgenre, in our opinion.
Plus, you never know what other weed-filled comedies may release in future years that we want to add to the list. Rather than saying that a single movie is the all-time best, we’ll leave you with thoughts of peace, love, and relaxation as we light up a cannabis-filled roll.