Stoner movies have been around since the seventies, earlier than that if you count Reefer Madness. In fact, there have been so many pot related movies that it has its own genre. But, which movie is the paragon of the stoner genre? There are many contenders and some are shoo-ins for a title shot. You may know the greats like Cheech and Chong or Friday, but which one will win? Read and find out; or just scroll to the bottom of the page.
The Best Stoner Action Movie
Pineapple Express: This movie has Seth Rogan, Danny McBride, and James Franco which is enough to make any stoner watch. Seth and Danny are both comedy legends who embrace the weed culture with open arms. Pineapple Express is a goofy movie with a ridiculous plot and a surprising amount of action. The story is about a guy, Dale, who saw something he wasn’t supposed to see and then leaves clues to his identity, a Pineapple Express roach. This leads to some mobsters hunting down Dale by going to the only dealer who sells Pineapple express. The ensuing chase is both hilarious and action-packed. This movie barely makes it on the list but does because of Danny McBride.
Best Coming of Age Stoner Movie
Grandma’s Boy: Some movies resonate with stoners more than non-stoners. Grandma’s Boy was certainly one of them. The reviews are not kind and the scores are lower than many movies that I would consider much worse. However, this is a feel good movie with a simple story. It follows a 35-year-old gamer, Alex, who fails to pay the rent and has to move in with his Grandmother after a couple of incidents arose whilst staying at friend’s houses. Alex is a game developer and has been working on his own game at home while working for a game development company. Eventually, someone steals his game idea and he has to prove it was his. You could call this a coming of age story despite the fact the main character is 35. Jonah Hill and Nick Swardson are both prominent stoners in this movie and both fit well in this genre.
The Odyssey of Stoner Movies
Harold and Kumar go to White Castle: Harold and Kumar go to White Castle is like the Odyssey of stoner movies. It follow’s Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey almost perfectly. For those who don’t know, many stories can be broken down into basic story tropes identified by Joseph Campbell. Both Harold and Kumar go on a life changing journey that has lessons hidden in symbolism all over the film, and by the end, you may either be laughing hysterically or having a moment of self-clarity. Either way, this is one of the best stoner movies out there. It is surprisingly deep and still full of stupid jokes that can only be laughed at if you’re truly stoned. John Cho and Kal Penn went on to make a couple of sequels, but they feel like cash-grabs compared to the original.
The Original Stoner Movie
Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke: No stoner movie list is complete without Cheech and Chong. I debated on which classic stoner movie deserved to be on the list and I think Cheech and Chong beat out Dazed and Confused and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Up in Smoke is chock full of jokes from the dialogue to the props. There really isn’t much of a story, it’s just Cheech and Chong smoking and talking. I think they’re trying to get to a music gig and along the way, they smoke dog shit weed, meet crazy characters, and end up driving a delivery van made of weed. This movie is very quotable and the scenarios Cheech and Chong end up in are hilarious.
Stoner Movie with the Craziest Plot
How High: Method Man and Redman both starred in their own stoner comedy about two guys who smoke weed fertilized with Method’s dead friend’s ashes; the dead friend was really intelligent and appeared to Method and Redman whenever they smoked that particular weed. They used the ghost of their dead friend to pass a test and get into Harvard. This nonsensical plot actually made it to a greenlighted script, amazing. Thankfully it did, otherwise, we wouldn’t be blessed with a movie that is one long black people are cooler than white people skit. The movie really could be called Wu-Tang Presents National Lampoon’s How High. The only reason it doesn’t move up further on the list is the lack of original jokes and content. Aside from smoking your dead friend’s ashes part, it’s standard fare for young-adult shock comedy like Van Wilder and Animal House.
The Best Overall Stoner Movie
Friday: This is the ultimate stoner movie. It is the most quotable movie on this list, it is the most timeless stoner movie, and has Chris Tucker and Ice Cube at their best. Like Harold and Kumar, this movie will sneak up on you with life lessons and a remarkably good story. The story plays out over the course of a Friday afternoon and follows Craig’s transformation from jobless loser to neighborhood champion. If you ever hear “Bye, Felicia,” or “Daaamn, you got knocked the fuck out,” you should know that these are classic Friday lines. Chris Tucker’s Smokey is one of the funniest characters in a movie that I can recall. His high pitched voice and emotive facial expressions make him the real star of this movie, in my opinion. If you’ve never seen Friday then you should immediately watch it after reading this, you can thank me later.