According to an article in the New York Times last week, Americans are taking the opportunity of self-isolation during the coronavirus to use a lot more marijuana than usual. Now this isn’t really surprising, as grass has long been a favorite pastime for those inclined to recline on the couch and watch TV, or for whom the day’s biggest decision is “what snack do I want?” Weed is also the natural ally of staying in your pajamas. In some sense, we are all stoners now.
For those who indulge there are risks. If you let your mind wander too much to the invisible virus crawling on every surface just waiting to infect your body, then things can get a little dark. You can wind up like Maureen Dowd on your bed in the fetal position. Nobody wants that. You want to keep things light. Fun.
The good news is that for decades Hollywood has been churning out buddy comedies that revolve around getting high, and that can elevate your cannabis experience. So whether you are ripping bong hits, puffing a spliff, eating an edible, vaping some oil, or doing whatever people do with tincture, here are some of the best stoner movies ever made to enjoy with Cheetos dipped in chocolate.
‘Up in Smoke’
This is the original and prototype stoner flick. Just two guys getting super high while forming their band that plays everything from Santana to El Chicano, you know, everything. The archetype they developed was of a well-intentioned, innocent, though bumbling and irresponsible character chasing a zen like intoxication. It also features a very laid back West Coast vibe that would become a hallmark of the stoner movie.
‘The Big Lebowski’
Another anthem to LA is “The Big Lebowski.” The title character is pretty much high for the entirety of the story that revolves solely around him. There is hardly a moment in the movies when Jeff Bridges’ bearded scallywag isn’t present. The Dude embodies the pot smoker ethos that it is better to have things done to you than to do things. That’s frankly comforting in a time when many of us can’t leave our house. Also, you could do a Zoom watch party and everyone drinks White Russians.
‘Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle’
Not all marijuana movies are set in sunny California. Harold and Kumar reprise the Cheech and Chong buddy model in New Jersey, and the result is a more frantic East Coast ganja experience. The pace is quicker, the jokes edgier, but the basic theme of good bud above all remains. The Neil Patrick Harris cameo is a lot of fun and speaks to how weird stuff happens when you get high. Like that time I got on the elevator in my apartment building and Corey Feldman was in it.
Another East Coast romp through the grass is the 1998 film, “Half Baked,” featuring a young Dave Chappelle. What’s great about “Half Baked” is that it barely even tries to make an attempt to make sense; it’s just a string of stoner jokes, so you don’t have to pay a lot of attention. Jim Breuer is indefatigably and intensely Jim Breuer, a stoner constant like the North Star.
‘Where the Buffalo Roam’
When most people think of a movie about Hunter S. Thompson, they think of Johnny Depp, but in 1980 Bill Murray took up the cigarette holder to play the gonzo journalist alongside Peter Boyle as his attorney. The result is pure magic. It is a weed and booze fueled festival of Thompson’s work. It’s also dotted with wonderful performances like Bruno Kirby as the exasperated editor.
‘Dazed and Confused’
“Dazed and Confused” is kind of a two for one. It’s a period piece set in the heyday of stoner culture, the mid 1970s, but also arguably the most Gen X stoner movie having come out in 1993. What emerges is a mixture of the sensibilities of both eras. The childlike, back-to-nature toking of the hippies and the coffeehouse conversational style of the ’90s both come into play.
There are countless more: “Friday,” “Pineapple Express,” “Koyaanisqatsi” and “Fantasia,” if you want to get technical about it. The point is you don’t have sit there high all by yourself. Literally you might have to, but this panoply of silver screen stoner buddies is just a click of the remote control away. So grab some cookie dough, dim the lights, and chuckle your way into the new normal. After all, there isn’t a hell of a lot else to do.