To celebrate HT’s 40th anniversary, the HIGH TIMES staff compiled a list of our 40 favorite flicks. The debate was long and contentious, but we came up with a list of 37 winners and three buzzkills!
1. Cheech & Chong movies
The legendary comedy duo’s archive of stoner movies—Up in Smoke, Nice Dreams, Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie and Still Smokin’—continue to generate huge laughs 40 years after their release. But Up in Smoke is by far the best, featuring a smuggling vehicle made out of pot and Stacy Keach as the hard-boiled Sergeant Stedenko in hot pursuit of our boys.
2. Easy Rider
The movie that introduced pot to a nation (cinematically speaking). Chopper-riding Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda cruise the highways of America searching for truth and pick up Jack Nicholson along the way. At night, they light up, pass the joint around a campfire, and ruminate on everything from true individualism to Martians. Moral of the movie: Rednecks will kill you.
3. Half Baked
A sensational pot comedy featuring a group of stoners who concoct a scheme to start a pot-delivery service in order to bail their buddy Kenny out of jail. Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan wrote this classic cannabis caper, directed by Tamra Davis. Watch for cameos by marijuana luminaries like Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg.
A day in the life of South Central’s Craig and Smokey (Ice Cube and Chris Tucker) revolves around smoking weed on the porch and figuring out how to pay back Big Worm, the dealer who fronted Smokey his stash. They also have to deal with Deebo, the neighborhood bully; Ezal, the local crackhead; and the late Bernie Mac as a hypocritical pastor.
A three-hour documentary of the world’s greatest rock concert. In 1969, a galaxy of musical legends played in the fields of an upstate New York farm and made history when a half-million attendees crashed the event. The film’s sound is poor by today’s standards, but the performances are historic. Watch it high—because everybody there was!
6. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
A classic high-school movie featuring future stars like Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage and Jennifer Jason Leigh. But Sean Penn steals the show as Jeff Spicoli, arguably the best portrayal of a budding young stoner dude ever!
7. Dazed and Confused
Richard Linklater’s film depicts the last day of school for a group of juniors about to become seniors and eighth-graders about to become freshmen. Through hazing and bonding rituals, they unite over a shared love of pot and partying. The cast features many breakout stars, including Mathew McConaughey, Parker Posey, Milla Jovovich, Rory Cochrane and Ben Affleck.
In 1999, Ron Mann released this comprehensive, supremely entertaining documentary exploring pot prohibition. Narrated by Woody Harrelson, the film chronicles decades of government propaganda juxtaposed against humankind’s undeniable veneration of cannabis throughout history.
9. The Big Lebowski
Jeff Bridges plays the ultimate stoner saint. We deeply admire his non-achieving, bathrobe-wearing, doobie-puffing, White Russian–sipping, longhaired, hippie/slacker portrayal of “The Dude.” One-liners like “The Dude abides” and “Careful, man, there’s a beverage here!” have worked their way into our lingua franca and challenge us all to be more Dude-like daily.
10. The Harold & Kumar Trilogy
What started as a munchies mission to White Castle ended up becoming one of the most epic stoner-buddy comedies in all of moviedom. This Cheech & Chong for the 21st century have taken us on some epic adventures: from Gitmo to Radio City, through KKK rallies and whorehouses, all the while blazing up with such unlikely characters as Santa Claus, George W. Bush and an off-the-rails Neil Patrick Harris.
11. Reefer Madness
Made in the 1930s, Reefer Madness was conceived as the ultimate scare movie, warning an unwary nation that those who smoke pot would lose both their minds and their morals. Eighty years later, the movie is a universally scorned joke, while “reefer madness” has become a synonym for pot propaganda. Badly made, but eminently watchable -- especially while high.
12. The Jay & Silent Bob series
Kevin Smith has crafted his own little Jersey-based universe populated by a colorful cast of characters. From film to film, the dank-tastic duo of Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) evolve from mere drug dealers into actual comic-book superheroes—Bluntman & Chronic. In Dogma, they even save the universe.
13. Super Troopers
Broken Lizard burst onto the scene with this gem about slacker cops who stumble upon a drug-smuggling ring. Meow. This movie is most notable for its opening scene, in which the troopers mess with the minds of a group of hapless stoners. That, and the infamous “Meow Game.” Meow.
14. Super High Me
Former High Times Stoner of the Year Doug Benson’s riff on Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me features Doug abstaining from pot for 30 days, then toking faithfully for a month and documenting the differences. Along the way, comedians and activists pontificate on the effects of marijuana as well as its prohibition.
Oliver Stone’s seminal Vietnam War film features a group of soldiers who have divided themselves into two distinct groups: drinkers and stoners. The drinkers are led by the evil Tom Berenger, while Satan look-alike Willem Dafoe (cast against type as a warm, empathetic sergeant) leads the tokers. Just like Nam, nobody wins.
16. Pineapple Express
The stoner power trio of Seth Rogen, James Franco and Danny McBride star in this action-comedy adventure about a man and his weed dealer. We love the epically funny 25-minute gunfight in a commercial grow op—not to mention that the lead roles in this film are both played by former High Times Stoners of the Year!
17. Soul Plane
We doubt anyone can get higher than Snoop Dogg flying through the air with a ton of Kush. He offers up delicious stoner moments as Captain Mack, the pilot on this raucous ride: “Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached our cruising altitude of 33,000 feet. Oh shit, man! We fuckin’ higher than Redman at the Source Awards!”
18. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Journalist Hunter S. Thompson (Johnny Depp) and his trusted but misguided lawyer “Dr. Gonzo” (Benicio Del Toro) embark on the most realistic LSD trip in movie history. Director Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece is a menacing but visually exciting chronicle of the duo’s Vegas adventure. Kudos to Thompson for remembering to jot down this most epic of assignments after the fact!
19. Jackie Brown
A quirky serio-comic romp, complete with blaxploitation goddess Pam Grier in the title role as a stewardess at odds with arms dealers. But Bridget Fonda gets high praise as the sweet-natured surfer girl who explains pot to Robert De Niro: “Coughing’s good! It opens up the capillaries. You know, when you cough, you’re pulling in air—or in this case, smoke—into parts of the lungs that don’t normally get used. So, coughing’s good—it gets you higher!”
20. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Bacon, Tom and Soap send their good friend Eddy to clean up at a high-stakes card game run by Harry “the Hatchet” Lonsdale. When the rigged match lands them £500,000 in the hole, the boys must navigate a sea of hooligans, robbery, weed growers and a few choice growroom scenes on their way to payback in this Guy Ritchie classic.
21. Cabin in the Woods
Ganja-fueled horror fans will levitate with bliss watching this film. The epic opening scene is just the beginning—and once you think you’ve got a handle on what’s happening, you’ll be proven wrong again and again. Though the plot is revealed in the very first scene, the two seemingly unrelated storylines will keep viewers rapt until the final credits, as the movie proceeds to gleefully run amok within the bounds that the filmmakers have established.
22. Romancing the Stone
Has there ever been a better title for marijuana devotees? The highlight of this light-hearted adventure flick is Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner stranded in the jungle, burning a bale of weed as firewood. Turner gets classically blitzed and winds up facedown.
23. Thelma and Louise
After Susan Sarandon blows away Geena Davis’s would-be rapist, the pair go on the run. The pot highlight occurs when a cop pulls them over for speeding; they manage to turn the tables and lock him in the trunk of his cruiser. After shooting holes in the trunk to provide him with air, the pair vamoose. A passing Rasta on a bicycle stops to investigate. He hears the cop’s cries for help, then lights a spliff and exhales into the trunk—to the audience’s delight!
24. The Breakfast Club
The late John Hughes’s best film, in which a group of mismatched high-school students serve Saturday detention and share a joint late in the day. They proceed to discover themselves and learn how their teen “roles” have unfairly defined them
25. Private Benjamin
Goldie Hawn scores as a spoiled Jewish-American princess conned into joining the Army. At first she whines and complains; then she becomes a top soldier. Before winning the base’s war games, she and her fellow GI Janes pass a joint around a campfire in a surprisingly realistic toking session.
26. Mr. Nice
A biopic on the high life and hard times (prison time, that is) of gentleman smuggler Howard Marks, a.k.a. Mr. Nice. Marks, an Oxford student, was seduced by the money and adventure to be found in hashish smuggling during the swinging ’60s. Starring Rhys Ifans as Marks and Chloë Sevigny as his wife Judy.
27. This Is the End
Just about every young actor who ever showed his face in a pot comedy is here: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson … the list goes on. Trapped in a house together as the apocalypse (or maybe an alien invasion?) unfolds, it’s nonstop mayhem as the food, water and weed supplies grow scarce.
28. The Harder They Come
Shot in Kingston, Jamaica, in the early ’70s, this film chronicles the rise and fall of rude-boy gangster and reggae singer Ivanhoe Martin, played by Jimmy Cliff. It’s a classic tale of violence and exploitation that the Jamaicans who lived through that era know all too well. Cliff’s rendition of the title song in a recording studio is one of the greatest vocal performances ever captured on film.
29. Knocked Up
Prior to a one-night stand with Alison, fat joints, theme parks and his celebrity porn site were Ben Stone’s only responsibilities. But now he’s gonna be a dad! Starring Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl, this comedy explores the parenting of two unlikeable dweebs. Several good laughs.
30. Club Paradise
Robin Williams and Peter O’Toole head an all-star cast of ’80s SCTV and Saturday Night Live alums in this tale of everyday people up against greedy corporate real-estate developers. Rick Moranis and Eugene Levy triumph as “The Barrys” in their quixotic quest for a couple of joints to smoke while on vacation.
31. Grandma’s Boy
After being evicted, video-game-testing pothead Alex (Allen Covert) is forced to move in with his grandmother and her elderly roommates. Alex blazes up with most of the characters in the film, including a lion, a witch doctor, his grandma and her two post-cougar pals—who, mistaking his pot for tea, drink it all and lose their shit.
32. Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny
Unhappy with life at home, man-child Jack Black (a.k.a. “JB” or Jables) and his pal Kyle Gass (“KG” or Kage) set off on a Dio-inspired quest to obtain a guitar pick made from one of the Devil’s teeth and achieve rock superstardom. Along the way, Jables trips on mushrooms and imagines that Sasquatch is his father. Eventually, the pair confront Satan himself (Dave Grohl) and defeat him by breaking off a chunk of his horn, which they then turn into the “Bong of Destiny.”
33. The Wackness
A young dealer named Luke trades pot for therapy sessions in this coming-of-age story set in New York City in the mid-’90s. The Wackness boasts Method Man as a high-grade cannabis supplier as well as an unsettling make-out scene with Sir Ben Kingsley and Mary-Kate Olsen.
34. True Romance
Christian Slater marries call girl Patricia Arquette, steals a suitcase full of cocaine from her pimp and tries to sell it in Hollywood. Of course, the coke’s original owners want to get it back. Brad Pitt owns the pot spotlight here as a couchlocked stoner who, when visited by angry mobsters, affably offers them his pipe: “Wanna hit?”
35. Smiley Face
We’ve all been there: You get stoned, everything’s looking great—but it sure doesn’t turn out that way! Anna Faris plays a Hollywood actress who likes toking up. But her life goes haywire after she eats a plate of pot brownies. We’ve seen some of the gags before, but Faris is an adorably befuddled screen presence.
36. Saving Grace
What do you do if you’re a widow who’s just discovered that her husband has left her adrift? You figure it out. Brenda Blethyn and Craig Ferguson are terrific growers. Watch their garden expand and expand and expand ….
37. I Love You, Alice B. Toklas
In 1954, Alice B. Toklas released a cookbook featuring a recipe for “Hashish Fudge.” This 1968 flick pays homage to Toklas, with Peter Sellers as a straight guy getting cold feet as his wedding day draws near. After trying pot brownies made from Toklas’s recipe, Sellers ditches his bride-to-be and runs off with a hippie girl.
Three Buzzkills …
Not a bad film overall, but when pot dealer Wes Bentley charges Kevin Spacey two grand for an ounce of pot, you gotta wonder if Spacey’s character is a moron, or if Hollywood actually does promote “improper values” just like the religious right says?
Eyes Wide Shut
We award Nicole Kidman the anti-Oscar for the worst portrayal of a pot smoker in cinema history. Was she on laughing gas, acid or crack?
We’re the Millers
A piece of crap. Jason Sudeikis plays a thoroughly unlikable small-time pot dealer who gets mixed up with Mexican drug cartels and then becomes a DEA narc. Jennifer Anniston strips. Yawn. m