Reefer Movie Madness: Top 10 Stoner Comedies

Ahhh, stoner comedies, that potent blend of humour and hemp has delighted movie-going audiences since the first time someone lit up a joint on screen. Yes, stoner comedies have a proud history within the annals of American cinema and given the success of the recent Seth Rogen action-pot comedy Pineapple Express, it seems only appropriate to look back through the smoky haze of time and examine the very best of the best. So roll up a fatty, break out the roach clips and prepare to finally drain that rancid bong water as Film Junk presents…


10. Half Baked (1998)
Like Doritos, lava lamps and zig-zag rolling papers, Half Baked has become a staple in the repertoire of any self-respecting stoner. While it’s perhaps best known as Dave Chappelle’s comedic breakout role, the film also stars Canadian comic Harland Williams and long since forgotten Saturday Night Live cast member Jim Breuer (Goat Boy, anybody?). The plot follows Chappelle and company as they decide to start selling pot stolen from the medical research clinic where they’re employed. A local drug dealer soon finds out that they’re cutting into his action and hilarity – and over the top weed jokes – soon ensue. While the film isn’t nearly as funny as Chappelle’s later work on his now defunct television series The Chappelle Show, Half Baked does have a few hilarious moments, including a drug-fuelled cameo from Bob Saget and of course, Chappelle strutting his stuff as rapper and ganja connoisseur Sir Smoka Lot.

9. Outside Providence (1999)
While it’s probably best known as one of the Farrelly brother’s more introspective films (while still fulfilling the prerequisite number of fart jokes) Outside Providence is also a classic stoner comedy. Based on Peter Farrelly’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, the film stars Shawn Hatosy as burned out slacker Timothy “Dunph” Dunphy; a teen who is forced to attend a well-to-do private school after getting high and crashing his van into the back of a police cruiser. What follows is a hilarious send up of prep schools and pot smoking as Dunph pisses off the obligatory crusty dean of the school, picks up a local hottie (played by perennial comedy go-to-girl Amy Smart) and of course smokes an almost ungodly amount of weed (including constructing a homemade bong out of a 55 gallon oil drum). The cast is further rounded out with an unforgettable performance from Alex Baldwin and a much underrated appearance from George “Norm from Cheers” Wendt. With a smart script, hilarious dialogue and some surprisingly poignant moments, Outside Providence hits all the right marks; a stoner comedy capable of bringing both laughter – and tears – to even the most jaded of pot heads.

8. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
When you’re high his movies are hilarious, and when you’re not high they’re still pretty damn funny. Yes, there’s no doubt that Kevin Smith is the man when it comes to blending irreverent indie-filmmaking and pot humour. Nowhere is this more evident than in his weed-loving leading characters Jay and his Chaplain-esque cohort Silent Bob. The film follows the duo’s plan to head to Hollywood to thwart the making of an unapproved blockbuster film based on their lives. Sure it may not be as smart or dramatic as Smith’s script in Chasing Amy, but there’s no denying the sheer awesomeness in watching Bluntman and Chronic take on a light sabre-wielding Mark Hamill as the villainous Cock-Knocker. Nooch!

7. Saving Grace (2000)
And who says the British are stuffy? Saving Grace proved that a movie could successfully blend snooty upper crust English society with some grade-A cheeba. The film stars Brenda Blethyn (who recently appeared in Atonement; a film which, coincidentally, is only bearable while super high) and is based on a script from Scottish funny man Craig Ferguson of Late Night TV fame. The plot follows prim-and-proper British housewife Grace Trevethyn who is left with a sizable debt after her husband passes away. With her life and country manor hanging in the balance, the widow Grace decides to use her well-seasoned green thumb to cultivate a crop of potent ganja. The result is a quaint, quirky and incredibly well-written movie that goes down smoother than a bong hit of Panama Red.

6. Pineapple Express (2008)
These days it seems like screenwriter-actor Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg can’t take a dump without Hollywood agents trying to option it into a six-figure deal. With Pineapple Express, the duo blends the best of both stoner comedies and action flicks into a film which follows a low-level processing server and his bumbling pot dealer as they go on the run from vicious mobsters. While the film does have a few noticeable flaws on its otherwise perfectly rolled exterior, it’s still a half-way decent flick. More importantly though, Rogen and Goldberg’s work on Pineapple Express has almost single-handedly revitalized the entire stoner comedy genre, giving an entirely new generation of slackers and potheads a reason to get blazed.

5. Detroit Rock City (1999)
An underappreciated masterpiece in the annals of stoner comedies, Detroit Rock City skilfully blends both reefer and rock n’ roll, while also resuscitating the post-Terminator 2 career of Edward Furlong. Directed by Adam Rifkin and based on a script by little-known horror scribe Carl V. Dupré, the film takes place in the summer of 1978 and follows a group of weed-loving teens who decide to cut class and head to Cleveland to check out a KISS concert. What follows is a hilarious pot-fuelled road trip into sex, drugs and rock n’ roll and a comedic masterpiece that will covers the demographic trifecta of pot heads, film geeks and KISS fans alike.

4. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
The quintessential buddy-stoner comedy, Harold & Kumar remains a ground breaking film not only because of its portrayal of two young ethnic-minority Americans, but also in its loving homage to all things weed. The film follows Harold and his best pal Kumar over the course of a single evening as they get baked, are overcome with the inevitable munchies and decide to cap it all off with a trip to the fast food underdog that is White Castle. With diseased raccoons, giant anthropomorphic bags of weed and of course, an appearance from a coked-out Doogie Howser, what more could any stoner comedy fan ask for?

3. Dazed and Confused (1993)
The crown jewel of both teen comedies and stoner flicks, the film follows a group of teens during their last day of high school in the summer of 1976. Written and directed by Richard Linklater, Dazed also included an ensemble cast featuring Jason London, Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich, Cole Hauser, Parker Posey, Joey Lauren Adams, Nicky Katt and a show stealing performance from a young Adam Goldberg. While only a modest success at the box office, the film has since become a cult hit among both potheads and cinephiles, even gracing Quentin Tarantino’s picks for his 12 greatest films of all time. Throw in a dash of brutal ass paddling, copious amounts of cannabis, and a noticeably chunkier Ben Affleck and the end result is one of the greatest stoner comedies of all time.

2. The Big Lebowski (1998)
Call him the Dude, His Dudeness or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing, there’s little doubt that Jeff Bridge’s portrayal of “The Dude” is one of the greatest stoner heroes in movie history. Based on a real life friend of legendary filmmakers the Coen brothers, The Big Lebowski crams bowling, pot, nihilists, severed toes, art and a gun totting Vietnam Vet into a Chandler-esque mystery story. Unusual? Maybe, but the film has since become a cult classic, even spawning its own annual film festival and a recent book documenting the film’s almost unheard of popularity. Sure, most film aficionados feel it pales in comparison to the Coen brother’s Academy Award winning No Country For Old Men, but ask any Lebowski fan worth their roach clips and they’ll tell you: sociopathic hit man Anton Chigurh could definitely take a chill lesson from The Dude.

1. Cheech & Chong’s Up in Smoke (1978)
Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no doubt that Up In Smoke almost single-handedly pioneered the entire stoner comedy film genre. The first feature-length film released by the comedy duo (who’d been performing together for almost ten years before going mainstream), Up in Smoke was perhaps unsurprisingly a controversial smash hit when it was released in the late 70s. Directed by Lou Adler (who has the incredibly fucked up distinction of being a producer on both The Rocky Horror Picture Show AND The Care Bears Movie), the film follows Cheech and Chong’s efforts to avoid the cops, pick up chicks, and of course, get unbelievably stoned. Sure you could read deeper into the film’s subtle exploration of late 70s socio-economics or its comedic deconstruction of American racism, but the truth is that Up in Smoke (along with almost all of the films on our list) was – and still is – best enjoyed while really, really, really high.

What do you think? Any other classic stoner comedies that should be on our top 10 list?

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  • PatrickLA

    no Trainspotting?