MARIJUANA IN MOVIES!
Hey, man, if the headline didn’t grab you, those three words likely did. Especially if you’re among those celebrating the fact that the sale of recreational weed was supposed to start Sunday in Massachusetts. Which means that once one opens, you can go to the corner cannabis store to procure some pot, then go home and enjoy a joint.
One of the great pleasures of imbibing in safe, comfy surroundings, whether alone or with similarly half-baked friends, is to watch movies. When under the influence, comedies are funnier, science fiction is more mind-blowing, horror films are . . . well, you probably shouldn’t watch horror films when you’re high.
Hollywood has generally been kind of nonchalant about its portrayal of marijuana use on the screen. Then some marketing genius — or maybe some burnt-out toker — coined the term “stoner movies,” of which there are many strains. A subgenre was born.
There are movies that feature pot-smoking protagonists; movies with marijuana scenes that further the plot, which have nothing to do with the rest of the film, or are only there for a laugh; movies that salute the herb; and movies that are so bad you should skip them.
The goal here was to check out a variety of stoner films, decide whether they’re worth seeing or should be placed on the unwatchable list, and pick out some memorable dialogue.
The unwatchable list
No matter what your frame of mind, these are ineptly written, poorly directed, badly acted movies. They’ll bring you down, man. “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” “Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie,” “Cheech and Chong’s Nice Dreams,” “Dude, Where’s My Car?” “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” “Reefer Madness,” “Smiley Face,” and “Surfer, Dude.”
Stoned from beginning to end
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Jeffrey Lebowski (Jeff Bridges, right) bowls, drinks white Russians, likes Creedence, hates the Eagles, used to be a roadie for Metallica, is unemployed, and smokes a lot of pot.
Best line: “I’m adhering to a pretty strict drug regimen to keep my mind limber.”
Inherent Vice (2014)
Larry Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is a slow-moving, squinting, mumbling private investigator who is working a kidnapping case and lights up 12 times in the film.
Best exchange: Larry: “I’m only a light smoker.”
Girlfriend (Reese Witherspoon): “How many joints have you had today?”
Larry: “I have to check the logbook.”
Pineapple Express (2008)
Saul Silver (James Franco) is a dealer of special marijuana hybrids. He unwittingly becomes a witness in a murder scheme.
Best line: (pointing to a cross-shaped joint) “What you do is light all three ends at the same time, and then the smoke converges, creating a trifecta of joint-smoking power.”
Oddest stoned characters
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) is the high school surfer who always smokes just before going to class.
Best line: (talking to a friend on the phone while repeatedly smacking his head with a sneaker) “That was my skull! I’m so wasted!!”
A teddy bear (voice of Seth MacFarlane) comes to life, curses a lot, and smokes bongs with his best friend (Mark Wahlberg).
Best line: Sorry, nothing Ted says can be printed in a family newspaper.
Stand-alone marijuana scenes
Animal House (1978)
Literature professor Dave Jennings (Donald Sutherland) offers some pot to three of his students. It’s the first time for Larry Kroger (Tom Hulce), who gets blasted.
Best line: “OK, so that means that our whole solar system could be like one tiny atom in the fingernail of some other giant being. Whoa! That’s too much!”
Annie Hall (1977)
Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) ridicules girlfriend Annie (Diane Keaton) for using marijuana before they have sex.
Best line: “Grass ... the illusion that it will make a white woman more like Billie Holiday.”
(Note: The person in charge of the end credits must have been stoned because a soon-to-be Academy Award-winning actor is listed as Christopher Wlaken.)
Children of Men (2006)
Former activist Theo Faron (Clive Owen) visits his political cartoonist/pot aficionado friend Jasper (Michael Caine), who gets him to try a special blend.
Best exchange: Jasper: “Taste that.”
Jasper: “Now cough.”
Theo coughs a few times.
Jasper: “You taste it? Strawberries! This is Strawberry Cough!”
Easy Rider (1969)
Hippie bikers Wyatt and Billy (Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper) invite heavy-drinking small-town lawyer George (Jack Nicholson) to join them on the road. George has his first joint as they sit around a campfire where, according to a 2009 interview with Fonda, they smoked real pot.
Best line: (Wyatt hands the joint to George and tells him to light it.) “Oh, no, no, no, no. I couldn’t do that. I mean, I’ve got enough problems with the booze and all. I mean, I can’t afford to get hooked.”
Jackie Brown (1997)
Ex-con Louis Gara (Robert De Niro) is sharing a pipe with stoner girl Melanie Ralston (Bridget Fonda), who explains why coughing while smoking is a good thing.
Best line: “You know, when you cough, you’re pulling 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.”
Science fiction geeks Graeme and Clive (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) have an encounter with an extraterrestrial named Paul (voice of Seth Rogen). Bible-thumping Ruth (Kristen Wiig) joins them and says she’d like to partake in Paul’s marijuana.
Best line: “Are you sure? This is pretty strong stuff. I got it from the military, actually. This is the stuff that killed Dylan.”
Just for laughs
Road to Morocco (1942)
Orville and Jeff (Bob Hope and Bing Crosby) are competing for the affection of Princess Shalmar (Dorothy Lamour). Orville sees an Arab merchant rolling cigarettes from a pile of tobacco and says, “Hey! What are you doing, making reefers?”
Thelma & Louise (1991)
On the run from the law, Thelma and Louise (Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon) overcome a cop, put him in the trunk of his cruiser, shoot a couple of air holes in it, and abandon him on a desert road. Later, a spliff-smoking Rasta bicyclist rides by, hears calls for help, and blows a huge hit of smoke into the air holes.
Touch of Evil (1958)
Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston) goes to the remote hotel where his wife was waiting, but finds that she’s gone and her room is a wreck. The nervous night manager (Dennis Weaver) starts cleaning the room, picks a roach from an ashtray, sniffs it, goes wide-eyed, screams, then flings it away. The dopest montage in cinema
While Arlo Guthrie is onstage singing “Coming into Los Angeles” the cameras rove through the crowd for two minutes as joints and pipes are smoked and passed.
Best line: (Jerry Garcia, holding a perfectly rolled joint and staring into the camera): “Marijuana . . . makes you behave.”