Published Aug 10, 2015Promotional consideration provided by Elevation Pictures
Few things go as well together as getting faded and watching some choice movies with a couple of buds, which is why Hollywood created stoner comedies. There's something about watching hapless heroes stumble through an adventure with a buzz on that we find irresistible, whether they're blearily solving a mystery, searching for their favourite fast food joint or simply trying to get to the beach. That's why, to celebrate Elevation Pictures' new release, American Ultra (out August 21), Exclaim! has compiled a list of our favourite stoner comedies of all time. Grab some munchies, settle in and have at our list below.
7. Super High Me (2007)
Sure, it may be a documentary, but comedian Doug Benson's sick and twisted, Morgan Spurlock-inspired Super High Me — in which the sixth-place Last Comic Standing star goes 30 days without weed, then smokes day and night for another 30 while monitoring the effects — is one of the funnier films out there. Brett Harvey's The Union may be more enlightening, but it's hard not to laugh out loud at this truly bizarre cinematic experiment.
6. Smiley Face (2007)
Gregg Araki may now be better known for his subversive, Shailene Woodley-starring thriller White Bird in a Blizzard, but in 2007, he helped unleash one of the stranger stoner comedies, Smiley Face. On the surface, the Anna Faris vehicle may not seem particularly funny (some of the jokes are downright terrible), but no film captures the insanity and confusion of consuming a few too many edibles like this one, whose main plot revolves around one stoner's awkward attempts at getting to the beach after eating a whole batch of weed cupcakes. It's possibly Faris's best, most memorable performance (she even won a "Stoner of the Year" award from High Times for it).
5. Tenacious D in "The Pick of Destiny" (2006)
In the words of Paul F. Tompkins, "Tenacious D. are the best band ever. Period!" The acoustic guitar duo's first feature, Tenacious D in "The Pick of Destiny", proved that point. Documenting their journey from weed-smoking, open mic night musicians to Satan-battling rock gods, The Pick of Destiny teaches viewers why best buds should always stick together. It deserves to be on this list just for a scene in which the band smoke weed from the devil's horn, aka "The Bong of Destiny."
4. Reefer Madness (1936)
An unintentionally hilarious masterpiece, Reefer Madness (or, as it was originally titled, Tell Your Children) was an anti-marijuana morality tale financed by a church group that was later re-cut for the exploitation film circuit, and ultimately rediscovered by and shared amongst cannabis advocates in the early '70s. Filled with tales of accidental manslaughter, rape, psychedelic hallucinations and all sorts of other things smoking pot will probably never cause, Reefer Madness has been a cult classic for over 40 years. Don't be surprised if you see this pop up on a double bill at your local screening of The Dark Side of OZ.
3. Half Baked (1998)
Before he was blowing minds on his sketch comedy show, Dave Chappelle played a stoner with a heart of gold in Half Baked. Filmed when he was just 25 years old, Chappelle plays Thurgood Jenkins, a lowly janitor at a medical marijuana lab who is forced to become a drug dealer after his friend Kenny (Canadian comic Harland Williams) is arrested for killing a diabetic police horse by feeding it junk food. But Jenkins and his pals, Scarface (Scandal star Guillermo Díaz) and Brian (Jim Breuer), prove to be too good at plying people with pot and find themselves in the bad books of a local drug lord. Along the way they're introduced to a number of memorable, marijuana-loving characters: Bob Saget, Janeane Garofalo, Tracy Morgan, a young Jon Stewart and even Tommy Chong. You'll be hard pressed to find a student who doesn't consider this one a bona fide stoner comedy classic.
2. Pineapple Express (2007)
In small Hollywood circles, Canadian comedic actor/writer Seth Rogen was already known as a stoner, but it was 2008 buddy cop comedy Pineapple Express, filmed with his Freaks and Geeks friend James Franco, that brought his brand of weed-laced humour to the masses and crowned the two as modern cinema's reigning kings of cannabis comedy. Playing a weed-loving process server named Dale Denton, Rogen and his dope-y weed dealer (Franco) end up on the run after witnessing the murder of a rival dealer. No surprises here: the film was a commercial and critical smash and set the tone for many bud-friendly Rogen and Franco films for years to come, some good (2013's star-studded This is the End), some bad (the Danny McBride-starring Your Highness).
1. Up in Smoke (1978)
The godfather of all stoner comedies and the film to which all others would be compared, Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin's Up in Smoke was the comedy duo's first feature-length film and ultimately their best (although their next movie, the aptly titled Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, comes close). A story about a pair of affable potheads who accidentally end up part of a smuggling ring and on the run from some cops, Up in Smoke's simple but effective plot set the template for all future stoner comedies (see: 2013's We're the Millers), but nothing comes close to the original. (Fun fact: Marin met Chong while working as a record reviewer for a Canadian music magazine while living in Vancouver.)
Fast-paced stoner action comedy American Ultra will attempt to join the ranks of its brethren when it's released on August 21 through Elevation Pictures. The film tells the story of an unlikely action hero named Mike (Jesse Eisenberg), a small-town stoner and convenience store clerk living with his girlfriend, Phoebe (Kristen Stewart), who accidentally discovers he's a highly trained sleeper agent and is thrust into the center of a secret deadly government operation.
Exclaim! and Elevation Pictures want you to see the film before anybody else. We have double passes to advance screenings in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver on August 19. To enter, all you have to do is click here and answer our American Ultra trivia question.