Dazed and Confused
Happy 4/20 everyone! Here’s a list of 20 of our favorites that you can enjoy in whatever state of mind you happen to be in, though “freeing your mind” certainly helps. We tried to keep the list fun (no David Lynch or Natural Born Killers) but also not too dumb (Half Baked). Light up and enjoy. And if you’re in the store, check out our Stoner Cinema section within our Comedy section of DVDs.
Let’s start with just about every Beatles movie, particularly this one. Besides being the best Beatles movie, Yellow Submarine is also the most psychedelic, as the Beatles try to save fantastical paradise Pepperland from the music-hating Blue Meanies in a magical yellow submarine, set to the album of the same name. It’s nonsensical fun no matter what your state of mind is.
This is the first thing that comes to mind when we think of movies to watch in an altered state. The 1973 animated French/Czech sci-fi film tells the tale of the human-like Oms, who are treated as pets and pests on the planet of the much larger Traag beings. It’s the ultimate in psychedelic ’70s animation, like a Hieronymous Bosch painting come to life (but see also: Wizards, The Lord of the Rings, Fritz the Cat and Heavy Metal).
Lots of classic family films could fall into this list, but The Wizard of Oz has the edge due to the urban myth that you can play it alongside Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and the music creates an eerily perfect soundtrack for the film. It sounds dumb, but try it and see, some of it seems like more than just coincidence. (Don’t forget to pick up the soundtrack this Record Store Day.)
Of course, some family movies don’t need a special soundtrack to be plenty trippy on their own. The colorful Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is another kids classic that is basically a nonstop barrage of psychedelic imagery and sweet music.
Richard Linklater’s classic Dazed and Confused is relatable even if you’re not a stoner as it follows a bunch of high school kids in the ’70s on the last day of school as they drive around, try to find a party or just something to do. It instantly puts us back in high school every time we watch it. Also just about everyone is smoking weed throughout the entire thing and going off on pot-fueled philosophical tangents.
We have to put another Linklater movie in this. Waking Life takes some of Linklater’s trademarks—it’s both conversational (Before Sunrise) and episodic (Slacker)—and paints watercolors via rotoscoping all over it as actors, who deliver philosophical pieces to an onlooker played by Dazed and Confused’s Wiley Wiggins. It’s dreamlike and stimulating, but also beautiful to sit back and watch.
Let’s shift gears a bit here for a few party movies. F. Gary Gray’s directorial debut is one of the ultimate stoner-buddy comedies, following Craig (Ice Cube) and Smokey (Chris Tucker) on a would-be lazy Friday after Craig gets fired that ends up in a convoluted caper as Smokey tries to pay off a drug dealer whose stash he’s smoked his way through. Friday rules—“and you know this!”
Another classic stonery buddy pair. Though the pair don’t actually smoke in the PG-rated film, you just have to hear them go “whoaaa” or “excellent!” or look at Keanu Reeves’ permastoned face to know the film is basically a Bill and Ted’s weed dream from falling asleep in history class. Shout out to the darker, underappreciated Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, too.
The stoner-buddy duo that started them all. Cheech & Chong’s second movie is the best and wildest one, full of UFOs, space coke, questionable race-joke songs and a lot of other things that probably wouldn’t fly today.
With all due respect to Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, we like this 2001 comedy better. A bunch of Vermont state troopers act like assholes and spend more time playing pranks on each other and their rival police department than doing anything useful. Thinly plotted, but the opening scene where they mess with a bunch of stoned kids and the “meow” gag make it worthwhile.
The most surreal of a plethora of surreal films by the Coen Brothers is hilarious and stuffed with too many quotable lines and bizarre images to mention here. There’s that famous scene of The Dude flying between giant lady legs with a bowling ball, but I’d pick Julianne Moore flying through the air painting naked as my favorite bizarre moment.
Basically any of Terry Gilliam’s films could be on this list (Brazil, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen all come to mind), but this one wins for its overt (and constant) drug references. I guess it’s more of a psychedelic/hallucinatory film, but who’s counting?
Gregg Araki’s films all have a kind of somnambulistic quality, from The Doom Generation to Mysterious Skin. Smiley Face (written by Dylan Haggerty), however, is the stoneriest since it details the adventures of a girl who mistakenly eats a crapload of cupcakes laced with cannabis (bonus points for a guest appearance by John Cho aka Harold of Harold & Kumar). Anna Faris’ performance as the nearly too-stoned-to-function Jane is spot-on. Just listen her logic on lasagna—we totally get you, girl.
The latest entry into the stoner-comedy pantheon is last year’s This Is the End, the directorial debut of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The film sees fictionalized versions of its actors (Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill and many more) trying to survive the apocalypse in James Franco’s mansion. The demons that come and attack the pack of egotistical actors make it a trip, but the best thing about it is the actors’ repartee around a loosely written script. There’s also Pineapple Express, of course, but we like this one better.
Without Spicoli, there may have never been a “Beavis & Butthead.“ That’s just a world we don’t want to live in.
Before Brad Pitt was Mr. Angelina Jolie and all that, he was playing a stoner who can’t even be that bothered when a bunch of mobsters show up with guns in the first film to be made from one of Quentin Tarantino’s scripts.
The Forbidden Zone
Unless you’re the world’s biggest Oingo Boingo fan (the film is very loosely based on the early Oingo Boingo live experience), you do have be stoned understand what the hell is going on in The Forbidden Zone. Despite seeing it several times, we can’t even begin to describe the plot—something about finding a door to the sixth dimension, a bizarre alternate universe where a boy named Flash must save his sister from the grips of the busty Queen Doris (the late Susan Tyrell). I dunno, just watch this video of the “Alphabet Song.”
Winged Migration and/or March of the Penguins
Pretty much any nature documentary is great when you’re stoned. Either the movie where you see nothing but birds flying for 98 minutes or the one where Morgan Freeman describes what a bunch of penguins are doing—you can’t go wrong. There’s also Planet Earth, of course, for its stunningly beautiful nature footage.
It may have come from the grindhouse/exploitation era, using maimed and dwarf actors, for instance, but we’d call it a surrealist masterpiece, a violent Western laden with religious imagery and hidden meanings that are wide open to debate. See also: the films of Luis Bunuel.
Duh. This dated and misguided attempt to scare kids off dope just gets more accidentally hilarious with age.
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