Last September, I wrote a rather untimely list of what were, in my view, the Top 10 Best Movies to Watch Stoned/High. It was met with scorn, praise, resentment, and some very astute, very diverse, multitudinous suggestions for a better list.
That being said, in observance of 4/20, I couldn’t help but concoct Another 10 Movies to Watch Stoned/High to share with you lovely people. Now, this begs the obvious question: Why weren’t these titles included on the first list? Easy: At that time, I had either not seen them high or not seen them at all. So don’t think the ‘best movies to watch high’ in this list are second-tier or honorable mentions. Truthfully, in a lot of ways, I prefer this list of high movies. It’s more comprehensive than its predecessor, and I’ve almost certainly smoked myself into being a more discerning filmgoer in the last seven months. So, on that note, enjoy! As always, if you have your own Top 10 you’d like to contribute, email Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The experience of high school is so closely linked to pot-smoking in my mind that I rarely think of one without the other, and I suspect that’s the case for many people. I didn’t start smoking until my freshman year–with the exclusion of one botched attempt at the end of 8th grade (who doesn’t recall those initial tries with fondness?) and getting stoned with any degree of success in those days was strenuous work. You either wandered aimlessly around town looking for secluded areas in the woods or you had cool older friends that let you use their cars as baking sanctuaries. This is one of the best movies to watch high because it captures that particular facet of marijuana culture more and better than any other. Not only that, but it presents a full, honest spectrum of pot users that don’t simply conform to stoner cliches. (Most of the kids I used to smoke with played sports in high school and had no interest in Phish.) This is a great movie to watch under any circumstances, but taking it in high is transporting.
Out of all of Pixar’s masterworks, this one stands out as the best candidate for a night spent producing more smoke than a house fire. It’s an exquisitely imagined, brilliantly executed fable about a lonely robot in the post-apocalyptic future who spends his days processing garbage on the barren wasteland that was once planet earth. The first time I saw “WALL·E,” it was in the basement of my friend’s dorm in New York City; I may or may not have been high. I’m not so sure about that first time, but I was more prepared on subsequent occasions and took my obligation to facilitate heightened emotions very seriously. I mean, the movie’s just so damn cute. WALL·E and Eva’s space ballet with the fire extinguisher and their little spark/kiss? Are you kidding me? This is the kind of movie I wish had come out when I was a kid. Don’t get me wrong; I love “Toy Story” and everything, but this pushes the envelope in so many ways that it would’ve easily been one of the best cinematic experiences of my young life, which makes it now one of many great movies to watch stoned. But who knows? If that were the case, experiencing it as a fully grown cannabis user might not have the same impact. My head wouldn’t spin; that’s for sure.
This is a movie I’ve seen too much of too recently to actually want to see again anytime soon, but that surplus of experience hasn’t blinded me to how beautifully appropriate it really is. Its combination of humor and theatricality with cartoonish violence lets it reinvent its tone from scene to scene and the energy of its cast in doing so is infectious. Sometimes it feels like a straight forward martial arts film with amazing choreography and prodigious melodrama. At other times, it’s low-brow and fairly grotesque. But what’s more striking than its tone shifting is that it somehow pulls itself together and satisfies its more heartfelt self-indulgences with a lot of sincerity. Well, as much sincerity as there can be in the midst of “Looney Tunes” physicality and action sequences more at home in “Dragon Ball” (don’t get me started). Stephen Chow‘s “Kung Fu Hustle” is certainly one of the best movies to watch high.
Like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” director Michel Gondry’s previous film, “The Science of Sleep” constantly disrupts our equanimity by going in and out of consciousness without telling us it’s doing so and presenting intricate, dynamic visuals that sometimes make very little narrative sense. Unlike the earlier film, however, this is almost purely an exercise in representing fascinating visual ideas within the context of very subdued emotional tension. The way that Gondry goes for broke with insanely inventive special effects and gripping caprices is actually inspiring. And the stop-motion animation puts things on a different level altogether. Throw in a couple bong rips and I promise you’ll be bewildered.
James Franco and Seth Rogen might be my favorite pairing of actors since Charles Grodin and Robert De Niro in “Midnight Run.” Directed by David Gordon Green (”George Washington,” “Snow Angels”), “Pineapple Express” is one the keenest movies about pot-smoking and pot-smokers I’ve ever seen, in addition to being consistently hilarious, character driven (strangely enough), and really, really stylish. It’s just about the only flick on this list that earns its spot for pure comedic value, but it has a special place in my heart. My friend and I used to smoke and put this on every night of the week back in September; that being the case, I’ve probably seen it more than any of the other other high movies on this entire list. There’s something about the comedy that strikes a perfect intoxicated chord. It’s rapidly paced and almost exclusively verbal and is, like any worthwhile humor, grounded in the personalities of its characters. That may not be an easy thing to read for some, but it’s true.
When I wrote the first weed-themed Top 10 for this site, I had just spent my birthday a few weeks prior getting stoned with my friends and watching movies. At one point during the long, hazy weekend, we were feeling nostalgic, as is often the case when severely high, and we threw on “The Lion King” (which was, coincidentally, number 7 on the first list). It was my old VHS copy, and during the previews, the “Colors of the Wind” sequence from this movie came on. Without missing a beat, everyone was instantly focused and enamored. We were 6 years old all over again. It was cathartic. As a kid, this was my least favorite of the 90′s era Disney pictures, but now, as a self-effacing adult with a tinge of irony in my broader perspective, I can appreciate the sugary sweet values this film has to offer. It’s lush and colorful and one of the best movies to watch high, making a very appealing emotional case for multiculturalism. What else do you need?
I…you know what? Wait. I’m going to write this one high. Hang on one second. Okay! And we’re back. That was about 20 minutes for me and about a millisecond for you. But anyway, this movie, man. Every time I think of it, I recall a withering Gene Siskel reviewing it on TV in his last couple months of life and it breaks my heart. Side question: Who else cried like a baby when they read that Esquire piece on Ebert? Jeeze. But apart from those gloomy realities, the film itself is an often abrasive assault on our emotions and one of the most expertly visualized picture’s ever made. The heaven and hell depicted in the film are so striking in their imagination and delivery that I can imagine the experience of seeing it theaters over a decade ago being overwhelming. The pre–wait. Nah, never mind. Anyway, the, uh, the premise: man meets woman in idealized, dream-like Switzerland, they fall in love, have kids, and then all of them die. What fun! It’s surprising that a movie that takes its emotions as seriously as this one also seems to use its emotions as a mere springboard for its vast, glorious, totally surreal CGI universe. I’m not entirely sure if that’s the case, but if you don’t buy the emotions (that’s what the weed is for!), it’s very easy to see things that way. One of the best movies to watch stoned? Absolutely.
Oh, and Robin Williams. Come on.
Harry Dean Stanton, Emilio Estevez, aliens, government conspiracy, and the strangest group of characters this side of Herzog are all defining components of 1984’s “Repo Man,” written and directed by Alex Cox (”Sid and Nancy”). I saw this as a kid at my father’s behest and it nearly induced an acid trip in me. It’s so frenetic and quirky that it can’t contain itself. Watching it high is like listening to that friend of a friend talk about his crazy theories on Roswell and nuclear proliferation. While the image of Emilio Estevez in most people’s minds probably involves either detention or hockey, nothing stands out to me more than his turn as Otto, here. He’s the punk son of two aging hippies who send his savings to a televangelist and rarely move from the living room couch. The more you see it, the more you realize how little Cox actually cares about accessibility and formula. It’s refreshing as it is, but it’s a revelation on a day like today. John Wayne was a fag.
Alright, stop groaning. You see the title and your default reaction is one of hostility and confusion. Just relax. First of all, how many of you have wandered around your local shopping mall, baked out of your mind? I’m guessing a considerable percentage. Now imagine the presence of zombies. Need I say more…? This is easily the most fun horror movie of all time (this doesn’t mean I don’t love you, too, “Evil Dead II”) and it packages its fairly blatant satire in the context of blood and guts and apocalyptic dread. I was seriously, seriously considering including “The Exorcist” on this Top 10 because that is one hell of a provocative entertainment, but this just barely edged it out. It’s just as gross as it is funny and it’s just as funny as it is scary. Not only that, but it’s hugely appealing as consumer wish fulfillment. I’d like to think the satire would find its way to the surface and really incite some thoughtful consideration when you watch it high, but the bottom line is that the picture’s probably too entertaining for its more sophisticated agenda to penetrate the fog bank of THC. Oh well. It’s still one of the best movies to watch high.
After I wrote the first Top 10 Movies to Watch Stoned/High, I received a lot of comments that ranged from approbation to condemnation to confusion to high-minded (I SWEAR that pun was unintentional) advisement, but what I got more than anything else was a slew of suggestions. And one movie that seemed to pop up over and over was Richard Linklater’s “Waking Life.” I’d been hearing about it for quite some time and just never sought it out for whatever reason. That is, until I found myself perusing the DVDs at Best Buy a few months back where I stumbled upon a singular copy sitting on the shelf and thought to myself, “Hey, we only live once. What’s the worst that could happen?” The rest is history. This really is the perfect film to watch high, and it’s eclipsed only by last year’s number-one spot (debatably so, I might add). It’s a bit of a conflict for me, though; I have to say. On the one hand, it’s the most pretentious, self-congratulatory movie I think I’ve ever seen (and I’m a staunch defender of “Magnolia” in that regard, if that tells you anything). On the other, it’s so bold and so forceful that I can’t help but admire it. The digital paint job that adorns the entire cast as well as their surroundings is such an inspired choice of visualization; it underlines the dialogue and makes the pompous and contrived seem organic and expressive. And that’s crucial. The conversations that are the thrust of the flick are so frustrating and stimulating that they almost require an FX landscape to be presented properly. The film is dual-purpose in its formulation and execution, which accounts for both the aesthetic and the ideological with dazzling images and challenging ideas, and it’s guaranteed to make for an unforgettable stoned experience.