With most of the planet in self-isolation, cannabis sales are thriving, as thousands of people try to forget about the coronavirus by smoking a bowl and eating too many biscuits.
This pandemic is also the perfect opportunity to get lost in the stoner film sub-genre, escaping from a bleak world where toilet rolls have become a precious commodity by immersing yourself in stories filled with blood-shot eyes, impossibly big smiles, and the kind of stoner idealism that makes giving Neil Patrick Harris a lift seem like a good idea.
To get ready for 4/20, occurring on April 20 each year, NME’s resident pothead Thomas Hobbs has taken a look at the best films to watch while you’re stoned, with each potently lending themselves to an evening locked on the couch with a giant bag of Hula Hoops.
Watch it sober and it feels like you’re being subjected to psychedelic torture, but introduce some good weed brownies and Cats is a gloriously surreal assault on the senses. With its mice children, cockroach people (yeah, really), and a horny cat called Rum Tum Tugger, which is basically Jason Derulo trying to hide a boner while pulling off a cockney accent worse than Dick Van Dyke’s, this film is destined to become an underground stoner classic.
Most baked moment: Taylor Swift’s Bombalurina cat, who wears shoes for some reason, sprinkles catnip over all of her feline friends, getting them stupidly high.
9Smiley Face (2007)
Stoner movies are too often rooted in male-centric stories, which makes this underrated tale of actress Jane (Anna Faris) accidentally swallowing a load of edibles and then walking around in a smiley, if slightly dribbly, trance feel like a breath of fresh air.
Most baked moment: A goofy Jane embodies how weed makes you get lost in your own universe, as she wastes time on the couch thinking about Garfield’s love of lasagne.
8Reefer Madness (1936)
Financed by a church group, this anti-drug propaganda film was designed to educate young Americans on the dangers of cannabis. A righteous voiceover talks about how weed is “frightfully assassinating our youth” and we watch on as stoners babble like idiots before gleefully killing one another; this depiction of weed smokers is so wide of the mark that it works brilliantly as an ironic comedy.
Most baked moment: As the judge warns the audience that cannabis might soon turn their children into mass murderers, it’s the perfect opportunity to roll another a joint.
7Dazed and Confused (1993)
Director Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age classic starts and ends with someone smoking a joint, with its carefree, smoked-out atmosphere bottling what it’s like to spend the summer at a slumber party that never ends.
Most baked moment: A bunch of kids share conspiracies around an acoustic guitar, as Ron tries to convince his friends that George Washington was secretly a pothead. It’s the kind of conversation that only works if you’re high.
6The Wizard of Oz (1939)
This gloriously trippy masterpiece has been adopted by stoners for decades, with some convinced it’s best viewed while playing Pink Floyd’s ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’. Dorothy joyously skipping down the Yellow Brick Road hits different with weed.
Most baked moment: As the Wicked Witch finally gets her comeuppance and melts into slime, you’ll remember how it felt that time you stupidly agreed to have a go on your mate’s glass bong.
This breezy film is a refreshingly fun dive into the hood, switching the usual gangster clichés for an endearing silliness that’s built around standing up to bullies, and winning. Also, a hyper-animated Chris Tucker telling D-Bo he got knocked the fuck out will never not be funny.
Most baked moment: Ice Cube gets so zonked on a joint that he sees the head of an angry drug dealer inside a kitchen cupboard. Give my man some sugar.
4Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle (2004)
This film perfects the stoner formula of Cheech and Chong, as best mates Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) get a serious case of the munchies and go on an ill-fated adventure, which involves riding a cheetah, to niche fast food chain White Castle. A film that’s really about the power of immigration, this one’s a lot deeper than it looks.
Most baked moment: The high-as-hell duo piss themselves laughing as a Reefer Madness-esque TV ad warns them that: “Marijuana kills”.
3Pineapple Express (2008)
Every pot smoker knows a drug dealer like Saul (James Franco), who talks way too much, passionately sharing stories about his grandma when all you want to do is escape. Franco’s chemistry with Seth Rogen (Dale) here is perfect, with this film full of the kind of quotes (“Fuck Jeff Goldblum, man”) that will make you smile like Red (Danny McBride) eating a cake for his dead cat’s birthday.
Most baked moment: As Dale asks Saul why he’s hiding from the bad guys in a giant bin, his confused friend replies: “Because I’m in the dumpster, already!”
2The Beach Bum (2019)
A film about a generation-defining poet, Moondog (Matthew McConaughey), who has sex with anything that movies, few films bottle the sugary idealism of being a stoner better than The Beach Bum. Also, actors usually fake being high, but Matty boy and Snoop Dogg (Rie) really do look like they’ve smoked the contents of an entire dispensary.
Most baked moment: The whole film. Seriously.
1The Big Lebowski (1998)
The way the Coen Brothers mix the slacker spirit of ’90s LA with the crime noir genre is genius, with Jeff Bridges’ The Dude, who walks around in a permanent state of chilled bewilderment (“They peed on my rug, man!”), truly embodying what it’s like to get lost in a hazy weed trip that produces more question than answers. Hollywood stoners tended to be kitsch and annoyingly mischievous before this, but The Dude made smoking weed cool.
Most baked moment: This dream sequence, which involves The Dude going bowling with Julianne Moore dressed as a Viking, is every stoner’s idea of heavenly bliss.