It’s reefer madness this week, as the world awaits the DVD release of Hey Watch This, a documentary shot last year during Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong’s Light Up America reunion tour. (It hits streets on Tuesday, April 20.) In honor of the two kings of stoner cinema, we recommend checking out this list of cinema’s top ten smoke-fueled flicks that pay tribute — in their own special way — to Cheech and Chong’s legacy. What do they say about smoking ’em if you got ’em?
10. Dude, Where’s My Car?
Dude director Danny Leiner is the Martin Scorsese of marijuana movies. Not only did he pilot Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott through this one-joke comedy, where — spoiler alert — two dudes wander aimlessly in search of their missing vehicle, but he also went on to direct Harold & Kumar (more on that later). If Hollywood had a stoner-movie hall of fame, Leiner would deserve his own wing.
9. Half Baked
Dave Chappelle and Jim Breuer are hilarious, sure, but Half Baked isn’t that funny, unless you are as high as the characters they play onscreen. And since Chappelle stars as both an amateur drug dealer and a hard-core rapper named Sir Smoke-a-Lot, that means you’d have to be pretty messed up. But Half Baked deserves credit for its cameos, which include known pot advocates Tommy Chong, Snoop Dogg, and David Bluestein (playing the ghost of Jerry Garcia).
8. Smiley Face
A newcomer to the genre! But this one gets a mention, thanks to Anna Faris’s unhinged portrayal of a loopy actress tripping through a disaster-filled day after consuming a plate of marijuana-laced brownies. Faris has a palpable, manic energy to her comedy that suggests she’s always on something. Her physical antics and insanely affable personality — both on display here — ensure that both stoned and sober viewers will leave with a dopey smile on their faces.
7. Super High Me
Who didn’t sit through Morgan Spurlock’s fast-food documentary, Super Size Me, and think, “This would be so much better with weed”? Okay, most of us didn’t think that. But comedian Doug Benson did, and the result is an instant classic for the stoner-documentary sect (admittedly, a rare genre). If you think Super High Me is just Benson’s excuse to smoke pot for 30 consecutive days, well, then you’d be right.
Whose idea was it to cast Luke Wilson as a lazy pot dealer? Sure, he’s mellow enough to play a serial toker — but he’s an odd choice as Alicia Witt’s love interest in this 1997 comedy. Bongwater instead gets credit for its off-kilter supporting cast: Andy Dick, Jamie Kennedy, and the late Brittany Murphy. As the pièce de résistance, weed worshippers Jack Black and Kyle Gass show up to rip through Tenacious D’s hilarious tune “Jesus Ranch.”
5. Pineapple Express
Was David Gordon Green’s Pineapple Express an action movie masquerading as a stoner comedy? Or was it a drug comedy that happened to pack its fair share of explosions, gun battles, and fistfights? Unclear. But James Franco was robbed when the Academy failed to recognize his spot-on portrayal of Saul, Seth Rogen’s gentle, mildly paranoid, and extremely loyal drug dealer. One for the ages.
The stoner’s Citizen Kane, F. Gary Gray’s Friday was pretty productive for a reefer comedy. It effectively put motormouthed Chris Tucker on the map. It showed audiences a lighter side of gangster rapper Ice Cube. And it offered a blueprint for the weed-loving protagonist, who is defined by his or her efforts to get high, avoid working at all costs, and put off paying debts as long as possible. Just avoid Friday‘s awful sequels, Next Friday and Friday After Next.
3. Dazed and Confused
Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age comedy has a greater impact on those who came of age in the mid-to-late-seventies. But the laid-back party atmosphere and killer soundtrack help push Dazed to a prime place on the stoner playlist. The unifying scene, in which a bunch of teens smoke pot on the high-school football field, is indisputably classic, while Linklater’s use of Foghat’s “Slow Ride” turned the tune into a stoner anthem.
2. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
Kal Penn and John Cho are this generation’s Cheech and Chong: a laid-back, foulmouthed odd couple with minor aspirations (they just want a few White Castle belly bombers) and an insatiable taste for weed. Added bonus? They’re best buds with Neil Patrick Harris, who craves sex, adores strippers, and owns a unicorn. Game, set, match.
1. Up in Smoke
Naturally, the godfathers of ganja top this list. There would be no stoner genre without Cheech and Chong, who seamlessly married comedy to weed and became overnight heroes for a generation of puffers. The general consensus is that the duo’s first collaboration, Up In Smoke, is their best. And with a van constructed out of hemp, joints made with dog feces, a vodka-chugging judge, and a ferocious battle of the bands wrapping this party up, it’s hard to argue otherwise.