The Best Movies To Watch While Very, Very Stoned

·13-min read
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Photo credit: -

Banging on about taking drugs is so powerfully lame it should have some effect on your credit rating, but there is no denying that weed and films go together like Cheech and Chong.

That said, films about weed are, with a few notable exceptions, terrible. It's hard to put a finger on exactly what it is, but it's almost as if there's some connection between honking on fat biftas and being unable to exercise restraint and good storytelling judgement. So what to do?

Read our guide to the best stoner movies, that's what. Whether you're after something to chuckle gormlessly to, stare serenely at or use as a prompt for rambling existentialist 'conversations', there's something here for you.

Inherent Vice (2014)

If there's a better acting-stoned actor alive than Joaquin Phoenix, we've not met them yet. Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel isn't in the front rank of PTA films, but it's still very enjoyable. Phoenix is barely competent private investigator and committed hippie Larry 'Doc' Sportello, who's on the trail of his estranged girlfriend and her new beau, who've disappeared, as well as a drugs ring and a series of murders. It's a little disheveled and a little loose, but it absolutely makes sense when you're shambling around after Doc.

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The Living Dead: The Attic (1995)

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

Adam Curtis's work is rather more austere than the usual post-zoot chat, and we're not suggesting you throw yourself into the long history of the Afghanistan war or how Freud's theory of the unconscious has warped political discourse. But there are softer edges to his work where the near-psychedelic collaging and sharp juxtapositions end up funny rather than disorientating, and the big ideas don't come slicked with dread and fear. The third of his The Living Dead series is about how Margaret Thatcher became strong by evoking a Churchillian vision of Britain, but then was sunk by it too.

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Cats (2019)

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Photo credit: -

Now that the first shock of Tom Hooper's kaleidoscopic orgy of bad decisions has had some time to settle, what do we do with the horny mess that is Cats? Do we try to rehabilitate it, and focus on Jennifer Hudson's snot-soaked rendition of 'Memory'? Do we throw James Cordon, Rebel Wilson and their high-kicking cockroach army into the bin? Do we simply wait until the bumhole cut is released? The answer is simple: we surrender ourselves to the whole fever dream. Why is Judi Dench wearing another cat's fur as a coat? Why did nobody stop Taylor Swift's Briddish accent? Why do the actors' faces wobble around on their CGI heads? It is utterly, utterly mad, and by the fourth chorus of the final song feels like it might literally never end.

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O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)

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Photo credit: -

The Soggy Bottom Boys' harmonies are absolutely peachy when you're stone cold sober, so just imagine what they'll do for you with a little bit of a buzz on. At once a reworking of Homer's Odyssey set in Depression-era Mississippi and a supremely daft caper, the Coen Brothers' first George Clooney collab sees convicts Everett, Pete and Delmar break out of their chain gang and go on the run to find treasure Everett stashed before he was sent inside. On the way, they bump into young bluesman Tommy, accidentally record a hit single, embarrass the KKK, lose Pete and gain a toad. As a blind man tells them at the start, they find a treasure – but not the one they seek.

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Tremors (1990)

Big, silly creature features are a sadly endangered breed these days, aside from the bit at the end of Dwayne Johnson's King Kong-ish Rampage where the gigantic gorilla that Johnson has just saved a city alongside implies (using blunt hand gestures) that Johnson is about to have it off with his leading lady. The Nineties, though? Couldn't get enough of them. Two incompetent handymen decide they're sick of only being handymen in a town with a population of 14 and set off across Nevada for excitement. Unfortunately, they find a bit too much excitement, in the shape of gigantic carnivorous worms which are eating sheep, people and family cars.

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Airplane! (1975)

Photo credit: Paramount
Photo credit: Paramount

As a big evening in wears on, the idea of shouting a film's punchlines about a second and a half before they actually arrive suddenly stops being irritating and becomes The Funniest Thing Ever. For that, there's no film better to shout along with than Airplane!. You've already thought of about seven or eight gags you want to blurt out right now since starting this paragraph. Go on, blurt them. Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue! Don't call me Shirley! Have you ever been in a Turkish prison! Everyone's already seen Airplane! anyway, so blurt away.

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Mean Girls (2004)

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Photo credit: -

It's the same deal with Tina Fey's undimmingly brilliant high school clique comedy. Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) arrives back in the US after a 12-year sojourn somewhere in Africa with her zoologist parents, and is pitched from one world red in tooth and claw and into another one. At the behest of her new mates Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and Damian (Daniel Franzese) she tries to fit in with the monstrous rich girls (Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried and Lacey Chabert), and accidentally finds herself morphing into one of them. Four for you, Glen Coco! Stop trying to make fetch happen! And so on.

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Meet Joe Black (1998)

Meet Joe Black is not a terrific film. It's important we acknowledge that straight off the bat. It is, in many ways, quite bad. If you're in the right mood though, it's very, very funny. It's about a billionaire media mogul (Anthony Hopkins) who's contemplating selling up and his not-very-in-love soon-to-be-wed daughter Allison. That's not particularly important. What is important is that Brad Pitt is a hot young man who isn't actually a hot young man at all – he's hot young Death himself, and he's got the horn for Allison. Watch the clip at the top all the way through. No, all the way through. There, now you get it.

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Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)

Don't try to suggest you're 'too old' for Shaun the Sheep. I simply will not hear it. In this house, we respect the Mossy Bottom Farm gang. Aside from its slightly perfunctory, SEO-optimised title, Shaun the Sheep Movie is Aardman at its absolute best. Successfully bemused by one of Shaun's ploys, the farmer ends up lost in the city with no idea how he got there but a burgeoning career as a hair stylist. The sheep set out to get him back. Nick Park pops up as himself, watching some birds. A mellower vibe you will not find. If you've got time, double up with the sequel Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon.

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Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

A film about the power of compassion and how war's for idiots is always a good shout in these situations. In Studio Ghibli's extravagantly gorgeous tale, young hatmaker Sophie bumps into a witch who promptly turns her into a haggard 90-year-old. She hops on board the dashing wizard Howl's flying castle and sets about trying to free a fire demon who's promised to put her back to her youthful self. As with all Ghibli films, it makes a lot more sense when you watch it. It's a wonderful, magical yarn, and invites a lot of slightly intense over-analysis.

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Dazed and Confused (1993)

Richard Linklater's freewheeling last-day-of-school epic sprawls through a day and a night among the class of 1976 at Lee High School in Austin, Texas. It's notionally about the coming of age of the school's star American football player, 'Pink' Floyd, and his agonising choice between playing by the rules to give himself a chance at a college career, and his love of both teen freedom and the sainted doob. Really, though, it's about that space between teendom and adulthood, where responsibilities are few and the brewskis are chilled, captured in its rambling feel and blazed-beyond-reason chuckleheaded dialogue about George Washington being an alien.

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Booksmart (2019)

Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever's best buds Amy and Molly have done everything right through school, and their straight-arrow super-sensible ways have paid off now they're off to college. The trouble is, it turns out their partying burnout classmates got into top colleges too. What to do? Make up for lost time with a massive night out, obviously. It's got everything a good stoner film needs: a questing arc, to get to the best party and have A Righteously Good Time; a buddy dynamic at its heart; a scene where someone pukes on someone else; a character who keeps popping up out of nowhere and surprising everyone; and a hallucinatory sequence after the gals eat spiked strawberries.

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Foodfight! (2012)

A very specialist choice, but one well worth tracking down. Foodfight! is basically Toy Story but featuring loads of corporate mascots living in their supermarket-based society, and despite costing somewhere north of $45 million to make after a tortuous decade-long gestation, it is easily the most horrifically ugly, confusing and unsettling animated film ever made. Its plot – something about a conglomerate represented by Nazi-styled footsoldiers wanting to purge branded items from the shelves – is impenetrable. Despite being a children's film, its jokes are utterly filthy. Somehow, the voice cast includes Charlie Sheen, Hilary Duff and Eva Longoria. Its director and writer would ask animators to make scenes "more awesome" or "30 percent better". It's The Room, rendered in horribly sharp polygons.

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Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (2010)

Photo credit: Universal
Photo credit: Universal

Whatever you watch, you'll want it to have some decent visuals. You might get a little something extra out of watching, say, Das Boot while stoned, it's not going to do much for you in that regard. Watching Edgar Wright's hyperactive, arcade-inspired visuals pop off on a big screen, however, is a very, very good use of an evening. Michael Cera is Scott Pilgrim, nerd and garage band bassist, who has to defeat his new girlfriend's seven evil exes in mortal combat.

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Tron (1982)

Photo credit: Disney
Photo credit: Disney

For a film which was inspired by a demo of 2D table tennis arcade game Pong, Tron has had an incredibly long life. That's partly down to the neon-lit world created within it, which is so influential that it puts it second only to Blade Runner as the most-often-ripped-off sci-fi film of them al - and the fact that Jeff Bridges is around to carry a fairly tedious story about industrial espionage around on the back of his lightcycle. There's also a measure of proto-Matrix reality-warping in here too, though not quite enough to make you anxious about the substance of your own reality.

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Commando (1985)

Photo credit: 20th Century Fox
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

The connoisseur's choice of utterly brainless retro explode-a-thon. Arnie is retired US Army colonel John Matrix (JOHN MATRIX) whose daughter is kidnapped by generically evil South American revolutionaries who try to blackmail him into carrying out a hit on the US-backed president of the country they've just failed to overthrow. But Arnie's not having that, oh no. He sorts things out the old-fashioned way: with small arms, machine guns, heavy artillery, brute force and post-murder quips so badly constructed and delivered they almost become Dadaist non-sequiturs.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Photo credit: Fox
Photo credit: Fox

It's good to have a purely aesthetically pleasing film at hand which doesn't involve lasers and references to Donkey Kong, and for that you'll struggle to beat the pinks, purples, mauves and burgundies of Wes Anderson's screwball opus. Ralph Fiennes is Gustave, a concierge at the shabbily grand Grand Budapest Hotel who's accused of murder and ropes in young colleague Zero to clear his name as well as stealing an extremely valuable painting. It's very funny, very arch, and very, very gorgeous to look at.

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The Big Lebowski (1998)

Photo credit: Working Title
Photo credit: Working Title

Perhaps the best stoner film ever made about an actual stoner, The Big Lebowski is mistaken identity caper that sees the Coen Brothers do their best work and Jeff Bridges do his as 'The Dude', a laid-back bowling bro who ends up embroiled in a kidnapping and extortion plot. Steve Buscemi and John Goodman make up the excellent supporting cast in a film that is ideal for a weed-watch as it gives the impression of pottering along at its own pace and minding its own business with a little philosophising on the side, but actually has the taut intrigue of a Raymond Chandler adaptation.

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Interstellar (2014)

Photo credit: Warner Bros
Photo credit: Warner Bros

Some people swear by watching 2001: A Space Odyssey while in an altered state. Absolutely do not attempt to do that. You don't know what you're playing with. Interstellar's a much easier way to turn the room onto a bit of light cosmology chat. Matthew McConnaughey throws himself into a wormhole to find another habitable planet when Earth starts going a bit Planet of the Apes. There's black holes, time dilation, multiple dimensions and tesseracts all over the gaff, but none of the overwhelming sense that life is meaningless that you get with 2001.

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Help! (1965)

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From the freewheeling, Bond-parodying plot which follows the lads' attempts to get a cursed ring off Ringo's finger and save him from being ritually sacrificed while haring around the Bahamas, the Beatles' innocent and giggly second film is completely enveloped in weed smoke. "If you look at pictures of us you can see a lot of red-eyed shots; they were red from the dope we were smoking," Ringo recalled later. It's a lot baggier than A Hard Day's Night, but its grinning, anarchic feel and easygoing charm make it ideal for enjoying with a sly late afternoon joint. The soundtrack isn't bad either. Look at George's little smirk. He knows.

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All Aboard: The Canal Trip (2015)

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

Nature docs can become utterly riveting, but being ambushed by the sight of a baby polecat being torn limb from limb by a red kite can also really kill a mood. That's where slow TV documentaries – feature-length docs shot in real time – come in. This one's shot from a single camera on the front of a barge navigating the Kennet and Avon Canal from Top Lock in Bath to the Dundas Aqueduct in real time over the course of two hours. Sometimes the camera pans to the left slightly; sometimes it pans to the right. Occasionally there's a fact about the early days of mechanised weaving. Despite the fact that nothing else happens, it's weirdly gripping. A good 5am chiller.

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