Total Recall

Total Recall: 15 Memorable Movie Stoners

Our most smokin' list yet.

by | August 6, 2008 | Comments

After Super High Me, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay,
Smiley Face, and Strange Wilderness, today’s release of
Pineapple Express
marks the fifth
notable stoner movie of 2008. Are we in the midst of a genre golden age?
Pineapple co-star/writer Seth Rogen insists this is less a stoner movie and
more a movie with a
lot of smoking (and shooting) in it, which got our wheels clicking: what are the most
interesting portrayals of marijuana users out there, and how many of them are in
movies actually classified as a stoner movie? Read on to check out Rotten
Tomatoes’ findings, and check out the Top 10 Stoner Movies over at our sister site, IGN Movies.




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15. Sam, Dewey Cox’s drummer
As seen in:
Walk
Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

(2007)

Zen moment: “It
makes sex even better!”

Smart weed noobs know it’s best to have an experienced user around during
a first smoke sesh, and one would be hard-pressed to find a better trip guide
than Sam, Dewey Cox’s loyal drummer. In one of Walk Hard‘s many running jokes,
Sam is frequently caught in flagrante with groupies, half-heartedly resisting
Dewey before sharing some drugs. As played by Tim Meadows, Sam lays out the
pleasures of marijuana, coke, and ecstasy straight up, and, best of all, never
backs off when the rules are broken: “You never paid for the drugs. Not even
once!”

 



 

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14. Floyd, the roommate

As seen in:
True Romance (1993)

Zen moment: “You guys wanna smoke a bowl or, uhh…”

He’s hardly in the movie, but for more than a few fans of 1993’s True
Romance
, Brad Pitt’s perpetually stoned Floyd steals the show — no mean
feat for a guy who never even gets off the couch, doesn’t do much besides
smoke out of a bong made out of an empty container of honey, and has to go up
against similarly terrific (and similarly brief) performances from Christopher
Walken, Gary Oldman, Bronson Pinchot, James Gandolfini, and Michael Rapaport.
It was no accident, though — Quentin Tarantino’s script came soaked in blood,
and Tony Scott’s direction added a layer of visual brilliance, but Floyd?
Floyd gave us a few minutes of blissed-out humor between the gunshots.




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13. The FreelingsAs seen in:
Poltergeist

(1982)

Zen moment: “Just have an open mind. Reach back into our past when I used to
know you with one and use it for the next couple of minutes.”

Written, produced, and virtually ghost-directed by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist
clearly comes from a personal place and it shows in the small details littered
throughout the movie. One scene, for example, shows Mama and Papa Freeling
(Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams) casually smoking, talking, and goofing
around in bed. Their marijuana use actually makes them more sympathetic as
characters: judging by their oldest daughter’s age and the movie’s setting, the
Freelings were flower children who married and had children young. It’s a
juggling act for the two to keep in touch with their youth as they settle down
into the dull suburban dream (soon to be invaded by some pissed-off,
face-destroying ghosts).





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12. Annie Hall
As seen in:
Annie Hall

(1977)
Zen moment: “You’ve been seeing a psychiatrist for 15 years. You should
smoke some of this. You’d be off the couch in no time.”

Arguably, drug portrayal in movies has different meanings in different
decades. With Easy Rider, it opened America’s eyes to the long-gestating
counterculture movement. The Cheech & Chong series kickstarted the good times
attitude that lasted well into 80s cinema. And modern stoner classics (the
Harold and Kumars, Pineapple Express) explore decriminalization and the
pursuit of freedom of choice. Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall, as a rare positive
portrayal of a woman under the influence, is a brand of female empowerment, a
naive New York intellectual who plagued the city at the time.




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11. Steve ZissouAs seen in: The Life
Aquatic With Steve Zissou

(2004)

Zen moment: “Supposedly Cousteau and his cronies invented the idea of putting
walkie-talkies into the helmet. But we made ours with a special rabbit ear on
the top so we could pipe in some music.”

Steve Zissou: oceanographer, documentary star, and self-proclaimed “showboat,
and a little bit of a prick.” Wes Anderson works have a small reputation as
arthouse stoner flicks (chill movies with outbursts of action, emotion, and rad
music), but The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is his only one that addresses
the issue head on. Bill Murray’s Zissou is seen regularly smoking on his seaside
misadventures, and one memorable scene has him rushing to the stern of his boat
after learning about his illegitimate son, with David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?”
swelling on the soundtrack. It’s a beautiful and sad moment, portraying a broken
man resorting to his last defense against life’s little lemons.





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10. Wayne Campbell
As seen in:
Wayne’s World
(1992)
Zen moment: “Party on!”

You never see Wayne Campbell, co-host of the most awesome public access show
ever, do any drugs. Hell, the issue never even comes up. But similar to The
Monkees comedies, Wayne’s World uses typically “stoner” humor while adroitly
avoiding the issue completely. The plot has hilariously bizarre tangents,
people cruise around doing nothing but singing and satisfying their munchies
(director Penelope Spheeris inserts a shot of a White Castle; read that however
you will), and Wayne and Garth have random philosophical discussions while
looking at the sky. Or maybe that was just how the 90s were.




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9. The Half-Baked trioAs seen in:
Half-Baked
(1998)

Zen moment: “So y’all wanna smoke?”

Most of the movies on this list include one or two stoners, but let’s hear it
for 1998’s Half Baked: Almost everyone in this critically reviled cult
classic has five on it, including Steven Wright’s “guy on the couch,” a
character with amazing, near-total inertia. Our favorites, though, are Thurgood,
Brian, and Scarface, the cheeba-selling trio played by Dave Chappelle, Brian
Breuer, and Guillermo Diaz, buddies forced into dealing stolen medical marijuana
in order to raise bail for their friend Kenny, who was arrested for accidentally
murdering a horse. (Look, it’s a stoner comedy. What do you want, The 400
Blows
?) As a film, there isn’t much to it — something critics were only too
happy to point out — and Chappelle himself was unhappy with the final script,
but as the movie’s enduring popularity on the home market attests, critics and
Dave Chappelle don’t always know what they’re talking about.





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8. Billy and Wyatt
As seen in:
Easy Rider
(1969)
Zen moment: “It’s real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the
marketplace.”

They may not be
the original movie stoners, but Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper — otherwise
known as Wyatt and Billy, the protagonists of Easy Rider — are easily
two of the most iconic characters to put the “bud” in “buddies”; their
spiritual freedom-seeking road trip in this 1969 feature not only gave
filmgoers a ground-level view of the counterculture, it also helped kickstart
the New Hollywood era of the early ’70s, and influenced countless future
filmmakers in the process. In a pleasantly ironic postscript, the National
Film Registry added Easy Rider to its list, deeming it “culturally,
historically, or aesthetically significant.” Not bad for a pair of
motorcycle-riding hippies, man.





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7. Bill S. Preston, Esq, & Ted “Theodore” Logan
As seen in:

Bill & Ted’s Excellent
Adventure

(1989),
Bill & Ted’s Bogus
Journey
(1991)
Zen moment: “Be excellent to each other.”

If you were a child of the late 1980s (or plain unobservant), the Bill and Ted
movies fall into the Wayne’s World category: there’s nothing alluding to
anything illicit in its humor. It’s just kinda dumb and weird and harmless,
perfect for impressionable young kids. But now that we’ve all wisened up, the
Bill and Ted movies stick to the tenets of stoner comedy pretty closely: silly
one-liners, scatterbrained plot, and a slacker entitlement mentality that
illustrates we can be successful doing the same ridiculous things we do every
day. Ah, if only life seemed as good as when we were kids (or when we’re
intoxicated).





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6. Smokey
As seen in:
Friday
(1995)
Zen moment: “Weed is from the earth. God put this here for me and you. Take
advantage man, take advantage.”

All he ever does anymore is make Rush Hour movies, but once
upon a time, Chris Tucker’s biggest calling card was his turn as the
stash-dipping dope dealer Smokey in this 1995 cult classic. Middle America was
terrified of South Central L.A. in the early-to-mid ’90s, thanks in part to
the ’92 riots and the music of groups like co-star Ice Cube’s old day gig,
N.W.A., but the good old-fashioned weed humor and day-in-the-life plot of the
script (written by Cube and DJ Pooh) helped Friday produce a $28
million return on its $3.5 million budget — not to mention a series of sequels
and Ice Cube’s budding career as a family film star. Another sequel is said to
be in the works, and like the others, it probably won’t feature Tucker — but
fans continue to hope for his long-overdue return from rehab.




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5. Jeff SpicoliAs seen in:

Fast Times at
Ridgemont High
(1982)

Zen moment: “What Jefferson was saying was, ‘Hey! You know, we left this
England place ’cause it was bogus; so if we don’t get some cool rules ourselves
— pronto — we’ll just be bogus too!’ Get it? ”

Amy Heckerling’s 1982 classic is remembered for many things — Cameron
Crowe’s near-perfect script; early appearances from Nicolas Cage, Anthony
Edwards, Forest Whitaker, and Eric Stoltz; Phoebe Cates on the diving board —
but one of the movie’s biggest, most enduring gifts to cinema was proof, in the
form of the perpetually baked surfer Jeff Spicoli, that Sean Penn can be
side-splittingly hilarious if he wants to. Sprinkled like brownie crumbs between
the movie’s more serious bits, Penn’s scenes as Spicoli –particularly those when
he goes up against his nemesis, the sputtering Mr. Hand — provide Fast
Times
with some of the finest comic relief in early ’80s American cinema.
Oh, gnarly!






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4. Harold & KumarAs seen in:
Harold & Kumar Go To
White Castle
(2004),
Harold & Kumar Escape
from Guantanamo Bay
(2008)

Zen moment: “The universe tends to unfold as it should.”

 

Endless movies are built around the concept of the odd couple, but how
much of an odd couple can you be when you can effortlessly blend into a crowd?
Enter Harold and Kumar, a racially diverse BFF duo for our modern times. Their
enduring popularity stems from how versatile their comedy can be: as the first
stoner duo in our post Cheech and Chong, Bill and Ted world; as instruments to
explore racial inequalities; and in the recent sequel, wanderers in an uncertain
nation. They’re also both idiots in their own specific ways, which is always
hilarious.




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3. Jay & Silent Bob
As seen in:
Clerks
(1994),
Mallrats

(1995),
Chasing Amy

(1997), Dogma
(1999),
Jay and Silent Bob
Strike Back

(2001),
Clerks II
(2006),
Zen moment: “You know, there’s a million fine-looking women in the world,
dude. But they don’t all bring you lasagna at work. Most of ’em just cheat on
you.”

 

From the moment they appeared in 1994’s Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob —
otherwise known as Monmouth County, NJ’s biggest John Hughes fans, and the
scourge of any cops unlucky enough to pull duty at Quick Stop Groceries — were
an instant hit. Played by Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, the foul-mouthed
weed-dealing duo has appeared in nearly all of Smith’s films (a notable
exception being Jersey Girl, and we all know how well that turned
out), even inspiring their own spinoff feature in 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob
Strike Back
. Though they aren’t your typical movie stoners — Jay is
hyperactive, and Silent Bob, when he does speak, is unfailingly profound — they
are the only characters on this list to inspire comic book characters
named Bluntman and Chronic.





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2. The Dude
As seen in:
The Big Lebowski
(19982)
Zen moment: “That rug really tied the room together.”

Now what’s a drug user without a colorful cast of characters to surround
himself with? Sure, The Dude’s (Jeff Bridges) antics are now the stuff of
legend, but there’s a reason why stoner movies usually come equipped with two
main heroes: seeing one guy do drugs is kinda depressing; seeing two or more
makes it an adventure. The Dude’s cohorts: Walter (John Goodman), an unstable
militant, and Donny (Steve Buscemi), a spacey, good-natured doormat. The three
occupy their own pointy end on the personality triangle, but they’re brought
together through one shared, common belief: “That rug really tied the room
together.”






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1. Cheech & Chong
As seen in:
Up in Smoke
(1978)
Zen moment: “Responsibility is a heavy responsibility.”

Chronologically speaking, they may not be the grandfathers of cinematic
stoners, but who cares? Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong elevated self-medicating
humor to an art form, first through a series of popular albums, then a
succession of top-grossing movies, including Up in Smoke (47 percent), Nice
Dreams
(50 percent), and Still Smokin’ (17 percent). Critics,
obviously, have never had much use for the duo’s leafy brand of humor, but that
hasn’t stopped Cheech & Chong from enjoying long-running careers in television
and film. Marin left for not-so-green pastures in the mid-’80s, expressing a
desire to branch out into non-marijuana-related areas, but he and Chong are back
together again — they recently announced plans to reunite for a tour.

Check out past editions of Total Recall in our column archives.

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