Revenge of the Stoner Movies - The 2008 Comeback!
by Alex Billington
April 16, 2008
I still remember the first time I ever watched Half Baked. All I wanted to do was smoke a bowl and float around the city, but alas I was too naive at the time. Despite a lack of any marijuana, I still laughed my ass off and haven't forgotten it since. After Half Baked became a cult stoner hit back in 1998, in addition to Dazed and Confused from 1993, countless other stoner movies have attempted to become as big of a success and failed. Now, a mere 10 years later, it looks like stoner movies are going to make a come back with at least two strong contenders arriving in the next few months - Harold & Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay and Pineapple Express. Light ’em up, boys!
You may be wondering - why in the hell did we choose the genre of stoner movies to mention out of anything this year. Well, it's because I have a good feeling that these aren't soon going to be forgotten, just like Half Baked. And if you think I'm alone in this prediction, guess again. The LA Times beat me to the punch and wrote up a piece about Stoner Films Make a Comeback at SXSW. It was SXSW where I first saw Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (as well as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a minor stoner comedy) and thought to myself that this could be the year stoner comedies make it back bigtime. With that, let's look at the small but potent line-up that we've got this year.
Super High Me - April 20th
(Watch the Trailer)
Comedian Doug Benson stole the concept from Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me - compare the health effects of eating fast food for 30 days and not eating fast food for 30 days - except Benson experiment with weed, not fast food. Yep, Benson was high for 30 days straight. I saw this movie at SXSW and not only loved it but thought it was an incredibly well put together documentary supporting the legalization of marijuana. I hope this becomes an indie cult hit not only for stoners but for those who appreciate marijuana and support its legalization. Plus it's a documentary that'll have you laughing your ass off - definitely a great start for stoner movies this year!
Harold & Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo - April 25th
(Watch the Trailer)
Need I say much more? The first Harold & Kumar from 2004 was one of the only movies in recent years to spark a possible comeback (get it?). This time it's going to kick things into high gear. I wasn't expecting much, but damn was I blown away by this. Harold & Kumar 2 is a brilliant marijuana-infused creation that continues to strike comedic gold. While it may not be better than the first, the combination of these two movies together is definitely going to make an unforgettable impact on the stoner genre. What's better than getting stoned and watching two ethnic guys run around the country? Nothing!
While I don't necessarily think Harold & Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo is going to be successful enough to really bring stoner movies back, I think it's funny enough to lead up to the ultimate stoner movie later in the year - Pineapple Express. This is definitely a good stoner comedy worth seeing and is a great kick off to the summer.
The Wackness - July 3rd
The only other prominent stoner movie on the list, The Wackness is the little indie stoner movie that could! This brilliant independent film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews (including from us) and has since become one of my favorite movies of the year - stoned or not! The film not only focuses on a pot dealer in New York City in the 1990s, but I'm certain it could be enjoyed high as well. Josh Peck, who stars as the pot dealing Luke Shapiro, delivers one of the most unforgettable stoner performances since Dave Chappelle. Plus you've got Ben Kingsley with long hair smoking more weed than you can dream of, the stunningly gorgeous Olivia Thirlby blazing as well, and a guest appearance from Method Man.
The Wackness is the one indie movie that I'm hoping will hit as big as Juno. It definitely has the goods, it just needs the support. And when stoners and non-stoners alike start to see how brilliant this movie is, I'm sure they'll embrace it as much as all of us. Another film that in combination with the explosion of Pineapple Express in August could easily help bring the stoner movie genre back in style.
Pineapple Express - August 8th
(Watch the Trailer)
This year's ultimate stoner flick. Pineapple Express, last on the list, but definitely not least, is going to be the one movie that I have a feeling will bring about the complete revival of the stoner movie. Have you seen the frickin' trailer yet? It's about two potheads who get high on a variety of weed called "pineapple express" and witness a mob murder. They then spend the last half of the movie being chased around in epic action movie style. It's the latest big summer comedy from the Judd Apatow team. Think Superbad and Knocked Up, but about two insane stoners.
From what I've seen, from what I've heard (from people who've seen it), and from my knowledge of all things Judd Apatow, I'm fully under the belief that Pineapple Express is going to show us how insanely awesome stone movies can be (again). The best part is that, while it of course it's a comedy, it's also apparently half action. I can't wait to see it myself and I can't wait to see the stoner movie come back in style. Make sure you've got your bong packed on August 8th!
Now don't forget there is a difference between stoner movies, that involve actual stoners, and movies that would be great to watch stoned. The latter is a list about 20 movies long (well hell, most movies would be great stoned, I think?). This year alone I could throw Pathology, Speed Racer, Kung Fu Panda, Tropic Thunder, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno on there. That's a whole different experience!
We hope you have a blazingly fantastic 4/20, but make sure you save some weed (or money) until later in the year, because you won't want to be watching these without plenty of good green. I can already confirm that the one thing these movies will have you wanting to do more than anything is break out that bong and smoke it up right there in the damn movie theater. Screw the rules, do it anyway!