i’ve decided that i will periodically disseminate my film picks for essential stoner viewing. initially this was going to be a one-off post but the more films i watch (and they only increase exponentially as i get older), the more recommendations i have. the films in question may not directly involve weed or drugs as part of their plot or story, they may just be trippy in nature and therefore appeal more to the stoner’s sense of wonder and awe than the general sober individual. as a result this list is a mix of comedy, drama, fantasy and thought experiment exercise flicks. all offer something for the stoned mind, that is, an askew look at the world and reality that manifests itself either through belly laughs, introspection or just a general sense of awesome self-awareness that you are watching something fucking cool.
in no particular order:
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
in possibly one of the greatest sequels ever made, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey actually kills off its two main stars and sends them to hell and back. in this classic scene, the boys have to play Death himself (aka “The Reaper”, played by the hugely underrated William Sadler) in order to win their freedom. i’m not sure what the reception was like for this film during its release, but watching it as an adult makes you realise how all-out and ballsy it was. the boys explore the inner-recesses of their minds in multiple chambers throughout hell, confront the devil, mug people in heaven in order to get past the gates to see God himself (depicted as a booming man’s voice), all in an inane attempt to preserve their “excellent” future legacy. watching the first film (which is also quite a trip, but not on par with this (though plenty of ppl feel the opposite)) will help you understand all the little bit characters that pop up throughout the film’s reality and hell sequences.
Head On (1998)
Head On is a decade-old Aussie film that turned out to be one of the most confronting and intense film experiences i’ve ever had. i only got around to watching it a year ago and it felt like i’d been thwacked over the head with a sack of potatoes by the end of it. the amazing performance by Alex Dimitriades gives the entire film a heavy, palpable, moody edge that completely absorbs you (even through the man-on-man action, for those that might be squeamish at such a sight). balancing the depiction of the traditional wog family living in Australia and trying to maintain some sort of cultural identity, with the grungy, complicated, bi-curious and aimless youth of the day makes it riveting to watch (especially as homosexuality and wogs is an eternally touchy subject). this balancing act shows the turmoil present in both aspects of Ari’s (the lead character played by Alex) life, and only adds to the tense washed out atmosphere director Ana Kokkinos helps foster.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
to try and describe the film would leave the uninitiated with a headspin. i watched this for the first time many years ago, and was clearly unready for the genius of the Coen brothers. last year, however, that all changed when i randomly decided to watch it again, for no real reason other than the fact that i was curious why people the world over were still, to this day, hugely obsessed with The Dude and the world of colourful fellow cohorts he inhabits. thankfully, the 2nd viewing did the trick. not only is this a stoner’s wet dream, it’s possibly one of the most quotable films ever made. A MUST SEE.
Waking Life (2001)
this scene from Richard Linklater‘s rotoscoped classic features Alex Jones on one of his many blood-boiling action-inducing rants that make you wanna get up and smash some shit in the name of freedom and justice n alla that good shit. the entire film follows a nameless kid as he strolls through his subconscious within a lucid dream, chatting and listening to all types of people giving their impression of what the world and the universe is all about. this kinda shit is pretty much the default flick for the D n’ M stoner who is looking to awaken a different part of their brain and think about some stuff, all while copping the absolutely unique visual style that is ‘rotoscoping’.
Dark City (1998)
the Aussies are at it again. actually Aussie cinema from the 80s onwards would truly trip even the most stoic stoner out for its sheer audacity and general grunginess. Dark City is a film from highly stylistic and uber-talented director Alex Proyas (who also has The Crow and I, Robot on his resumé). it is also one of the main blueprints the Wachowskis relied upon when shaping The Matrix (which is a nice way of saying they stole/borrowed a lot of shit from Dark City, not just themes and plot, but tone, visuals, entire scenes AND the re-using of constructed set pieces). the film’s protagonist is a man named “John” who has no idea who, where or WHEN he is. around him the world seems to come to a complete standstill, he’s being chased by weird albinos in trench coats, the sun never comes out, and buildings twist and turn and change into other structures (along with the people who also switch identities). either he’s on acid, or somethin hinky is goins on. the film works both on a sci fi level, and a deeply human one as it involves the figuring out and procuring of the human soul. there’s plenty here to get the high mind percolating.
Super Troopers (2001)
i can tell you right meow, this is a certified classic any which way you look at it complete with three stoner viewing essentials: quotables, characters, & weed-induced hilarity. the opening scene alone still warrants hefty belly laughs and uncontrollable chortling. overall it’s the playful nature of the film, and the comic prowess of Broken Lizard that make this (and most of their films) central to a healthy ‘stoner’s film diet’.
Trinity Is Still My Name (1971)
you could argue i’ve included this absolute CLASSIC film because of Bud Spencer and Terence Hill’s iconic ahead-of-their-time humour and comic timing, or because it’s one of the films that kick-started the “Spaghetti Western” genre (one of the first being the predecessor to this film, 1970’s They Call Me Trinity). but if you watch this clip, you’ll see that yes, it’s those things, but mostly? it’s THE FUCKING FOOD. nobody, i mean nobody knows how to eat some food on-screen better than these two. since childhood i’ve watched their films, and in every single one of them there is an extended scene of the two eating an exorbitant amount of food, and really just enjoying the shit out of it. i credit Bud, Terence and the writer/director behind most of their memorable team-ups, Enzo Barboni (aka E.B. Clucher), for making me insanely hungry and providing me with some pretty awesome munchies-related moments throughout my life. on a further note, please track down and watch the two Trinity films. in fact, track down and watch anything these two ever made together. you’ll soon realise you’ve been missing out on an entire classic era of cinema you never knew existed. word=bond.
Return To Oz (1985)
i’m not sure too many people have even heard of this Disney sequel to The Wizard Of Oz. instead of presenting a happy sing-songy munchkinland, this film is more akin to a dark, psychological fantasy film, with enough scary shit in it to leave an indelible mark on me and children like me who were young when they were first exposed to it. the land of Oz is in tatters as Dorothy (played by a young Fairuza Balk in her film debut) navigates it with her pet chicken and encounters all sortsa crazy fucked up shit (ok not my most eloquent description).
Scott Baio is in a lab accident that gives him telekinetic powers which he, of course, puts to good use by mentally mackin on chicks and other assorted stuff that would make u lose your shit. it’s the 80s, what else ya gonna do (i’ll tell you what else you gonna do, smoke up and enjoy a fat slice of 80s teen movie excess).
The Neverending Story (1984)
yet another supposed kids film that scared the crap out of me as a child. i’m sure everyone remembers Falcor. who the fuck wouldn’t? but does anyone remember the entire planet blowing up? NOPE. but i do.