Published Jan 14, 2020Smoking pot in movies sure has come a long way over the years. Once considered an activity too taboo to be seen in many mainstream movies, it was instead relegated primarily to trailblazing indies like Easy Rider, or niche comedies like the work of pioneering stoner duo Cheech and Chong. Though there will always be a place in the hearts (and lungs) of potheads everywhere for the iconic scene of Cheech and Chong toking a giant bat while driving in Up in Smoke, and someone will likely be quoting "Dave's not here, man" until the end of time, there are plenty of other weed-centric scenes worth mentioning now. Here's a list of some of the best moments of characters getting nicely toasted off on screen.
9. Black Sheep (1996)
Though the second feature-length vehicle featuring Chris Farley and David Spade is justifiably not as fondly remembered as Tommy Boy, Black Sheep's funniest moment is a pot-fuelled speech delivered to a misinformed MTV audience.
Farley's Mike Donnelly has gone to a Rock the Vote event in Seattle where his brother Al is expected to appear as part of his campaign for governor. But when Mike takes a wrong turn backstage, he inadvertently ends up in the dressing room of a Jamaican band that's mid-smoke-sesh. After he indulges alongside them, promising to "talk to some people" about their concerns regarding society being racist and oppressive, he's mistaken for his brother Al by the band Mudhoney and forced out onstage by them for his scheduled speech.
Upon finding that the young crowd is pretty much willing to cheer anything he says, including such confused inspiring platitudes as "That's one small step for man, one giant… I have a dream!," he naturally takes it one step too far when he glimpses the Jamaican band at the side of the stage and can't help but scream "Kill whitey!" to the stunned crowd at the top of his lungs. His brother Al, looking on backstage, is understandably horrified.
8. Clueless (1995)
There may be no environment quite as conducive to the communal smoking of a joint quite like the house party. Clueless, Amy Heckerling's classic '90s comedy showcased a breakout role for Alicia Silverstone as Cher — a good-hearted, albeit somewhat materialistic Beverly Hills teenager — and the film's centerpiece was a raucous shindig in the Valley.
Though Cher takes exception to the kind of burnout lifestyle she sees in classmate Travis (Breckin Meyer), she has no problem with sharing a doob with her new makeover pet project Tai (Brittany Murphy) and Tai's would-be love interest Elton (Jeremy Sisto). Cher and Tai's inebriated state then colours the rest of their experience that night, as they try to maintain their buzz through a game of Suck and Blow gone wrong, Tai getting hit in the head with a shoe, and witnessing Donald Faison's Murray shaving his head because he's "keeping it real."
It's kind of eventful evening that they'd likely find themselves laughing about for weeks if not months to come, or at the very least every time they hear Coolio's "Rollin' With My Homies."
7. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Getting high isn't always the fun and relaxing experience that you might expect or want it to be. In Stanley Kubrick's final film, Eyes Wide Shut, Dr. Bill Hartford and his wife Alice (Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, who were married in real life at the time), decide to smoke a joint before bed and it quickly spirals into a marital crisis.
It all starts innocently enough: they discuss past temptations and Dr. Bill assures his wife that he trusts her to be faithful to him in spite of other men's advances, but then she kills the vibe by revealing the true precarious nature of their union. Kidman really leans into the effects of what must be some truly dynamite stuff, at one point straight up laughing at Cruise for what feels like an eternity.
Through her haze, she details a chance encounter she had with a sailor while on vacation with Dr. Bill years ago, and how her fantasies of him were powerful enough to even strongly consider leaving her husband and their daughter.
Left shaken and staring into space in a way that only Cruise can pull off, it's this confession that ultimately proves to be the impetus for the dark, strange and dream-like journey that lies ahead for him in better understanding their marriage.
6. Jackie Brown (1997)
Bridget Fonda's Melanie plays a small but indelible role in Jackie Brown, Quentin Tarantino's underrated followup to Pulp Fiction. The beach blonde surfer girl lounges around all day smoking weed and watching TV, financially supported by her oily sugar daddy Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson). When he worries that this lifestyle might rob her of her ambition, she cannily replies, "Not if your ambition is to get high and watch TV."
Just before she's left alone with Ordell's ex-con buddy Louis (Robert De Niro), the two share some hits from a bong, which causes Louis to cough. "Coughing opens up the capillaries," she says, reassuring him that this will actually get him even higher. The stoned pair, who have just met, then attempt some small talk while looking at a photo on the wall, until Melanie abruptly puts an end to the chatter. "Wanna fuck?" she asks. He considers the offer for all of a moment before replying, "Sure." Three minutes later, they're all done, with her concluding "that was fun" and him agreeing that it "really hit the spot."
This amusing sex scene serves as their introduction to each other and, by the end, is a reminder of better times for the duo, long before she gets on his last nerve in a mall parking lot while looking for their car.
5. Dazed and Confused (1993)
We've all been there before. You've just smoked up with someone and they sense it's the perfect time to detail the sort of outlandish conspiracy theory that's certain to be a lot more convincing when you're both under the influence.
In Richard Linklater's ultimate hang-out movie Dazed and Confused, it's the senior class's resident stoner Slater (played to hilarious "that's what I'm talking about" perfection by Rory Cochrane) who gets blazed enough at the film's climactic party to posit a far-out idea of his own. Slater passionately argues that founding father George Washington not only toked up himself, but grew fields of herb all over the country. Not to be overshadowed by her husband, Slater reserves praise for Martha Washington as "a hip, hip lady" and insists she had a bowl waiting for George at the end of every day.
It's the kind of thing that doesn't necessarily require you to have a joint yourself to enjoy but, to quote Matthew McConaughey's Wooderson in the film, "It'd be a lot cooler if you did."
4. Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
Billed as a "spiritual sequel" to Dazed and Confused, Linklater's Everybody Wants Some!! introduced us to an entirely different, though no less enjoyable, kind of stoner than Slater. A pitcher on the college baseball team that the film follows, Wyatt Russell's Willoughby is a soft-spoken, gentle soul who gets along with pretty much everyone.
In his signature moment from the film, he sits around in a room with a few of the other guys from the team, and despite some doubts from those present, proceeds to successfully take the biggest bong rip imaginable without so much as coughing. The secret to his lung capacity? He grew up next to two rivers.
Once he's suitably high, Willoughby waxes philosophical on the Pink Floyd song "Fearless," asking everyone listening along with him (including the audience) to fully appreciate the intricately perfect progression of the music, while also working in a few pointed jabs at the expense of Van Halen.
When he's forced to eventually leave the team due to concealing something pretty important about himself, he does so with no explanation to the group aside from a concise distillation of his outlook on life: "We came for a good time, not for a long time."
3. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
Poor Dewey Cox. Every time the fictional singer-songwriter, played by John C. Reilly in the music biopic parody Walk Hard, opens a door throughout his long and storied life, he seems to find members of his band doing illicit drugs. "You don't want no part of this shit!" he's regularly being told by his drummer, as portrayed by invaluable SNL alum Tim Meadows.
It's easy enough for Dewey to avoid partaking in the harder stuff after being warned of their very real potential dangers, but it's a whole lot tougher to turn down pot when he hears about its repercussions, or more specifically, the lack thereof. One by one, his fears of a hangover, getting addicted, overdosing and having to pay too much for the drug are categorically dismissed by Meadows.
Faced with these kinds of non-existent consequences, Cox makes what can only be considered a rather reasonable decision. "I think I kinda want it," he admits.
2. Friday (1995)
The first words we hear in Friday are courtesy of Chris Tucker's character Smokey, and they serve to clue you in to the kind of chill movie we're about to watch. "I'm gonna get you high today. Because it's Friday, you ain't got no job and you ain't got shit to do," he tells his friend Craig (Ice Cube).
Conceived by rapper-turned-screenwriter Ice Cube and director F. Gary Gray as a lighter alternative to deadly serious hood movies of the time like Boyz N the Hood and Menace II Society, Friday traces a day in the life of the mismatched pals while they get blazed and try (but fail) to stay out of trouble.
When Smokey does eventually get Cube's Craig high for the first time, the scene becomes a keenly observed snapshot of how someone typically handles that first experience. Craig quickly veers from being all-too aware of how his heart's beating faster, to the type of classic paranoia that has Craig imagining that he hears his phone ringing inside when outside on their stoop.
For all of his trouble in getting his friend ripped for the first time, Smokey also has to play mentor to the lightweight Craig in helping him through the anxiety he's feeling and explain how not to mess up a puff-puff-pass rotation. In the hands of the ever-animated Tucker, this ordeal becomes a whole lot funnier.
1. Pineapple Express (2008)
In the days before legalization, an unfortunate reality of replenishing your stash meant having to endure a visit to your dealer that risked intermingling the transactional with the social.
In the action-comedy hybrid strain Pineapple Express, Seth Rogen's process server Dale Denton wants nothing more than to quickly get his weed from his dealer Saul (James Franco) and leave, but it's never quite that easy, is it?
Instead, he finds Saul introducing him to the title strain — the "dopest dope you've ever smoked" — that's so rare and powerful, it's as if two other coveted strains had babies and those babies then procreated in order to birth Pineapple Express. But even after Dale has copped some of that premium sticky icky, he isn't able to get out the door without Saul guilt-tripping him into smoking a trifecta joint with him. This ingenious creation requires two people lighting it at the same time and is essentially two perpendicular joints bound together.
Their initial bonding experience may end up being at least partly responsible for the duo getting into serious trouble with a kingpin, played by Gary Cole, but it's also the beginning of a beautiful friendship that otherwise could not have happened if Dale had just been sold some of the low-grade "snicklefritz" Saul keeps for people he doesn't like.