Cannabis aficionados know from experience that smoking a doobie makes everything better; food, sex, everything. That’s especially true of movies where the colors are brighter and the sound of music is heightened. And if it’s a cold, rainy day in Los Angeles — if it ever is — there’s nothing better than to stay in bed, fire up a fatty, tune in, turn on and enjoy the show.
But first, a warning: This is not about the best stoner movies. (If it was, then Sean Penn's Spicoli would win hands-down, of course.) Instead, this is about the best movies to watch and rewatch when you're stoned. And there are no rankings — the titles are in alphabetical order — because it's impossible to compare, for example, a road-trip picture with a cartoon. So we aren't even going to try. But we are going to roll another one.
Here are L.A. Weekly's top 20 movies to watch while enjoying California's legalization of recreational cannabis:
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi masterpiece. Evolution. Existence. A spaceship tango set to “The Blue Danube Waltz.” Betrayed by HAL, Dave rockets through a psychedelic wormhole. “It's full of stars!” Are you experienced?
Airplane (1980): This silly and timeless parody spoofs disaster films. Every stereotype gets a few minutes of fame as an alcoholic pilot and his ex-girlfriend attempt to make an emergency landing.
The Big Lebowski (1998): Jeff Bridges is “the Dude” and Ethan and Joel Coen are at their best. When someone with the same name as Jeff Lebowski gets ripped off, it's time for the Dude to find out the answer because he's being blamed. That sends him spiraling into the Los Angeles underworld.
A Clockwork Orange (1971): Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his Droogs make their way through a future England drinking psychedelic milk and doing a bit “of the old ultraviolence.” Another classic from director Kubrick, based on Anthony Burgess' 1962 novel.
Easy Rider (1969): An entire generation of stoners saw this flick and then went in search of marijuana. Thank you, Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Terry Southern and Jack Nicholson.
Fantasia (1940): Walt Disney's experimental extravaganza brings together animation and classical music. Beethoven, Stokowski, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky. Hippos in tutus performing ballet, dancing flowers, Mickey Mouse having a helluva time with mops and buckets.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982): Sean Penn gets his start as Spicoli, the reefer-mad surfer who mixes it up with his straight-edge teacher, Mr. Hand (Ray Walston).
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986): Because sometimes you just gotta say fuck it and pass the joint. Bueller (Matthew Broderick) cuts high school classes and gets away with it, borrowing a Ferrari, going to a Cubbies game and crashing a Michigan Avenue parade while doing his best leading the crowd in “Twist & Shout.”
Fritz the Cat (1972): In the first X-rated animated feature to come out of Hollywood, writer-director Ralph Bakshi brings to celluloid life R. Crumb's underground sex-crazed cat. A trippy journey through the pot-fueled anti-establishment era.
All of The Lord of the Rings movies, because who doesn't like big-footed little dudes working out their fantasies in a hostile dragon- and sorcerer-filled world.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-96, with later reincarnations): Joel Hodgson created this TV series for a local Minneapolis station; it then moved to Comedy Central and became a cult favorite. MST3K stars Hodgson as Joel Robinson, a janitor trapped in the year 3000 by mad scientists on a spaceship called the Satellite of Love. He's forced to watch really bad 20th-century B-movies. To cope, he builds robot companions Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot and Gypsy. Together they watch the movie and riff on it.
Pineapple Express (2008): Stoner Dale Denton (Rogen) and his dealer (James Franco) are running from a drug lord (Gary Cole) and a crooked cop (Rosie Perez).
Pink Floyd — The Wall (1982): Drugged-out musician Pink (Bob Geldof) goes insane in a Los Angeles hotel room. He constructs a metaphorical wall to protect himself from emotions and the world in general. Mostly animation fused with real-life situations. Written by Pink Floyd singer-bassist Roger Waters.
Pulp Fiction (1994): Quentin Tarantino reinvents the buddy movie as hitmen Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) “retire” their victims with impunity. The storyline shifts as often as Vincent and Jules reload their hand cannons.
All of the Raiders of the Lost Ark movies except Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, where Kate Capshaw and the kid scream throughout.
Reefer Madness (1936): It's hard to believe when you're laughing so hard you think you really are busting your gut, but when this movie debuted, it was intended to be taken seriously. By the 1970s, it had become a staple of late-night weekend movie showings at colleges.
Shane (1953): The gold standard of Westerns. Conflicted good guys and really, really bad guys. The George Stevens film follows gunslinger Shane (Alan Ladd) into a Wyoming town that he cleans up. Jack Palance makes his acting debut as a bad guy you can't wait to see gunned down. Honorable mention: The Outlaw Josey Wales, Silverado, Open Range.
The entire Star Trek series and the Star Wars movies except Episode 2: Attack of the Clones — that's the one with Jar-Jar Binks.
Up in Smoke (1978): The classic stoner movie. Negatively received when it came out, it's credited with establishing the stoner-comedy genre. Unemployed drummer Anthony “Man” Stoner (Tommy Chong) and his buddy Pedro de Pacas (Cheech Marin) end up smuggling a van made of marijuana from Tijuana to Los Angeles.
We're the Millers (2013): Pot dealer David (Jason Sudeikis) gets ripped off. His druglord buddy says he can pay off his debt by bringing “a smidge” of cannabis back to L.A. from Mexico. His foolproof scheme involves creating a fake family that's on a fake vacation in a large recreational vehicle. Jennifer Aniston is his pole-dancer wife, Will Poulter is the neighbor's son and Emma Roberts is a street waif turned “daughter.”
Woodstock (1970): The three-hour rockumentary won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. More than 500,000 people gathered Aug. 15-18, 1969, at Max Yasgur's dairy farm in Bethel, New York, for three days of peace and love and music. Headliners included Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Carlos Santana, Joan Baez, Ten Years After, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Country Joe McDonald, Canned Heat, Joe Cocker, Sha Na Na, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and Sly & the Family Stone.
Here are some that didn't make the cut but are superior films for stoners to watch. They include Beetlejuice, Pan's Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, Blazing Saddles, Animal House, Almost Famous, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Ted, The Third Man, The Fifth Element and Elf.
So roll a big fatty, stroke it up, sit back and lose yourself in celluloid.