By Hogan Short
Getting high before watching movies is, for many people, a necessary ritual. Whether it’s the risk of being late for the theatre or pre-rolling in your living room, it’s worth getting high to enhance any film-watching experience. April 20 at 4:20 p.m. is a sacred event to some, often spent with friends watching a movie or two. Such a holy occasion comes with an enormous amount of pressure to choose one perfect movie to watch at a time that only comes once a year. Comedies are always a go-to 4/20 choice for people, watching the usual suspects like Harold and Kumar, Cheech and Chong, How High, etc. Stand-up comedy specials on Netflix are a great choice, but too easy and have no place on this list. Trippy musical movies like Across the Universe and Moulin Rouge are recommended to me all the time for lifted viewing. I have even heard of people making the massive mistake of thinking Requiem for a Dream would be a good idea. That will inevitably lead to emotional devastation and “I miss you” texts to your mom. Don’t waste your high arguing with friends over which Netflix title to agree on. Pick any one of these marijuana-friendly films to watch this 4/20. There is something for every kind of high.
For the music lovers: This Is Spinal Tap
Getting stoned and deciding on any one film to watch in the wealth of riches that is music movies can be overwhelming. Spinal Tap, from the genius mind of mockumentarian auteur Christopher Guest, stood out as a well-deserved choice for this list to please any fan of rock ‘n’ roll. Spinal Tap follows an ‘80s rock ‘n’ roll band from England during their farewell tour in America. Spinal Tap provides your 4/20 with the best of both worlds, laughs and music, with an incredible original soundtrack that includes “Bitch School” and “Tonight I’m Going to Rock You Tonight.” The antics of this dysfunctional band is a hilarious satire poking fun at the lifestyles of ageing rock ‘n’ rollers. Spinal Tap might even become one of your favourite bands, fictional or not. Just make sure your volume is turned up to 11.
For the bad horror lovers: Slither
Slither, from director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy), is a self-aware B horror flick about a small town being overrun by alien slug-like creatures. These creatures are turning the residents into zombies and in classic horror movie fashion, the fate of the world rests on the shoulders of a handful of ordinary people. The always charming Nathan Fillion is perfectly cast with the hilarious and underrated Elizabeth Banks in this underappreciated dark comedy. Like any successful riff on a genre, Gunn takes the classic tropes of movies like The Blob and elevates them with an interesting story and hilarious screenplay. Like all the best campy horror films, Slither is filled with inventive deaths, plot twists, and character one-liners to create a quirky movie-watching experience that can only be enhanced by weed. Be careful, though: smoke too much and you’ll have more in common with the slug-brained zombies than you might hope.
For anyone who hasn’t seen this 2016 gem: Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Hunt for the Wilderpeople, from the mind of Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows) is not a cult classic, like most other weed-worthy films, but it deserves to be. This New Zealand-made film is the story of a young delinquent boy and his newly adoptive father going on the run from the police in the gorgeously shot New Zealand wilderness. Hunt for the Wilderpeople was one of the best movies of 2016 and it went completely unnoticed and unrewarded. The soundtrack has so many perfectly selected songs that you’ll find yourself whipping out Shazaam, all couched in truly heartbreaking moments followed with hilarious moments. Hunt for the Wilderpeople always feels like it has everything, constantly jumping to new mini-adventures with memorable and interesting characters, and was the funniest movie of 2016. Now you are aware of it and 4/20 is the perfect day to check it out. Get high and go on this hilarious and exciting journey with your new favourite runaways.
For those looking for a serious mindfuck: Ex Machina
Comedy is the go-to genre for highs, but another type of film can be a much more rewarding experience. That rarely named genre would be, of course, the mindfuck. From the moment Ex Machina begins the audience is never fully aware of what is happening. The movie slowly builds in this tensely mysterious sci-fi horror/thriller, slowly giving you information to let your creative high keep your mind guessing. This sci-fi modern classic won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and looks beautiful throughout the terror-laced plot, but it’s the film’s final moments — one of the best sci-fi film endings of all time — that will really put your THC levels to work. With the twists and surprises that sci-fi traditionally brings (SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!) it is one of the best compliments one can give to any movie in the genre. This highly entertaining movie is perfectly paced, making it perfectly fitting for your 4/20. I am not even going to mention the plot. There are only three people in it and it’s dope as fuck.
For the kung-fu lovers: Drunken Master
Not only is Drunken Master some seriously classic kung fu, it’s a hilariously clever display of some of the best fighting sequences of all time. Jackie Chan plays a drunk who uses his comically teetering balancing act and intoxicated stumbling around in order to enhance his fighting skills. After he suffers through painfully long training with his strict and disciplined uncle in the drunken master kung-fu ways, he must then use these skills to defeat an assassin and save his father. Smoke some weed and watch an English-dubbed-over Chinese kung fu movie with plenty of ripped-pants gags, self-crotch-hitting accidents, and drunken shenanigans. This movie famously has some of the most inventive and intricate fighting choreography, and while a High Master would make more sense for the purpose of this list, that doesn’t exist … yet.
For the nocturnal smokers: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Before Joss Whedon’s beloved TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer became the pop culture phenomenon that it is now, he wrote a film by the same name. Buffy, a cheerleader, learns she is next in line to defend her town from vampires coming from the Hell Mouth, a portal for vampires and other demons. The witty script from Joss Whedon is light and funny but also seriously scary at times, particularly the villainous Rutger Hauer. If you have deprived yourself of the amazing television series then this movie is an absolute must-see, with one part high school teen comedy and one part tense vampire horror. This movie mixed genres in a teen movie, had a strong female lead, and depicted high school stresses with subtlety when that type of movie didn’t really exist yet. There’s also some weed-smoking stoner vamps. Does the word “duh” mean anything to you?
For the nerds: Galaxy Quest
Of course, a space film needs to be on any cannabis-fuelled movie list, and while there are numerous options, the official space pick for 4/20 viewing is going to have to be Galaxy Quest, the all-time favourite Star Trek movie (even if it technically isn’t). With an incredible cast (Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Sam Rockwell), this is a hilarious comedy with a seriously interesting plot and serious consequences. Aliens recruit the retired cast of a Star Trek familiar TV show in order to help them defend their species against a war-loving alien general. By Grabthar’s hammer and the Sons of Worvan, that’s the perfect premise for 4/20!
For the artsy: Koyaaniskatwi Trilogy – Samsara
This is the third movie in a trilogy of films that is rare cinema in its purest form. There is no narrative to follow and no words spoken — there are only beautiful moving images and peaceful music. It is poetry on film, a participatory experience allowing every viewer of this masterpiece their own understanding of its message. Shot on 70mm film in 100 locations in 25 countries, this majestic masterpiece took five years to complete. Meditative and spiritual, Samsara will have you contemplating the beauty of humanity and the environment we find ourselves in. You might just think it is a total trip and worth the parody it inspired with the Itchy and Scratchy sketch as “Koyaanis-Scratchy.” This film is a beautiful masterpiece and to try and improve on the experience is almost arrogant … except for weed. Weed would make it better. SO much better.
For the not-so-artsy: The Stupids
“To be a bush, you’ve got to think like a bush.” |A profound line from the sadly forgotten modest cult hit The Stupids, directed by legendary John Landis (The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London). The movie stars Tom Arnold as Stanley Stupid and he, as his name would suggest, is very stupid. His wife is very stupid. Their kids are very stupid. Their dog is very stupid. The Stupids is so close to a run-of-the-mill cliché ‘90s action comedy piece of shit, but this movie elevates “comedic piece of shit” into an art form. The Stupids are looking for their stolen garbage (?) and in the process stumble on an illegal weapons deal. Through stupidity and dumb luck they continually find themselves in over their heads, but always triumphant. This is Dumb and Dumber meets MacGruber, and yes, you will laugh the entire time, always looking over at each other wide-eyed saying, “What the fuck IS this?!”
For those on a McDonald’s run: Super Size Me
I know it may seem like a bad idea to get the munchies and watch a man destroy his body for a month eating nothing but McDonald’s but …who cares? It’s a special day so just go for it. Every time I watch Morgan Spurlock in the fascinating documentary Super Size Me I get two thoughts. One thought is that I am never eating fast food again. The second is, “Except for this time because those fries and Big Mac look so good.” He goes through every menu item and every time, without fail, the cravings get very real. Plus it’s actually surprisingly funny to eat dangerous amounts of McDonald’s during it. It also happens to be captivating and incredibly entertaining no matter how many times you have seen it. McDonald’s breakfast is all day now so for the first time in 4/20 history, enjoy a fresh Egg McMuffin. (Editor’s note: Are you insane? Hotcakes and apple juice all the way.)
For the animation fanatics: Fantastic Mr. Fox
Of course, an animated movie needs to be on the list, and even the worst animated movie would be a great choice to watch stoned. Watching a movie about toys that come to life or monsters battling aliens or meatballs falling out of the sky would be a genius move but we had to pick one: the adorably quirky Fantastic Mr. Fox from the genius mind of Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel). Among other things, this is an intricate heist movie that goes terribly wrong, resulting in Mr. Fox (George Clooney) and other animals defending themselves against a farmer’s three schemes to kill the Fox family. Fantastic Mr. Fox is hilarious and heartwarming with varying characters from the animal kingdom. This felt like the right choice over your run-of-the-mill Disney classic not just because of how fantastic it is, but because it seems lesser known than many popular others. There is less nostalgia involved with Fantastic Mr. Fox. People eating brownies like their mom used to make (except with pot) watching their favourite childhood movie (except on pot) is more innocence lost than we want to be responsible for.