The history of marijuana and cinema goes back decades and decades. And sure, things kind of got off to a bad foot with Reefer Madness in the 1930s, but since then we’ve seen pot-addled characters make us laugh, solve mysteries, and go on all kinds of crazy adventures. Now there’s a new stoner action-fest hitting theaters this weekend, so what better time to celebrate this grand history?
With American Ultra in theaters this week, and sporting two lead stoner characters played by Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, we thought that we’d look back at the history of cinema and weed, and determine our top 10 rankings for the greatest movie potheads. Read on to find out who is at number one!
NOTE: As you can probably predict, there are going to be some famous duos on this list, and we counted them in the same slot. The reality is that you can’t take one without the other in these cases, so we’ve kept them together.
If you’re in for a morning/day/night smoking with Floyd from True Romance, you probably shouldn’t expect any kind of grand adventure. Rather, this fantastic Brad Pitt character is more of your kind of lazy/burnout pothead – and sometimes that’s exactly the guy you want to hang out with. Sure, his stupidity may result in him giving your name to a bunch of gangsters, but it’s hard to fault a guy with such a cool honey bear bong.
9. Seth Rogen
This isn’t an insult to the comedic range of Seth Rogen, but instead a celebration of how likable and cool all of his stoner characters are. This covers the fun but professional Dale Denton in Pineapple Express, the one-of-the-gang Ben Stone from Knocked Up, the impressively supportive in the face of adversity Kyle from 50/50, and even the fake version of himself from This Is The End. They all make great stoner buddies for different reasons, so we can’t choose just one.
8. Thurgood Jenkins
Dave Chappelle’s Thurgood Jenkins from Half Baked makes his way on to this list almost purely because of his true love of weed. Sure, that love gets to a point where it kind of becomes a problem in the film, but that doesn’t stop us from appreciating his appreciation. He also happens to be a very pro-active smoker, and uses the herb to protect his friends, and take down evil drug dealers, and if that’s not reason enough to get him on this list, nothing is.
7. Harold and Kumar
Remember what I was saying earlier about Floyd not being a great smoking partner for an adventure? Well, these are the guys that you really want to find if you want to go on a ridiculous journey. Sure, you might end up an enemy of the United States government, or worse, Danny Trejo, but John Cho and Kal Penn’s Harold and Kumar have a way of finding a good time. Plus, they pulled off the minor-miracle of creating a comedy trilogy where all three movies actually have surprising merit – which has something that has only happened a handful of times in history.
6. Annie Hall
It may be for the best that you don’t fall in love with her, unless you want to fall victim to an endless stream of neuroses as a result, but Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall from Woody Allen’s 1977 classic is really one of the ultimate fun-loving, pot-smoking free spirts. More than just the typical "manic pixie dream girl," she’s independent and driven, while also being open to life and unique opportunity. She also gets bonus points for a) not being a total burnout, and b) finding her own practical use for pot.
5. Jay and Silent Bob
Before there was the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Kevin Smith made the View Askewniverse, and serving as the glue to all of it was Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob. And while they may be shiftless dealers who spend their entire lives standing outside convenience stores/fast food restaurants, they also happen to be incredibly funny and often wise shiftless dealers who spend their entire lives standing outside convenience stores/fast food restaurants. Let’s also not forget that they were directly responsible for actually saving the world from becoming nothingness that one time.
Let’s get this out of the way: Matthew McConaughey’s David Wooderson in Dazed and Confused is a bit of a creep. That aside, however, he is also painted as the ultimate cool guy. As seen through the eyes of Mitch Kramer, and therefore the audience, he’s the dude that you really want to make think you’re cool – and getting him a joint is definitely a step in the right direction. He also has perhaps the best advice from anyone on this list: "You just gotta keep livin' man, L-I-V-I-N."
3. Jeff Spicoli
Sean Penn’s Jeff Spicoli is the kind of stoner we haven’t talked about just yet – the "surfer dude" – but we love him for so much more than just that. He’s the perfect representation of dumb rebellious youth who lives to stand up against the man, catch a buzz, and hit the waves. He also happens to have a van perfect for hot-boxing and shows that he can act when the pressure is on. He’s a righteous dude, and there’s nothing not to love about him.
2. The Dude
It’s hard to imagine anyone – including those who don’t smoke pot – who wouldn’t want to hang out with Jeff Bridges’ legendary Jeff ‘The Dude’ Lebowski from the Coen brother’s brilliant 1998 comedy The Big Lebowski. He is truly the most relaxed guy of all time, even when the most ridiculous news and scenarios are dropped directly at his feet, and has a pretty fantastic life plan laid out for himself: light a joint, go bowling, drink a White Russian, go to bed, repeat. One could argue that he has things figured out better than all of us.
1. Cheech and Chong
In 100 years, if another writer pens a Top 10 Movie Potheads list, I bet you that Cheech and Chong will still own the top spot. The reality is that they’re the kings of weed in cinema, and have a legacy that will last for generations to come. More than just their great weed-fueled adventures in movies like Up In Smoke, Nice Dreams and Still Smokin, what will remain legend is just the fantastic chemistry between the two pot-loving adventurers.
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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.