If there’s one thing the internet really, really loves, it’s manufactured outrage; right behind cat videos, dodgy fetish sites and lists of great stoner movies that all mention of the same classics: Cheech and Kumar, Chong and Harold, the usual suspects.
You know those movies. And you love those movies. But you’ve seen all those movies on a million lists before. So we’ve decided to offer an alternative collection of movies by, for and about stoners that wanders just a little off the path.
Our Idiot Brother (2011)
A comedy so low key that it often seems in danger of dozing off, Our Idiot Brother coasts by on the sweetly mellow charms of Paul Rudd. Seriously, is there a more ingratiating figure in modern screen comedy?
Rudd plays Ned, a sublimely stony man-child who has zero ambitions beyond chilling on his upstate New York commune with his golden retriever Willie Nelson. Dude is so kind that he accidentally sells a bag to a cop, leading to more hassles and plot complications than a gentle soul should have to deal with.
Now homeless, our dippy hippie is forced to couch surf between his trio of concerned, and marginally more responsible sisters, played by the improbably cute trio of Elizabeth Banks, Zoey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer. They’re supposed to straighten him out, but eventually Ned’s herby, blessed out-ways expose the pent up neurosis and hidden crises of his siblings.
Once a staple of pay cable movie channels at the dawn of the millennium, this celebration of hard partying, politically incorrect slackers is now neglected in favor some of its flashier peers—but still provides its own tasty strain of ‘90s realness.
Set on the campus of the fictional, hyper-progressive Port Chester University, a landscape dominated by feuding factions like the radical “Wymonists,” who love protests and chants like “ Hey ho! This penis party has go!” and the Young Republicans, lead by a sniveling David Spade. Meanwhile the social climbing dean (Jessica Walters) is trying to garnish her legacy, and suck up to donors by pushing projects like a building for Bisexual Asian Studies, while cracking down on rouge frats like our heroic anarchists of “the Pit.” Lead by wisecracking career senior “Droz” (Jeremy Piven and his real hairline) and his dope-damaged sidekicks like Gutter (a doughy and dreadlocked John Favreau), they respond to this warrantless aggression the only way they know how; Partying till they puke.
It all culminates in an epic cross campus rager anchored by the ever amazing George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars. Maybe it’s a bit of a lovable underachiever, but PCU did give us the immortal line, “Can you blow me where the pampers is?”.
I Love You Alice B Tolklas (1968)
Peter Seller’s entire career was ahead of his time. Case in point, this weird little romp in which an buttoned down lawyer gets his life completely turned around by one little pot brownie. The culture clash between Seller’s neurotic square and all the groovy flower children is dated as hell, but offers an oddly enjoyable trip down the rabbit hole where Free Love freak-outs collided with mid-century comedic angst.
Did you know the Monkees made a movie? Yeah smart guy, but did you know it was written by Jack Nicholson? Yes, that Jack Nicholson! And it was directed by movie entrepreneur turned ‘60s radical Bob Rafelson, who went on to make serious films like The King of Marvin Gardens and Five Easy Pieces.
There’s a moment of seriousness found here, or even sanity, as the “Pre-fab” four shamble their way through a near plotless string of gags, sketches and meta commentary on the absurdity of their own success. Lead Monkee Mike Nesmith has described the flick as “A suicide mission,” designed to blow apart the primetime-safe image of the band, which it did a little too well.
Head was an epic disaster at the time, but the soundtrack sports some of the Monkee’s most complex and groovy tunes, and the surrealism, general weirdness and nervy counter culture attitude have earned it respect and even a Criterion Collection release. Also, everybody involved had to be high as the space station.