Hey, take it easy, man! Stoners may be prone to getting themselves into a lot of inadvertent trouble—especially in movies—there's actually a lot we can learn from their laid-back attitudes to life.
From hippies to surfers, there have been all kinds of stoner characters in movies who spend most of their on-screen time "dazed and confused," many of whom have gathered cult followings over the years.
Here are our picks for the best movies about stoners and potheads to watch when you want to chill out—even if you aren't a stoner!
15. How High (2001)
What's the secret ingredient to growing good bud? Dead bodies. Don't worry, this isn't a horror flick—it's a comedy!
Lazy best friends Silas (Method Man) and Jamal (Redman) inadvertently land spots at Harvard University when they end up using their friends' ashes to fertilize their crop, which summons a ghost who gives them the answers to a test.
Jesse Dylan directs How High, featuring every play on the word "high" that you can think of. By nature, stoner films tend to have an amateurish feel to them, so this one's low critic score is simply a confirmation of its genre and not a reason to tune out!
14. Half Baked (1988)
Half Baked is another poorly reviewed but actually amazing stoner flick. It features a gang of burger-flipping, bong-ripping, tie-dye t-shirt-wearing stereotypes (Dave Chappelle, Jim Breuer, Harland Williams, and Guillermo Díaz) living together in New York City.
When one of them is arrested for accidently killing a police horse, the other three decide to buckle down and raise bail—and they only know one way to make money: weed.
Stealing cannabis from a science lab might not be as dangerous as stealing from a gangster, but it's still risky! Especially when you've smoked all your brain cells away.
13. Up in Smoke (1978)
The counterculture comedy duo Cheech & Chong made waves as they went from stand-up shows to feature films. As renowned ganja lovers, the pair made their movie debut in Up in Smoke—a critical failure but beloved by viewers, both then and now.
It's your typical pothead setup: two slacker besties hit the road and let the wind blow them into all kinds of misadventures, including jail.
12. Smiley Face (2007)
"Just one chick trying to get to the beach" pretty much summarizes the whole of this movie. Being completely fried can make even the simplest of tasks—like finishing a sentence—complicated.
In Smiley Face, Jane (in reference to the commonly used stoner name Mary Jane) is the one chick who has to make an audition after eating 14 edibles. Accidently, of course.
Anna Faris stars as the red-eyed Los Angeles pothead, directed by Gregg Araki. Refreshing to see a female lead in a stoner movie!
11. Caddyshack (1980)
Caddyshack might not feature tons of smoking, but the character who does smoke is legendary. Bill Murray perfectly embodies the eccentric and unstable loner Carl Spackler, who loves to "get stoned to the bejeezus-belt at night."
Unlike most of our dopehead picks, Carl isn't exactly chill. He's a crazy greenskeeper who's hellbent on killing a gopher. But when he's not rifling up, Carl's busy breeding his own strain of grass to puff.
Caddyshack also gives us 80s comedy star Chevy Chase, who plays the "disgusting" son of Bushwood Country Club's founder.
10. Friday (1995)
Chris Tucker's character in Friday is called Smokey for good reason: he loves to smoke! So much so that he huffs away his own supply, leaving him in a bind when the big boss comes knocking.
As Smokey gets high with his best friend Craig (Ice Cube), both of them land in trouble. Big Worm (Faizon Love) gives the pair until 10pm to repay the drug money they lost—or else be killed.
F. Gary Gray's directorial debut is now a cult classic buddy movie, which paved the way for his success with Straight Outta Compton (which was based on Ice Cube's real-life story!).
9. Scooby-Doo (2002)
Despite being part of a kids-oriented franchise, Scooby-Doo is basically a stoner movie in disguise. Not only does it have stoner-style comedy—purposefully cheesy and featuring buddies on misadventures—but it also has stoner-icon Shaggy (played by Matthew Lillard).
When Shaggy notices that his hippie friends are near by the smell of grass in the air, he joins in as "Pass the Dutchie" plays while smoke billows out of his van.
Indeed, Scooby-Doo is full of innuendos like "talk about toasted," plus he falls for a girl called Mary Jane. All of these are adult-oriented stoner jokes that fly over the heads of younger viewers.
The fact that Shaggy was invented for a kids film—and therefore can't be shown smoking outright—has made him an intriguing figure in pop (and pot) culture lore.
8. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Is there anything more chilled out than surfing? Not really!
Jeff Spicoli is the epitome of a carefree pothead, riding the waves of California in Amy Heckerling's Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Tumbling out of his smoky VW campervan, Spicoli has no regard for school rules and always argues with his uptight history teacher Mr. Hand.
Writer Cameron Crowe came up with the script for Fast Times at Ridgemont High when he went undercover as a student in a San Diego high school. Spicoli is even (partly) based on a real person!
Sean Penn's performance is simultaneously buzzing and cool, forever walking around with that mischievous grin on his face.
7. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle is the first installment in a series about best mates Harold and Kumar (played by John Cho and Kal Penn) who get into all kinds of hilarious mishaps. Everything begins when they're smoking marijuana and watch an ad for White Castle fast food.
As the munchies set in, going out for hamburgers seems like the logical next step, right? But not so easy when you're stoned. Not only is this movie funny, but it was praised for its subversion of racial stereotypes. It's practically the only stoner film with Asian leads.
6. True Romance (1993)
Most of True Romance has little to do with smoking weed, but the bit that does is simply iconic. Plus, this particular character inspired another character on this list: Saul Silver from Pineapple Express (see below).
In True Romance, Brad Pitt is the embodiment of the lazy couch potato who does nothing but smoke, eat, and watch TV all day.
Written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott, True Romance is your classic guns-blazing, drug-smuggling crime thriller. In it, Floyd lounges around high in his apartment, unbothered by the chaos around him.
5. Inherent Vice (2014)
Though cannabis consumption—especially among teens—boomed in America during the 90s, it all began back in the 60s. Hippies were the emblem of the counterculture movement, who advocated for love and psychedelic expansion over war and materialism.
Joaquin Phoenix is nearly unrecognizable behind those huge sideburns, posing as the ultimate hippie stereotype Larry "Doc" Sportello.
In Inherent Vice, Oscar-nominated director Paul Thomas Anderson puts a twist on the usual investigator archetype: instead of wearing a suit and drinking whiskey, Doc walks barefoot around the office, smoking a joint.
From the groovy wardrobe and set design to the stunning cinematography, Inherent Vice is a neo-noir mystery like no other.
4. Pineapple Express (2008)
In Pineapple Express, Saul Silver (played by James Franco) is the pot dealer who's essentially Floyd from True Romance if he were to ever leave his apartment. And his client? Seth Rogen.
Seth Rogen is known for his real-life love of smoking marijuana—even co-founding the cannabis company Houseplant in 2019. So obviously he makes the perfect co-star for this film!
Rogen appears as a suited-up process server, fleeing from a hitman with his bleary-eyed drug dealer Saul. David Gordon Green directs this surprisingly violent stoner comedy, and it's just one of the many hilarious collaborations between Franco and Rogen.
3. Dazed and Confused (1993)
Pretty much every character in Dazed and Confused is high at one point or another. But Ron Slater is the most stoned throughout the movie, sporting the traditional long hair and rambling monologues of a stoner.
You'd be hard-pressed to find another film that's as chill as this cult-classic, coming-of-age comedy, set during the hip 1970s.
Named after the Jake Holmes song, Dazed and Confused is directed by Richard Linklater and stars an ensemble cast of actors before they rocketed to stardom (including Matthew McConoughey and Ben Affleck).
2. Easy Rider (1969)
New Hollywood made way for a whole new genre of experimental films as it moved away from studio dramas and onto on-location character studies. Film scholars often cite Easy Rider, directed by Dennis Hopper in 1969, as the trigger for this cinematic revolution.
This road movie follows two Harley-Davidson motorcyclists who are smuggling drugs into Los Angeles. Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson lead the film, smoking real weed for "authenticity."
Perhaps that's what makes Wyatt (played by Peter Fonda) one of the best stoner characters out there... because he really is stoned!
1. The Big Lebowski (1998)
Of course, the number one stoner movie can be none other than The Big Lebowski. Jeffrey Lebowski (aka "The Dude") is one of the Coen brothers' most beloved characters, played by Jeff Bridges.
In his flip-flops and open robe, the White-Russian-drinking pothead gets accidentally involved in a kidnapping, but manages to keep his cool. In fact, The Dude is so cool, he sparked a real-life religion. The philosophy of "Dudeism" is simple: take it easy and go with the flow.
The Big Lebowski is a black-comedy that plays out against the sunny skies of Los Angeles, where the iconic slacker wants nothing more than to play bowling and smoke on his beloved rug.