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Weed Between the Lines 

Building a new stoner movie canon

I've said it before, and I know I'll say it again: We need better stoner movies. For the last three 4/20's in a row, I've been trying to come up with a new and improved stoner canon, something better than a random Cheech and Chong movie or "Half Baked," smarter and more brain expandy than "Grandma's Boy." See, my co-workers and I just had this conversation a few days ago that there are basically two different types of stoner movies: ones about people that are high and ones to watch while you yourself are high.

Sometimes those two types coalesce beautifully into the perfect (heh) hybrid of both ("The Big Lebowski"), but most times we have to make do with one or the other. We deserve to be taken on a journey of the mind as well as finding a random giggle at a fart joke. Stoners contain multitudes, and so do these movies that I think find that combination of sweet and savory. They're like peanut-butter-dipped Rice Krispie treats with prime rib on them. You get it.

click to enlarge “Inherent Vice” is just one of the great new Stoner Movie Canon films to choose from. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS.
  • Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
  • “Inherent Vice” is just one of the great new Stoner Movie Canon films to choose from.

"True Romance (1993)" This is what I mean by a perfect hybrid: a beautiful love story, a badass action flick and Brad Pitt playing one of cinema's greatest stoners, Floyd. Written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by the late, great Tony Scott (he did this between "The Last Boy Scout" and "Crimson Tide") this is an unheralded treat for those looking to enhance their flower power. Available for rent on Amazon.

Stoniest Line: "Hey! Get some beer...and some cleaning products."

"Saving Grace (2000)" A smart and touching (and slyly funny) British sweetness machine, "Saving Grace" follows a middle-aged widow thrown deeply into debt after her husband's suicide. She teams up with her gardener (the always wonderful Craig Ferguson) to grow an amazing new strain of cannabis and restart her life from the soil up. A mellow heart-warmer that never threatens to become too cheesy or condescending. Available for rent on AppleTV.

Stoniest Line: "I'm glad to see she's keeping up the village tradition of total contempt for the law."

"A Field in England (2013)" If you need some trippy intensity in your head, "A Field in England" is a black-and-white psychological mind-f*ck set during the mid-17th Century English Civil War. A group of deserters who barely know each other end up in a field tripping on hallucinogenic mushrooms and searching for buried treasure. That's the whole movie. This is dark and strange with some of the pitchest-black comedy this side of the Russian masters, but it captures the essence of psychedelics better than any movie I've seen outside of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

Stoniest Line: "I shall consume all the ill fortune which you are set to unleash. I shall chew up all the selfish scheming and ill intentions that men like you force upon men like me and bury it in the stomach of this place."

"Inherent Vice (2014)" The plot of this is just as meaningless as "The Big Lebowski" as a haplessly stoned private investigator gets pulled into a massive conspiracy involving ex-girlfriends, kidnapping, mind-control, violent cops and the grimy backdrop of 1970s Los Angeles. Imagine if "Chinatown" had too many edibles and ended up paranoid in a dark alley and you'll have an idea of the tone of this madcap marvel.

Stoniest Line: "Like Godzilla says to Mothra, man, let's go eat someplace."

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