The Best New Movies to Watch While You're High

Towards an Expansion of the Modern Stoner Movie Canon

By Sam Eichner ·
Warner Bros.

We all know the classics of the stoner movie genre: Fast Times at Ridgemont HighHalf Baked. The Big Lebowski. Pineapple Express. Killer Klowns from Outer Space...

But give or take that last one, we assume you've already seen all of those, in a dorm room or your parents' basement, back when getting high and eating microwavable breakfast burritos was a standard part of your weekly routine (hey, maybe it still is...).

So ahead of 4/20, we're asking you to consider eight new entries to the stoner movie canon. Bear in mind: to qualify, the movie had to have been released in the last five years. And not all of these films involve weed. In fact, some of have no weed at all. But they each complement an element of being stoned, whether that be with trippy visuals, seriously good hangs or lofty ideas about the nature of our existence and stuff.

Inherent Vice (2014)

Paul Thomas Anderson's half-baked L.A. noir, based on the eponymous Thomas Pynchon novel, stars Joaquin Phoenix as a perma-stoned detective named Doc who gets entangled in a paranoia-inducing web of criminality revolving around the case of a missing billionaire. Offbeat and colorful and sexy and hilarious, it feels like what would've happened if Robert Altman made The Long Goodbye on a low dose of acid (and Elliot Gould grew mutton chops). 
Pair it with...: Something heady enough to understand Doc's frame of mind, but chill enough to stave off any contact-paranoia. 
Where to stream: Amazon Prime

Digging for Fire (2015)

Director Joe Swanberg makes the kind of movies and TV shows you want to live in. His stories, highly personal yet suggestively universal, are delightfully low-stakes, confined to a dramatic register that levels its characters highs and lows, and renders them all the more real in the process. In Digging for Fire, a weed-smoking, beer-swilling Jake Johnson is house-sitting with his family for a friend of his wife's when he discovers a rusty old gun in the yard. This sets off a Quixotic dig for clues—a quest for meaning, perhaps, or excitement to disrupt the steady contentment of middle-age. With scene-stealing cameos from Sam Rockwell and Orlando Bloom, the movie is the perfect amount of searching and fun, surprising and agreeable. 
Pair it with...: Something that will get you thinking about life's biggest questions (and maybe make you want to drink beer).
Where to stream: Hulu

The Night Before (2015)

The purest stoner movie on this list, it's nonetheless overlooked when it comes to evaluating the Seth Rogen canon. Sure, it's not as iconic as Pineapple Express—an equally rambunctious buddy comedy with numerous set-pieces that rely on its characters being high—but it's a heartwarming movie, and a welcome refutation of staid Christmas rom-coms and cheesy Santa flicks. It's also worth including on the grounds that Michael Shannon is one of the best cinematic weed dealers of all-time
Pair it with...: A few good buddies and a batch of Christmas sugar cookies.
Where to stream: Amazon Prime (or FXM on demand)

Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

Richard Linklater's spiritual sequel to Dazed & Confused is an all-time great hangout movie. With no real plot, the ragtag team of college ballplayers drink beer and smoke weed and dance and shoot the shit, and Linklater strings together a subtle tension out of the profound sense of freedom that comes with having nothing to do and nowhere to be. As with the director's best work, it's a movie about the moments for which we're nostalgic, those indelible scenes which, mostly in retrospect, we never wanted to end. And it's a feel-good film in the best sense: not in its overt or saccharine efforts to make you feel good, but in the natural way it builds a time and place and populates it with people you want to chill with, from the opening song to the end credits.
Pair it with...: A bong rip on the level of Willoughby's. Also: Pink Floyd.  
Where to stream: Amazon Prime (for just 99 cents) 

Baby Driver (2017)

Even if the rest of the film can't quite keep up with the breathtaking opening sequence of Edgar Wright's heist movie, Baby Driver's combination of music and driving sequences make for a sensory experience that's perfectly attuned to zoning out; it's like the Phish concert of action movies. 
Pair it with...: An indica strong enough to sink you into your couch like it's the seat of Ansel Elgort's car.
Where to stream: Showtime

Annihilation (2018)

As I wrote when I first saw it, few horror movies have ever been as beautiful-looking as Annihilation. In it, Natalie Portman leads a group of female scientists into a spectral, extraterrestrial force called The Shimmer which, instead of refracting light, refracts people's DNA, meaning everything inside becomes a part of everything else. The results are as gorgeous as they are haunting; there are surreal-looking fauna and twinned, snow-white deer, but also alligators with shark teeth and a mutant bear whose roars manifest as the desperate cries of its victim. The climax is mesmerizing, and the final shot is a provocative head-scratcher.
Pair it with...: A sativa-leaning hybrid and someone willing to discuss the ways in which we are often tools for our own destruction.
Where to streamHulu

Sorry to Bother You (2018)

Boots Riley's feverish takedown of late-capitalism was perhaps the most indescribable movie of 2018, drawing comparisons to everything from Kurt Vonnegut to Nickelodeon. Set in a bizarro-world Oakland, it stars Lakeith Stanfield as the down-and-out Cassius “Cash” Green, a RegalView telemarketer who learns to use his “white voice”—dubbed in the soundtrack with jarring discord by David Cross—in order to become one of the top salesmen in the company. He eventually rises to the ranks of Power Caller, selling powerful clients on the cheap labor from WorryFree, a company that essentially packages slavery as creature comfort: its “employees” sign a lifetime contract, wherein they work for 14 hours a day in a factory and sleep in barracks-like accommodations. With a radically outfitted Tessa Thompson and a jarring twist, it's exactly the kind of WTF movie you might want to watch under the influence.
Pair it with...: A strong sativa and The Communist Manifesto.
Where to streamHulu

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

Dan Gilroy's high-concept thriller—about the mysterious paintings of a deceased artist that violently (and spiritually) revolts against its money-grubbing owners—is like Final Destination filtered through the pages of Artforum. While it's too messy to form a cogent critique of the greedy art world cognoscenti, it refuses to take itself too seriously, and takes delight in the ridiculous ways it makes its characters die. You should, too. Preferably, when you're stoned.
Pair it with...: Something to help you experience those visuals, man. And ideally a strain that doesn't make you overthink the deeper meanings of the film.
Where to stream: Netflix

Sam Eichner

Sam Eichner likes literature, reality television and his twin cats equally. He has consistently been told he needs a shave since he started growing facial hair.

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