Marijuana can make a bad movie good and a good movie great. But it’s got to be the right movie, one with ideas you can explore more deeply, or absurdity you can appreciate more naturally. The balance is delicate, just like picking the right kind of weed. As today is 4/20, we’ve created a list of films to watch when you want to get sci-high.
Technically, we’ve created a new one—almost 10 years ago, io9 covered this very important topic with a list that would give any cannabis connoisseur interesting ideas on how to spend several entertaining hours—but not only has the world of marijuana changed massively since then, there have plenty of new additions to the trippy science fiction section of film. Also, we weeded down the entries a bit (cough).
2001: A Space Odyssey
A staple. The first film you think of. Stanley Kubrick’s scifi masterpiece has it all. The visuals are gorgeous. The music is wonderful. The concepts are fascinating and intense, and though the pacing might be a little slow depending on your high, once things kick in it all becomes almost too much to handle. Truly, you’d be hard-pressed to find a scifi film more suited to an elevated mind.
Stoned scifi movies can’t just be relegated to the serious, though. Laughter and wackiness are a huge bonus and few films are funnier or more wonderful than Galaxy Quest. The cult take on fan and science fiction culture is incredibly smart and engaging, as well as extremely funny. It’s a movie you just watch with a big, dumb, smile on your face the entire time. And that’s even if you’re not stoned.
Few scifi films demand as much in-depth conversation and breakdowns as Shane Carruth’s mind-bending time travel tale. The film’s labyrinthian plot is incredibly fascinating and it would be a real challenge to get baked and try to figure out how everything actually works. Shit, it’s a challenge when you’re not high. Plus, it’s so complex that even when you get it, you really aren’t sure if you get it, so the conversation never ends.
Basically any Tim Burton movie could fit well on this list, but Mars Attacks kind of checks all the boxes. Beautiful, colorful visuals? Check. Over-the-top performances? Check. Hilarious cameos? Check. Frighteningly plausible plot? Check. Off the wall moments you rewind to rewatch? Check. I could go on all day. Ack ack!
While in an elevated mindset, pretty much anything with cloning in it might blow your mind (“How many of that guy are there??”), but Duncan Jones’ directorial debut will fuck you up. You might want to make sure you’re in a good mood before diving into this one though because it’s so inherently sad. The more we learn about Sam Rockwell’s character and his unsettlingly lonely job on the moon, the bigger the story gets, but also more upsetting and fascinating. Also, Kevin Spacey’s voice at the companion AI now adds another level of creepiness.
The greatest basketball player in the world decides to retire and play baseball, but is recruited by Looney Tunes to defeat monsters who have stolen the basketball skills of the NBA’s best superstars. I mean, what else do you need to say? Space Jam is a ridiculous, funny, colorful movie featuring two stars who would be awesome and captivating no matter your level of sobriety, Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny. Bonus points for being oh so ’90s.
Christopher Nolan’s Inception isn’t about getting high but, if you think about it, it could be. The whole movie centers on a process where you get so deep into your own mind you can literally get lost. Sound familiar? Plus it’s got a great cast and lots of awesome action and incredibly trippy special effects. It’s basically a pot popcorn film.
Rising up the ranks of “So Bad It’s Good” movies is this 2015 film by the Wachowskis about a part-dog alien (Channing Tatum) who falls in love with an Earth janitor (Mila Kunis) who is actually an intergalactic princess. It’s a super-dumb movie, but it looks great (most of the time) and features one of the weirdest, most scenery-chewing performances ever by Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne. There are good things in Jupiter Ascending, though, so pot can either help you find them, or laugh at all the bad.
After 2001: A Space Odyssey, the other must-have on this list is David Lynch’s Dune. First of all, it’s unapologetically ’80s, and that just works really well when you’re high. It’s also wonderfully dense and filled with heady ideas, weird music, big set pieces, and infinite plot potential. You could spend hours analyzing Frank Herbert’s wonderful world and imagining what could have been had this movie been a success, or you can just marvel at the costumes, special effects, and utterly out-there setting. (Bonus: Consider making it a double feature with Jodorowsky’s Dune, a documentary about an even trippier version of Dune that didn’t get made.)
Deep Blue Sea
“Deepest, bluest, my hat is like a shark fin.” So go the immortal lyrics of LL Cool J, not just a star in this human vs. shark wonder, but the artist of the film’s outstanding closing credit song. The whole movie is just straight ridiculous, like Jaws for Dummies, but it’s consistently and unintentionally hilarious throughout, culminating with that LL Cool J tune as the perfect punctuation on a truly wild movie.
Honey, I Shrunk The Kids
Yes, it’s a kids movie, but nothing quite messes with your mind like thinking about what it would be like to shrink down to a size that’s nearly impossible to see with the human eye. It also helps that the practical effects don’t hold up, which makes everything odder and creepier. Also, Rick Moranis is always a delight in any state, mind-altered or otherwise.
Bright flashing lights in all the colors of the rainbow, right, blasted constantly at your eyes and brain for over two hours? The Wachowskis’ wonderful, lavish, never-in-a-million-years-going to be successful adaptation of the 1960s anime TV series is a movie everyone who tokes needs to put on their to-do list. John Goodman fights ninjas, tricked-out cars have weapons like bee-launchers in them, there’s a monkey hopped up on candy... and those races. Even when you see them you might not be able to believe them.
This one is a little out of left field, but really all you need to know is that it features Sean Connery wearing a red diaper and it begins with a giant, floating stone head that screams “THE GUN IS GOOD, THE PENIS IS EVIL” at people, and then gets weirder from there, if you can believe it. It’s a story that is utterly tripped-out on its own, obsessed with machismo, sex, immortality, violence... and is incomprehensible to even the most lucid of minds. If you aren’t, there’s more than enough straight-up madness that you may not be able to close your eyes.
Total Recall is another kind of obvious one, but that doesn’t mean it’s unworthy. Like other films on this list, it has pretty much everything you’d want to watch while stoned: A ridiculous, overly complex plot. Lots of crazy visuals and special effects. Great action and one-liners. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Gross creatures and wacky scifi tech. And, of course, an open ending that’s ripe for debate or pondering by yourself for hours on end. Just make sure you don’t have anywhere to be for a while.
We could go on all day, honestly. Barbarella, Plan 9 from Outer Space, A.I., Battlefield Earth... there are so many (and again, head here for more). What would you recommend? Let us know in the comments!