Movie rolls: 10 flicks to watch on 4/20

James Franco and Seth Rogen in a scene from 'Pineapple Express.'. Handout

TORONTO — At 4:20 p.m. on Monday — which is 4/20 on the calendar — a lot of people will be sparking a blunt or hitting a bowl in honour of Weed Day.

The origins of the unofficial “high holiday” for pot smokers are hazy but seem to stem from a group of marijuana enthusiasts at California’s San Rafael High School who planned to meet at 4:20 one day in 1971 to hunt down a hidden crop.

If you are so inclined to celebrate 4/20 (to be clear, we’re not recommending or endorsing this because possession of marijuana remains illegal in all provinces) you may want to do so while on your sofa watching a movie with a big bag of corn chips on your lap.

Movies about pot have come a long way since 1936’s Reefer Madness, a propaganda drama that explored the chaos that ensues — including suicide, attempted rape and manslaughter — when young people smoke marijuana.

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These daze…er, days, marijuana is almost always used for laughs. From Jeff Spicoli in 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High to the titular toker in this year’s Ted 2, the most buzzed-about characters in movies are the often the most buzzed.

To mark 4/20, we weeded through our stash of pot flicks to find 10 of the most worthy.

Up in Smoke (1978)

This comedy is the feature film debut of Cheech & Chong (Cheech Marin and Canada’s Tommy Chong) as a pair of buds who hit the road (in a van made of weed) in search of more marijuana and encounter all sorts of misadventures along the way. The movie also stars Stacy Keach and Tom Skerritt (and watch for Ellen Barkin’s cameo).


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Dazed and Confused (1993)

Set on the last day of high school in 1976, this movie from director Richard Linklater (Boyhood) features Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Cole Hauser as teens who smoke up on the football field.


PCU (1994)

This comedy about life at the fictional Port Chester University, including a house of potheads called Jerrytown, stars Jeremy Piven, John Favreau and David Spade. The movie was shot in Toronto, with the U of T’s St. George campus standing in for PCU.

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Half Baked (1998)

Mostly shot in Toronto, this comedy stars Dave Chappelle, Jim Breuer and Guillermo Diaz as stoners who sell pot in hopes of raising bail money for their friend (Harland Williams) who killed a police horse. What makes this movie fun, though, are appearances from marijuana icons like Tommy Chong, Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg as well as cameos from the likes of Jon Stewart, Bob Saget, Stephen Baldwin and Tracy Morgan.


How High (2001)

Method Man and Redman play stoners Silas and Jamal, who use their departed friend’s ashes as fertilizer for their pot plants. When they smoke the weed, they conjure their bud’s ghost, who helps get them into Harvard.

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Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)

Harold and Kumar (John Cho and Kal Penn) are the Cheech and Chong of a new generation. In this, their first movie, the potheads go on a road trip with a mission to get some White Castle burgers. The comedy (which features Neil Patrick Harris as himself) was shot in and around Toronto — and spawned sequels in 2008 and 2011.

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Pineapple Express (2008)

Seth Rogen, who hails from bud-friendly B.C., stars as a guy who witnesses a crime along with his dealer (James Franco) at the home of a drug lord (Gary Cole). They take off but leave behind a joint with the titular strain of weed — making it easy for the bad guys to  track them down.


Your Highness (2011)

David Gordon Green, who directed Pineapple Express, also made this fantasy comedy. It’s got stoners, sure, but it’s such a silly movie that it will probably only be laugh-out-loud funny to stoners. Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel are among the stars.

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Saving Grace (2000)

This is a British film about a widow named Grace (Brenda Blethyn) who turns to running a grow op with her gardener (Craig Ferguson) to pay her late husband’s debts.


Friday (1995)

Ice Cube helps out his friend Chris Tucker, who’s in hot water with a dealer (Faizon Love) after smoking his supply of marijuana.


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