High on Hollywood

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at @ask420newsreview.com.

This year is the 15th anniversary of The Big Lebowski. What are you favorite stoner movies?

El Duderino

Do you mean movies about stoners? Or movies for stoners? I can do both.

First, let me say that I generally don’t like movies about stoners, because stoners rarely get to win in the end. Or, if they do, they have to stop smoking weed to do it. Dave Chappelle’s character in Half Baked has to give up Mary Jane to keep seeing Mary Jane. Anna Faris’ character in Smiley Face fails miserably. Why can’t stoners smoke weed and still come out on top? It’s like Hollywood is still holding on to some sort of Hays Code-type shit.

The Harold & Kumar movies, however, do a pretty good job at painting stoners in a good light. As did the latest remake of Cabin in the Woods. True Believer stars James Woods as a pot-smoking superlawyer modeled after J. Tony Serra. I like that flick. It even has Robert Downey Jr. as the sidekick.

In the movies-for-stoners category, what’s not to like? Lebowski (or anything by the Coen brothers, really), Happy Gilmore, Barbershop, True Romance, Dazed and Confused (this movie may fall into both categories), any Star Wars film (even the new ones, cause you can talk shit about them while you watch). All kinds of shows are fun to watch while high. I have always said that weed and movies go together like weed and movies. Former High Times editor Steve Bloom and author Shirley Halperin wrote a book called Reefer Movie Madness: The Ultimate Stoner Film Guide. This book has a really good list of films in all kinds of styles. I highly recommend it.

When people in movies smoke weed, are they smoking real weed?

—Robin Red-eye

For the most part, no. It’s usually some sort of tobacco or herbal mixture, although rumors abound about certain films. Peter Fonda definitely smoked real grass in Easy Rider. Tommy Chong admits that he used real weed in most of his movies. The cast of Grandma’s Boy claims to have used real weed. Super High Me was a documentary, so, of course, the weed is real there.

The challenge with using real marijuana on a movie set is that most scenes require multiple takes. It is possible to get too high to perform. Maybe not if you are Brad Pitt’s character in True Romance, and your role is to sit on the couch and be high, but if you are Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams in Poltergeist, smoking a joint over and over again would get to be kind of debilitating.

If I was in a movie with weed in it, though, I would make sure it was real weed. For medical purposes, of course.

What’s your favorite strain lately?

—Popular Pot

I am in Seattle right now and am enjoying a mostly sativa hybrid called Liberty Haze. I also have some Purple Charlie and some Banana crossed with Chemdawg.