SN&R’s movie critic delves into the ‘brown weed’ of stoner films
Not to brag, but I consider myself something of a bad movie aficionado. A connoisseur of crap, if you will. As co-host of the Dare Daniel podcast, I’m routinely called upon to watch and review the worst movies imaginable, so I’m fluent in dregs of all genres. That said, there’s probably no cinematic subgenre with a higher fail rate than the “stoner film.” Hallmarks include clueless heroes, horny adolescents, toilet humor, pervasive drug use and gratuitous sexuality. Good and great stoner movies form a diverse group that includes Friday and Dazed and Confused, but you’re far more likely to stumble upon an unwatchable bag of schwag. As far as the nine films listed, well, they’re basically the brown weed of stoner cinema.
The below-the-line cast is fascinating in this abrasive “jerk gene” comedy, which features key supporting turns from Kylie Minogue, Henry Gibson, pre-Scream Rose McGowan and William Atherton (playing a pompous scientist, of course), not to mention cameos from Roger Clinton, Patty Hearst and Tenacious D. Unfortunately, the above-the-line stars are the utterly unlikable Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin as Bud and Doyle, two numbskull buddies who accidentally get sealed in the titular science lab for a year after mistaking it for a mall. The molar-grinding hijinks that ensue are aptly described by one character as “a nonstop moron-athon.” Baldwin has claimed that he gets recognized for his role in Bio-Dome more than anything else he has ever done, so ouch for Baldwin’s entire career.
Adapted from a Michael Hornburg novel, the rightly forgotten Bongwater is a dreary and shallow dramedy focusing on a repellent posse of Portland potheads, addicts and art world phonies. The plot jumps between Luke Wilson as a slacker drug dealer and Alicia Witt as his tempestuous ex-girlfriend, and the questionable casting decisions only continue with Jamie Kennedy as a heroin-addicted punk rocker, Jack Black as an LSD-dispensing hippie and Scott Caan as anyone. Aside from the stoner angle, there is not much separating this film from the dime-a-dozen, Generation X ensemble comedy bummers that dominated 1990s indie cinema, but there is a reason that director Richard Sears never became Noah Baumbach.
Evil Bong 777 (2018)
There is a segment of the viewing public that holds an apparently bottomless appetite for horror, as even the most despised and neglected films seem to inspire legions of sequels. Take the Evil Bong franchise, a series of dirt-cheap horror comedies centering on Eebee, an all-powerful bong who traps smokers in an alternate dimension strip club. By the time of last year’s Evil Bong 777, though, Eebee had become one of the “good guys” and she spends most of this film making sassy, profane commentary during a ribald road trip to Las Vegas. Lowlights include a visit to Versnatchy’s XXX Fuppet Theater, a sequence that culminates with a 15-foot-tall Elvis puppet ejaculating Silly String onto an ecstatic audience. And you thought cinema was dead.
Leprechaun in the Hood (2000)
Another insanely low-rent horror-comedy sequel, this was the fifth of Warwick Davis’ six appearances as Lubdan the Leprechaun, a magical monster forever on a homicidal search for his stolen gold. In this installment, Ice-T plays Mack Daddy O’Nasses, a pimp who becomes a record mogul when he entombs the leprechaun as a statue and steals his golden flute. This leads to numerous scenes where Ice-T shouts the word “flute,” which for my money is comedy gold, and I’ll kill anyone who tries to steal it. When a bumbling hip-hop trio accidentally unleashes Lubdan, the leprechaun bogarts Mack Daddy’s joint and exclaims, “A friend with weed is a friend indeed.” For further study on leprechauns in the hood, consult the 2003 follow-up Back 2 tha Hood, in which Lubdan fatally stabs someone with a bong.
Mac & Devin Go to High School (2012)
Any film that opens with an animated joint voiced by Mystikal exhorting the audience to “spark that shit up” seems destined for greatness, but this heavy-lidded high school comedy runs out of ideas fast. The film stars Wiz Khalifa as straitlaced, straight-A student Devin, while Snoop Dogg plays 15-year senior Mac. When Mac feeds Devin a potent pot brownie, the valedictorian turns into a hardcore stoner, but the duo still manages to impress “the scholarship guy from Yale” by creating an alternative energy source that uses cannabis as a catalyst. The second half of Mac & Devin Go to High School is essentially a succession of music videos, and the film’s 75-minute running time is padded out with over 10 minutes of outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage.
Many have commented on writer-director Kevin Smith’s recent “stoner period,” a string of movies that includes Tusk and Yoga Hosers and coincides with Smith’s personal embrace of marijuana as a creative crutch. Of course, Smith never needed an excuse to make a lazy, sloppy, bleary-eyed comedy, as attested by this execrable sophomore effort. The film stars Jeremy London and Jason Lee as T.S. and Brodie, pop culture-barfing douchebags trying to win back their girlfriends by sabotaging a dating game show. Naturally, Jason Mewes and Smith show up as loveable drug dealers Jay and Silent Bob, who help the sabotage by getting the show’s male contestants stoned.
Puff, Puff, Pass (2006)
This pathologically unfunny stoner comedy was directed and produced by Mekhi Phifer, who should have done less puffing and more passing. Phifer also co-stars as Big Daddy, a criminal who mistakenly enlists the help of stoner losers Larry and Rico, played the loathsome duo of Danny Masterson and Ronnie Warner. Besides the mistaken identity nonsense, there is some silliness about a 24-hour TNT marathon of The Shawshank Redemption, property investments in Nicaragua and Terry Crews as a would-be rap star named Cool Crush Ice Killa. But the comedy boils down to farts, drugs, farts, fat women, farts and poop.
A high-concept, straight-to-Netflix stoner movie about a couple of slow-witted stoner bros who fall asleep in 1986 and wake up in the present day. When their van breaks down on the way to a Run-DMC concert, Harris and Reeves smoke some “secret CIA weed” grown at Area 51 and pass out for 30 years, waking up as pot-bellied, middle-aged burnouts played by Russell Peters and Faizon Love. Any potential in that setup for satirizing overgrown adolescents gets buried under an avalanche of witless jokes and shapeless scenes. There are a few laughs scattered throughout, mostly thanks to Love, but it’s not worth the effort to find them.
Sex Pot (2009)
In a list filled with barrel-scrapers, writer-director Eric Forsberg hits rock bottom with this perfectly vile gross-out comedy. The film stars Rollin Perry and Seth Cassell as Spanky and Mert, horny teen virgins who find some “African magic grass” with aphrodisiac qualities inside a “Caribbean porno” and decide to use it to trick women into sex. Despite the sub-porn production values of Sex Pot, Forsberg goes for it in all the worst ways, trying to outdo the pastry sex scene in American Pie with a veritable food orgy, while a later scene involving a malfunctioning penis pump tries to outdo the zipper scene in There’s Something About Mary. Add in a foul-mouthed toddler and some incest and you have one of the most depressing madcap comedies ever created.