A Ranking of the Best Movie Stoners Based on How Much We Want to Get High With Them

Is that The Dude in a suit? Ah, it's a The Big Lebowski screening.
Is that The Dude in a suit? Ah, it's a The Big Lebowski screening. Mike Coppola/Getty
Unlike last year's virtual celebrations, this year’s 420 festivities could allow a good smoke circle among vaccinated friends. We’d also guess that setting up a Zoom meeting might be a challenge depending on how high you are.

Disappointed stoners may have flocked to weed-centric movies last year when they couldn’t hang out in person, as movies have always been a huge part of the counterculture. In 1969, Easy Rider popularized the notion of independent cinema to mainstream audiences and became a massive success, and Texas’ own Matthew McConaughey is making his mark on stoner culture today with movies The Beach Bum and The Gentlemen. And of course, let's not forget Dazed and Confused.

What will the conservative constituents think of that if McConaughey does intend to clinch the Republican nomination for Texas governor?

We have the pleasure of watching stoner classics without worrying about whether we’ll face the same dangers that befall the characters (unless you’re a lightweight who gets really secondhand weed-induced anxiety). In honor of 420, we looked back on famous movie stoners to determine who we'd most want to share a bowl with and those we wouldn't.

Chill: Larry "Doc" Sportello, Inherent Vice

The shoeless, vaguely conscious that Joaquin Phoenix plays in Paul Thomas Anderson’s underrated comic masterpiece Inherent Vice is about as far from the Joker as you can get (which is good, because there’s actually no one we’d want to smoke with less than the Crown Prince of Crime). Nevertheless, Doc’s wacky adventures seem like fun, and we know he’d bring us a hazy whirlwind of a good time.

Burnout: Sam, Under the Silver Lake
Check out this underrated comedic noir if you get the chance because not enough people have seen this hidden gem. That being said, Andrew Garfield’s character Sam is an amalgamation of the ultimate burnout; he’s a skinny white boy lovesick for a girl he met once, and he’s convinced there’s a conspiracy involving subliminal messaging and a Hollywood death cult. No thanks.

Chill: Craig and Smokey, Friday

“I was just bullshittin!” We aspire to be so high we can break the fourth wall of our own movie.

Burnout: Ned Rochlin, Our Idiot Brother
Don't get us wrong, Ned Rochlin is as charming as the actor who portrays him, the notoriously ageless Paul Rudd, but there's a reason the movie's title calls him an idiot. From selling weed to cops to his inability to keep a secret, Ned's naïveté is exhausting.

Chill: Jane F, Smiley Face
Who wouldn’t want to get baked enough to pick up The Communist Manifesto? We can’t guarantee that she’d keep us safe, but there’s no doubt we wouldn’t forget our trip with Anna Farris’s flustered actress in crisis.

Burnout: Thurgood Jenkins, Half Baked

Good friends don’t let each other go to jail for accidentally killing a diabetic horse. Unfortunately, a session with Thurgood might not guarantee that.

Chill: Bill & Ted, Bill & Ted franchise
“Be excellent to each other, and party on dude!” Come on! Two of the most delightful movie characters of all-time, Bill and Ted’s time-traveling adventures and thrilling rock music inspired a future of peace and easy feelings. Comedy sequels rarely work, but Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure produced not one, but TWO great sequels with Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and last year’s Bill & Ted Face the Music, which introduced the next generation of Wyld Stallyns.

Burnout: Jay and Silent Bob, Clerks, Chasing Amy, Mallrats, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Clerks II, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot
All respect to Kevin Smith, who has survived a heart attack and seems like an all-around nice guy, but the vulgar Jay and completely moot Silent Bob have more than overstayed their welcome. Jay shouts offensive slang and won’t shut up, and Silent Bob has given one piece of insight across six movies. Seriously, six?

Chill: The Dude, The Big Lebowski
Probably the most iconic movie stoner of all times, Jeff Bridges' famous bowling hooligan has inspired countless imitators and even his own damn religion. The Big Lebowski is a classic and one of the best films from the always reliable Coen Brothers, and if you disagree, “Well, that’s just your opinion, man.” But it’s pretty much a fact.

Burnout: Marty Mikalski, Cabin in the Woods

OK, so we’ll give this little weasel some credit — he survives a lot longer than most stoners would. Still, he can’t stop the apocalypse brought forth by Sigourney Weaver, so he's not worthy of our time.

Chill: Dale Denton and Saul Silver, Pineapple Express
Their names even sound like superheroes, and although these two dim-witted idiots found themselves in the ultimate stoner nightmare (aka, getting chased down by the police), they manage to keep their friendship intact and survive to have a good breakfast the next day.

Burnout: Alien, Spring Breakers

James Franco’s Saul Silver from Pineapple Express is a fairly easy-going guy, but the insane crime lord he plays in the wild cult classic Spring Breakers is about the last person with whom we'd take a hit. Between various criminal activities, Alien is bound to stress us out regardless of whether we were stoned out of our minds or sober.

Chill: Harold & Kumar, The Harold & Kumar Series
Don't let anyone tell you that getting baked with these guys won't get you anywhere; one of them ended up on Star Trek and the other one introduced President Barack Obama at a 2012 Democratic National Convention. How's that for upward mobility?

Burnout: Elizabeth Halsey, Bad Teacher
Maybe Cameron Diaz predicted the public school embezzlement scandal? Either way, we're not learning anything here.

Chill: Everybody in Dazed and Confused
Save for Ben Affleck’s vicious villain O’Bannion, the entire Dazed and Confused gang is the exact type of friends we all wish we’d had growing up. They appear to be still living it up 28 years later — check out the fun virtual reunion the gang did recently.

Burnout: Mike Howell, American Ultra
Jesse Eisenberg’s customarily awkward nerd character fulfills the ultimate stoner fantasy in American Ultra — he gets superpowers! That being said, getting chased by the FBI is definitely a burnout, and we’re getting sick of Eisenberg’s geeky mannerisms anyway.
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Liam Gaughan has been covering film and television since before he had a driver's license, and in addition to the Observer has been published in, Schmoes Know, Taste of Cinema and The Dallas Morning News. He enjoys checking classic films off of his watchlist and working on spec scripts.