Film

Celebrate 4/20 With These 10 Weed Themed Films & TV Shows

Lead Photo: Courtesy of the filmmakers.
Courtesy of the filmmakers.

Stoner comedies are a genre unto itself. But don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking weed has only inspired broad laugh fests about lazy protagonists who’d rather stay home smoking. Contemporary film and television have broadened what kinds of stories for and about stoners can be told. That’s why we’re bringing you a sampling of the great work from U.S. Latinos and Latin Americans daring to tell new weed infused stories amid a changing world where legalization and criminalization continue to dominate local and global politics alike.

We’ve updated our list from a few years back of all things weed-related, and added a number of Latin American films as well as a number of classic TV and web shows that, as of late, have taken to telling stories about all things marijuana. From laugh out loud Chicano comedies to gritty Brazilian dramas and everything in between, the list below should serve as your very own 420-watch list.

Now sit down, light a joint and stream away.

FILMS

Up in Smoke

Lou Adler

Available to stream on Netflix.

Cheech and Chong’s very first movie finds them playing — what else? — two stoner friends who unknowingly smuggle a van made entirely out of marijuana from Mexico to Los Angeles. What follows is mayhem. It includes nuns, a bunch of puns, some questionable fashion choices, Tom Skerritt playing a Vietnam War vet named Strawberry and an overly zealous sergeant on their hunt played by Stacy Keach. A stoner classic it would be the first of many Cheech and Chong collaborations over the years.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
United States
Comedy
Tommy Chong, Cheech Marin
Lou Adler, Lou Lombardo
1978
86

Half Baked

Tamra Davis

Available to stream on Starz.

The premise of this early Dave Chappelle film is simple enough: three friends sell weed to bail out another friend after he is imprisoned for killing a police horse with junk food. This is your gateway film to all pot films. It’s just good entertainment. It’s also incredibly diverse. Chapelle stars alongside Guillermo Diaz and Jim Breuer, while Tommy Chong himself makes an appearance. It’s also that rare stoner film directed by a woman, Tamra Davis. Tie-dye, happy faces and eyes in need of Visine drops will turn your frown upside down. Guaranteed.

Synopsis By: Pili Valdés
United States
Comedy
Dave Chappelle, Neal Brennan
Robert Simonds
1998
82

Misión no oficial

Denny Brechner, Alfonso Guerrero, Marcos Hecht

What originated as a hidden camera bit in Uruguay turned into a full-blown feature mockumentary about a fake Uruguayan Chamber of Legal Marijuana that travels to the United States to find 50 tons of cannabis to supply the country. Set mostly in the U.S. and treading a fine line between what’s real and what’s fiction, this Borat-esque film actually stars Uruguay’s very real president at the time Jose Mujica.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
Uruguay
Comedy
Denny Brechner, Alfonso Guerrero, Marcos Hecht
2017
75

Temporada de patos

Fernando Eimbcke

Available to rent on Amazon.

When their high strung mother goes out for the day leaving Flama and his buddy Moko with some pesos for pizza and Cokes in their high-rise housing complex it has all the makings of the perfect Sunday for a couple of tweens. Settling down in front of the Xbox with sodas and a big bowl of chips the day could not be more perfect that is until the electricity goes out. By the time their next door neighbor Rita comes over to bake a cake (and accidentally makes it with marijuana) this Mexican coming of age tale shows itself to be a tender and quirky take on the genre.

Synopsis By: Maria-Christina Villaseñor
Mexico
Comedy
Fernando Eimbcke, Paula Markovitch
Jaime Bernardo Ramos, Frida Torresblanco, Christian Valdelièvre
2004
90

Kenke

Enrique Pérez Him

Available to rent on Google Play.

Josué is a young and successful businessman, son of a conservative — read classist — mother. Kenny is Josué’s cousin, a teenager who seems to be going through a rebellious phase that mainly consists of smoking a ton of weed. When Josué is appointed by the family as Kenny’s guide, responsible for steering him off the evil path of ganja, the situation becomes tricky, because secretly Josué also happens to be a big fan of the green stuff. With a simple, handheld camera and unpretentious cinematography, Kenke tells a story about first love, family dynamics, and a hypocritical society that suffers from double moral standards and other vices.

Synopsis By: Camila Rodriguez
Panama
Comedy
Enrique Pérez Him
Ana María Suárez, Isabella Gálvez
2015
85

Pájaros de verano

Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra

Available to stream on HBO.

Set in Colombia in the 1970s, right when the demand for marijuana is set to explode, Ciro Guerra’s follow-up to his Oscar-nominated Embrace of the Serpent ditches the black and white aesthetic of his previous film for the colorful world of the Guajira desert. Yet again, though, he’s set his sights (alongside co-director and producer Cristina Gallego) on a story about the way Colombian history intersects with its indigenous population. Birds of Passage follows an Wayuu indigenous family who takes a leading role in the budding new drug trade, and discovers the perks of wealth and power, but with a violent and tragic downside.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
Colombia
Drama
Jacques Toulemonde Vidal, Maria Camila Arias
Cristina Gallego
2018

TV SHOWS

Pico de neblina

Courtesy of HBO Latino

The series is set in a fictional modern-day São Paulo where marijuana has been legalized. The story follows 29-year-old Biriba (Luis Navarro), a drug dealer who decides to give up his criminal life and enter the legal drug sales industry. Unfortunately for Biriba, going straight is more difficult than he could have imagined. This brave new world of dealing means he has a whole new set of rules to follow, forcing him to reexamine everything he knew as a lowly dealer. To make matters worse, his new career isn’t sitting well with people from his past who desperately want to put him out of business. The series explores the gray area between what is criminal and what is legal, diving into the social and economic consequences drug trafficking can have on not only a person, but their country as well.

Available to stream on HBO.

High & Mighty

‘High & Mighy.’ Courtesy of Urbanworld

The concept of web series High & Mighty is right in its title. Without knowing why (mystery is key to this show), protagonist Chelo (suddenly finds that getting drunk or stoned makes him mighty: it gives him super powers. That his superpowers (strength, speed, even flight) are tied to different controlled substances is not good news for Chelo. You see, the young, perhaps too-laid-back Angeleno is trying to get his life back together. His well-adjusted girlfriend is tired of his drunken and stoner hijinks.

That 70's Show

 

Did you hate your high school years? So do the kids in this show. Set in Wisconsin in the 70s, the show follows six friends in high school who come together in a basement to smoke and discuss the troubles of young life. The show features Wilmer Valderrama as foreign exchange student, Fez, who manages to get the girl. The girl in this case is Mila Kunis. Bonus: Tommy Chong plays an aging hippie. Also, the theme song is a classic.

Available to stream on Netflix.

Weeds

What do you do when you’re a suburban housewife and your bread winner husband dies suddenly? You become a pot dealer. Duh. Mary Louise Parker kills as a Nancy, an iced coffee slurping mother of two, who is doing the best she can. As the series unfolds we get some nice surprises like Demian Bichir in perfectly tailored suits, Guillermo Diaz as a muscle man with heart and Kate Del Castillo getting thrown into a pool.

Available to stream on Netflix.