The 10 best movies to watch when high all have a few things in common. Mind-blowing visuals and great music are always a plus, along with hilarious comedy and, occasionally, really deep concepts. But the very best movies combine all of these into a one-of-a-kind experience, especially for viewers in the right frame of mind.
“Fantasia” In 1940, Walt Disney challenged his young studio to take animation in new directions. The animators created free-form visuals based on great music, 40 years before the music video was invented. In the 1960s, a new generation discovered this was the perfect film to watch when high; the music and graphics are still stunning today.
“2001: A Space Odyssey” The word “cosmic” took on new meaning for stoners catching Stanley Kubrick’s mind-blower in its original 1968 run. Its lost none of its heady glory in the intervening years. Try to wrap your brain around the far-out science fiction ideas. If you can’t, just sit back and enjoy the finale’s intergalactic light show.
“Yellow Submarine” The Beatles, as comedian Bill Hicks pointed out, were really high when they wrote some of their best songs. Most of those songs are in this 1968 animated masterpiece, accompanied by some truly trippy visuals. The Fab Four travel through a shifting pop-art fantasy realm to battle the sinister Blue Meanies who represent conformity and other too-common buzz kills.
“Reefer Madness” Lots of movies are much funnier when you’re high and the hysterical over-the-top badness of 1936’s anti-weed screed puts it at the top of that list. This movie is so perfectly bad, in fact, that only being high can improve it. For the perfect pot double feature, bookend your evening with the 2005 musical comedy remake starring Kristen Bell.
“Head” TV pop stars The Monkees shed their manufactured image with this trippy 1968 comedy gem. The “story” was written by the Monkees, director Bob Rafelson and then-unknown Jack Nicholson (!), while all were reportedly high, so only a high person can truly appreciate it. The “Head” trip includes cameos by the likes of Frank Zappa and Teri Garr, along with some of the Monkees’ best songs.
“Up in Smoke” Cheech and Chong practically invented the stoner comedy with their 1978 debut film. Shot on a shoestring, the movie was a hit, thanks to strong repeat business from audiences who were probably higher than the stars. Cheech and Chong made a series of follow-up films, but none matched the perfection of this movie or their cannabis flavored comedy albums.
“Pink Floyd the Wall” Roger Waters’s musical masterpiece documented the ultimate rockstar meltdown. In 1982, director Alan Parker and animator Gerald Scarfe brought Waters’s way-out vision to the big screen. It’s not a happy story, but it graphically reveals the inner workings of a mind that has gone too far around the bend.
“Dazed and Confused” Like “Up in Smoke,” but in a totally different way, “Dazed” is a loving tribute to ‘70s stoner culture. In 1993, director Richard Linklater flawlessly re-created his childhood in Austin, Texas. Amid the great lines and classic comic moments, you can spot future stars Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich and Matthew McConaughey.
“Waking Life” Linklater followed up “Dazed and Confused” with an animated ramble through the conscious, unconscious and subconscious worlds. Like “2001,” this has mind-blowing concepts if you’re into a brainy trip and eye-popping visuals if you’re not. Even if you’re not high, you may feel like you are after it’s all over.
“Across the Universe” Director Julie Taymor created a world out of Beatles songs, just as she converted “The Lion King” into a groundbreaking stage play. Innovative sequences like “Strawberry Fields” and the enlistment scene will blow your mind in new ways. Meanwhile, the historical context will remind you just how the pot-fueled counterculture got its start.