4/20 Flicks: Movie-ing Beyond the Stereotype

What makes a movie ideal to watch while stoned? According to most lists on the subject, the chief requirement is one or more characters who smoke weed, but I say screw that. Tastes may vary depending on the person, not to mention the pot, but the best 4/20 films are more of an experience – not just a movie. They’re visually interesting, thought-provoking, gut-busting, cringe-inducing, and above all, unique.

1. Waking Life

You know those rambling philosophical discussions you have whenever you smoke with your best buds? Waking Life is a movie made up of those conversations, each one more likely than the last to blow your mind. Even better, all of it is rotoscoped—animation with squiggly cartoon lines drawn on top of actual film – giving the whole thing a hallucinogenic, acid-fried quality that will keep your brain as busy as the discussions about dream-worlds, free will and the nature of time. Whoa.

2. Drive

Drive is a movie drenched in intoxicating ‘80s style, from its sultry, synth-driven soundtrack to its vision of a Los Angeles that’s always basking in sunset or lit with cool neon come nighttime. Ryan Gosling barely speaks as the mysterious badass at the film’s center, but he doesn’t need to—the drama, the romance, the tension, and even the horror all come from the film’s hypnotic atmosphere, a gritty retro world any stoner would be glad to get lost within.

3. Life of Pi

Life of Pi is a film about spirituality, storytelling, connection, the human will to survive and the intensely personal relationship between a man and his God(s). It’s also about an Indian family that owns a zoo, a boy stranded at sea with a man-eating tiger and an uncharted floating island that eats people. Beyond all that, it also displays some of the coolest visuals and best CGI effects ever put to film, including one psychedelic sequence just as trippy as the one from Doctor Strange—you know the one I mean.




4. eXistenZ

eXistenZ is a little like The Matrix as directed by David Cronenberg—a twisty sci-fi designed to make you question your reality, only this time with a self-referential story about VR video games that plug right into the base of the gamer’s spine. Jennifer Jason Leigh and a surprisingly hilarious Jude Law star in a movie that always seems to keep one foot in dark comedy, and another in disturbing bodily horror—the kind only David Cronenberg can create. If you don’t find yourself screaming “eXistenZ is paused!” after this head trip of a movie, you aren’t high enough.

5. It Follows

Being high makes you paranoid, and being paranoid makes horror movies way better. It Follows is a perfectly paranoia-fueling horror feature. The concept is so effectively scary it seems like an ancient urban legend—a sexually-transmitted curse that slowly but unceasingly follows you until it kills you, unless you pass it on to someone else. The movie is like a nightmare version of summertime filled with perfect jump scares, though even scarier is the feeling of being followed that’ll stick with you even after the credits roll.

6. The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie shouldn’t be this entertaining, but it is. It’s lively and colorful and hilarious, so packed full of visual splendor and clever lines it’ll keep even the sleepiest of stoners awake. All of it builds up to one hell of a twist, the kind that makes everything that came before better, and speaks to the Lego-obsessed little kid in all of us.

Jeffrey Rindskopf

Jeffrey Rindskopf is a freelance writer and editor based in Seattle, born and raised in southern California. He attended film school at Chapman University before beginning his career as a freelancer in 2014, writing fiction and articles covering travel, food, and culture. When he isn't writing, Jeffrey likes to travel or simply melt into the couch while consuming some of his favorite media.