Stoned Alone & The Mainstreaming of Cannabis Movies

(Charles Krupa/AP)

The internet is ablaze with the latest announcement of Ryan Reynolds’ major studio “stoner comedy” Stoned Alone. A reboot of the John Hughes/Chris Columbus Christmas classic with a major cannabis twist, this film will center on an “unproductive” adult grower who must use paranoia to his advantage when outwitting bumbling criminals.

Cannabis in the movies has most often been prominent in indie productions, laying into counterculture and underground cinema. For years, pot appeared on film in a series of what would become well-honed tropes.

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Grab a Strain Before the Show

From stone-y characterizations in Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke to Spicoli’s righteous appearance on Fast Times at Ridgemont High, cannabis in film has always been the prop commonly associated with rebellious teens and beleaguered adults living unhappy lives.

Hollywood ganja (and the people who smoke it) hasn’t always been painted in the most positive light.

Toking Up on the Silver Screen

At its best, weed on film is often used as a bonding mechanism, a tool to give a group of characters (and the audience) permission to let down their guard as they wax philosophic about their demons and society’s ills. Which, at the very least, gives cannabis credence as a “drug” with depth.

It wasn’t until Harold and Kumar took their trip to White Castle that audiences got to see complex, stoned characters, who—while flawed—were also capable, comical, and fully fleshed-out in their humanity. The film’s unexpected popularity resulted in a sequel which was well-funded for an expectedly high customer base.

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As legal and regulated weed culture spreads throughout the nation, demand for entertainment with a cannabis-positive demographic in mind will surely be mainstreamed. We can see the changes happening on the small screen—streaming and cable television have made room for varied conversations about pot and culture.

Reynolds’ step into the world of stoner-flicks isn’t ground-breaking, and already sounding as if it may contain some tired tropes and misinformation. For instance, any grower worth their salt would know if they were growing a paranoia-inducing strain.

Hopefully, as weed culture evolves in our society, the interpretations of cannabis—and its many uses—will make a significant turn on the big screen.