Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Living the High Life
I wrote in my blog last week about how the movie Easy Rider includes many of the same thematic elements as more contemporary stoner movies. However, it seems that as the years since the counterculture movement go by and fade into memory, cinema looks back with nostalgia at the good parts of free love and all its effects on society while somewhat neglecting the negative aspects of sex, drugs, and rock n' roll. While Easy Rider starts out as many stoner movies do, the recent genre tends to have a much more comedic, lax view of drug use and all that it entails. There are a few stoner movies, though, that expose the more negative side of drug use, even if the manner is not as grim as that of Easy Rider.
One movie that jumps out particularly in my mind is last year's Pineapple Express, the Judd Apatow comedy about two friends (stoners, naturally) who accidentally see a cop murder someone, get caught witnessing the killing, and get caught up in a crazy adventure as they try to avoid being offed. Seth Rogan and James Franco star in the film, and their characters are even somewhat parallel to those of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. Dale Denton, played by Seth Rogan, is somewhat serious and realistic about his lot in life toward the middle and end of the film, though he starts off the movie as just another aimless pothead who makes a living serving court orders. During the middle of the movie, he seems to realize what a meaningless existence he's been leading thus far, and that drugs may not necessarily be a great thing for him. He sees his own immaturity and inaneness much more clearly than his trusty sidekick, Saul Silver. James Franco's character Saul Silver is a bit more like that of Dennis Hopper; he doesn't really see a problem with the whole scene and thinks that he will eventually be able to make something of himself even though right now he does nothing but deal pot, watch t.v., and visit his bube in the nursing home. Both characters eventually somewhat come to realize that they might lead more productive lives if they stop smoking up so frequently, and that drugs aren't all fun and games.
The majority of stoner movies, though, don't really show the downside to drug use. One recent movie that I think falls into this category is Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. The entire premise of the film is brought on by smoking pot and getting the munchies, leading the two main characters on an adventure that results in epiphanies/major life changes that are relatively positive. Even though Pineapple Express and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle can both be put into the genre of stoner comedies, they have very different messages. It seems as if most movies that focus mainly on drugs have to be comedies these days, even if they do have a significant message to relay.