It seems like every time you light a joint there’s a new stoner comedy lined up in your Netflix queue, doesn’t it?
Video-on-demand has made it cheap and easy for studios to churn out third-rate films pandering to niche markets in order to earn those sweet, sweet streaming dollars. Pot smokers, it seems, are getting the worst of it.
Do they think so little of us? Do they expect us to just sit here and watch whatever they put in front of us just because it has the word “weed” in the title? No! Like any other audience, cannabis consumers need to be finessed. We need to be convinced that this particular low-brow stoner comedy is worth our valuable time.
This is where the tagline comes in. It’s a hook. In order to be effective, it needs to not only be catchy and funny, it needs to encapsulate what the film is about. Namely, marijuana, friends, good times.
Let’s look at some of the movies that have done it best:
"They’ll Have You Rollin’ In Your Seats" – Cheech & Chong’s 'Still Smoking'
After scrolling through the seemingly endless list of bad puns and corny lines used to promote all 400 or so Cheech and Chong movies to come out between 1978 and 1985, we think we can say, without reservation, that this is by far the best of the bunch.
Why, you ask? Simplicity. Unlike so many weed gags of its kind, this one does not feel at all dashed off or contrived. It works not because of the pun, but despite it. We like to imagine it slipping unnoticed passed several censorship and parent groups before it was slapped on that poster.
We can’t say whether or not this level of cleverness is reflected in the film itself, because we’re, like, 95% sure we haven’t seen it. It’s the one with one car made of pot, right?
"Altered State Police" - 'Super Troopers'
‘Super Troopers,’ a film noted for its wide divide between the critics who hate it, and the general audience that loves it (the critics are wrong), few can deny its catchy tagline, “Altered State Police.” A play, obviously, on condition of being in an “altered state of mind.” Cute, huh?
In just three words, the tagline pretty succinctly describes the type of shenanigans Vermont State Highway Patrol get into meow and again…damn, we were only able to shoehorn in two references—uh, Snozzberries!
While we might be inclined to dock some points for its unintentional reference to the popular 80s sci-fi film Altered States, to which it bears not even the slightest resemblance, we still think the premise is built on a solid enough foundation to get a pass.
“This Time, They’re Running From The Joint” – 'Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay'
Puns are a strange beast, requiring clever turns of phrase that are very seldom funny. Nevertheless, they’ve remained the lifeblood of hacky Hollywood promotional material since the birth of the medium. Still, every once in a while, there’s an exception and we are graced with a truly funny tagline.
Considering this second installment in the Harold and Kumar trilogy features the boys escaping the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison and going on the lam across the country, this tagline is not only exceedingly accurate, it might actually elicit a chuckle. Unlike the movie, unfortunately.
"Drug Crazed Abandon" - 'Reefer Madness'
Is this one cheating? We don’t think so.
This infamous piece of prohibitionist propaganda from 1936 has since been adopted by cannabis users as a hilarious example of the early hysteria over recreational marijuana.
This hilarious tagline, initially issued as a warning, nowadays reads like positive promotion. Its claim to show drug-fuelled bouts of reckless behavior was, in its time, supposed to provoke equal parts panic and titillation in the audience. While it may have failed spectacularly to strike fear into the hearts of its targeted teen audience, this tagline perfectly illustrates why the film has gone on to become such a massive cult hit.
"See It With A Bud" - 'Dazed and Confused'
A perennial classic, the oft-quoted tagline for 'Dazed and Confused' has demonstrated considerable staying power. While it may have been intended as little more than a marketing slogan, it remains one of the best-known lines of a movie chock full of great lines.
It’s a weed joke, sure, but it’s a weed joke like ‘Dazed and Confused’ is a stoner comedy - upon closer examination, you’ll find that it is so much more. Unlike other taglines on this list, which are mere double-entendres, the purpose this one serves is threefold: one, it’s a play on marijuana; two, it’s informing you it’s better seen with a friend; three, it’s more or less captures the vernacular used by the film’s characters.
If you can think of a tagline that more perfectly describes a movie about getting high and hanging out with your friends, then we will wipe our face off our head.