Love it or hate it, the stoner comedy as we know it would be nothing without the late Harold Ramis - who would have turned 72 today. The likes of Kevin Smith, Seth Rogen and Neil Patrick Harris all owe a tremendous debt to Ramis' work as a writer, director and actor. Here's a look back at his best contributions to cannabis cinema.
1. National Lampoon's Animal House
Ramis got his first big break in Hollywood by co-writing the classic frat comedy Animal House (1978) with Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller. In fact, much of the film's plot was based on Ramis' experience as part of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at St. Louis' Washington University. Which makes us wonder if the pot-smoking prof played by Donald Sutherland was based on one of Ramis' instructors.
After the surprising success of "Animal House," producers hired Ramis to co-write and direct the iconic sports comedy Caddyshack (1980), starring Rodney Dangerfield and Chevy Chase. But Bill Murray stole the show as groundskeeper Carl Spackler, who fought gophers by day and grew experimental cannabis strains by night.
Sadly, one of Ramis' funniest marijuana moments wound up on the cutting room floor. In 1981, he co-wrote and starred in the military comedy Stripes with Bill Murray. The two comedians played lovable losers who enlist in the army to escape dead end jobs. And as you'd expect, two quickly get into hijinks that make a mockery of the American military.
In a nine-minute scene that was deleted from the film's theatrical release, the two take LSD and wind up getting caught by guerillas in the jungles of Colombia. But after sharing a joint and a song with the militants, Ramis and Murray slip away.
Here's a snippet from the deleted scene.
4. Orange County
Ramis made a brief but memorable appearance in the 2002 comedy Orange County. The film starred Colin Hanks as an uptight student and Jack Black as a stoner stereotype who inadvertently gives three hits of MDMA to Stanford's dean of admissions (played by Ramis).
Here he is pretending to trip out on Molly.
5. Knocked Up
Ramis' last contribution to cannabis cinema was playing Seth Rogen's dad in the stoner dramedy Knocked Up (2007). At one point, the two share a heart-to-heart about pot and parenting.
"[You] told me not to smoke pot all those years, and then I found out you were smoking pot that whole time," Rogen says over lunch at a diner.
"Not the whole time," Ramis says guiltily. "Just in the evenings and all day every weekend. Not that much."