A good friend of mine, who shall remain nameless here, went to go see L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. Nothing wrong with that, right? Yeah, except that he saw it when he was stoned. He's telling me how he couldn't follow it, and I'm there going "Maybe you could've followed it if you weren't baked, you fuckin' Floyd." (Floyd being the wastoid Brad Pitt character in TRUE ROMANCE.)
Now, I'm neither Nancy Reagan nor Woody Harrelson -- I'm not gonna come down pro or con regarding hemp. You wanna kill your brain cells, fine with me, who am I to judge? But going to movies stoned is where I draw the line. There's nothing I hate worse -- actually, there are a lot of things I hate worse, but indulge me, okay? -- lemme rephrase it -- among the many things I hate is sitting in a movie theater and smelling the pungent, unmistakable odor that clings to the clothes of a fellow cineaste who's just come in from toking out in the parking lot.
Look: If I'm a director and I bust my ass, devote two years of my life to making a movie, and some Jeff "the Dude" Lebowski wannabe comes to see my movie all baked, I'd be pissed. Getting wasted before a movie shows no respect for the movie. Why don't you just stay home and stare at a fuckin' lava lamp for two hours? You'd save seven bucks and you wouldn't piss me off. People who get stoned before a movie are the same people who just randomly go to a movie, not giving a shit which movie, not deciding which movie to see until they're in the ticket line. They don't really care about movies. It's just something to do.
"Yeah, but Rob," some of you might say, "there are some movies that are made to be seen while stoned." You might cite NATURAL BORN KILLERS or 2001 as examples. Well, okay. Both those movies are good whether you're stoned or not. In fact, NBK and 2001 make you feel stoned even if you're not, so getting stoned before you see them is a waste of weed. Otherwise, my rebuttal is simple: If you have to be stoned to appreciate a given movie, it's a bad movie. And being high is such a subjective experience that there's no way a director can "make" a movie to cater to each toker's experience. If your boredom or enjoyment of a movie is heightened chemically, it's a false experience.
Our experience of a movie is affected by so many irrelevant factors anyway. A movie may break you out of a bad mood or make it worse. Depending on what's going on with you at the moment, you may not have the patience or energy to rise to a movie, even if you're sober. So why consciously place a chemical filter (sounds like a techno band) between you and the movie? I don't get it.
Being high is a notoriously interiorized experience. Everything is about you when you're stoned, and the movie itself just goes floating away: you don't respond to the movie, you respond to yourself watching the movie. And forget about following any kind of plot -- which is why my friend was so baffled by L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, a story so dense it's hard to follow on the soberest day of your life. Stoners tend to gravitate towards plotless, visceral, visual experiences; that's why Floyds and Floydettes embraced FANTASIA in the '60s.
So we've established now that seeing movies stoned is a selfish, pointless, wasteful thing to do. Like that's gonna stop anyone from doing it. Fine, but I gotta say I don't trust any weed-influenced opinion of any movie. "Dude, it was incredible, I was so wasted" -- a movie is not a fuckin' Phish concert, okay, folks? The minute weed enters the discussion, I tune out the rest of the opinion. I mean, you don't see movie critics getting baked before seeing a movie they're going to review. Although when I read some of their reviews, like Roger Ebert's four-star valentine to DARK CITY, I have to wonder: "One of the year's best films! An astonishing visual and dramatic triumph!" Uh, okay, Roger -- you must've smoked some wicked good shit, man.