Friday, March 5, 2010

Top 10 Drug Movies

1. Trainspotting (1996) - One of the best movies I’ve ever seen and in my all-time Top 5. I love everything about this film: the setting (Edinburgh, Scotland), the accents, the actors and characters, Ewan McGregor’s opening monologue followed by his narration of the story, and the message. I put Trainspotting at number one because it leaves the viewers with a positive feeling at the end of film. This is not something you often get with drug films. It show’s you that life can go on without heroin, people can change, but sadly it’s only through drastic and horrific experiences will they recognize a change is needed. From the moment Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” starts playing in the opening credits coupled with McGregor’s powerful monologue you will become hooked. I know I was.

2. Requiem for a Dream (2000) – While Trainspotting gives hope at the end of the film Requiem for a Dream is the antithesis. In fact, it fucking shits on all sense of hope…ever. From beginning to end it’s a downward spiral of people’s lives due to their addiction of heroin. You see the outrageous lengths a person will go to just so they can score. After watching this film you won’t be the same.

3. Traffic (2000) – A unique look into the world of drugs (mainly cocaine). Traffic provides a macro- and micro-examination of the drug world. More specifically it depicts the addiction/pain it causes users and parents, the political fight against drugs, and the lives of law enforcement officers in the US and Mexico . Although I wasn’t crazy about this film when I initially saw it due to its multiple storylines and the way it was filmed, it did grow on me due to the impact it has. I love watching it now.

4. Less Than Zero (1987) – The first five minutes of movie the main characters are as happy as they’ll ever be. They just graduated high school and have the whole world to conquer. However, becoming addicted to cocaine changes things. While you mainly see Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Gertz struggling with their addiction you also witness the tension it creates for friend Andrew McCarthy. What’s really strange about this film is how socially accepted cocaine was during the 1980’s. It was completely normal for several people to snort lines of coke in the bathroom which is unhygienic on so many levels.

5. Blow (2001) - Another great performance by Johnny Depp. Based on true events, Depps plays George Jung who was one of the people who brought cocaine into the United States in 1970’s and 1980’s and partly responsible for its sky-rocketing success. Even though George Jung was a drug trafficker aligned with the most sinister man on the planet Pablo Escobar, it’s impossible not to like this character. There is a certain charm and innocence that Depp depicts allowing viewers to become okay with the fact that he’s a drug lord. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself cheering for him halfway through the movie.

6. Half-Baked (1998) - Probably the best movie for pot-lovers due to its comedy and innocence. It’ll make you laugh, smoke up more, and eat some Funyuns...yea Funyuns! There are so many memorable lines from this movie that you’ll never get tired of reciting them. “You guys gotta get me out of here! There's this guy Nasty Nate who wants my cocktail fruit, and everyone here likes fresh fish! Then The Squirrel Master came out of left field and told me I'm his bitch!” Classic!

7. Dazed and Confused (1993) – Another stoner movie that maintains innocence but is funny as hell. Although this film is not about the buying and selling of weed on a massive level it simply shows how stoned everyone in the 1970’s was.

8. Spun (2002) - A whirlwind movie about the effects of speed. Let me quote the great Artie Lange in regards to this drug, “Speed is good drug to do…if you want to walk to Wisconsin for the weekend.” The film is very fast paced and will leave the viewer with some unsettling feelings. There’s a laundry list of well noted actors that accurately display the effects of speed and the way it turns life upside down. (Don’t worry mom and dad I never touched the stuff. So Mom stop asking repetitive questions and Dad stop scratching the back of your head.)

9. Narc (2002) - Wow, where to begin with this movie. From the opening to closing scene things are insane and highly intense in this story of narcotic cops. Starring Jason Patric and Ray Liotta it is definitely not a happy movie and highlights how addiction can grab anyone even well established cops. Ray Liotta is excellent in this movie and so intense that if his character was real I may cry if we crossed paths.

10. 25th Hour (2002) – Another powerful and moving film dealing with heroin. However, it takes the point of view of the dealer and not the addict. An all star cast featuring Ed Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Brian Cox, Rosario Dawson and directed by Spike Lee. This film shows the severe consequences of dealing drugs. The movie shows Ed Norton’s last day before going to prison for seven years. When I saw this movie for the first time my heart practically broke at the end. This is definitely one of Spike Lee’s best and worth seeing.

Two movies that didn’t make the list but I feel that it’s necessary to mention them:

* Permanent Midnight (1998) - This is true story about writer Jerry Stahl (Alf, Bad Boys II, CSI), played by Ben Stiller, who is a heroin addict. This is not one of Stiller’s blockbuster films but it’s very powerful. Stiller show’s he does have the ability to step out of the comedy zone and make you feel the characters suffering.

** Grandma’s Boy (2006) – A cult comedy that went under the radar when released but funny as hell. It combines two things: smoking weed and playing video games, which sums up certain people’s college life. This film is a Happy Madison Production, which is owned by Adam Sandler. Therefore it stars all the regulars on Sandler’s team except himself. Like Half Baked, this movie has so many funny quotes, “You’re shit’s weak! You’re shit’s weak! (insert high pitched voice) You’re shiiitttt’s weak!” or the great JP, “I’ve been thinking about getting metal legs. It’s a risky operation but it’s worth it.” Gotta love it!

Do you think I forgot any movies? Please let me know. I'd love to hear from you.


  1. fear and loathing in Las Vegas, A Clockwork Orange, Scarface, Altered States, Cheech and Chongs UP in Smoke, Easy Rider, king of New York, just a few more for consideration, obviously lots of drug movies out there.

  2. Fear and Loathing and A Clockwork Orange are great movies. I havent seen Easy Rider, King of New York, or Altered States. Ive seen Cheech and Chong which is great. As for Scarface yes it is a good movie, but I don't consider that a drug movie. Yes there are drugs in them but I was aiming toward the addiction aspect. I like the movie and Pacino is good but I think its somewhat overrated.

  3. The 25th Hour is great, but is it a drug movie? It's about consequences and trust. He's in this situation because of dealing, but the cause is almost irrelevant. He could have been a thief, murderer, or copyright infringer and the storyline would have been the same, in my opinion.

  4. fear and loathing, pulp fiction, boogie nights, good fellas.

  5. Glad Grandma's Boy made the secondary list.

    Along the same lines...Harold & Kumar, Pineapple Express.

    Good post.

  6. Agree with Yero about 25th Hour. Although it's one of my faves, the importance of the drug aspect is debatable.

    How about Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny or How High? (i think these are more likely to be included in the bottom 10). Or, to reference an earlier post of yours, how about Basketball Diaries?

  7. Yero,

    I see where you are coming from and respect your opinion. However, if he committed any of those other crimes except murder he'd probably face a minimal prison sentence plus a fine. 25th Hour is different because it depicts the consequences one must deal with when dealing, which is very severe especially in Norton's case. An addict must struggle for the rest of his/her life to recover and their life is forever changed. The same can be said for Norton's character even though he's not an addict. He loses so much just like a drug user. The impact is just as severe. Several times in his character life he could have gotten out but he didn't. Therefore, he ended up paying the consequence. Yes its about consequence but aren't all drug movies about consequences one way or another? Good point though and thanks for the comment.

    Seana you're correct by saying this movie is debatable. I guess it comes down to each person's opinion. How High is great and would be at the end. There are so many other drug movies out there and this one would probably have been the most difficult. Maybe I should of down Top 20 for this list haha. Damnit I forgot about Basketball Diaries when making the list. That's definitely up there.

  8. I agree that Basketball Diaries should have made it over 25th hour. All the other movies on this list are about users and their drug (or drugs) of choice. As far as I remember, Ed Norton's character was a user, just a dealer, right?

  9. Yes he was just a dealer. After thinking about it Basketball Diaries fits up there better then 25th Hour I'll admit.