10 best science fiction films to watch high

Published on May 2, 2023 · Last updated May 5, 2023
(Josh Titus / Leafly)

If 4/20 is the day to go to Hippy Hill or Washington Square Park and blaze away in public, then May the 4th is the day to melt into the couch, hit the Puffco and trip out to sci-fi movies. While you could go with the Star Wars spirit of the day by firing up Disney+ and binging any number of trilogies–or all of them–Leafly’s list goes beyond George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away.

The best sci-fi to watch high should expand your mind, but not be too long, complex, or heavy (sorry, Alien). Humor helps. We researched other lists, and polled fans and friends on Slack and Twitter to assemble a playlist ranging from action-packed space operas to cyberpunk dystopias that will get your ass to Mars and launch you into hyperspace.

The Fifth Element

fifth element postser

The French make the trippiest sci-fi. It’s the one thing they excel at, besides protesting and sipping wine in sidewalk cafes. Luc Besson (Taken) brings the WTF look of French comic book artists Jean Giraud and Jean-Claude Mézières to life in a way that shouldn’t have been possible with 1990s CGI. You’ve got a New York City filled with flying cars, and Chris Tucker in a crazy blonde wig chewing the scenery. Milla Jovovich rocks revealing Gaultier fashions while saving the universe, and Bruce Willis brings the Die Hard swagger to keep things from getting too European. Streaming on Tubi. Weed pairing: Zkittlez.

poster for the Matrix
What is the Matrix?

The Matrix

This is the movie that made sci-fi trippy in a new, post-internet, cyberpunk way. Some of its tracer-filled martial arts fight scenes and slow-mo bullets may seem a little cliché now. But that’s only because everyone’s been ripping off Lana and Lilly Warchowski’s breakthrough hit ever since. It’s the movie that made the black leather trench coat the go-to look for grim, dark future-shock. And Keanu Reeves’ wire fu techniques here set the table for his blockbuster comeback in the John Wick franchise. You’ll wanna take the red pill or at least a Indica- hybrid to stay in wonderland and see how deep the rabbit hole goes. Streaming on HBOMax. Weed pairing: Modified Grapes

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Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Salacious B. Crumb steals the show.

The best Star Wars movies aren’t necessarily the stoniest ones, so the representative of Lucas’ space saga for our May the 4th list came down to this somewhat maligned original trilogy finale and Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002). While Clones has lots of cool space shit packed into each frame that make it go well with a 10 milligram gummy, it’s just wrong to choose a Star Wars movie that doesn’t have Harrison Ford in it. Ford sold weed before Han Solo made him a star, and “the brutal strength of Harrison’s preferred strain of pot” made Carrie Fisher forget the filming of Episode IV according to her 2016 tell-all The Princess Diarist. And love the Ewoks or hate ‘em, the Endor scenes were filmed in Humboldt, where all the best weed is grown. Streaming on Disney+. Weed pairing: Skywalker OG.

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Blade Runner

Blade Runner posster
“Time to die.”

The 2017 sequel, Blade Runner 2049, is as stoney as they come, but the original is a classic, plus it’s 47 minutes shorter, so it’s better for laid-back bong rips. It’s the second movie based on a story by Philip K. Dick and it’ll have you asking the same kinds of deep questions as Total Recall. Is Decker, the broken-down detective or “blade runner” played by Harrison Ford, really an android like the replicants he’s been sent to hunt down? We didn’t have the answer for nearly 40 years, but you can rest assured that Ford is high through the filming of this neon-drenched dystopian epic. Eddie Olmos looks pretty stoned, too. Directed by Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator), with special effects by Douglas Trumbull who inspired a generation to drop acid with his groundbreaking work in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Streaming on HBOMax. Weed pairing: Jet Fuel Gelato.

Edge of Tomorrow

edge of tomorrow poster
Let’s do the time warp together.

We’ve seen Tom Cruise get knocked around plenty in the Mission Impossible franchise. We’ve seen him fight alien invaders in Spielberg’s War of the Worlds (2005). But he never did both things better than in this combination of Groundhog Day and a first-person shooter game with the slapstick sadism of a Daffy Duck cartoon. A big part of the pleasure in Edge of Tomorrow is seeing Cruise die over and over again only to spring back to life and strap on the cool battle armor to fight the otherworldly hordes another day. It’s hardly a spoiler to tell you that Tom levels up here because he always does. Live. Die. Repeat. Streaming on HBOMax. Weed pairing: Alien OG.

Total Recall

poster for Total Recall, big photo of Arnold S face close up
Get your grass to Mars.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best action hits were always sci-fi crossovers, but this one’s a whole lot trippier than Terminator or Predator. Is Schwarzenegger really a secret agent leading a rebellion against a dictator on Mars? Or is this just a fantasy implanted in his mind by the Rekall company? Fortunately, director Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Starship Troopers) never lets the big questions get in the way of Arnie flexing his pecs while dishing out the one liners. Total Recall is the second of two movies on this list based on works by Philip K. Dick, a science fiction author who makes you question reality in the best way possible. Streaming on HBOMax. Weed pairing: Amnesia Haze.

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akira poster in light blue
“If you want one so bad, then steal one yourself.”

If ever there was a movie made for a searing sativa, it’s this full-throttle post-apocalyptic anime classic from Katsuhiro Otomo, based on his own wildly influential manga about a biker who gains god-like powers after crashing his crotch-rocket into a psychic mutant. We smoked Pink Boost Goddess and tripped out on the scene where the creepy stuffed animals come to life and spew milk, let alone the cyberpunk body horror of its explosive climax. Streaming on Hulu

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Mad Max: Fury Road

mad max poster with text in big yellow letters
Witness us.

You will ride eternal, shiny and chrome in director George Miller’s return to his dusty, post-apocalyptic wasteland that takes Mad Max way beyond Thunderdome. With an epic art-car chase that’s really everything Burning Man aspires to be plus the mutant grinding out heavy riffs on a flame-throwing guitar from a speaker-covered semi-truck is enough to put this in the stoner sci-fi canon all his own. Charlize Theron is returning as Furiosa in 2024, but Tom Hardy won’t be back as Mad Max as the two reportedly did not get along (to say the least). Available to buy or rent on Prime Video. Weed pairing: Motorbreath.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

guardians of the galaxy horizontal image w text and portrait photos of cast
Groot mode.

With their penchant for cosmic cataclysms, the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are awesome to get high to, but director James Gunn gives the original Guardians of the Galaxy a stoner movie heart. Its sense of humor and 70s-80s mellow gold soundtrack cements the vibe, plus Chris Pratt saves the universe with a dance-off. With Groot (Vin Diesel), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), and the talking trash panda Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper) as a kind of Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and Tin Man—this is the Wizard of Oz with spaceships and lasers. Weed pairing: Blue Dream or another sativa strain is recommended. Streaming on Disney+.

Flash Gordon

This high camp classic looks like it was filmed on location inside a lava lamp. It’s maybe the stoniest sci-fi movie ever made, if measured in terms of pure psychedelia. Plus it has a rockin’ soundtrack by Queen that will make you want to sing along even if you can’t hit Freddie Mercury’s high notes. “Flash! Ahhhahh! He’ll save every one of us.” Seth MacFarlane also shows a lot of love for this one in his stoner comedy classic Ted, so sparking up with it on May the 4th could be the way to go. Available to rent or buy on Prime Video. Weed pairing: Haze.

And that’s 10 legit sci-fi films to watch high. Help us make this list a full baker’s dozen (+1) of 14 by voting in four more films from our shortlist below. Cast four votes among these ten films below. The four films with the most votes will join the list above. 

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Bob Calhoun
Bob Calhoun
Bob Calhoun is the producer and co-host of Old Movies for Young Stoners, the podcast where cannabis is a gateway drug to classic cinema. He's also the author of The Murders That Made Us, a true crime history of the San Francisco Bay Area.
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