The newly approved sale of marijuana for recreational purposes in Colorado and Washington has made it the perfect time for the wide release of “Newlyweeds,” a low-budget comedy-drama that dares to depict a young Brooklyn couple’s habitual pot smoking as awesome and fearsome alike.
The movie, which premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, is now available for streaming via Netflix (with subscription) and various pay-per-view online networks including iTunes and Vudu.
From 1936’s “Reefer Madness” to “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” and beyond, American movies about copious cannabis use have generally fallen on one side or another of the age-old debate around weed.
“Newlyweeds,” to its great credit, is knowing and honest enough to depict the ups and downs of one’s infatuation with Mary Jane. Its pair of perpetually stoned protagonists, Nina (Trae Harris) and Lyle (Amari Cheatom), appear not just high but highly evolved in terms of their ability to communicate their love for each other, although the sticky green eventually pulls them apart.
While Lyle works as a repo man for a rent-to-own outfit and Nina as a children’s museum tour guide, the two struggle to put coins in the kitty, such is their devotion to pricey pot.
First-time writer-director Shaka King could easily be taken for a veteran of the drug war that rages in the mind of anyone who partakes in bulk. How much is enough? Are dreams conceived in a haze worthy of fulfillment? Am I enlightened or addicted (or both)?
Whatever its budgetary limitations, King’s sober treatment of what grass doth giveth and taketh away is plenty conducive to healthy dialogue in the legalization era; it’s also enough to give you a serious case of the giggles. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Also notable on VOD
Arguably the most fragrant pot movie ever made, Cheech Marin’s and Tommy Chong’s hilarious “Up in Smoke” (1978) can be streamed for free via HitBliss, although the ads are an absolute buzz kill. (Redbox Instant, Google Play and others offer the film commercial-free for three bucks per click.)
All three “Harold and Kumar” flicks, including the criminally underrated “Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay” (2008), are on Google Play. Just as funny, the absurdly cautionary “Reefer Madness” is everywhere you look, including Epix and SnagFilms.