Welcome back to Heady Entertainment, MERRY JANE's weekly guide to just-released movies, books, and music — all fresh, dank, and THC-friendly. In specific, we choose our picks based on how they can enhance your combined consumption of cannabis and entertainment.
It’s a major weekend at the multiplex, so sneak your marijuana in however works best (our tip: sprinkle pot gummies in your popcorn) and ease back for eclectic big-screen selections that include the frantic fun of Lego Movie 2, the fact-based black metal crime saga Lords of Chaos, a pint-sized scare-monger in The Prodigy, and the psychic knee-slapping comedy of What Men Want.
On smaller screens, stoner options also ride high with the first of four new HBO specials from 2 Dope Queens and animated adolescent angst on Netflix with Big Mouth: My Furry Valentine. The 1980 Kurt Russell comedy Used Cars comes out in special edition Blu-ray perfect for snorting whatever you need to off of in order to keep pace with the movie’s speed-freak comedic energy. Music drops this week are lit large by the likes of Panda Bear, Q Da Fool, Cass McCombs, and HEALTH.
So let’s get straight — but not “straight” — to this week’s fresh-rolled recommendations.
“The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” (2019)
Director: Mike Mitchell
Voice Cast: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett
Erupting with bright colors, bold ideas, beloved characters, and countless heaps of comedic charm, The Lego Movie (2014) was an instant family film classic that, just as instantly, got adopted by stoners as one of the most fun flicks of the decade to get lit to. Now, just like the title implies, Chris Pratt as Emmet Brickowski, Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle, and Will Arnett as Batman are back in plastic action in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.
This time, the world of Bricksburg, where “everything is awesome,” falls prey to an invasion by the planet Duplo. Among the madcap figures joining our heroes now are Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Abraham Lincoln (Will Forte), and Bruce Willis as a Lego version of himself.
“Lords of Chaos” (2019)
Director: Jonas Akerlund
Cast: Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, Sky Ferreira
The murderous, church-burning madness of extreme heavy metal in Norway blazes to screen-scorching life in Lords of Chaos, a fact-based shocker detailing the actual late ’80s/early ’90s birth of the Norwegian Black Metal scene — and the deaths associated with it.
Rory Culkin stars as Euronymous, founder of the Mayhem, a pioneering band that blends heavy metal, punk, and icy nihilism into a sound that would become known as “black metal.” Mayhem also features a vocalist named Dead (Jack Kilmer) who makes a spectacular exit, and the group’s mere existence seems to agitate a brooding rival in the form of pagan musician Varg Vikernes (Emory Cohen).
As black metal takes flight from the instincts and instruments of these Oslo outsiders and their associates, it is unfortunately also accompanied by suicide, arson, hate crimes, murder, white power politics, and even cannibalism.
Directed by Jonas Akerlund — drummer for OG Swedish black metal battalion Bathory — Lords of Chaos is rooted in actual events, each of which is too weird to contemplate without getting whacked first. Set fire to a loaded bowl and watch how horrifyingly-heavy metal history can be.
“The Prodigy” (2019)
Director: Nicholas McCarthy
Cast: Taylor Schilling, Robert Scott, Peter Mooney
No, The Prodigy isn’t a biopic of the ’90s UK group that scored a worldwide hit with “Smack My Bitch Up.” Don’t worry, though, there’s plenty of other stuff in this creepy kid fright flick that comes off as extra-amusing while you’re lit.
Taylor Schilling stars as Sarah, a mom who wants to support her brilliant young son Miles (Robert Scott), even after his displays of genius start to suggest he’s possessed by a supernatural power — and maybe one that’s not entirely chilled-out. Creepy stuff happens, and overall, The Prodigy is pretty standard multiplex scare fare — but what more does anyone need to justify loading up on concession stand munchies and easing back in a comfy chair while you’re stoned for two hours?
“What Men Want” (2019)
Director: Adam Shankman
Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Tracy Morgan, Aldis Hodge
What Men Want puts a contemporary spin on the 2000 comedy hit What Women Want that starred — of all people — Mel Gibson as a dude who could suddenly hear the thoughts of all the females around him.
This time, Taraji P. Henson gets the gift of inter-gender insight while playing Ali Davis, a top-tier sports agent who still regularly experiences the sting of sexism. Once she’s suddenly gifted with the ability to know what every guy nearby is thinking, though, she powers ahead in pursuit of the next monster NBA superstar.
If all that sounds like a standard rom-com set-up — it is. What makes What Men Want a weed-worthy prospect, however, is Taraji having a blast, and a supporting cast that includes the always high-larious Tracy Morgan, original Shaft star Richard Roundtree, and Erykah Badu as a psychic, along with crackling cameos from Shaquille O’Neal, Mark Cuban, Pete Davidson, and others. One thing is for certain, though: Regardless of what gender you identify as, we all want to smoke weed...
“2 Dope Queens”: Season 2
Cast: Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams
Watch It: HBO
What can be said about 2 Dope Queens that’s not contained in the title alone or on the deservedly-popular podcast that launched this HBO series of specials? Nothing except: roll the dope, here comes the Queens again! Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams return in resplendent fashion, joined this season by the likes of Daniel Radcliffe, Lupita Nyong'o, Keegan-Michael Key, Rory Scovel, Solomon Georgio, and Lizzo.
“Big Mouth: My Furry Valentine” (2019)
Voice Cast: Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Maya Rudolph
Watch It: Netflix
The hilarious hormonal puberty horror of Nick Kroll’s cartoon Netflix hit returns for a one-off holiday special, Big Mouth: My Furry Valentine. Like no other series before, animated or otherwise, Big Mouth accurately and uproariously captures the awkwardness of adolescence, vividly reminding viewers why so many stoners first sought out dope while suffering through their teen years. My Furry Valentine intensifies the series’ cringe-humor greatness into a perfectly laugh-crammed package that’s perfect for puffing away to while trying not to be reminded too hard of your own coming-of-age humiliations.
“The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then Bigfoot” (2019)
Director: Robert D. Krzykowski
Cast: Sam Elliott, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Aidan Turner
Watch It: iTunes, Amazon, On Demand
With a name like The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then Bigfoot, a movie can go one or two ways: heinously dopey or highly dope. Fortunately, the title figure is portrayed by Sam Elliott — who’s nominated for an Oscar this year (for A Star Is Born) and whose iconic contribution to stoner cinema is playing The Stranger, the cowboy who narrates The Big Lebowski.
Elliott brings his big-mustache cool to the role of Calvin Barr, a legendary U.S. military operative who secretly assassinated Hitler during World War II and, now, in the present day, is called on to hunt down and rub out a plague-carrying Sasquatch.
Living a peaceful life in New England, the former veteran is contacted by the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to lead the charge to find the creature hidden deep inside the Canadian wilderness. It’s strange, it’s heavy, it’s unexpectedly moving, and it’s The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then Bigfoot — so fire up your fatties in salute to Sam Elliott and have at it.
“PEN15”: Season One
Cast: Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Sam Zvibleman
Watch It: Hulu
PEN15, produced by cannabis comedy titans The Lonely Island, makes a brazen bid to be the live-action equivalent to Nick Kroll’s brilliant Big Mouth cartoon, and, amazingly, it works — sometimes almost too well, as the series mercilessly conjures up the uncomfortable realities of being in the seventh grade in the year 2000.
Co-creators Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine star as versions of their 13-year-old selves in a cast otherwise populated by actual 13-year-olds. More than a mere gimmick, the two adult performers perfectly convey nostalgia, embarrassment, and cherished memories all at the same time, while ace writing and incredible kid actors converge flawlessly around them.
“Used Cars” (1980)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Kurt Russell, Gerrit Graham, Jack Warden
Get It: Shout Factory
Before writer-director team Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis made Back to the Future (1985) and Forrest Gump (1994), they crafted one of the most wild, uproarious satires of the ’80s with Used Cars.
Set in the hilariously larcenous world of slick-talking, back-stabbing lemon-pushers, Used Cars is a send-up and take-down of both two-bit hustlers and big-time all-American greed, told with outrageous abandon that could only have been possible at the dawn of the ’80s cocaine era.
Kurt Russell stars as the hot shot on the lot who gets caught between competing twin brothers (played by Jack Warden) both out to destroy one another’s pre-owned vehicle depots. Barreling along at amphetamine speed and pumped with more jokes than you can shake your bong at, Used Cars is a luxury vehicle of non-stop laughs.
Director: Ivan Nagy
Cast: Ted Raimi, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords
Get It: Severin Films
Skinner may seem like an early throwback to 1980s slasher movies, but this sick, gory shocker oozes with fuck-it-all early ’90s nihilism. The result is a mean, sleazy horror saga about Dennis Skinner (Ted Raimi, director Sam’s brother), a psycho who targets sex worker as his victims, while at the same time being pursued by the revenge-bent Heidi (played by former porn queen Traci Lords), an ex-prostitute who survived one his attacks. Skinner is one harsh toke after another, so pack your pipe with a properly paranoia-inducing strain for maximum impact.
By Panda Bear
Get It: Bandcamp
As one of Animal Collective’s principal adventurers, Noah Lennox — aka Panda Bear — has blasted off, blown shit out, and rocketed all over the sonic universe, conjuring forth some of the most hallucinogen-friendly music recorded since Pet Sounds. For Buoys, Panda Bear’s sixth solo LP, he sets up camp in a chill pocket of time and space, where he slow-simmers a warm, meditative world of sound ideal for pairing with a mellow strain of smoke. Let the record wrap itself around you, as your smoke plumes do the same.
By Q Da Fool and Kenny Beats
Get It: iTunes
DMV-spawned, Atlanta-adjacent rapper Q Da Fool has dropped Bad Influence like a hip-hop force in hot ascent, and this dope six-track EP — produced in its entirety by mastermind Kenny Beats — is an intoxicating fuel to help your mind rise up to the stars with it. Six tracks, six knockouts to smoke to — there’s nothing bad about that as an Influence.
By The High Strung
Get It: MVD
Quiet Riots is the most daring leap forward to date from The High Strung, the freak-pop quartet best known for supplying the theme song to Showtime’s Shameless, and, more recently, for lead songwriter Josh Malerman’s novel Bird Box being made into a Netflix blockbuster. The edgy sensibilities of those deep-impact cultural staples also informs The High Strung’s music, making the band’s name an ideal descriptor of the condition you should be in while listening.
“Tip of the Sphere”
By Cass McCombs
Get It: Cass McCombs Official Site
For his latest long-player, Tip of the Spear, California troubadour Cass McCombs imitates the album’s very title and goes deeper with greater force than ever before into his own psyche and the musical possibilities contained therein. A rare breed in present day music, McCombs can turn an acoustic guitar noodle, a barreling piano riff, or a looping power-chord groove into total hypnosis, broken only by his scathing lyrics. As such, Tip might be this unpredictably inventive singer-songwriter’s most devastating trip yet.
“Vol. 4: Slaves of Fear”
Get It: HEALTH Official Site
Avant-garde noise marauders HEALTH hurl themselves — and us — into the utter annihilation of genres, boundaries, expectations, or even the concept of what’s possible on their new LP, Vol. 4: Slaves of Fear.
By way of spiraling goth gloom, heavy metal brutalism, synapse-snapping industrial power-slams, and otherwise-ineffable forays into sonic chaos, HEALTH achieves a playable variation of a bad acid trip turned great and/or vice versa — it changes with every listen. And it will change you with every listen, too.
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