Smoke the Green Mile: The 10 Best Tom Hanks Movies to Get High To
Tom Hanks made news this week after a fake CBD company used his name and a bogus quote to "endorse" a product. With that in mind, here are MERRY JANE’s picks for the best Hanks movies to watch while baked, regardless of his endorsement.
Published on January 22, 2020

Tom Hanks — Hollywood icon, national dad figure, and David S. Pumpkins himself, — made news this week after a CBD company reportedly used his name, likeness, and a bogus quote to make it look like he endorsed their products.

Reposting the ad on Instagram, Hanks wrote next to it: “This is false and an intentional hoax. I’ve never said this and would never make such an endorsement. Come on, man! Hanx!”

Truth is, it’s tough to imagine the voice of Toy Story’s Woody publicly shilling for a cannabis company, no matter how much his “rapper” son Chet Haze assured him it would be, like… really, really lit. Still, the whole affair got us pondering about Tom Hanks and his career in the context of kush. 

With that in mind — and a bong in one hand, the TV remote in the other — here are MERRY JANE’s picks for the ten best Tom Hanks movies to watch while smoking marijuana, regardless of his endorsement. 

10. “He Knows You’re Alone” (1980)

Tom Hanks’ very first film, He Knows You’re Alone is just one of about a million slasher flicks that came out in the wake of the original Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980) and, on its own, it’s an OK bargain-budget exercise in the slaughter of sexually active teenagers. 

Toke hard, though, and consider that concept again. He Knows You’re Alone is vintage cheeseball psycho-killer horror featuring the most beloved actor in modern Hollywood before anybody knew who he was. Viewed that way, after exhaling, He Knows You’re Alone really becomes quite the trip. 

9. “Cast Away” (2000)

What would you do if you got stranded on a deserted island for four years full of lush tropical greenery, but without a cannabis plant in sight? That’s the head-hurting question proposed by Cast Away, wherein Tom Hanks stars as a FedEx agent who survives a plane crash and washes up alone on a tragically weed-free shoreline. 

Fortunately, you can watch Cast Away safely at home while pondering how you’d make it while also imbibing enough pot so that when Hanks starts talking to the face-painted volleyball he calls “Wilson,” you can actively join in on their conversations. 

8. “Big” (1988)

The family favorite Big chronicles a 12-year-old kid named Josh Baskin (David Moscow) who gets a magic card from a boardwalk fortune-teller machine and uses it to say, “I wish I was big.” Josh wakes up the next day in the 30-year-old body of Tom Hanks and is forced to make his way in the adult world, which he does amusingly and with great charm. 

Big is a kick to watch lit on its own merits — just consider Hanks and Robert Loggia dancing on the giant toy store keyboard — and to fully appreciate the inappropriate uncomfortability of our inwardly junior-high-hero getting into a full-blown love affair with the very much of-age Elizabeth Perkins. 

7. “Apollo 13” (1995)

Inspired by a near-fatal 1970 NASA moon mission, Tom Hanks stars in the fact-based Apollo 13 as Commander Jim Lovell. He’s  joined on the ill-fated expedition by astronauts Jack Swiger (Kevin Bacon) and Fred Haise (Bill Paxton).

Even though — semi-spoiler alert — history makes it clear that the Apollo 13 crew made it back to earth safely, the movie mesmerizes with completely convincing, naturally psychedelic space visuals and a crazily intense sense of urgency. Light your tight-rolled reefer rockets and prepare for lift off!

6. “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)

World War II was one of the most heinous versions of hell on Earth humanity has suffered to date, but, as Saving Private Ryan incandescently illuminates, it also brought out the very best in some people. Still, director Steven Spielberg and star Tom Hanks wanted to hammer home just how unthinkably horrific combat is, and with the epic opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan, they did it. 

As Captain John H. Miller, Hanks leads his battalion off a troop carrier on the beach at Normandy, where Nazi gunmen mow down the Allied forces with skull-splattering, gut-spewing efficiency. The invasion goes for 25 minutes, with Spielberg brilliantly conjuring the nightmare of warfare and Hanks keeping us riveted through the carnage. 

Witnessing this bravura filmmaking, sheer charismatic acting, and all that soul-sickening chaos may make you feel like you’re on drugs, even if you aren’t. So, please, do make sure you are on drugs when you actually revisit this epic. 

5. “Forrest Gump” (1994)

Tom Hanks’ best known film also ranks among the world’s best loved. And, once you get sufficiently zonked, it all makes sense. Forrest Gump, with Hanks in the title role as a self-described “idiot,” condenses complex late 20th Century American history into a comic fable that plays out (and now sort of looks) like a video game. 

You may watch and wonder if there’s a greater meaning to Forrest teaching Elvis how to dance, accidentally advocating for civil rights in the segregated south, inspiring John Lennon to write “Imagine,” or calling to report the Watergate break-in, but don’t sweat it. Everything on-screen suggests human existence is just a movie, so smoke up, ease back, and let it waft all over you. 

Forrest may famously state that life is like a box of chocolates because you never know what you’re going to get. Obviously, he spoke before the advent of contemporary edibles, because with infused chocolates you know exactly what you’re going to get. And eating one of those sweet treats prior to hitting play is exactly how to experience Forrest Gump

4. “Bachelor Party” (1984)

A few months after winning the world’s heart with the Disney mermaid rom-com Splash, Tom Hanks barreled back into theaters with Bachelor Party, an unmistakably R-rated raunch-fest centered on the drugs-sex-and-more-drugs-and-sex soiree of the title. 

Hanks stars as a wisecracking school bus driver set to marry Tawny Kitaen as an upper-crust society siren. The night before the nuptials, Hanks’ buddies rent a hotel room to host a bacchanal unseen since the decadence of ancient Rome — and even Caligula himself didn’t have a donkey hired to mate with a human belly-dancer that, instead, snarfs up too much of the gang’s weed, coke, pills, and then... keels over. 

Bachelor Party is a taboo-busting riot rest that just begs viewers to keep pace with the illicit intoxicant ingestion happening on screen. The dead donkey just serves as a sick warning that we all have our limits. 

3. “The Polar Express” (2004)

Even when it first hit, the “motion capture” visual landscape of director Robert Zemeckis’s The Polar Express looked stiff and weird, like a living embodiment of what robot makers call the “uncanny valley” that separates humans from androids. So, yeah, it was great to get high and feel some mild chills over these dead-eye 3D cartoon characters — led by Tom Hanks in multiple roles — making their way to the North Pole to party with Santa during Christmas. 

More than a decade-and-a-half later, The Polar Express feels even more eerie, with the freak-out factor of its visuals keeping pace with the potency of modern weed. There’s no need to wait for December to throw on Polar Express and go green for the holidaze. 

2. “Cloud Atlas” (2012)

With Cloud Atlas, filmmaker siblings the Wachowskis aimed to top their game-changing sci-fi masterwork The Matrix. So even if Cloud Atlas fell short of that brain-blasting milestone, it’s still a eye-popping spectacle of the highest order, meant to be watched in your own highest state of mind.

Tom Hanks and Halle Berry co-star in Cloud Atlas as time-tripping, dimension-hopping, identity-swapping seekers who traverse from 1849 New Zealand to 23rd Century, post-apocalyptic Hawaii, and make multiple mind-bending stops along the way. Some critics complained it was hard to keep the characters and events of Cloud Atlas straight. That’s because they saw it while they were sober. Don’t let that happen to you! 

1. “The ’Burbs” (1989)

The sick-joke horror-satires Piranha (1978), The Howling (1980), and Gremlins (1984) not only still rule as bong-passing viewing party classics, they established director Joe Dante as moviedom’s crackpot king of macabre, mirth, and mayhem. 

For The ’Burbs, Dante teamed with Tom Hanks to spin a wicked, even more 420-ready saga of neighborly good cheer, wholesome community standards, and a tale about what happens when the locals suspect a recently moved-in, all-male family of eccentrics may be a trio of kinky serial killers. 

Hanks rules as the lone sane man among all those perfectly manicured lawns. It’s a blast to watch him try to keep his (and our) paranoia in check as he’s pitted between Bruce Dern and Rick Ducoman as his hothead pals on one side, and the undeniably off-putting Klopek clan on the other side. Paranoia has never been so gleefully pleasurable as it is in The ’Burbs, so pair it with an appropriately unnerving strain of smoke. 

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Mike McPadden
Mike McPadden is the author of "Heavy Metal Movies" and the upcoming "Last American Virgins." He writes about movies, music, and crime in Chicago. Twitter @mcbeardo
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