Lucy Hale might have left Rosewood High behind when she wrapped on the hit show Pretty Little Liars, but that doesn't mean she's done with high school just yet. In the new Netflix movie Dude, Hale is back playing a high school senior, but this time she's not being terrorized by an anonymous stalker. Instead, she's getting high with her girlfriends, and Dude, fittingly set for release on 4/20, is the female stoner movie you've been waiting for.
Dude stars Hale as Lily, a confident senior set on going to NYU in the fall who also happens to love partying with her best friends, Amelia (Alexandra Shipp), Rebecca (Awkwafina), and Chloe (Kathryn Prescott). The four girls get high a lot, as in so often that Lily drives around with their favorite donkey head bong — fondly called "Donkey Bong" — in the backseat of her car. (Not a smart move, as seen in the trailer when she gets pulled over by a police officer.)
Shipp, best known for her roles in Love, Simon and X-Men: Apocalypse, described the film as "the female Superbad" while speaking with Interview Magazine, and she's not wrong. Dude shares many similarities with the Seth Rogen-Evan Goldberg hit stoner comedy. Both films are about best friends having to face impending separation after high school graduation, and both are about teenagers who enjoy a little weed. There's just one major difference: Superbad was all about men, while Dude is all about the ladies.
For years, stoner comedies have been huge hits at the box office and earned spots in pop culture history. There's Superbad, Dude Where's My Car?, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, Pineapple Express — the list goes on and on. But out of all those movies, there have frustratingly been just a few to feature substantial female stoner leads.
There is, however, one that stands out. In 2007, the same year Superbad hit theaters, Smiley Face was released. Smiley Face is a rare gem of a stoner movie, one that actually stars a woman, Anna Faris, as a stoned out of her mind protagonist. For years, it was one of a kind, a pioneer in on-screen female stoner culture, joined only by television shows like Weed, Broad City, and Disjointed. But now, finally, Dude is adding to Smiley Face's legacy.
It's worth noting that Weed, Broad City, Disjointed, and Smiley Face all have adult female protagonists; in Hollywood young women don't smoke pot, apparently. As such, Dude is a total game-changer, and it also has something Smiley Face doesn't have: a female writer and director. Dude was made by Olivia Milch, with a story by credit for Kendall McKinnon. With ladies behind both the script and the camera, Dude breaks new ground as a stoner movie made for women, by women.
Dude also marks a significant step forward in the stoner comedy genre because of its diverse cast. The main group of friends includes an Asian American and a black woman, who jokingly refers to the other two as "token white friends." It's thrilling to see that Dude isn't just widening the scope of stoner films when it comes to gender, but also race. In reality, of course, teenagers of all races and genders drink, party, and, yes, get high. Granted, not every girl group in high school had a "Donkey Bong" sitting in their friend's car for easy access, but that's just details. Dude will feel refreshing for so many women finally seeing themselves portrayed in a movie.
When April 20 rolls around, no doubt there will be plenty of young women watching Dude with their group of friends, passing around (hopefully) legal marijuana and seeing themselves on-screen, perhaps for the very first time.