The scene is one of the most charming of the entire film, a glimpse behind the bedroom doors of an average family. As Steve and Diane roll and puff, the conversation turns to sleepwalking and the valid fear that their daughter might sleepwalk her way into their unfinished swimming pool. Steve allays his wife’s worries the way many loving partners do — by deploying goofiness, distending his belly and sucking it in before a mirror and saying, “Before, after…” It takes less than three minutes for the movie to invite its audience to join the loving — and believable — family.
Williams reveals to VF that much of the scene’s whimsy was improvised:
“Craig was a comedy writer at one time. In fact, I think he did stand-up too in his early days. But he’s very funny, and so Tobe and Steven would just let us run with things. Craig got into that whole thing, doing that with his stomach, which of course had me in genuine hysterics, and I think we really began to feel like we were stoned after a while.
We weren’t, by the way.”
So what was in the rolling paper? Nelson explains: “We rolled up those joints of oregano and tried to get them lit and puff away.”
A popular theory holds that Mom and Pop Freeling visited their friend Mary Jane before visiting their neighbor to ask — between convincingly stoner-ish snickers — if he experienced anything strange, like chairs spontaneously stacking. Williams tells VF that it makes some sense:
“No, I think it was just the absurdity of what we were going through, because what we were saying was basically insane. And I think, yes, maybe we were a little stoned. I don’t know, we didn’t plan that! But it could have easily read that way.”