Sunday, November 28, 2010

#207 Cheech and Chong's Up In Smoke (1978)


Director: Lou Adler, Tommy Chong

Cast: Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Strother Martin, Edie Adams, Harold Fong, Richard Novo, Jane Moder, Pam Bille, Arthur Roberts, Marian Beeler

While this film boasts careful screen composition and widescreen set-up, I still found it hard to believe those were the real reasons Up In Smoke found its way onto the 1001 list. Although I'd seen pieces of this movie on Comedy Central off-and-on for pretty much my entire life, I'd never had the interest or the patience to sit down and watch it from beginning to end. And why should I? Unless you grew up in the 70s or indulge in the stoner-culture, the film isn't speaking to you.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you can't enjoy the film, but I AM saying it will leave you feeling a bit like you've walked into a club of which you aren't a member. Although I could appreciate the sheer nutty, adlib humor, I found many of the gags to be brushing past me in "well that would've been funny if..." manner.

The film is the story of Pedro (Cheech) and Man (Chong), two burn-outs who haphazardly find themselves as compadres. Pedro is a struggling Mexican-American who finds just enough money to trick out his station wagon with blue fur, and Man is a hippie stoner who lives with what we can only assume are his wealthy parents. When the two come together, pandemonium ensues–only problem is, the two are too high to notice. Caught in major drug busts, police chases, and battle-of-the-band contests, the two friends never seem to catch on to anything, and quite literally blaze their way through every harrowing situation they come across.

While I can't lie and say this is one of my favorite films, I can understand how it has become a phenom of our culture. For that, at the very least, Cheech and Chong get my respect–just not my laughs.

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