Cheech & Chong’s Up in Smoke
- Release Date: 08-11-1978
- Director: Lou Adler
- Starring: Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Stacy Keach
- Box office gross: $44,364,244 *15th highest grossing film of 1978
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Like there predecessors before them, Cheech & Chong had been a working comedy duo on the live circuit for years before they reworked there act for the cinema. The comradery between the two is evident, and their comedic timing is spot on.
The story begins with Anthony “Man” Stoner (Tommy Chong) leaving his rich white parents after being told to get a job or get out. After his VW Beetle breaks down, and he spends the night in a ditch, Man is picked up while hitch hiking by Pedro de Pacas (Cheech Marin). The two become fast friends over a rather large joint. They soon find themselves in trouble with the law, after being pulled over while parked in the median, and obviously very stoned.
After narrowly escaping jail on a technicality when Chong reveals the Judge’s water pitcher is actually full of vodka, the duo head out to find more marijuana. Not having any luck, they decide to try Cheech’s cousin Strawberry. Strawberry is a Vietnam vet with a strange birthmark, and obvious PTSD. (although the didn’t call it that back then… was it still “shellshock”?), Anyway… Chong has to stay behind while Cheech goes with strawberry to pick up the pot (Strawberry’s friends don’t like strangers).
While waiting at Strawberry’s house, an impromptu drug party starts up. There is an incredibly memorable scene with June Fairchild (Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Pretty Maids All in a Row) mistakenly snorts some Ajax. Upon returning to Strawberry’s house, Cheech and Strawberry see the police are about to it. Strawberry goes off into a Vietnam Flashback leaving Cheech to figure out how to get Chong out of the house, and away from the bust.
After Finally scoring some herb from Cheech’s friend Curtis, the group duo settles down for their first band practice. Unfortunately, before they get started, the house is raided by immigration (which Cheech’s family called on themselves so they could get a free ride to Tijuana for a wedding).
Finding themselves in Mexico, Cheech and Chong arrange to pick up a van from an upholstery shop and drive it back to LA. They arrive at the wrong location, and instead pick up a van made entirely out of marijuana. Somehow this escapes there notice, and they head back to California wondering where they can get some more weed.
After narrowly avoiding get busted at the boarder, The two pick up some women hitch hikers who tell them about a punk rock battle of the bands at the Roxy in Hollywood. Cheech decides they should enter, and off they go. All while being pursued by the hapless narcotics team lead by Stacy Keech‘s brilliantly performed Sgt Stidenko.
The duo wins the battle of the bands after their van (made out of marijuana) catches fire, and the smoke gets the entire club (including the police) stoned.
Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke is a classic stoner comedy. An absolute must see, and must own, for any marijuana aficionado. Below is a very funny video of deleted scenes from Up in Smoke I found while writing this review.
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You can buy your own copy of Up in Smoke from Amazon here
You can also get Up in Smoke from iTunes here.
Check out Tommy Chong’s Free Podcast on iTunes
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