Wednesday, December 17, 2014

640. Up In Smoke (1978)

Running Time: 85 minutes
Directed By: Lou Adler, Tommy Chong
Written By: Tommy Chong, Cheech Marin
Main Cast: Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Stacy Keach, Strother Martin, Edie Adams
Click here to view the trailer


I was having a pretty great day, lounging in bed with my wife before I had to drag myself out long enough to write a review for a movie I was pretty sure I'd hate going in. Unlike Tampopo, I was dead on in my assumption of the original Cheech & Chong movie - Up In Smoke.

You probably already know the gist of the film, but I'll play along and give you the low down anyway. The film revolves around - you guessed it - Cheech and Chong, two stoner losers who meet up when Cheech mistakes Chong for a female hitchhiker. Cheech is Pedro, a family man living in the L.A. slums, but who drives a decked out car nicknamed the "Love Machine". Chong is simply known as man and pretty much the minute the two meet up, they begin blazing together. An early gag has Chong whipping out a kielbasa sized joint and passing it to Cheech. The two latin hippies manage to somehow stumble right out of the path of trouble, but always staying on the police's radar - the police headed up by Sergeant Stedenko (Keach), a hot under the collar officer with idiots for deputies. Later, the two leads pick up a couple of women who tell them about a battle of the bands coming up. Since Cheech has a band that he's trying to get off the ground, the two are all in and travel from Tijuana (they somehow end up there) back to L.A., in a van made out out - you guessed it - weed! At one point, the exhaust catches the van on fire, leaving everyone in Pedro and Man's path stoned and craving junk food. I'm guessing going in with a couple doobies in your shirt pocket wouldn't be a bad idea, as the movie just isn't funny on it's own merits.

I don't want to sound like a goody two shoes or anything, but I've never - not once - smoked pot. It's not that I'm against it or anything, in fact if anything I'd advocate it. There are some folks out there who'd probably do good to be mellowed out with some Maui wowie or Humboldt green, but I'm just not one of them. I'm mellow enough as it, just breathing fresh air. What I'm getting at, however, is that I've always felt kind of left out of the joke whenever I encounter movies featuring stoners. I tend not to get the jokes, nor am I in the in crowd that would get those jokes. Films like Knocked Up (which I liked enough) and this just go straight over my head and I feel like the only one not laughing at a party. However there is a big difference between Judd Apatow's ultimately heartwarming, Seth Rogen comedy which mentions pot smoking in passing and Cheech & Chong's movie, which hangs every word on the assumption that it's audience is college kids and stoner doofuses. If I laughed once throughout this entire movie it was because of the great Stacy Keach, who even THE BOOK praises as one of the best parts of this otherwise dull, sometimes offensive and downright unfunny comedy. Believe it or not, Cheech & Chong would go on to make FIVE MORE of these things and believe it or not, I'm sure there's more than a few college kids who own them all on special edition DVD and love popping them in, just as they're about to burn one. I, for one, could've really done without this and while I'm sure there will be people who defend this movie's place in the 1001 BOOK, I would disagree with that defense, for sure.

RATING: 3.5/10  Can't go much higher than that. At least it's kept short and like I said, Keach is pretty great, but otherwise just not my type of movie.


December 17, 2014  3:13pm


  1. I usually find these sort of 'college kids getting drunk'(OK, or stoned) somewhere between highly objectionable and boring..
    No real objections to this one as I'd much rather find myself in the company of gentle souls high on dope than lound sexist idiots pissed on beer trying to get the tops of the women.
    But it really wasn't funny was it?
    It passed..but I'd never bother with any of the follow ups.

    1. Nope, I didn't find it funny in the slightest and have no desire to catch the follow-ups or Up In Smoke 2 which is apparently in development.


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