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Los Angeles 1978, up in smoke, power, cops, tommy chong's prison stint
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Submitted by scaredyclassic on April 8, 2020 - 6:33am
I watched UP IN SMOKE for the 1st time last nite, the 1978 ur stoner movie, starring the pretty lame cheech and Chong.
It's a terrible, yet oddly beautiful movie. The humor seems virtually nonexistent. It remind me of watching Mr hulots holiday , a classic old french comedy by the beloved jacques tati that caused prior generations of frenchmen to be hysterical with laughter.
I defy any modern American to watch mr hulots holiday and laugh even one time. It is difficult to even identify what was meant to be funny. It is slow, and bizarre, and seemd almost pointedly the opposite of humorous.
Similarly , up in smoke is decidedly unfunny, with no real sustained attempt at an actually funny gag. Theres a bad sex in a van joke, some hare krshna gag, dumb transvestitism, lazy weed jokes.
Just weak, in an almost confusing way, that leaves you feeling that it might get funnier later, that this is just the set up for later humor.
But no, this is it. That was the whole joke. Yep.
And yet, it is oddly comforting to watch, to think there was a simpler time, like france watching Mr hulots holiday, where this made people laugh.
. L.a. looks so filthy in the 70s. The houses are decaying, no granite anywhere, crappy cars, the air is filled with leaded gas, everyone looks bedraggled.
Theres a century 21 sign on some beachfront property . It was dirt cheap, but it looks like most everyone was broke. Cheech and Chong are having a lot of trouble even just finding some weed. No jobs, just struggling to find a lid of weed.
The cops are buffoons, devoting their careers to fighting marijuana, busting the wrong people, yet fixated on the success of their careers, which is beautifully understated.
It reminded me that Tommy chong actually went to federal prison, in 2004, for selling weed pipes. What a waste of time and energy and life, so much of law enforcement was, how utterly idiotic, like the war in Afghanistan, or the current presidency.
How pleasing that a movie could ridicule law enforcement so gleefully. Nowadays, movies glorify cops, cuteify them, give the dogs, make them heroes, never buffoons...maybe I'm overlooking some recent films? Perhaps evil, but never just silly goofbsll tools, like cheech and chong chsaacters, but with a badge and a gun and a longing for a successful career.
The cops ultimately unwittingly get high and just decide to "go with it" stuffing their all white pasty faces with a half dozen pizzas.
How do the prosecutors who sent tommy Chong to the pen on 2004 feel about it today? Probably good. We have come to love sheer arbitrary power and rules and enforcement more and more, and trump may be the apotheosis of that.
I hope that there is some new, more hopeful direction coming, after a giant swathe of us boomers are removed, something less like tommy chong's prosecution, less like up in smokes mindless search for sex and weed, something kinder and less smogfilled.
I wonder if this covid19 is a demarcation point somehow, a moment after which things will not be the same.
But I doubt it.
The thing i find most intriguing about th his film is how comedy often ages terribly, seems difficult to recall why we would have ever been amused. It's the clearest indicator to me that social outlooks are changing, slowly, but changing.
Tommy chong's federal prison sentence is funnier than his best movie, in a way. Cheech was actually dodging the vietnam draft when he met tommy chong in Canada, and the rest is history. That story would maybe make a decent watchable movie. Maybe the elimination of the draft and the professionalization of the military, and the militarization of the police, is what ultimately caused the USA to become the country it is today...
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