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...

Submitted by scaredyclassic on April 8, 2020 - 7:16am.

Future generations will puzzle over why louis c.k., SNL, and the Simpsons were so hilarious.

That seems impossible to me, and yet, that is what is almost certain.

That everything we believe, find obviously true, will in some part be found utterly absurd by our great grandchildren.

Now piggington and google are shooting me ads for rehab...

Submitted by sdduuuude on April 8, 2020 - 9:13am.

scaredyclassic wrote:
... pretty lame cheech and Chong.

Blasphemy ! I read no further than this :|

Submitted by zk on April 8, 2020 - 10:04am.

sdduuuude wrote:
scaredyclassic wrote:
... pretty lame cheech and Chong.

Blasphemy ! I read no further than this :|

In 1979, I was a senior in high school in the suburbs of Chicago. Two buddies and I took a 4-week trip to L.A. We did this very much on the cheap, sleeping in parks and whatnot so the meager job earnings we'd saved up would last, and spending most days on the beach. One night we parked at NBC studios overnight getting ready to line up super early the next morning to see Johnny Carson the next evening. We had Big Bambu on tape and a few hours to kill, so we fired up a J (or three) and cued up some Cheech and Chong on the car's tape deck. After a little while, we were really good and high, and we noticed that they started pretty much every sentence with "hey," and ended pretty much every sentence with "man." In the state we were in, we found this quite funny. So every time they said "hey" or "man" we would crack up. We'd heard the whole album many times before, of course, but it didn't matter that it wasn't new to us, because "hey" and "man" was all we needed at the time. And we got one of each almost every sentence.

Just the memory of that night is enough to make me love Cheech and Chong forever.

Cheech goes to visit his super-high friend Chong and finds him sitting on the couch:

"Hey, watcha doin', man?"
"Aw, just watchin' tv, man."
"Watchin' tv? What are you watchin', man?"
"I don't know. It's a movie about Indians, but it's really boring, man."
"Hey, man, that's not a movie, man, that's a test pattern, man!"

[Larry the cable guy accent]: I don't care who you are, that's funny right there.

Submitted by scaredyclassic on April 8, 2020 - 10:39am.

zk wrote:
sdduuuude wrote:
scaredyclassic wrote:
... pretty lame cheech and Chong.

Blasphemy ! I read no further than this :|

In 1979, I was a senior in high school in the suburbs of Chicago. Two buddies and I took a 4-week trip to L.A. We did this very much on the cheap, sleeping in parks and whatnot so the meager job earnings we'd saved up would last, and spending most days on the beach. One night we parked at NBC studios overnight getting ready to line up super early the next morning to see Johnny Carson the next evening. We had Big Bambu on tape and a few hours to kill, so we fired up a J (or three) and cued up some Cheech and Chong on the car's tape deck. After a little while, we were really good and high, and we noticed that they started pretty much every sentence with "hey," and ended pretty much every sentence with "man." In the state we were in, we found this quite funny. So every time they said "hey" or "man" we would crack up. We'd heard the whole album many times before, of course, but it didn't matter that it wasn't new to us, because "hey" and "man" was all we needed at the time. And we got one of each almost every sentence.

Just the memory of that night is enough to make me love Cheech and Chong forever.

Cheech goes to visit his super-high friend Chong and finds him sitting on the couch:

"Hey, watcha doin', man?"
"Aw, just watchin' tv, man."
"Watchin' tv? What are you watchin', man?"
"I don't know. It's a movie about Indians, but it's really boring, man."
"Hey, man, that's not a movie, man, that's a test pattern, man!"

[Larry the cable guy accent]: I don't care who you are, that's funny right there.

In the credits tommy chong's character is just called "man".

Submitted by scaredyclassic on April 8, 2020 - 10:41am.

Holy crap, chong's 81, looks great!

Submitted by FlyerInHi on April 8, 2020 - 11:34am.

Wow. Great movie review. You write beautifully.

Submitted by scaredyclassic on April 8, 2020 - 3:02pm.

sdduuuude wrote:
scaredyclassic wrote:
... pretty lame cheech and Chong.

Blasphemy ! I read no further than this :|

Cheech does move in an amusing way. A hyped up chicken, maybe. That's fun to watch. He dances funny. My wife hates drugs and drug humor, but she liked cheech, and actually liked the movie. He has a real Chicano self mocking pride to himself.

The details are nice, especially cheechs car, which is like a whole separate character in the film.

Chong, though, not sure what his talent is, other than a kind of hey I know a stoner kinda like him guy.

The lesser star, Kind of like Garfunkel to cheechs paul Simon.

If Simon and Garfunkel were 2 homeless guys with no sense of pitch playing ukeleles in a park 4 spare change.

The sex stuff is a little painful. . At one point, a woman shows cheech her breasts, and his face lights up with an adolescent delight and surprise that I dont think would be believable in 2020. Weve been too saturated with porn to go back to cheechs expression, to even imagine such surprise and wonder.

When cheech tries to pick up some clearly underaged teeenyboppers from a bus stop, its downright frightening, not funny, not even a little funny. Mr hulots holiday is a laugh riot compared to that moment. Thankfully, they decline his offer.

Probably my favorite character in the movie is the really odd looking slow talking girl who likes qualludes and chong and Carries around a nicely made picnic basket type drug stash.

She is weird, for sure, but not as frightening as the girl who unwittingly snorts 3 lines of ajax thinking its coke and has a kind of 3 stooges reaction to it at the PTSD vietnam vets house cheech and chong are trying to buy weed from.

Maybe that's the most dated thing in the film, making fun of a veteran with PTSD. Not done in anything remotely resembling a humorous take on it.

Which is kind of compelling, in it's own way.

If that scene were released today cheech and chong would probably get death threats from patriots and told to stand in front of the troops if they can't get behind them in the movies
.

But the funniest moment for sure...

"One scene that stands out today involves a Mexican family calling immigration, or “La Migra,” on themselves, self-deporting so that they can all find a ride and a meal down to Mexico for a wedding."

Ahh, the 70s.

Apparently the scenes of underrepresented east l. A. Were groundbreaking for the time.
.we forget how disconnected films were from reality as lived by many. .

Pineapple Express has better moments. But still ultimately, about as dumb.

Submitted by sdduuuude on April 8, 2020 - 4:23pm.

I thought Pineapple Express was poor. Hard to watch. Ending was good, but it never got funny.

Submitted by scaredyclassic on April 8, 2020 - 5:02pm.

sdduuuude wrote:
I thought Pineapple Express was poor. Hard to watch. Ending was good, but it never got funny.

It was poor, but I liked the way james franco just wanted a friend.

Submitted by svelte on April 8, 2020 - 8:36pm.

I. Am. A big Cheech and Chong fan!

I grew up on that stuff. Great!

My first exposure was this (the father-son dialog is classic):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqyegIAGlmk

Then they stripped out the dialog and put out a video for it later:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJW67QN24SA

(I still sing that song around the house to this day)

There is something about having nothing on this earth, but being proud and happy about the little bit that you do have. I've been there brother:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Alyx4QeRRdg

Or how about Sister Mary Elephant:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDaCNA3pink

Love the summer vacation story!

You have to remember, they were famous for the albums first, then the movies came out after they hit it big.

I still watch the movies sometimes and like them, but the albums were their best stuff.

I think they are one of those "you had to be there" thing...if you're just stumbling onto them now, it's way to late to understand.

Or maybe you just need to get high first.

Submitted by svelte on April 8, 2020 - 8:39pm.

zk wrote:
We had Big Bambu on tape and a few hours to kill, so we fired up a J (or three) and cued up some Cheech and Chong on the car's tape deck....

See ZK gets it...the albums were where the gold was!

Submitted by svelte on April 8, 2020 - 8:47pm.

tactical women's alert team.

It's all coming back to me.

Comedy classics!

Submitted by scaredyclassic on April 8, 2020 - 9:21pm.

svelte wrote:
tactical women's alert team.

It's all coming back to me.

Comedy classics!

I cant even chuckle 4 those clips. Sorry. Too late 4 me.

watching THE OFFICE reruns. That makes me laugh.

Submitted by svelte on April 9, 2020 - 7:16am.

scaredyclassic wrote:

I cant even chuckle 4 those clips. Sorry. Too late 4 me.

watching THE OFFICE reruns. That makes me laugh.

I have never liked the office. It just isn't funny to me. Same with Friends. I just don't get those shows.

I don't watch network TV anymore so I can't even name a network comedy show I like. Maybe The Ranch? Is that a comedy? I like it. Seems more like a soap opera lately...same with Atypical.

I do watch a lot of stand-up comedy on Youtube. That's great. Dry Bar Comedy is consistently good.

About the most recent comedy show I liked was Seinfeld and I watch some British comedies on Netflix/Hulu like IT Group and Peep Show.

Submitted by svelte on April 9, 2020 - 12:33pm.

scaredyclassic wrote:

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?

I don't watch too many recent films, but in the show The Ranch they don't glorify the cops. In fact, the main character Colt Bennett ridicules them at every opportunity.

Submitted by sdduuuude on April 10, 2020 - 12:24pm.

svelte wrote:
scaredyclassic wrote:

I cant even chuckle 4 those clips. Sorry. Too late 4 me.

watching THE OFFICE reruns. That makes me laugh.

I have never liked the office. It just isn't funny to me. Same with Friends. I just don't get those shows.

I don't watch network TV anymore so I can't even name a network comedy show I like. Maybe The Ranch? Is that a comedy? I like it. Seems more like a soap opera lately...same with Atypical.

I do watch a lot of stand-up comedy on Youtube. That's great. Dry Bar Comedy is consistently good.

About the most recent comedy show I liked was Seinfeld and I watch some British comedies on Netflix/Hulu like IT Group and Peep Show.

Shameless plug for a friend who did some Dry Bar stuff.
he is doing a live zoom comedy show for $7 on Saturday.
So clever. And family friendly.

http://www.robertmac.com/virtual

Submitted by svelte on April 11, 2020 - 9:54am.

sdduuuude wrote:

Shameless plug for a friend who did some Dry Bar stuff.
he is doing a live zoom comedy show for $7 on Saturday.
So clever. And family friendly.

http://www.robertmac.com/virtual

Thumbs up! I'll try to watch it tonight.

Submitted by 42nate1 on April 12, 2020 - 12:10pm.

I actually went and saw Cheech & Chong up in Temecula in 2019. They did a reunion at a local casino.
I figured it would be the only chance to ever see them live, considering their age.

14 year old me found them hilarious. I had many of their cassettes, and watched their movies. Late 40's me didn't find 80 year old men telling d*ck jokes and talking about getting high very funny.

The best part of the show was just understanding that as old as they are, they were still able to pull together a show for an hour and hit their lines and keep it entertaining.

As an adult, I listen to their old skits & realize they were poking fun at the issues of their time (1970's). That completely went over my head as a teenager.

Submitted by svelte on April 13, 2020 - 8:48pm.

They poked fun at everybody. Kids who didn't want to go to school. Parents trying to get their kids to school. Nuns. Police. Idiots who get high. There was nothing off limits.

I think to me and my friends it was refreshing to see two guys who took nothing seriously. We had enough pressure to get good grades, find girlfriends, earn money, and keep our parents happy.

It was our kinda comedy and gave us a chance to laugh at ourselves and everyone around us in the process.

I doubt I would ever listen to it / watch it regularly now. Shoot, I don't even think we listened to it / watched it that often back then. Maybe once every few months? I don't recall. Mostly we listened to music and drank beer when we got together. Comedy acts were not real high on our list of things to do.

We did like George Carlin back then also. Much later in life my wife and I saw Carlin at MGM Vegas just a few years before he died and his act was horrid. He was trying out new material (he said) and it was bombing big time. I can remember leaving there a bit angry at him, actually.

There is a new comedy club in downtown escondido and it is very good. My wife and I went a few times and really enjoyed it. Once all this lockdown clears out, you should go if you live in north county.

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