Saturday, May 25, 2013

"Up in Smoke"(1978) d/ Lou Adler

Examining the debut effort from counterculture comedians, Cheech and Chong(Happy belated 75th birthday, maaaaan), 1978's Up in Smoke, brings back a whole mess o' memories for me, not all of which involve hallucinogenic high-jinks, surprisingly enough. I first encountered the movie as a nine or ten year old kid who'd yet to even smoke a cigarette to that point, but I still managed to secure myself  kicks a plenty with it, regardless of what a little fucking square I was at the time. You don't have to be a hardcore doper to get most of the gags, but a few crispy bong hits later, you'll relate to the goofy absurdity of it all like never before, maaaaan, as your mother tries to talk to you, telling you how to live, with your newly sieve-like head. Along for the ride are genre regs like Tom Skerritt, Strother Martin, Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith, Louisa Moritz, and perhaps most memorably, Stacy Keach as a starchy drape of a narc who couldn't catch mononucleosis playing 'Spin the Bottle' with Madonna.
Puffing a hog's leg fulla Labrador like this while driving leads to excessive low riding.
Man (Chong) cuts out on his nagging folks (Strother Martin, Edie Adams) for greener pastures in his convertible VW Bug, and is forced to impersonate a hitch hiking chick with big chachabingos to secure himself a ride with Pedro(Cheech), the low rider nearsighted/baked/stupid enough to pick him up.After smoking a fatty bomber packed with Maui Wowie and dog shit, the duo get arrested for parking the 'Love Machine' on a traffic median, but beat the charges when Man accidentally chugs the judge's vodka(!) in court. While trying to score some smoke from Pedro's 'Nam vet cousin, Strawberry(Tom Skerritt), the place is raided by the local narc unit, led by Sgt. Stedenko(Stacy Keach), and the pair find themselves deported to Tijuana with most of Pedro's family, who called La Migra on themselves to get a free bus ride home for an upcoming wedding. Meanwhile, a chick blows shneezers of Ajax and Strawberry wigs out on one of his crazy 'Nam trips and shoots his own Mynah bird. Sounds like one of our old parties...
"I wasn't lookin' at his neck, man."
In Tijuana, the fellas pick up the wrong van for delivery back to Los Angeles, and it just so happens to be one fabricated entirely from 'fiberweed' whose leaky exhaust provides for some spirited munchies from a highway patrolman later on, after the boys pick up two hitchhiking doper chicks on their way to the Battle of the punk Bands at the Roxy later that evening. Stedenko and his associates arrest and search a carload of nuns, shoot out their own tires, and manage to set the weed van on fire after finally arresting the responsible dealers outside the venue. The hallucinogenic vapors travel into the gig through the vents, where the boys' band, Alice Bowie, is too wasted to even set up their instruments after Man gets slipped a 'lude before their set. Naturally, the once angry crowd gets the instant munchies and begins to groove on the makeshift band's immortal classic, 'Earache My Eye'. The victorious duo sets off on the highway to ponder the future and burn a frags chunk o' hash, when it drops in Pedro's lap and sets the seat on fire, as they swerve off the road, a smokestack billowing from the windows. Alright, let's all go get high.
Bathsalts?? In our day you had to blow shneezers of Ajax to trumpet like an elephant at parties. 
Ellen Burstyn(!) made an uncredited appearance here, while Harry Dean Stanton's contribution ended up on the cutting room floor. C & C would follow this one up with Next Movie(1980), Nice Dreams(1981), and Things Are Tough All Over(1982),  Still Smokin' and Yellowbeard (both 1983), not to mention 1984's massive flop, Corsican Brothers, after which the seventies icons would pursue separate interests until the late oughts saw them reconcile and reunite for a comedy tour, and innumerable cameo appearances in commercials and television thereafter. It's gotta be in Amanda Bynes' Top Ten, I'm thinking. I dunno, I'd blow some kgb with her, wouldn't you? Tonight's review is a cult comedy of the highest/lowest order, one that seemed more dated before the current advent of cannabis-related culture and late seventies style, and for that, I bestow upon it three wops; a raucous laugh-filled party blast that only drug-free wet blankets won't enjoy, and especially apt since ol' Dub's previous three attempts to tackle this one this week all went up in a massive head-cloud of the titular stuff, of which I foresee another about to be expelled any minute now. Bubblebubblebubblecoughcoughrighteous.
"I'm so bloody rich! And I only know three chords! Watch me burnnnnn!!!"

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