Up in Smoke (1978)

Up in Smoke (1978)

Directed by: Lou Adler

Starring: Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Stacy Keach

Up in Smoke is Cheech & Chong’s first film, after several successful comedy albums. It’s not the best of their films, but I think probably part of that is that it just doesn’t age very well. There’s a lot of stuff in there that’s very specifically about 70’s drug culture which doesn’t really translate into modern drug culture. I mean, it’s all about doing drugs, and that bit doesn’t really change. I guess drugs are what’s really important in the end. How sweet.

Two musicians drive a van from Mexico to the States, not realizing that it’s made entirely out of marijuana, and that they’re smuggling drugs. Stacy Keach is a police officer who’s trying to hunt them down, and for SOME reason has a really hard time doing it. Oh, because cops are incompetent, that’s right.

In my opinion, there are basically two weaknesses to this film. First, Cheech & Chong kept a lot of the improv nature of their albums to the film, and it doesn’t work that well. It doesn’t work extremely well on their albums to begin with, but it’s even more obvious they’re just pulling shit out of their asses when you can see them staring at each other, wondering which of them is going to make a joke next. Secondly, and most importantly, Stacy Keach. Keach fucking DEVOURS the scenery in this film, and it’s almost painful to watch the guy whenever he’s on screen. I’m sure his blood was 50% cocaine while making the movie, but Jesus Christ, man, tone it down a notch.

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