Up in Smoke

Up in Smoke

Up in Smoke, directed by Lou Adler, is Cheech and Chong's first feature-length film, released in 1978 by Paramount Pictures. It stars Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Edie Adams, Strother Martin and Stacy Keach. Grossing $41,590,893, it was the 12th highest-grossing film of 1978.

Cheech and Chong had been a comedy team for about ten years before they started reworking some of their material for their first film. Much of the film was shot in Los Angeles, California, including scenes filmed in Tijuana, Mexico. Scenes set on the Mexican border were actually filmed at the border in Yuma, Arizona.

The team found it difficult to persuade traditional advertising outlets to promote the film, so they came up with the novel (and ultimately successful) idea of advertising it through comic strips, which they left on bus benches. This gave the film a certain "street" feel, helping it to become a cult hit.

Plot

Tommy Chong plays Anthony Stoner (though in the final credits the character is listed as 'Man'; , a jobless hippy who is kicked out of home by his father and manages to trick Pedro (Cheech) into picking him up off the side of a highway by posing as a woman with large breasts. They both share a large joint (which Chong's character says is made with "labrador", marijuana and dog feces, due to his dog having eaten his stash) and are arrested when a police officer discovers them to be stoned. After their subsequent trial (where they get off on a technicality when it's discovered the judge is drinking vodka), they are released, and in an attempt to procure some marijuana they visit Strawberry (Tom Skeritt), Pedro's cousin. They narrowly escape a police raid on Strawberry's house, but are soon deported to Tijuana by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, together with Pedro's illegal immigrant relatives (who just want a free ride to a wedding).

In order to get back to the United States they arrange to pick up a vehicle from Pedro's uncle's upholstery shop but arrive at the wrong place, a marijuana warehouse, and end up unknowingly involved in a plot to smuggle a van constructed completely out of spray-on marijuana from Mexico to Los Angeles, with the inept police narcotics unit hot on their heels.

Along the way, Cheech and Chong narrowly avoid arrest despite, at one point, being pulled over by the police (luckily for them, the officer gets high from the smoke coming from their van), and pick up two women, who convince them to perform with their band, Alice Bowie, at a Battle of the Bands contest. The film concludes with Cheech and Chong winning the contest, and a recording contract, with a performance of their song "Earache My Eye".

Miscellaneous

  • The film's dialogue includes the word "man" 295 times. 212 of those times are before the Mexican Border scene.
  • The license plate on Cheech Marin's character's car, MUF DVR, was his real license plate at the time.
  • An early lineup for the legendary Los Angeles punk band The Germs auditioned for a part in the Battle of the Bands sequence of the film. However, the band instigated a food fight during their audition (in front of a live audience), and were told that they would not be in the film. The song which the Germs played at the audition, "Sex Boy", with sounds of the resulting riot, can be heard on the CD Germs (MIA).
  • Several scenes are sampled by the ska/punk band Voodoo Glow Skulls in their songs. The scene where the officers give away their undercover position by yelling "shoot the moon" is used as the opening sequence of the 1995 album Firme. In the song Insubordination the scene where Pedro mockingly replies to an inquiry of "Do you know who this is?" with "No, who is 'This is'?". The album Who Is, This Is? is derived from this scene. The introduction of the song Country Phuck is where Pedro talks about punk music.
  • Anthony's name is mentioned only once in the film. While his father yells at him for not having a job, his mother says his name. Anthony's parents, Arnold and Tempest, are played by Strother Martin and Edie Adams, and were encouraged to ad-lib their lines, leading to Mr. Stoner's classic line, "You get a goddamn job before sundown, or we're shipping you off to military school, with that goddamn Finkelstein-shit kid! Son of a bitch!" (This line opened up Side 1 of the Up In Smoke soundtrack album)
  • The three punk rock groups who appear during sequences shot at the Roxy were Berlin Brats (performing "Psychotic"), The Dils (performing "You're Not Blank (So Baby We're Through)") and The Whores.
  • The film was banned by the South African Publications Control Board (Censor Board) for fear that "it might encourage the impressionable youth of South Africa to take up marijuana smoking".
  • The car that Chong drives at the beginning of the movie was actually owned by actor Jack Nicholson

DVD releases

The first DVD release included a feature-length audio commentary with Adler and Marin. A "Special Collectors Edition" of the film, including further extras was released on September 4th, 2007.

See also

References

External links

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