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.
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".