Saturday, October 10, 2015

1980 Week: Cheech and Chong's Next Movie

Whereas their first picture, Up in Smoke (1978), had a silly but serviceable plot predicated on themes from their popular comedy albums, comedy duo Cheech and Chong opted for a more sketch-based approach while making their second picture. Another change was Tommy Chong taking over the directing chores from the duo’s manager, Lou Adler, who helmed Up in Smoke. In nearly every regard, Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie is a weirder and wilder ride than its predecessor, but the lack of recognizable narrative structure makes the picture a slog to watch. It doesn’t help that the movie is devoid of big comedic ideas. Up in Smoke featured such absurd highlights as a pot-powered battle of the bands and a vehicle made of marijuana. Cheech and Chong’x Next Movie features endless scenes of Cheech Marin playing a secondary character named Dwayne “Red” Mendoza, who repeatedly exclaims “Holy sheep shit!” Marin’s main role is that of a character named Cheech, and Chong’s main role is that of a character named Chong. The cheerful stoners are passively anarchistic, and while devotees of pothead humor may feel otherwise, nothing the characters do is interesting. They accidentally drink urine, coax nubile ladies into bed, make loud noises in inappropriate circumstances, piss off their neighbors, shock uptight white people, and smoke copious amounts of grass. Furthermore, the movie is so aimless that during one long scene, supporting player Michael Winslow (later to appear in the Police Academy series) makes silly sound effects while a crazed old man laughs at nothing. Still, the picture provides a few small footnotes to comedy history: Character actress Edie McClurg makes her feature debut with a sizable role, while Paul Reubens plays two parts, including his famous Pee-Wee Herman character. Yet by the time the picture hits its “peak” with a barbarian-themed sex hallucination and an alien-abduction scene, Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie has lost all potency. Nonetheless, four more Cheech and Chong movies followed before the duo’s big-screen run sputtered out in 1984.

Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie: LAME

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