Up in Smoke

Up in Smoke ★★★½

The prototypal stoner movie, although a reasonable case could be made for Louis J. Gasnier’s Reefer Madness. It's shown at the start of the film that Cheech & Chong's independently owned vehicles are cobbled together from other automobiles, and this broadly corresponds to the various components of its storyline as they are blissfully unaware that they are smuggling a vast quantity of marijuana across the Mexican border into Los Angeles with the woefully incompetent Sgt. Stedenko (Stacy Keach) in pursuit. Still, the plot is deliberately positioned in second place, and there's a long drop off from its primary concerns of numerous entertaining and humoristic episodes.

The film proved to be highly profitable and appeared after a series of studio recordings and stand up shows for the comedy duo, as well as initiating a subsequent long procession of sequel movies. Cheech Marin is introduced watching Merrie Melodies on the television, and this establishes the rhythm of the zaniness of the comedy, as it indulges in stereotypes and multitudinous shibboleths as it cinematically larks about with some spirited editing and occasional animated frame rate manipulation. There's an energised quality to Lou Adler’s direction, and it's comfortable about rehashing some of its earlier jokes as the narrative eventually lands the pair at the Roxy Theatre on Sunset Strip to contend in a battle of the band's competition. The performance of their song Earache My Eye has gone on to be covered by a variety of bands, most noticeably by nu metallers Korn on their five-times platinum album Follow the Leader. Up in Smoke is all very predictable, but it does offer a certain level of limited fun.

Paul Elliott liked this review