Monday, February 23, 2015

Up in Smoke (1978)

Cheech & Chong's first screen vehicle is a loose and episodic affair, but one with plenty of laughs for those who enjoy their distinct brand of comedy. It was wisely decided to translate their humor to the screen with little interference or changes to their characters or comedy style (not surprising, as Cheech and Chong wrote the script). The direction by Lou Adler -- who produced the team's comedy records -- is unobtrusive and generally effective enough, though it's perhaps a little too loose at times, with some scenes going on a little past their worth and dragging the pace a little. For the most part, though, the sprawling and ambling structure works -- it's certainly in keeping with the burnt-out, anything-goes nature of the comedy. Among the supporting cast, Stacy Keach does a fine job as the hot tempered, wildly exasperated narcotics officer on the trail of a massive pot smuggling operation, and Strother Martin and Edie Adams have a brief but memorable turn as Chong's parents. All in all, it's infectious, silly, good-natured fun, extremely vulgar but never mean-spirited, and almost certainly the best and funniest of the Cheech and Chong comedies.

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