Up in Smoke

UP IN SMOKE (1978)

In 1978, Cheech and Chong took their popular standup act and put it into a film. Although they had created many crazy characters on their records, they picked three of their favorites and used them for UP IN SMOKE.


This debut film told the tale of Pedro DePacas (Cheech Marin) an aspiring rock singer and Man Stoner (Tommy Chong) who is looking to get out of his well to do parent's house after he loads up his VW Bug and takes off not knowing where he's gonna go. Man's car later dies and he has to sleep in a ditch. The next day, as Pedro is cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway in his low rider (with a license plate that reads "MUF DVR"), he spots a hot chick thumbing a ride. Only it's not a chick, it's Man with a stuffed shirt to make it look like he's a big boobed babe. Pedro pulls over but when Man gets in the car, Pedro yells "YOU AIN'T A CHICK!". Man comically explains that it was the only way he could get someone to stop.


One of the funniest pot smoking sequences in cinema history comes up as Pedro and Man get to know each other. They both happen to play in bands and Man plays the drums. This kicks things off on a good note and they proceed to get in a chat about smoking weed as they cruise along. Man asks Pedro if he wants to get high and then takes out a joint the size of a small tree. It's hilarious as they toke this super joint. The smoke billows through the car and in one shot we see the car filled with smoke from the outside moving down the road. Pedro tells Man he can smoke anything, and yet he is already stoned to the hilt. Man gives Pedro some pills to calm him down from inhaling too much weed...but tells him not to eat THOSE pills. It's too late, Pedro already ate them. Man explains that the pills were actually acid tabs and that it's "the most acid I've ever seen anybody eat!". Pedro begins to freak out.


This is just the beginning of a really fun adventure with Pedro and Man as they struggle to get their band together. They also get deported to Tijuana after a drug bust goes bad. While they're down there, Pedro's uncle needs him to drive a van back to LA. Unbeknownst to them the van is actually made out of weed! Meanwhile the doofish cop Sgt. Stadenko (Stacy Keach) and his moron oinker squad are trailing the van. On the way back from Tijuana, Pedro and Man spot two hot looking babes who are hitching for a ride and luckily this time they are real chicks! They pick them up and find out that there's a battle of the bands contest at The Roxy nightclub in LA and that's where they're headed. The group of course need to get some weed first, so they stop at a police station where one of the girl's friends is a police woman, and a HOT one at that. They ask her if she can get some weed for them. In a really great scene, Pedro and Man are waiting at the desk and they start talking on the police channel CB radio. Sgt Stadenko calls in and goes apeshit when Pedro begins to taunt him.


The climax of the film is the Battle of the Bands and it's really hilarious. You can see some popular LA punk bands from the time such as The Dils and The Whores. For the big performance Pedro dresses up in a tutu and Mickey Mouse ears while Man is dressed as the Human Quaalude. The band takes the stage and break into their song "EARACHE MY EYE". The place explodes and as they play Sgt Stadenko and the cops dressed as Hari Krishnas are outside trying to bust into the club but are turned away. The Weed van is parked outside and gets towed and while Sgt Stadenko and the other cops try to find out who's van it is, a homeless dude smoking a cigarette drops it next to a puddle of gasoline near the van (which is leaking because the tank hit a curb while being towed). As the fire burns the weed van, the billowing pot smoke enters the club's ventilation system and next thing you know, the entire place gets high as kites while Pedro and Man and their new punk band "Alice Bowie" play onstage to the buzzing audience.

The film has one my favorite soundtracks. It combines dialogue with great songs featured like: Up In Smoke theme, Low Rider by War, Searchin' by The Search Boys, Strawberry's Theme and Theme to a Big Green Van. It also has the classic tune Earache My Eye by Alice Bowie.

Since its release Cheech & Chong's UP IN SMOKE has become a beloved cult comedy classic and it's always fun to revisit whether you're in the getting high mood or not.