Johhny Zax is a new cannabis smoker and movie enthusiast living in Washington DC and participating in the DC Weed Scene. Since he’s a stoner this won’t be on the regular, so every once in a while, he’ll review a stoner movie while watching it stoned for the first time. Enjoy hearing both about the movie and Johnny’s experiences while watching.
This week, I am going with a classic of the weed movie genre, Up In Smoke. Growing up around my friends who all smoked weed, the names Cheech and Chong were common vocabulary. It wasn’t until, at the very least, after I graduated high school that I learned who they really were, which was really because of their work in other projects.
The first time I saw Cheech was in fucking Spy Kids, and I didn’t even know who he was at the time. Color me shocked when I was looking up Cheech information a few years ago and it clicked that he was Uncle Felix, a significant character in those movies.
Tommy was a different story because my first introduction to him was That 70’s Show, which has him playing a stoner anyway, not sure he can delve from that typecasting.
This was a fresh movie for me since I had never seen it. In the many years of hearing about Cheech and Chong and Up In Smoke, nobody really owned it or knew where to find and watch it when we entered the streaming age. Luckily, I was able to find a copy, so I popped it in and hit play. Then I remembered that I was supposed to watch it high.
I normally like to get high from a bong since that tends to hit my lungs better and I feel it gets me higher, but this time I rolled my own joint using a Sativa I picked up at Street Lawyer Services Gifts, I love DC Weed I am slowly progressing in my rolling aptitude and so far I’d say I’m pretty OK at it. After all, I’ve only been rolling for a few months. I am watching the movie alone, which is good for two reasons. First, I didn’t have to share my good weed with my roommates and more importantly I didn’t want them to watch me fuck up my roll three times before finally getting it right. So, with a roll in my hand, I started puffing as the movie begins.
The opening, aside from having a solid music selection, felt like it took fooooreeeverr. But then the meeting scene between Pedro (Cheech) and Man (Chong) instantly got me into a chuckle. I like the idea thinking about Cheech and Chong sitting down one day and saying “How should our characters meet?” and someone saying “What if one of us was hitchhiking and had fake tits?” then both of them agreeing it should be Tommy, completely ignoring the fact that his face is a jungle of hair. Amazing. They had to have been stoned.
I don’t know if it has been said before, but I’ll lay the claim that Cheech Marin is the reason we have male crop tops today. I’m not knocking it because god knows if I could pull it off, I’d wear one. However, it has to fall on someone’s shoulders and it looks like Cheech just became Atlas.
After I got about 20 minutes into the movie, I had a question. Is Man (Chong) really okay with the fact that he attempts to murder pretty much every new person he meets? He gives Pedro a giant quantity of acid then blames him for freaking out. Then he literally serves the white girl Ajax cleaner as cocaine. He does make a pitiful attempt to stop her, but he was holding the plate and we all know he could have pulled it away from her. This movie would be a lot darker if he wasn’t a stoner is all I’m saying.
I love the bust scene a lot. Cheech really trying to be a good friend and Chong being so dense he escapes police capture by locking himself outside. It’s simple comedy, but gold, nonetheless.
I’m sure the Vietnam scarred cousin was easier to parse in the past, but it really brought me down from the comedy. Also, what is up with weed movies and killing animals? That bird was dope and I want one. The dog death was weirdly placed. I assume it died from eating weed, but it also looks like Pedro murdered it.
The search for weed hadn’t really changed since the 70s until recently. I remember a search I had with an old girlfriend, Katie, who was looking for weed. I had to come with her because everyone was out except this creepy dude who only sold weed to girls. Katie bought some and this MF’er started to get handsy with her. Normally I wouldn’t fight a dealer, but this dude was a bitch and I knew I wouldn’t get fucked over, so I threw hands with him, broke his ring finger too. He learned a lesson, but he also wouldn’t sell her weed anymore. A win-lose situation, I guess.
Thankfully today it is much easier to get weed. You can ask pretty much anyone or just order it on your phone which is awesome. My high started to wear off around the middle of the movie, but I didn’t feel like rolling another joint. I packed half a bowl and smoked that to keep my high going.
I must admit I had to rewind the whole Mexico scene because I got confused by the plot. I know that Pedro and Man were going to a place to pick up a van and smuggle it across the border but, even if there were two places side-by-side doing a similar plan, why did Pedro think it was his Uncle’s shop and take the weed van? This never gets resolved by the way. I spent the whole rest of the movie waiting to see how they write it off but is completely forgotten about with no repercussions. Every cop scene (except one) bored the hell out of me, so it was even harder to follow the movie.
I don’t know why, but the sight gag of the cop putting the binoculars down and replacing them with bigger ones was so funny I laughed way too hard and did a spit take and started to choke, which made me laugh even harder. It wasn’t even that funny, but my mind wrote it off as the funniest thing in the movie.
I’ve been to and even run some Battle of The Bands events and the chaos took me back to some of my worst moments. Weirdly, there is one scene that helped me chill and it was immediately after the weed began pumping into the theater, when people are grabbing the burgers and shoving them down their throats. I’ve seen a lot of horror movies in my time and that looked like it was pulled directly from a zombie movie. It pulled me away from my thoughts which was good because I probably would have missed the band performance.
Up In Smoke is a good movie, but it isn’t necessarily a high movie. It has a lot to say about the use of drugs and weed in the 70s plus it offers a pointed look at immigration, which is just as relevant today as it was 42 years ago. As for my high experience with it, it didn’t work out. There were some genuinely funny moments and I choked at one point from laughing, but a lot of the movie that feels unnecessary or just boring. The weed didn’t enhance my viewing, in fact it just distracted me more than anything. Maybe I just wasn’t high enough to truly click with the movie, but I think I’ll like it better when I watch it clear-headed at some point.