Thursday, February 9, 2017

Movie Review - Cheech and Chong's Next Movie

Cheech and Chong's Next Movie



"I'm gonna be late for work again. That's the fifth time this week, and it's only Tuesday, man."


There have been a lot of great comedy teams throughout the years, Martin and Lewis, Hope and Crosby, Seals and Croft, David and Goliath and Cheech and Chong. Years of touring, huge comedy albums, pop culture icons for skits like "Dave's Not Here" (which isn't the name of it, but you immediately ran through most of the skit after reading that), Sister Mary Elephant, Earache My Eye, and How I Spent My Summer Vacation, made them the darlings of the entertainment industry.

Since their debut in the late 60's, the comedy duo quickly rose to fame for their "stoner" comedy material.  In 1978, Up In Smoke took Cheech and Chong from the comedy clubs to worldwide big screen comedy fame. So they did what they do best, they took certain bits from their albums and created these characters that were at best had no real motivation, other than to get high and at worst, just lazy. It made for some great comedy.

Cheech and Chong ruled the 80's with their counter-culture style of humor and Cheech and Chong's Next Movie continued that style. Like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin, and Richard Pryor, Cheech and Chong were able to define their niche comedy and give the people what they really wanted; an escape from the drudgery of their lives, and to show everyone that, maybe drugs weren't so bad.

Along with comedians like Lenny Bruce, Carlin and Pryor, Cheech and Chong pulled you into their world with well-written bits, not as political as Bruce or Carlin and not as autobiographical as Pryor, they were able to take what these comedians did and parlay them into a whole act about the drug culture of the time. It wasn't just those three comedians that influenced Cheech and Chong and you can see it, and hear it, in their movies and albums. Cheech and Chong's albums and movies have a distinct likeness to Monty Python as well. Like Python, they could take any idea, bring out the most absurd parts of it and take it to the extreme, without it being dumb. That's the genius of Cheech and Chong.  Their ability to see what others have done before them, take those ideas and make their own genre.

That's what Cheech and Chong's Next Movie is all about. Upping the ante when it comes to the absurd and abnormal. The opening scene really sets the stage for this movie. Cheech and Chong are carrying a trash bin, for no reason in particular, at first. Making small talk, complaining along the way that what they have to do is stupid. It's the middle of the day, people are going about their business, no one is really paying attention to what these two are doing, when we see them walk up to a tow truck, unscrew the gas cap and steal gas. Filling the garbage can to the brim, which is ridiculous in and of itself. They didn't even empty out the can, so when they fill it up, it still has empty cartons, grass cuttings and wadded up newspaper still in it.

Of course, they still have to take the can back to where ever they came from, spilling the gas all over themselves in the process and visually, it's very well done. When they arrive at the car they have to fill, they realize that they have no funnel to put into the tank, so they just pour the gas in, spilling it everywhere. The payoff to the bit is when Chong asks for a lighter and Cheech tells him that the car is filled with fumes and that it's going to be a problem. Chong lights it anyways and the interior of the car explodes. Looney tunes cartoon style.

Cheech trying to have sex with his girlfriend in the welfare office while Chong sits and waits for him and then forgetting to get the application done so they can get their money. The neighborhood they live in is relatively nice, except for their house, which is completely trashed. Graffiti on the walls, broken windows that are boarded up and Chong's motorcycle in the kitchen, with the exhaust pipe sticking out the window into the neighbor's yard, belching black smoke onto his prized roses. In between all of this is Cheech and Chong trying to one-up each other with the pranks.

This is a movie about two guys, living their lives, being in the wrong place at the right time. It's really a movie about nothing. There is no real "plot" other than to watch the outcome of these two stoners, who really want nothing more than to relax, have a good time and get high. But they can't because life keeps getting in the way. Whether it's Cheech's cousin "Red" coming around and getting into adventures with Chong or Cheech just trying to get laid. Nothing seems to ever work out in the way they were intended to, but Cheech and Chong somehow keep landing on their feet, joint in hand and ready for another good time.

Tommy Chong and Richard "Cheech" Marin were able to define the "stoner" comedy movie and they ran with it until they broke up. It's rare for a comedy team to be able to transition from a live act doing comedy albums to a string of movies and consistently find success (except the Corsican Brothers, that movie was awful). Something that they did for almost 20 years and then to basically reinvent themselves and find success again, is something that is almost unheard of. Cheech and Chong is one of those comedy teams that everyone loves and not just because of their humor. They love them because they are just like the "everyman" struggling to get by, dealing with the day to day nonsense of life, and doing what a lot of people did (and still do), hit the pipe and enjoy the ride.

Cheech and Chong elevated the drug subculture to a new level. When everyone saw this happening, it started to become less of a taboo and go more mainstream.  I mean, if it was okay for them to do it and Hollywood, who has the pulse of America and is on the cutting edge, show it, then why can't we? Because of these movies, recreational (and I mostly mean pot) started to cross over into other genres of movies and even television. Soon becoming an accepted part of the entertainment industry and even creating a whole new sub-genre of movies the "stoner" comedy.

That's the impact of Cheech and Chong.

5.5 out of 10.





Cheech and Chong's Next Movie (1980)
R | 1h 39min | Comedy, Crime, Sci-Fi | 18 July 1980 (USA)

The two stoners and their friends go through another series of crazy, drug-influenced misadventures.
Director: Tommy Chong
Writers: Tommy Chong, Cheech Marin
Stars: Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Evelyn Guerrero


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