Cheech & Chong’s stoner classic “Up in Smoke” turns 40 this year and it’s been reissued on a new Blu-ray. Back in 1978, who could’ve imagined that weed stores would be legal in LA, America would have elected at least two presidents who’ve smoked marijuana and veterans groups would be pushing the VA to allow cannabis as a treatment for PTSD?
America has changed, but “Up in Smoke” features the same juvenile, dopey humor that made it a surprise box office success. Thanks to Cheech & Chong’s hit albums, an entire generation of elementary school students mastered drug humor long before they had actually tried drugs. When they took some of their best LP jokes and strung them together to make a movie, kids all over the USA snuck into theaters to see them reenacted onscreen.
Their manager Lou Adler got director’s credit and he’d never made a movie before. Tommy Chong may have actually directed the movie, but he’d never made a movie before either. Chong and Cheech Marin are making it up as they go along and that’s a big part of the appeal if the movie appeals to you.
They even roped a few real actors into the melee. Stacy Keach plays the boys’ narco cop nemesis Sgt. Stedenko. The great Strother Martin (“Cool Hand Luke”) is Chong’s dad and Tom Skerritt (Viper in “Top Gun”) plays the drug dealer Strawberry.
Huge fans can treat themselves to the Deluxe Collector’s Edition, presented in a 12×12 package, limited to 5,000 copies. It includes the Blu-ray with the original soundtrack on CD and vinyl LP, as well as a 7-inch picture disc, oversized “Up In Smoke” rolling papers and a film poster. There’s also a booklet with new essays by both Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, along with rare and unseen photos. The CD features a new 2018 version of “Up in Smoke” and another previously unreleased version of the song from 1978 with an additional Spanish verse by Cheech.