- Movie Rating -

Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie (1980)

| July 18, 1980

Given the sort of indifference that I gave to Cheech and Chong’s first movie, Up in Smoke, I guess I approached their second feature Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie with the sense that either they would improve or prove themselves to be basically insufferable.  My conclusion is somewhere in the middle.  I like them.  I like their chemistry – no pun intended.  I like their sort of slacker, goofball charm.  But I find their features to be aimless, at times funny, but far too often just wandering around doing stuff and hoping that a joke will land.

I didn’t hate Next Movie.  When it was over, I realized that I had a sort-of mixed reaction.  My report card goes like this: I laughed twice, smiled about six times, found the last 40 minutes to be an unfunny slog, and loved the sci-fi ending so much that I almost wish that it were the entire movie.  Seriously, the gag where Chong gives Cheech a dose of Space Coke was kinda great.

Yet, unlike Up in Smoke which actually had a narrative structure, this one is mainly a series of wandering vignettes.  That could come from a change in creative management.  The previous film was directed by the duo’s manager Lou Alder, but this time Tommy Chong himself is in charge.  He not only co-wrote the movie (with Cheech) but serves as director.

His approach to comedy is kind of strange.  He lets his actors just kind of wing it, they run around and scream and laugh a lot, I suppose in the hope that their crazy behavior will result in moments of unexpected humor.  The result is that when he doesn’t have scripted material, the scenes meander and run on so long that we become exhausted just watching weird behavior.  It’s the experience of watching happy drunks have a wrestling match in your living room.

The movie doesn’t really have a plot, more of a vague structure.  Cheech (Cheech Marin) and Chong (Tommy Chong) live in an abandoned house in the suburbs next door to an uptight, white-bred neighbor whom they make miserable with their loud music, drug binges and destructive shenanigans.  Outside of that, they’re just a pair of jobless boneheads wandering from one thing to the next. 

Somewhere in the middle of the movie a plot, of sorts, appears when Cheech gets Chong out of the house so that he can bring his date over.  So, Chong goes to spend time with Cheech’s Texan cousin Red Mendoza (also played by Marin) who takes him all over L.A. to a massage parlor, a wealthy family’s home, a comedy club, and out to his pot field.

Chong has some good ideas, like an accumulating gag in which Chong tricks Cheech into burying his nose in a bag of cocaine only to reveal that it is actually detergent.  Also, a great bit when Cheech is waiting for his date to come over and he waits and waits and eventually washes and irons every bit of clothing that he owns.  Those are funny because they are actual ideas.  The rest of the movie is just kind of aimless and looking for a laugh.  There’s stuff here and there but there are far too many dry sections to make a functioning comedy.  Those scenes really grate on your nerves.  Bummer, man.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1980) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized