Top positive review
Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2000
Hard to believe this came out during the Reagan administration. Here, nevertheless, is one of the last gasps of the counterculture, and if it is not as tightly plotted (if that is the right word) as the auteurs' Up In Smoke, neither is it as ploddingly episodic as Next Movie and Still Smokin', their other films of note. (Of Things Are Tough All Over and The Corsican Brothers, the less said the better.) There actually is something resembling a story here: the boys amass a fortune selling marijuana and, in the final act's surprise twist, they lose it. Along their picaresque way they encounter unlikely scenarios and people--people including, but not limited to, Paul Reubens, Sandra Bernhard and Dr. Timothy Leary.
Not all of the gags hit their target, at least to viewers who are not themselves on drugs, but the beauty of unsuccessful drug jokes is that they do not so much bomb as waft away. Director Chong is no Bergman, but he does present us with sights I do not recall seeing anywhere else: a nude Cheech clings desperately to a glass elevator's exterior; a panicked Cheech backstrokes desperately atop a subterreanean pot farm disguised as a swimming pool; an extraordinarily mellow Stacy Keach slowly turns into a lizard.
Plot elements and set-pieces aside, what stays with this reviewer are images of the comedians wandering serenely through a splendid cannabis plantation. They stroll amid the greenery and gently argue about something or other, as quiet country-rock murmurs on the soundtrack. If Cheech and Chong's prior movies were about the sleaziness of the drug scene, this one is about the sylvan beauty of marijuana farms--even if the farms are concealed somewhere in suburban Southern California. There was plenty to worry about in 1981, of course, but this film reminds us that some people were less worried than others.