Home Video Hovel: Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie, by Mat Bradley-Tschirgi
Before Cheech & Chong’s first movie Up in Smoke came out, they had several hit studio albums and had been touring for over a decade. Up in Smoke was a huge hit, so it was not a surprise when a sequel followed with 1980’s Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie. Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie proved to be another hit, domestically out-grossing both Caddyshack and the original Friday the 13th. This Shout Select Blu-ray release has just enough amusing extras for fans to enjoy.
Cheech (Cheech Marin) is having a real bummer of a day. After getting fired from his day job, he has a date planned with Donna. Unfortunately, his cousin Red (also played by Cheech Marin) is in town for a visit, so Cheech dispatches his friend Chong (Tommy Chong) to keep his cousin company so he can have the house all to himself. Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie is not interested in plot at all. It ambles from scene to scene, taking its time to reach the punchlines. Characters wander from a movie set to a massage parlor to a comedy club, and they’re in no rush whatsoever. Tommy Chong makes his directorial debut here and goes for a laid-back approach. Many scenes are shot in long takes, the sets have a lived-in quality to them, and Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong are real comfortable playing their characters.
What’s interesting is how much of the movie keeps Cheech and Chong apart from each other. Cheech Marin plays Cheech’s cousin Red as a bumbling redneck. He’s a guy who thinks he’s funny, but really just annoys everyone as tired punchlines fall out of his mouth as he laughs uproariously at himself. You get the sense Marin wanted to play a character that wasn’t just the straight man of the group. More amusing are cameos from up-and-coming comedians, including Paul Reubens who plays a bellhop who moonlights as Pee-Wee Herman at the local stand-up comedy club (!!) and Michael Winslow making his trademark sound effects.
There are a lot of solid laughs here, although the ending involving a UFO really comes out of nowhere. It makes the UFO sequence in Life of Brian look convincing and logical! The Blu-ray has a good transfer, although the DTS-HD track being in mono is lacking a bit of punch. Aside from a theatrical trailer, we get a few minutes of radio spots with unique comedy material promoting the movie (more like sketches than literal ads), and a new interview with Cheech Marin. Marin considers Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie to be his favorite of the films they worked on. He also reveals none of the Cheech and Chong movies had a screenplay; they only had a few pages noting scenes they’d like to do. Certainly explains the randomness of this film! Although a commentary or a more detailed documentary would have been nice, the presentation and extras on this film make it a recommendation for fans of the toking twosome of Cheech and Chong.