Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cheech & Chong's Nice Dreams - 1981

"Cheech & Chong's Nice Dreams" - 1981
Dir. by Tommy Chong - 1 hr. 28 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

"Cheech & Chong's Nice Dreams" is pretty much exactly what you expect from Cheech & Chong.  Instead of this being a drawback, it's kind of comforting to know that you're getting exactly what you signed up for.  "Nice Dreams" is the duo's third movie together, and it's nice to see them just doing what they do well, with the characters that they've developed together.  It doesn't add up to anything meaningful, but it's a good way to blow ninety minutes.

Eschewing characters, Cheech (Cheech Marin) and Chong (Tommy Chong) use their own names.  They drive around Los Angeles in an ice cream truck, selling weed disguised as push-pops, barely incognito.  They roam about the city, going about their business, while a pair of policemen trail them.  Cheech and Chong try to celebrate their success, but end up waylaid by a pair of enthusiastic cocaine-sniffers (Evelyn Guerrero and Paul Reubens).  While Hamburger Dude (Reubens) absconds with their money, Cheech and Chong head back to Donna's (Guerrero) apartment.  When Donna's convict husband returns from jail, Cheech and Chong flee, and decide to track down Hamburger Dude and their money.

"Nice Dreams" has a shaggy-dog tone to it, and that's to be expected (and embraced).  Is there a plot?  Sort of.  But honestly, the entire point is just to watch a pair of stoners wander around and get in and out of trouble.  Even better if whatever is happening is either funny or weird.  There's plenty of both to go around.  In the weird category, there's Stacy Keach's Sgt. Stedanko gradually turning into a lizard from smoking Cheech and Chong's product, and the entire Casa Del Whacko situation, which culminates with a straight-jacketed Cheech and already heavily-medicated Chong being dosed with LSD by a cackling Tim Leary himself.  On the funny side, probably the biggest, broadest bit that's still really funny involves a fully-nude Cheech dangling from the outside of a glass elevator.  And for those who enjoy gardening, there is a pretty spectacular garden of a very relevant variety to feast one's eyes on.

But, as is appropriate for a movie where the main characters use the names they are known by, the most interesting scenes are ones that take a low-key approach.  One in particular, that takes place in a kitchen, just plants the camera in the corner of the room, while Cheech tries to cook something and Chong has a conversation with what appears to be a blind man.  I was drawn into the conversation, although nobody is talking about anything meaningful, and it's fun to watch Cheech try to play subtle jokes on Chong.  It's more akin to what it's probably like seeing these guys when they're not "on."  "Nice Dreams" has a blend of these lower-key scenes mixed with the ones that involve wide-eyed cocaine use or naked dangling Cheech (or Paul Reubens doing a simpleminded proto-Pee Wee; Reubens is at least as fun as Cheech or Chong in his smaller role).  It's an interesting development in the sort of film that you wouldn't necessarily expect to find any cinematic experimentation within.

If you were eyeballing the line-up of Cheech and Chong movies to make your evening complete, this isn't the one that I would start with.  But, if you've already seen "Up in Smoke," this one is a good number two choice.  You're going to get exactly what you want out of "Nice Dreams," but without the freshness of the first film.  But you're going to laugh still, which is really all I wanted here.

2.5 / 5 - TV

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