Up in Smoke (Cheech & Chong's) (1978)

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Released 5-Jun-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Audio Commentary-Cheech Marin (Actor) & Lou Adler (Director)
Theatrical Trailer
Deleted Scenes-8 +/- commentary
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1978
Running Time 82:16
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (48:29) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Lou Adler
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Cheech Marin
Tommy Chong
Tom Skerritt
Edie Adams
Strother Martin
Stacy Keach
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Cheech Marin
Tommy Chong


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Danish
German
English
Spanish
French
Italian
Dutch
Norwegian
Swedish
Turkish
English for the Hearing Impaired
German Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes, My God Yes!! Everything in sight!
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    As I write this review, I am unsure about how to tackle this Plot Synopsis. Up In Smoke is one of those films regarded as a classic, but today it seems light, stupid and not very funny.

    I love Cheech and Chong, and always have. I own many of their audio recordings and have watched all of their films in the past. My brother and I or one of my friends used to hire Cheech and Chong videos and laugh at their wacky, farcical, drug-induced antics while pretending (as 13 year olds) to know what was going on. Nevertheless, I found them very funny, worthwhile and clever.

    So what do I think of Cheech and Chong films now? I still enjoy them. Yes, they are light, stupid and not very funny, but as someone who has previously found their style hilarious, it is hard not to smile and remember how many times I replayed a certain joke or facial expression as a kid and laughed until I cried. Would I enjoy this film if I did not have this prior experience? Probably not, but that is probably since I do not find drugs funny, or think that seeing a person fall over several times due to extended drug use is 'quality film making'. If you are like me, then this film is not for you, but if you do enjoy these sorts of pursuits, then Cheech and Chong are most certainly your cup of tea.

    The basic plot of 'Up In Smoke' is that it does not have a plot. The majority of the film is based around various Cheech and Chong comedy routines. Scenes in this film do not flow until about half way through the feature, when it turns into a sort of 'road movie' that serves to link up sketch after sketch. The two main characters are Pedro De Pacas (Cheech Marin) and 'Man'- Tommy Chong's eternal character. There is a massive amount of drug use in this film as our two beloved stoners go searching for sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, along the way meeting up with characters played by 'respected' actors Tom Skerritt, Stacy Keach, Edie Adams and Strother Martin.

    The highlight of the film for me was the performances by Stacy Keach as Sgt Stedenko and the very short, but very funny cameo by Strother Martin as the rich father of 'Man'. Both these guys nail their roles and really stand out as the star performers of the film. In the audio commentary, director Lou Adler and Cheech Marin both draw attention to the great performances turned in by these two, as they are something to behold.

    In summary, 'Up In Smoke' is a film that is very dated, and unless you have a) a previous attachment to Cheech and Chong or b) are very 'involved' with the subject matter, then it may not be a worthwhile purchase.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    For a film of this style that is 24 years old, the transfer of this film is pretty good. It is not perfect and has a lot of flaws, but generally, the transfer is bright and clear with good, solid colours that remain constant throughout.
 
    The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness of this DVD is solid, with no instances where it is a problem. Shadow detail is a problem at times due to a lot of interior shots being filmed in poorly lit houses and buildings- good examples of poor shadow detail can be found at 0:29 and 32:19. Grain is another big downfall of this transfer with many scenes appearing very grainy and dark, such as at 19:40, 32:19, and 75:16. Grain can also be seen in the many scenes filled with smoke - I will not list them here, as this review would suddenly be filled with red numbers instead of the actual review itself.

    Colours are strong and constant throughout, with this being the highlight of the transfer for me. Almost all the outside shots in this film are set in blazing sunlight with plenty of big Californian colours on show. All these colours are vibrant and strong, and add to the film as a whole.

    There were no MPEG artefacts to be seen here, but plenty of aliasing on show. Cheech's car grille was the biggest offender (check out the number plate by the way - it sort of sets the standard for most of the jokes in the film) as well as other problem areas that can be found at 7:17, 7:37, 10:34, 12:07, 15:55, 18:51, 22:17, 41:51, and 62:56. Film artefacts are the other big artefact in this transfer with constant flecks of dirt and grime throughout and a strange emulsion mark on the right hand side of the image at 28:10.

    There are numerous subtitle tracks recorded here. I checked out about 30 minutes worth of the English subtitles and found them to be a heavily simplified version of the actual dialogue, which probably serves to rob the film of its character.

    Contrary to what is stated on the packaging, this is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring at 48:29 in the middle of a camera move and just before a scene change....diabolical!  Not a great place for it.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    In general, the audio transfer is of good quality, without being outstanding.
 
    There are five different audio tracks recorded on this DVD, and I listened to the default English 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack, recorded at 448kb/s.

    The dialogue quality is solid with no instances where dialogue is inaudible. Occasionally, Cheech's accent makes him a little hard to understand, but there are no problems with the DVD itself. Audio sync is not too bad, with only one instance where it is a problem, at 1:27.

    The music in this film has a rock feel and is mostly performed by Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. Interestingly, in the audio commentary, director Lou Adler and Cheech Marin mention that a lot of record labels did not want their artist's songs associated with this film and its drug content, forcing Cheech and Chong to do most of the music themselves.
 
    For a 5.1 soundtrack, there is little to no surround activity. Obviously, the film was not designed to use these channels, but having a soundtrack of this sort probably could have meant that we get a little more from these areas.
 
    The subwoofer is not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

   There is quite a good selection of extras on show here, considering the film's age and the budget the DVD's producers would have had.

Menu

    The menu here shows the cover art of the disc as a static picture.

Theatrical Trailer    (2:53)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.80:1 and 16x9 enhanced, this trailer has terrible grain and is very unclear. The trailer itself basically gives away the entire film.

Audio Commentary-  Director Lou Adler & Cheech Marin

    Not a great commentary, as Cheech Marin and Lou Adler do not add anything to the viewing experience. Besides a few interesting anecdotes, they sit there and giggle to themselves about the jokes in the film - something that I can already do myself. They touch on some sort of feud that they had with the people at Paramount, but do not elaborate on it - a shame because it may have added something to the overall package.

Deleted Scenes (Roach Clips)   (11:27)

    Here is a selection of deleted scenes from various stages of the film. Available with or without commentary by Cheech Marin and Lou Adler they are pretty good, with some worthwhile jokes and performances. All are presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, are not 16x9 enhanced and suffer from terrible film artefacts.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     The extras contained on both these discs are identical, but with RSDL formatting and the superior PAL resolution, the nod goes to the local  Region 4 release. Reviews of the Region 1 version of this disc also complain of some mild edge enhancement and pixelization - despite a repeat viewing, I could not see any of these artefacts on the Region 4 version.

Summary

    This film is a 'cult classic' that loses a bit these days unless you already have a love for the film and its characters. It contains plenty of drug use and some occasionally funny sequences.

    The video is flawed, yet acceptable.

    The audio is solid, but not used to its full potential.

    The extras are interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Hugh Fotheringham (what the hell is going on in bio??)
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S525, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS797- THX Select
SpeakersJamo X550 Left and Right, Jamo X5CEN Centre, Jamo X510 Surround

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