Cheech And Chong Return For One “Last Movie”

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For those who like film, there are few more classic comedians than Tommy Chong, and Richard Marin, also known as “Cheech.” The pair have been working together for over fifty years, and have moved from a popular comedy duo, to multi platinum recording artists and movie stars. Their presence in the world of comedy and film cannot be undermined, and it’s only fitting that the pair are getting recognition for it.

Beginnings in the Sixties

Cheech and Chong met in Vancouver in 1968. Chong was a Canadian citizen, and Chong had moved from southern California to avoid the draft at the height of the Vietnam War. They both joined an improv group that Chong started called “City Works,” though Cheech was only briefly involved with the group.

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Still, it was enough of an introduction for the iconic pair. After discovering the amount of chemistry that they had, both on and off stage, the pair set off to build their career. They performed stand-up shows, released multiple successful comedy record albums, and starred in a series of low-budget films.

Movie Success

The success of their early careers resulted in the release of their first feature-length film, Up in Smoke, in 1978. It has gained status as a cult classic in the years since being released, and was financially successful enough – earning $44 million on the low budget – that it warranted two sequels in 1980 and 1981.

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The pair continued to work together throughout the eighties, releasing multiple films and albums. However, everything was not perfect, and by the late 80’s, Cheech decided he wanted to break free of the brand that he and Chong had created together. After the release of their 1987 film, Born in the U.S.A., he broke off with the intention of building a solo career.

Working Together Again in the 90’s

This parting lasted for several years, and then the pair came back together with voice acting in Ferngully: The Last Rainforest. They worked together sporadically throughout the 90’s, and then in a 2003 episode of Biography, they indicated that they were willing to reunite.

Source: Instagram/heytommychong

Their plans for a revival of the Cheech and Chong brand were waylaid, though, when a 2003 raid on Chong’s Glass – Chong’s California-based company – resulted in Chong pleading guilty to charges of conspiring to distribute drug paraphernalia. He was sentenced to nine months in prison, fined $20,000, and was forced to forfeit $120,000 in assets.

Chong in Jail

Chong’s brief stint in jail did nothing to derail his and Cheech’s plans, though. They continued to work together through the 2000’s, performing in a reunion comedy tour in 2008 and recording multiple shows at the Majestic Theatre in 2009 for a DVD release of their reunion tour.

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In the 2010’s, the pair continued to work separately and together, and in March of 2014, they announced that they would be working on a new movie together. They announced that the director of the movie would be Jay Chandrasekhar, though it appears development on that front has stalled.

The Beginning of “Stoner Comedy”

Cheech and Chong are known for their specific brand of comedy, which has been branded “stoner comedy.” They are credited with inventing this particular type of humor, which came out of the same counterculture that spawned a lot of the bands that were creating in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

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Their iconic work together has led to the pair being revered for both their challenge of social norms as well as their pushing of comedic boundaries. Most recently, the pair have starred in a documentary of their storied career, created and distributed by filmmaker David Bushell.

The “Last Movie”

The documentary, titled Cheech & Chong’s Last Movie, follows their career through their first days together in the late 60’s, all the way up until today. It’s the first documentary that has been made about their 50-plus year career together, which many who have followed Cheech and Chong’s art see as a tragedy.

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The film, according to Bushell, was a “no brainer.” Bushell is a longtime producer with credits under his belt such as Sling Blade, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Dallas Buys Club, and had been talking to Robbi Chong, Tommy’s daughter, about a possible “reunion” film since the early 2000’s.

Originally, a Movie Like the Others

The original plan was to make a Cheech and Chong style comedy in line with other works that they had done before, but that plan was scrapped in 2005. They continued to work together on other projects, but the reunion movie was a bust.

Source: Instagram/heytommychong

The idea didn’t fade away, though years passed between the initial proposal and the ultimate result. Bushell and Robbi kept talking through the years, seeing if there was anything that could be put together for the comedy pair, but it wasn’t until something that Bushell had been developing fell apart at the last moment that he returned to Robbi with a proposal for the documentary.

The Entire History of Cheech and Chong

Bushell wanted to cover everything, from their pre-C&C days, all the way through their breakup in 1985 and beyond. When Bushell and Robbi approached the pair, they both signed on almost immediately.

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“So much of our career has been, we just did what we were told to do,” Chong said. “‘Oh, you want to do a documentary on us? Okay, when do you need me to show up?’ It’s an extension of what we’ve been doing for years. The plan has always been that there’s no real plan.”

A Deeply Unlikely Pairing

The fact that the comedy duo, who came from such unlikely paths and lives, were able to meet at the right place, the right time, and just happened to become a big hit for the comedy that the produced together? Well, that’s something that’s unbelievable even to them.

Source: Instagram/cheechmarin

“I remember I was with Johnny Taylor in London,” Chong recalls in the documentary. “And we’d just done a gig with Jimi Hendrix. We’re all talking about what a fantastic musician he was, and for some reason, I just blurted out, ‘I’m going to be bigger than him.’ The conversation just stops dead. Everyone is staring at me. Finally, the drummer goes, ‘So you’re going to be a better guitarist than Jimi Hendrix?’ And I said, ‘I didn’t say better, I said bigger.’”

The Humor Was “Not Intellectual”

When discussing the style of humor that they created together, they both acknowledged that the comedy they performed had never been done before, or since. “I joined [the improv group] because I thought it was hilarious. And then, when it became just us…we’d go onstage, and it would just sort of happen,” Marin said.

Source: Instagram/heytommychong

“The humor was not intellectual,” Chong added. “That’s why stoners and grade school kids both liked it.” Cheech continued, “It takes a certain kind of person to tell a joke that’s both brilliant and stupid simultaneously. It’s not easy. And if you can put those things together, everybody gets it.”

A Lengthy Career

Last Movie goes through the pair’s career, and through the interviews conducted with the pair, it’s easy to see how their relationship informed their careers through the years. Cheech and Chong have an easy camaraderie, and the way that they can riff off each other rivals even the most experienced actors.

Source: Instagram/heytommychong

Everything was not easy, though, even before the pair decided to take their leave of each other in 1985. The documentary sees the pair discussing a producer on Up in Smoke who ultimately stole money from them with some shady business dealings, though they didn’t end up seeing a lot of difficulties from it.

Bumps in the Road

“When we on the road or recording, we had money coming,” Chong said. “When we just making the movie, no money coming in. Later, I got sued over a ‘loan’ and we discovered some hanky panky was going on, which I can’t talk about because we ended up settling. But I like to think that because we were practically broke, it kept us working a lot, and that’s why we have the legacy we do today.”

Source: Instagram/heytommychong

The documentary sets up the clips of the interview with Cheech and Chong between clips from their old movies, which was a setup that Bushell conceived of and executed through his direction of the documentary. It sets up and explains the pair’s complicated relationship in a relatable way, and lets them air old grievances in a safe place.

Ultimately, Good Friends and Partners

Though Cheech and Chong have a complicated history that makes working together like working with your favorite – and least favorite – sibling, it’s clear that the pair’s fondness for each other overrides all of that. The documentary showcases the highs and the lows, the successes and the heartbreak, and does it in a way that makes you root for them, at the end of it all.

Source: Instagram/cheechmarin

Comedy pairs like Cheech and Chong are once in a generation occurrences. Hopefully the pair will continue their work together in the future, but even if they don’t, Last Movie showcases the legacy that they’ve left for future generations to watch, analyze, and most importantly, laugh at.

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James Cross

Written by James Cross

James Cross, an enigmatic writer from the historic city of Boston. James' writing delves into mysteries, true crime, and the unexplained, crafting compelling narratives that keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. His viral articles, blog posts, and documentary-style videos explore real-life enigmas and unsolved cases, inviting audiences to join the quest for answers. James' ability to turn real mysteries into shareable content has made him a sensation in the world of storytelling.

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