'a/k/a Tommy Chong'
Not even Cheech and Chong in their most paranoid cheebah nightmare from '78 could've imagined that a quarter-century later the feds would spend some $12 million on Operation Pipe Dreams, an anti-bong escapade that would culminate in the SWAT teamstyle apprehension and swift imprisonment of the comic stoner duo's mellower half. But of course the flamboyant busting of a celebrity head-shop proprietor, co-star of the eternally kid-corrupting Up in Smoke, makes perfect sense in the context of a culture war whose casualties include satire. Chong, now a white-haired hippie in his mid- sixties, apparently didn't help his case by joking to the press that bongs were the only WMDs the Bush administration could uncover. Following Chong to the clink by way of a few well-timed stand-up gigs, this genial doc sprinkles Reagan and Nixon soundbites over its vintage stash of C&C clips for a suitably fuzzy squint at America from '69 to the buzzkill present. Talking head cum designated driver Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) aptly pegs Chong as a "symbolic target," though there's too little mention of Cheech (a/k/a Richard Marin), whose straight line from Still Smokin to Cars exhaust would've made a compelling counterpoint.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.