September 20, 1982 12:00 PM

No one has mined the pits and peaks of the hopeless doper as effectively as the comedy team of Cheech and Chong, both on records and in their zany films (Up in Smoke, Nice Dreams). Their lode of drug jokes seems to be getting exhausted, though, and the labored measures they take to fill the void this time indicate that the boys’ imaginations have been numbed. Two major devices are tip-offs to the uninspired plot. First, this is yet another on-the-road comedy—Cheech and Chong leave Chicago for Las Vegas in a car which, unbeknownst to them, has $5 million stuffed under a seat. Second, the boys play both themselves and the Arab brothers Slyman and Habib, who own a cartel of businesses all named Mecca. These sheiks are the not-so-rightful owners of the $5 million. Cheech and Chong can be amusing, but their humor is too often based on childish comments about bodily functions or malaprops (one Arab restrains his brother from killing an old man by reminding him “he has information we need; we must humus him”). The two sets of protagonists spend a lot of time just wandering around the desert, narrowly missing each other, and the only change of pace is when C&C are picked up hitchhiking by a corny comedian (Rip Taylor, playing himself). His jokes are even worse than the rest of the film—e.g., “I just made a killing in the market: I shot my butcher.” The movie’s ending sets a new standard for feckless afterthoughts; a voice-over announces that the Arabs have turned Cheech and Chong into pornographic movie stars. Where are Abbott and Costello when you really need them? (R)

You May Like