a/k/a Tommy Chong

Josh Gilbert
USA, 2005, 75 minutes

Roxie Cinema 2/04, 7p Buy
Women's Building 2/11, 12p Buy

"Do you have any narcotics in the house?" – DEA Agent
"Of course, I'm Tommy Chong." – Tommy Chong

Yes, Sergeant Stedenko finally busted Tommy Chong. But it wasn't a kilo of Maui Wowie that took him down, or even a van made entirely of marijuana. In early 2003, the stoner comedy icon was charged for manufacturing bongs. That's right! Bongs, man! Josh Gilbert's funny, breezy doc follows the case for some two years, exposing the absurdity of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's revived war on drugs, while growing into a charming profile of the Canadian half of the comedy duo Cheech and Chong.

Under Operation Pipe Dreams – a ridiculous attempt to clamp down on the drug paraphernalia industry – a total of fifty-five individuals were indicted on federal charges. Chong was the big catch, receiving a nine-month prison sentence – the harshest punishment in the operation. In the sentencing memorandum, prosecutors cited Chong's movies as "glamorizing the illegal use and distribution of marijuana and trivializing law-enforcement efforts to combat drug use." He was charged with selling bongs, but Tommy Chong seems to have ultimately gone to jail for making 1978's Up in Smoke.

With the Bush administration recently applying a strange dose of stoner logic (smoking dope = supporting terrorism) to their war on drugs, a/k/a Tommy Chong offers a timely reminder of the assault on civil liberties currently being endured by American citizens.

– adapted from the Toronto International Film Festival progam.

Co-presented by the Center for Asian American Media.

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