Cheech & Chong’s Nice Dreams (1981)

I think I’ve seen this Cheech and Chong movie more than any other, as I remember it playing non-stop on HBO when I was a kid. It continues the story of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Sgt. Stedenko (Stacy Keach) trying to catch our heroes, this time smoking an experimental strain that turns people into lizards, all to get into the mind of the marijuana fiend.

Meanwhile, Cheech and Chong are running Happy Herb’s Nice Dreams, an ice cream truck that really sells marijuana grown by their friend Weird Jimmy (James William Newport, who worked most often as a production designer).

After a dinner at a Chinese restaurant leads Cheech into hooking up with his ex-girlfriend Donna (as always, played by Evelyn Guerrero) while a record producer (Paul Ruebens!) gets incredibly high via snorting cocaine and screaming about hamburgers and new wave while believing that Chong is really Jerry Garcia. This scene never fails to make me laugh, because Ruebens screams, “How ’bout the future of rock and roll, huh? Bruce Springsteen? F**cking it all up.”

After running from Donna’s husband Animal, our heroes end up in a mental institution that is filled with all manner of great cameos from people like Michael Winslow, Sandra Bernhard, Geri Jewell, Big Yank (Rock from Penitentiary III), Mickey Fox (Eat My Dust), Bob Leslie (who is in two adult fairy tale films, Cinderella and Fairy Tales), Sally Marr (the mother of Lenny Bruce) and Timothy Leary.

By the end of the movie, Stedenko has become a full lizard and Cheech and Chong are now “The Sun Kings,” Maui and Wowie, the star strippers at Club Paradise.

There’s also a group of blondes in this movie that contains Linnea Quigley and Cheryl Rainbaux Smith (billed as Cheryl RX Smith). For that reason alone — beyond everything I’ve said above — this movie is worth watching.

Astoundingly, this movie had a three and a half page script and was instead storyboarded instead of being tightly written to encourage improvisation. Chong would say, “We probably use and waste more raw film than anyone in the business. But on the basis that comedy is the art of the unexpected, it’s worth it.”

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