Review: ‘A/K/A Tommy Chong’

A cheeky, somewhat suspect documentary on the battles between an icon of stoner comedy and the Feds, "a/k/a Tommy Chong" serves up a biased account of Chong's arrest and incarceration for manufacturing drug paraphernalia. The 2006 release may be too late to catch the prairie fire set off by Chong's arrest, but the vid will be passed around at parties big time.

A cheeky, somewhat suspect documentary on the battles between an icon of stoner comedy and the Feds, “a/k/a Tommy Chong” serves up a biased account of Chong’s arrest and incarceration for manufacturing drug paraphernalia. While the pic’s reporting on government repression of alternative cultural ideas and lifestyles is noteworthy more than anything, it’s a blatant promo for Chong’s career. The 2006 release may be too late to catch the prairie fire set off by Chong’s arrest, but the vid will be passed around at parties big time.

Early section relates the absurdly large SWAT-type operation that swooped in on Chong’s family-run bong business, Nice Dreams Enterprises. Writer-director Josh Gilbert awkwardly looks back at Chong’s comedy triumphs with Cheech Marin while downplaying the pair’s current bitter split, then moves forward to lay out the antidrug crusade headed by former Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft that possibly used the Chong arrest to deliver a message. Chong, released from federal prison after nine months, shrewdly goes on a tour using the fracas as stand-up material.

A/K/A Tommy Chong

Production

A ThinkFilm release of a Blue Chief Entertainment presentation. Produced by Josh Gilbert. Executive producers, Rebecca Rowe, A.D. Sinha. Co-executive producers, Cheryl A. Chapman, Bonita DeWolfe, Jeffrey Gordon, Jay Tobin. Co-producers, Will Beaton, David Hausen. Directed, written by Josh Gilbert.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, DV), Gilbert, Sean McCall, Jonathan Schell; editors, Will Becton, Howard Leder, Marc Otto, Tom Walls; music, Oz Noy. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Real to Reel), Sept. 10, 2005. Running time: 78 MIN.

With

Tommy Chong, Shelby Chong, Paris Chong, Eric Schlosser, Lou Adler, Dick Alen CQ, Steve Hager, Ston D. Levenson, Mike Nasatir, Bill Maher, Jay Leno, Peter Coyote, George Thorogood.
Narrators: Josh Gilbert, Steve Hager.

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