STUDIO: Infinity Entertainment
MSRP: $24.98
RATED: Not Rated
  Interview with the Chong Family

The Pitch

Tommy Chong takes a hit for us all.

The Humans

Tommy Chong, Shelby Chong, Paris Chong, Peter Coyote, Bill Maher and many more!


The Nutshell

A/K/A Tommy Chong is a look at Operation Pipe Dreams. It was a bust organized in 2003 by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to bust people selling bongs and other druggie goods on-line. When the Feds found Tommy Chong selling decorative art glass vases online, they decided that they had a face to hang the arrests on. What would follow was a costly legal battle, an unjust jail sentence and a look at the hypocrisy of the Bush administration. There are even Cheech & Chong clips for those people too baked to understand everything that preceded this sentence.


The Lowdown

Tommy Chong has spent most of his life being mistaken for something or somebody else. I still know people that think he’s Mexican. Not the case. I know people that think he’s a drug dealer, strike two. Well, what he is? I know what he’s not, he’s not a criminal.

A/K/A Tommy Chong opens on a basic intro piece that explains what landed Tommy Chong in jail. For those that don’t know, the U.S. Justice Department decided to open a new front in the War on Drugs. Twelve million misspend tax dollars later and we had Operation Pipe Dreams. The point of Pipe Dreams was to stop the illegal sale of seedy materials across state lines. The Justice Dept. stooges under John Ashcroft’s command used a law in the state of Pennsylvania to setup a series of dummy buys. Anyone that sold a product to a person in Pennsylvania would be helping America to fight water pipe dealers on the Internet.

I had something clever here, but I lost my note card. It’s the same note card that had the Meagan Fox joke.

Chong Glass became involved with Operation Pipe Dreams when DEA agents decided to setup Chong. There are recorded phone calls where Chong tells undercover agents over the phone about the law in Pennsylvania and that he can’t sell it. So, arrangements are made to pick it up somewhere along the state lines since the customer seems really intent on making the purchase. The customer never shows or forwards any information. Desperate to complete the sell, Chong allows for the water pipe bong to be shipped. Thus, began the long descent into American madness that led to Tommy Chong’s unlawful incarceration.

The film’s central message is that any authority figure can pin shit on you at any time for any reason. It’s up to the masses to respond back and fight. Now, I know that some of you don’t see Tommy Chong as being some sort of rallying figure. But, he deserves a modicum of respect. The guy nearly did a dime in the clink while trying to protect the American right to enjoy your water pipes. He’s more of a hero than anyone who fought in Grenada.

Not quite as good as he used to be.

The Package

A/K/A Tommy Chong arrives on DVD with a decent edition. You get a home video look at the Chong Family right before Tommy’s imprisonment. Hell, there’s even a fun featurette that is almost worth the purchase price alone. I’m not going to ruin it for you. It’s a special surprise that will help you enjoy the film more.

The A/V Quality is pretty strong for a documentary. The film looks like a pastiche of hand-held camera shots with some coverage done on professional scale. So, it’s kind of hard to say that this is going to look awesome on your home theater. But, it’s not meant to be watched loud. It’s a quiet film about the many failures of the American legal system.

In the end, A/K/A Tommy Chong is good but not great. It feels like half of a film, as we’re never given a fair look at how Chong’s business ran. Did Chong Glass have to make the sale at all? If they felt uncomfortable, why didn’t they just end the transaction? Maybe, we’ll never know.

Papa Smurf needed to find a way to cope.

6.0 out of 10