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A/k/a Tommy Chong (2006)

 -  Documentary  -  March 2008 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 557 users   Metascore: 60/100
Reviews: 10 user | 18 critic | 12 from Metacritic.com

Documentary about Tommy Chong's federal prosecution under the Bush administration for selling bongs over the Internet.

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Title: A/k/a Tommy Chong (2006)

A/k/a Tommy Chong (2006) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
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Raven Bast ...
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Paris Chong ...
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Special Thanks
Steven Hager ...
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Himself (as Richard 'Cheech' Marin)
Paul Moyer ...
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Ethan Nadelmann ...
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Himself (archive footage)
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Storyline

At the height of popularity of the Bush administration -- the federal government entrapped and subsequently imprisoned Tommy Chong. Josh Gilbert began documenting the federal case against his long time friend and counter-culture icon for the terrible crime of selling bongs. This film examines the personal effects on Tommy, the motivations and tactics of the politicized Justice Department under George Bush, set against the back drop of the War on Drugs and the legal issues involved. Written by Josh Gilbert

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Bill Maher: [...] I can't think of a more ridiculous diversion of manpower than to bust Tommy Chong. If anyone feels safer because Tommy was put in jail, that's a ridiculous human being.
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User Reviews

 
a must-see for Chong's fans, and maybe for others too...
14 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

...and those others, in essence, might be most people in America. As the subject of a/k/a Tommy Chong states himself in the film- after being incarcerated for nine months for selling bongs to one state- his arrest and conviction was meant as a symbol for what could be done to practically anybody. When the current administration puts forth the notion of drug use being equal to terrorism all bets are off as to who's next. So the documentary here, maybe one of the better ones out this summer, works pretty much for two sides. Those interested in seeing a story of a case about the drug issue and civil rights, calling into question the constitution, and what's done by the attorney general's office is on one side. On the other side is the far and wide fan-base of Chong's from his stand-up, albums, and movies. The director Josh Gilbert does a very good job at balancing out the facts and interviews about the bong case and Chong's stay in prison with his personal and career histories. Some of this archival footage has not been seen in years, if at all, which brings out many good laughs alongside the classic clips interspersed in the film.

It's not really 'polished' style-wise, and it is mostly filmed with digital cameras at times capturing even the mundane moments of Chong days before going off to prison. Scenes like this usually wouldn't be in some documentaries, even as this is very independently made and wont be seen by as many people as other documentaries coming out this year. But in Chong's own testimonies, both of the facts and then how he puts it on in recent stand-up footage, and then through the legal and personal ramifications of the case, there's a lot to ponder and feel from the material. There's sadness, there's humor, there's outrage, and even moments of clarity and catharsis- Chong's now, apparently, been made a martyr through this happening, more popular and more counter-culture than ever in his late sixties. It's imperfect, but it has a crucial topic that is made all the more human by who is put at the center of "operation pipe dreams".


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