Thursday, April 20th • 7 pm
Come on, you just knew that the Grand Illusion Cinema was gonna roll something up for 4/20.
When I contacted GI programmer and lead projectionist Spencer Sundell to tell me more about this double feature, all I got back was an email that said, “Dave’s not here, man.” Then, with perfect comic timing, he waited another hour to actually answer my questions about the line-up.
The festivities’ big get is anti-weed exploitation classic Marijuana: Assassin of Youth. “It’s probably a little less known than Reefer Madness, which came out the year before,” said Sundell, “but I think it’s more fun (in a campy way), and certainly more salacious. It doesn’t have [that film’s] infamous ‘play the piano faster’ moment, but it does have some fleeting nudity and themes of promiscuity. On top of all the pot-smoking, petty crime, and weird interpretations of how stoners act, of course.”
Assassin of Youth will be accompanied by “cartoons that are intentionally or accidentally stoner-ific,” plus a couple experimental shorts. That entire portion of the evening will be projected on 16mm.
On the other half of the bill is comedy duo Cheech & Chong’s first feature-length movie, 1978’s Up in Smoke, which I have the distinction of first watching in secret at a Catholic middle school lock-in.
“Up in Smoke was the perfect pairing,” Sundell explained. “It’s also historic in its way as the first explicitly stoner comedy. It may not be the absolute best Cheech & Chong movie, but it’s up there. Plus, when’s the last time you saw it in a theater?”
And the reason for the season isn’t just good ol’ 4/20; we’re also coming up on ten years of legalized recreational marijuana in Washington State. “Not to put too fine a point on it,” Sundell concluded, “but the show does shine a lava light on how far we’ve come as a society. Anti-marijuana hysteria is laughable, and prohibition is an obvious failure. It’s great that so many states have moved to change that. Let’s hope the rest of country follows suit. In less than another 86 years.”
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