Born in East L.A. (1987)
Why We Love This Scene: A classic HBO staple from my youth, Born in East L.A. was probably my first ever introduction to the comedy stylings of Cheech, then by extension, Chong. This movie is kind of forgotten about in most book clubs and sewing circles today, but it’s a pretty solid comedy and commentary on Reagan-era deportation politics, as Cheech is mistakenly trucked down to Tijuana and must do menial work in order to get back to East L.A. and his regular, American menial work.
One of the best scenes in the movie is when Cheech is paid a meager sum by Daniel Stern (playing himself) to train a group of Chinese-Indians to act like Mexican-American stereotypes so they can blend in after they cross the border. This is why the first words out of my daughter’s mouth were, “Waas sappening!”
Since I watched this on HBO 300 times as a kid, I only saw its theatrical ending, which was Cheech successfully crossing the border with hundreds of illegals and and everyone finding themselves in L.A., a broad smile on Cheech’s mustache.
What I never knew until a few years ago was that there was an entirely different plot in the TV version of the film, a very strange kidnapping scenario that doesn’t fit the tone of the rest of the movie at all, and is really best just cut out entirely. So I’m glad I wasn’t really missing anything on HBO.
And for good measure, here’s one of my favorite quotes of all time: