Fox // 2013 // 83 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // May 20th, 2013
Dave -- and anything fresh -- is not here, man!
We all owned them, we wild children of the early '70s. We memorized their drug-addled jokes and played dumb when our parents would ask us where we heard such horrific, pot-laced lunacy. Still, in the wee hours when no one else was listening, or in those rare instances when we were left to our own devices (parents did that a lot in the days before disco), we would whip out our copies of the self-titled debut, Big Bambu (complete with some kind of thin, glue-edged "paper" inside), Los Cochinos, or The Wedding Album and fire up the hi-fi. We'd even snicker to ourselves when "singles" like "Basketball Jones," "Sister Mary Elephant," and "Earache My Eye" would get airplay on our hit radio AM stations. Yes, Cheech and Chong turned marijuana and the accompanying stoner/hippie culture into an entire career, moving far beyond any kind of cult to become one of the most subversive commercial comedy acts of all time. They even managed to translate their oddball appeal into an '80s filled with mainstream hit films.
After a contentious break-up which saw them separated for all of the '90s, they staged a reunion of sorts on South Park (though they recorded their voice work individually) and then on an episode of Don Johnson's Nash Bridges. A movie was planned, but axed once Tommy Chong was arrested on drummed up drug paraphernalia charges (it became the basis for an award winning documentary). Finally, in 2008, they traded on their significant nostalgia value to tour, eventually announcing a more permanent partnership. Now, we finally get the first fruits of this renewed collaboration entitled Cheech and Chong's Animated Movie...except, this really isn't something new. What it is, however, is a highlight reel of the duo's previously recorded album output put to pictures by clearly devoted fans Braden and Eric Chambers. Even the "new material" hinted at comes from this pair, not our hemp-huffing heroes. Still, if you find yourself rolling...on the floor with every herb joke made by these men, this 85 minute overview will make you laugh. For everyone else? Cannabis caveat emptor.
The story starts off with Chong being propositioned by some body-lice ridden girl. One of these parasites "smells" what he is smoking and thus begins a vignette-oriented chase approach. While watching TV, the guys riff on "Let's Make a Dope Deal," see Blind Melon Chitlin on "UnAmerican Bandstand" as well as an ad for "Acapulco Gold Filters." Our dudes hit the "Drive-In" for that classic bit, as well as wander downtown to see those dirty dogs "Ralph and Herbie" discuss their poop problems. Sister Mary tells her class of pre-convicts to "SHUT UP!" while "Sergeant Stadanko" is stunned by how much these kids know about dope. Toward the end, things spin a bit out of control, a desire to include Alice Bowie ala "Earache" becoming a stretch since none (repeating, NONE) of the parental material is included. Also MIA are "Basketball Jones," Ashley Roachclip, Wink Dinkerson, and anything after 1974. The film ends on an odd 2001 spoof which works, if only because of the juxtaposition of pompous classical music and Mary Jane.
In fact, Cheech and Chong's Animated Movie will have very limited appeal beyond those who already get its unique brand of brain damaged humor. Unlike Rob Zombie's brilliant Ralph Bakshi takedown, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, the Chambers have no particular style to suggest, or steal from. This looks like your typical Spike TV cartoon branded with more boobs, buttholes, and BM than anything John Waters has ever attempted. Taste is indeed a matter of personal preference, but do we really need to see an animated turd trying to escape a dog's behind? Or how about the pile of diarrhea left behind by a cheerful session musician. The opening, which features more beaver shots than a dozen Basic Instincts offers even more exploitation, which is odd when you consider that there's very little other nudity offered here. Indeed, the hard-R content all revolves around scatology and smokin'.
As for the Blu-ray, one can't fault the added content. We are provided with four hours and twenty minutes of audio commentary (get it?) including a weird one with Cheech and Chong, another with Tommy and his daughter Paris, and a final one featuring the Chambers and longtime record producer Lou Adler (he helped launch Cheech and Chong's career). All three are interesting, but the duo's discussion often ends up with mixed signals (they can't remember who wrote/suggested what bit) and a bit of tension. There is also a slideshow (which is somewhat interesting) and a "session" with Blind Melon Chitlin singing "Medical Marijuana Blues." As for the sound and image, the 1.85:1, 1080p transfer is terrific, bright and colorful without any flaring or obvious picture issues. There is a high level of contrast in the cartoon, so that's replicated here as well. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is also excellent, offering these old bits in pure digital clarity.
For longtime fans as well as neophytes who've recently discovered the duo, Cheech and Chong's Animated Movie is like listening to your old LPs on heavy rotation. Until they decide to do something new, this is what we can expect from the High Princes of Pot in the near future (yes, a sequel is in the works).
Not guilty. Like a heady buzz before a Pink Floyd concert.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Official Site