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Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie (2013)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/23/2013

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/24/2013

Life is not a sideshow and should not be treated as such. (Let me rephrase that. Hopefully your life is not a sideshow.) Having said that, humans are curious creatures and sometimes we cannot fight the urge to investigate something. So, when the title Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie popped up, so did my "What is this?" radar. (Jack Skellington style.) The comedy duo haven't been relevant for some time and I was curious to see what kind of comeback they were staging. Was this a children's movie? The truth was something that I never expected and that I'm still shocked exists.

Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie is a new production made in 2012 which utilizes what appears to be CG enhanced hand-drawn animation. The animation is crisp and clean, being fairly detailed. That is all well and good. It's the rest of the movie which is simply stupifying. The material presented here is simply audio taken from Cheech & Chong's comedy albums from the 1970s, dating back to 1971. The movie simply takes the audio and adds animation to it. Apparently someone never got over the cancellation of Shorties Watchin' Shorties and made a movie which contains essentially no new material. We get classics like "Dave", "Cruisin' With Pedro De Pacas", "Sister Mary Elephant" and "Television Medley". The movie has no true narrative -- it's simply a series of vignettes featuring Cheech and Chong characters. There's even a scene where the pair play dogs!

Richard "Cheech" Marin and Tommy Chong first hit the comedy scene in the very early 70s with their comedy albums. They made the leap to feature films in 1978 with Up in Smoke. They had a run through 1984 with The Corsican Brothers. Cheech left the duo in 1985. They didn't have any sort of true reunion until 2008. While Cheech has continued to have a successful career appearing in many TV shows and movies, including family films, Chong's appearance's have been fewer, with some legal troubles interfering with his work.

So, here's what we have with this title. We have a brand new animated movie which is filled with material which is forty years old from a duo which hasn't had any sort of hit for decades. The result is a project which is truly going to be in search of an audience. Die-hard fans of the duos comedy will no doubt already own these recording in some fashion. Those hoping for a new project or some sort of extension of the films from the Up in Smoke era will be disappointed to learn that this is simply full of retreads. Younger viewers who give this a shot will no doubt have no idea what to make of it. Is stoner humor even a thing anymore? Will anyone understand why being high and stupid is supposed to be funny? And then we have the cultural references included here -- drive-in movies, American Bandstand, and my favorite, playing a record at 78 -- will anyone under the age of 35 get any of this?

If it had newly been a new project, I think that Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie would have been welcomed with open arms, not only by their long-time fans, but by newcomers as well, as their comedy always had a subversive edge outside of the drug arena which could be appreciated by a wider audience. As it stands, Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie simply feels like a cash-grab by two comics who are past their prime.

Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie opens with pubic lice, so you know it's going to be a good movie on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no significant grain and no defects from the source material. The animation is very colorful and the colors look fantastic on this transfer -- they practically leap off of the screen. The image is never overly light or dark. The level of detail is good and the multi-plane shots show nice depth. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. The audio has an odd quality at times, as the old recordings and the new sound effects don't blend very well at times. It's clear that we are listening to two different sound sources. The sound effects and music do supply some noticeable stereo and surround effects.

The Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie Blu-ray Disc contains several extra features. We begin with a "Joint" AUDIO COMMENTARY from Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. This is followed by a second COMMENTARY from Directors Branden Chambers and Eric D. Chambers and Producer Lou Adler. There is then a third COMMENTARY with Tommy Chong and Paris Chong. All three commentaries can be heard in a row with "4.20 Mode". (Why?) "'Medical Marijuana Blues' Session with Blind Melon Chitlin'" (5 minutes) shows Cheech and Chong going into the recording studio to cut a new track. They remain in character, but it isn't funny. "Cheech and Chong Slideshow" shows archive photos of the duo performing their stage act.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.