Blu-ray Review: Cheech and Chong's Animated Movie

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Here’s something for the hardcore Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong enthusiasts, especially those who endlessly listened to the duo’s hugely popular ‘70s comedy albums. Cheech and Chong’s Animated Movie is a new, feature-length adaptation of some of their greatest bits. There’s no plot to speak of, just a series of disassociated bits and pieces, including “Ralph and Herbie” (in which the comedic duo are actually canines), the game show spoof “Let’s Make a Dope Deal,” and several more. Utterly drenched in pot smoke and sometimes arcane ‘70s pop culture references, you very likely already know whether this sophomoric, tasteless brand of humor is up your alley.

Truth be told, much of this material is indeed chuckle-worthy, if not quite but-gustingly hilarious. Your mileage will no doubt vary based on how much of the nostalgia factor plays into your experience. The film opens with Buster the Body Crab, literally nestled deep in a trampy redhead’s thick ‘70s bush, who shows up throughout the various sketches (trying to get high). Such gross-out humor is easier on the eyes due to deliberately simple animation style. Often reminiscent of a stoned MAD magazine brought to life, commercial parodies like “Hickey Off” (includes putty knife and flesh-toned paint) are likely to bring a smile to even the most humorless viewers.

The animation is not dazzling by any stretch, but it’s presented very effectively with a strong Blu-ray transfer. The best visual aspect is the bold, well-defined color scheme. Always quite sharp, the static backgrounds and generally simple character movement won’t tax your television’s processor. It’s a simple film that looks great in high definition. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is okay, mostly a front-and-center with dialogue and effects. The mix opens up during music sequences, which utilize the surround and LFE channels pretty effectively.

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Commentary tracks dominate the supplemental material. Marin and Chong provide the one that will likely be most listeners’ go-to track. The track is really an informative, engrossing listen. It’s certainly not without laughs, but Marin and Chong sit together for a straightforward (i.e. not “in character”) discussion of the various sketches. The film’s directors Brandon and Eric Chambers are featured on the second track, along with producer Lou Adler. It’s worthwhile for those who want to know more about the actual nuts-and-bolts creation of the film. The third track has Tommy Chong joined by his son, Paris (who serves as sort of a moderator, suggesting topics and steering the conversation). There’s not much else to write home about, just some recording session footage for the song “Medical Marijuana Blues” and a still gallery.

The three commentary tracks are actually the reason to pick up Cheech and Chong’s Animated Movie. The movie itself is intermittently funny and certainly worth a rental if you’re a fan. But unlike a lot of commentaries, which can be so dull and dry, there’s more than enough interesting material between the various participants to justify the so-called “4:20 Mode” that automatically plays each track back-to-back-to-back. Or, if you’re cognizant enough, you can simply select each commentary one at a time.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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