The series might be called “I Love The 80’s” and the film Still Smokin’ was indeed released in 1983, but when I think of Cheech & Chong I am brought back to the 1970’s. It was then that the pair had their first success with an iconic brand of “stoner” comedy. Their LP’s sold millions across the country. You didn’t have to be a stoner to appreciate the jokes. I was about as straight as they come, but I really loved listening to Cheech & Chong. The material was about more than just getting high. It was timely, at least it was then. It mirrored the culture that we could see from our own windows and like all inspired comedy, it was relevant.
In 1978 the boys ventured into the movies with Up In Smoke. While the film wasn’t a box office blockbuster, it did a fair amount of business, and before long the boys were in the big time. Unfortunately by the time of the release of Still Smokin’ things were already on the decline. By 1983 the world had changed enough that the humor no longer reflected popular American culture. By now the movies really were strictly for the stoners.
The film is more a collection of bits than any real hard line story. The boys are invited to a Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton film festival in Amsterdam. When they get there they find that the guy who invited them has absconded with the money, and Burt and Dolly aren’t coming. There are a few humorous moments when the boys are mistaken for Mr. Burt and Mr. Dolly. The joke gets old long before the film retires it. To help out, the boys offer to do a show and get the festival on solid ground again. Along the way they charge up expensive bills while brainstorming bits for the show they’re going to do. The material they come up with is a far cry from the classic bits of the 1970’s. Most of the stuff isn’t even amusing. It appears most of the purpose of the film was to give the boys a chance to entertain themselves. I guess they figured we’d be honored to sit in on the good times, but good times these aren’t. If you missed this entry in the Cheech & Chong catalog, don’t let a glitzy “I Love The 80’s” bare bones release sucker you into checking it out now.
Still Smokin’ is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This transfer is barely watchable. The print is a total mess. There are tons of incidents of scratches, dirt, and a general dull quality to the whole affair. It doesn’t look like anything but a quick rehash of the earlier inferior transfer. Paramount is out for a quick cash grab without offering you anything in return. Any fan of the film already owns it. This print isn’t going to make any new fans.
The Dolby Digital mono track is about as plain as it could be. It lives entirely in the middle frequencies, offering one of the dullest sounds I’ve heard in a long time. There have been 1950’s television shows with more dynamic output than this thing gives you. Again it’s no upgrade, so why bother?
There are some legitimate Paramount films from the 1980’s to warrant a special release, but Still Smokin’ wouldn’t make my top 100. The dude didn’t just walk off with the festival’s cash. He must have taken Cheech & Chong’s talent with him. “You can put that where you need it, man.”