“Nothing worse than an old hippie, man.”
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 LPs 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 Cheech & Chong’s Still Smokin’, things were already on the decline. By then the movies really were strictly for the stoners.
Now after 25 years the pair has gotten back together. It started with a tour. It might have been the boys’ way of testing the waters. Would the stuff that was so hip in the 1970’s still be relevant today? When I asked Tommy Chong that question, he was sure that there wasn’t any question that they were. He talked about how once you’ve got it, you never lose it. Unfortunately, there are a lot of has-been comedians and acts out there who have proven otherwise. Still, for Cheech & Chong, the shows were a huge success. It wouldn’t be long before a new movie was in the works. Just like that first tour, it appears this new film was a way to test the market waters. The act doesn’t really stretch itself and pretty much stays with the basics. The last comedy concert style film they did wasn’t very good. So what about this one?
I decided to invite a few Cheech & Chong fans over for my viewing of the new movie. What better way to judge the effectiveness of the movie than to see the reactions of hardcore fans? And here they thought I was just being a nice guy. To my surprise and everyone’s delight, we discovered that the movie was quite fresh while still holding true to those iconic devices that have driven the act since its inception. The boys looked quite refreshed and energized. For the first time in a while, they looked like they were having a great time again. Tommy Chong’s wife Shelby has become a big part of the act and also provides the show’s warm-up routine. It seems like Cheech & Chong are firing on all their cylinders again.
The movie begins with Shelby warming up the crowd while the boys try to unwind with a puff of relaxation out on the theater’s balcony. They end up locking themselves out and work desperately to get on stage before Shelby runs out of time. This opening shtick pretty much sets the tone for what we can expect throughout the movie. While the focus is on their stage show with material taken from that first tour, the movie laces the experience with plenty of backstage hijinx. The boys are seen preparing and interacting before the various bits. When they’re in character on stage, they remain in character backstage. Then there are the two stoners they play sitting in the stands commenting on the show like the two old men used to on The Muppet Show. They also play a pair of gay fashion reporters who comment on the characters and their clothes. Finally they have their manager running around putting out one fire after another. It’s all in good fun. The time goes by swiftly, to be sure. It should also be noted that this film is strictly for the adults. We’re talking a hard R rating here because of the graphic nature of some of the jokes.
Watch This is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. After watching the bad picture that Still Smokin’ had recently, I was overwhelmed by how good this one looks for a concert film. Obviously, we’re talking solid HD camera equipment this time. It’s a realistic image with plenty of color. Black levels are solid throughout. You can’t fault anything about the image presentation.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 works as a comedy concert. It’s pretty much all up front, but where else do you expect it to be?
Bonus Footage: (34:15) There are 4 scenes here that were deleted or extended. It’s a load of extra material. I’m not really sure why any of it was cut, however. This is a DVD release, after all. Why not just keep it raw? At least it’s here. It’s just that you also get stuff you already saw mixed in.
The show is a mixture of new stuff and plenty of the classic bits like Ralph & Herbie and Let’s Make A Dope Deal. The bits have been reworked somewhat, so they aren’t exactly as you remember. Tommy Chong talks quite a bit about his jail term. He appears to be having a ton of fun over his 9-month conviction for selling a bong in Pennsylvania. If you haven’t yet seen either of the two recent tours, there’s only one piece of advice I can give you: “Watch this, man”.
Remember to check out that interview with Tommy Chong: Here