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Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie

2013 | 85 min | R | 1.85:1

Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie


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Theatrical release date

 18 April, 2013

Country of origin

 United States



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Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, April 19, 2013

Despite a few public animosities and a prolonged break-up period, Cheech and Chong have remained a force of comedy for over 40 years, which is no small achievement. Fans have come to expect a certain impish, pot-laced sense of humor from the duo, and “Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie” delivers exactly that, playing like a greatest hits album of old bits, interpreted through the click-and-point miracle of modern cartooning. Strictly for the faithful, the feature is essentially a victory lap for the pair, recycling their brand of drugs-n-fart humor in an attempt to entice a new generation of stoners aching to see such antics colorfully rendered onscreen.

Instead of a plot to “Animated Movie,” there’s a vague tale of lust as Buster, a hulked-out member of the public lice community, hopes to attach himself to Chong (Tommy Chong), who enjoys numerous adventures with buddy Cheech (Cheech Marin). As the film unfolds, various adventures commence, including “Drive-In,” where the stoned twosome navigate an outdoor movie theater with two men locked in the trunk of their car; “Sgt. Stadanko” observes a clueless drug enforcement officer attempting to warn a classroom filled with juvenile delinquents about the dangers of criminal behavior; “Ralph and Herbie” imagine the stars as a pair of dogs out for a prowl on the streets, until an opportunity for a bowel movement halts their progression; the classic skit “Dave” presents a frantic Cheech attempting to convince zonked pal Chong to let him inside their locked apartment; “Let’s Make a Pot Deal” inspects Bob Bitchin’s quest to win an enormous amount of hash and weed from a game show, trying to avoid cops hiding behind prize doors; and “Cruisin’” traces the origin story of our heroes, as Cheech picks up a hitchhiking Chong, plying his newfound friend with joints until a possible police presence in the rear-view mirror forces the stranger to ingest every chemical in sight.

Cheech and Chong have enjoyed a monumentally uneven film career, with a hit (1978’s “Up in Smoke”) to help shoo away the stench of their lesser efforts (including 1982’s “Things Are Tough All Over”). It’s difficult to tell what purpose “Animated Movie” is supposed to serve as it collects classically crude bits from the pair’s early career, transforming them into cartoon vignettes courtesy of directors Branden Chambers and Eric D. Chambers. As far as I can tell, there’s nothing new about the material with the exception of a few songs and some transitional material (including the nonsensical Buster adventure), leaving the feature old news to longstanding admirers of the duo, while newcomers might be baffled by the disjointed nature of the picture, left without comedic history to successfully compute the onslaught of drug ingestion situations and bodily function humor.

The Chambers do their best to enliven the familiar jokes, using a low-budget computer animation approach to visualize the madness, creating pleasingly exaggerated character designs and fluid movement, though the picture is missing texture and painstaking artistry once common to the genre. Following Cheech and Chong’s lead, “Animated Movie” is filled with sophomoric humor, only instead of employing theater of the mind, the Chambers are tasked with turning sequences built around farts and fecal matter into screen excitement. It’s low-brow stuff to begin with, yet “Animated Movie” makes the experience even more unpleasant, forced to watch gross-out sounds become gross-out cinema, which dilutes the natural chemistry of the stars, watching their ace timing and interplay placed on the back burner. Endeavoring to make an R-rated representation of Cheech and Chong for the animated realm, the Chambers emphasize the wrong elements of the humor, madly trying to keep the work as juvenile as possible.

There have been vague threats of a new Cheech and Chong film for a decade now, but what’s actually clawed its way to the big screen is a mere rehash of old business. Perhaps some will be excited by the prospect of watching “Earache My Eye” transformed into a surreal musical number (again) or seeing commercial parodies (including “Empire Hancock”) explored with gruesome detail. However, I suspect those most interested in the latest release from the iconic comedy duo will be most disappointed to learn that “Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie” is nothing more than repetition, with a fresh emphasis on the disgusting instead of the uproarious.

Starring: Tommy Chong, Cheech Marin
Directors: Branden Chambers, Eric D. Chambers

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