Cheech & Chong's Light Up America Tour from 2009 was the infamous comedy duo's first outing together in twenty-five years. The fact that they managed to pack venues across the country on this tour is a testament to their enduring appeal and to the simple fact that potheads will probably always be funny - because they sure haven't updated their material if this Blu-ray release is anything to go off of.
Recorded in front of a rabid audience in San Antonio, Texas Hey Watch This mixes up the pair's on stage sketch comedy with some stand up routines and some backstage and boxed seat antics from a few different characters all played by Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. The film begins with a look outside the theater as a rabid bunch of fans hoot and holler in anticipation, while inside, our two favorite stoners are hoping to smoke one little joint before going on stage. Of course, they get locked out just as Shelby Chong goes on stage to get the crowd warmed up. They're not missing much, however, as her stand up routine, which is basically a few anecdotes about living with Tommy, isn't very funny.
Cheech and Chong finally make it back into the theater, just in time, and from here on out it's business as usual. The show starts off with a familiar skit in which Tommy picks up a hitchhiking Cheech. The two talk dope and wind up dosing heavily on acid. It's a skit their fans have heard a million times but it's still pretty amusing. As the show goes on we're treated to basically a greatest hits repertoire as the pair brings out Blind Melon Chitlin, Alice Bowie, play a game of 'Let's Make A Dope Deal' and act as some butt sniffing dogs in addition to trying out a few other familiar characters from their career. As the skits play out, we cut back and forth between the two backstage playing gay commentators and the two stoned up in an opera box providing yet more commentary while the stage manager tries to keep everything from falling apart.
After twenty-five years apart, it's hard to imagine the two fitting together any better than they do here. The chemistry they shared on screen in films like Up In Smoke is still here and while the grandfather's of pothead comedy are starting to show their age, the humor still works. On the flip side, they haven't done much to come up with new material. You'd think with a quarter of a century to come up with some jokes or sketches that we haven't heard countless times before that they could have done more in this department, but instead they bring out a lot of tried and true material. The fans in the audience, however, seem to be eating it right up. There's definitely a sense of nostalgia that established fans will get hearing material they know so well performed in front of a live audience, and that's got to count for something, but those who were hoping for something more might be disappointed.
On top of that is the addition of Shelby Chong to the mixture. She's an attractive woman for sure and she comes across as a nice lady but throwing her into the feature every few minutes doesn't really add much to the flow or the comedy and honestly, she's just not all that funny. You get the impression Tommy wanted to take his wife on the road with him and needed to find something to keep her occupied in order to make that happen.
If you weren't a fan before this release, Hey Watch This isn't going to do a single thing to change your mind. This is the same pot laced humor and very often them exact same material the pair was using in their heyday and you'll either appreciate it for what it is or not bother with it. That said, established fans who know what they're getting will certainly enjoy this trip with Hollywood's most famous doobie loving duo. Aside from the age on their faces, the only thing that lets us know that this wasn't shot in the late seventies is the addition of a video screen behind the performers. You can see that as a good thing or a bad thing, but the fact that Cheech and Chong can still do their thing in front of some pretty packed and appreciative audiences has to count for something and the fact of the matter happens to be that much of this material is pretty damn funny, even if you'll know most of the punch lines to most of the jokes.
Cheech & Chong - Hey Watch This is presented on Blu-ray in a nice 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer. Given that stage lights can often times wreak havoc on video, it's quite surprising to see the picture quality look as good as it does here. There are times where the lighting does suck some of the detail out of the picture but for the most part the transfer does a good job of replicating skin tones and colors. Detail wavers when we go back stage or when the camera turns to the boxed seats, these shots tend to look a fair bit softer than the footage shot on stage, but the overall quality here is not bad at all.
For whatever reason, Vivendi hasn't bothered to provide a lossless audio option here, instead providing only one audio track in the form of a standard definition English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix. As you'd expect from a live comedy performance DVD, this is a fairly front heavy mix that basically puts you in the audience's seat. The dialogue comes from the front of the mix, mostly out of the center channel though periodically using the left and right channels quite effectively, with the rears used primarily for audience laughter and reactions. There are a few spots where the music is a bit louder in the mix than it needs to be but aside from that there isn't really much to complain about as the quality of this mix is quite good. Optional subtitles are offered in English.
For such a highly touted reunion tour, it's rather disappointing to see that there isn't much here in the way of extras features - only four deleted/extended scenes, a few of which duplicate material used in the feature itself. The Extended Tommy Chong Stand Up Routine (6:19) is a slightly elongated version of Tommy's solo bit from the feature, while Shelby Chong's Extended Introduction (18:57) is, as it sounds, a longer version of Mrs. Chong's mediocre introductory stand up performance. More amusing is Backstage With Red Hickey And Shelby Chong (3:09), a fairly funny in-character interview with Shelby handling the interview chores while Shelby Chong With Doug And Dougie (5:51) is another faux-interview done in character.
Aside from that, the disc offers menus and chapter selection. That's it. There are no featurettes or actual interviews here. All the extra content is at least presented in 1080p high definition, however.
While more supplemental goodies would have been welcome and it would have been nice to see more new, original material included in the concert film itself, Cheech & Chong's Hey Watch This will appeal to their fan base. The duo has definitely done better work than what we see here but it is sporadically funny enough that those who can appreciate their humor will enjoy it. Vivendi's Blu-ray release looks and sounds okay even if it is light on extras. Their fans already know they want this, but the curious would probably be best served with renting it first.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.