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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will Jimmy Harper choose Mary Jane over Mary Lane?
"Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical" is a meta-musical, because unlike "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" it works best based upon your knowledge of the original cinematic text, anti-drug propaganda, and certain aspects of 20th century American history. In the 1936 film "Reefer Madness" a school principal tells a group of parents the cautionary tale of two high school kids,...
Published on November 12, 2005 by Lawrance M. Bernabo

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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just what I thought.
this DVD was okay. Given the title, i didn't expect much, but there were some surprisingly great vocal performances despite the really lame plot. Not a bad film to watch, but probably only once!
Published on January 7, 2009 by A. Robidoux


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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will Jimmy Harper choose Mary Jane over Mary Lane?, November 12, 2005
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This review is from: Reefer Madness - The Movie Musical (DVD)
"Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical" is a meta-musical, because unlike "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" it works best based upon your knowledge of the original cinematic text, anti-drug propaganda, and certain aspects of 20th century American history. In the 1936 film "Reefer Madness" a school principal tells a group of parents the cautionary tale of two high school kids, Bill Harper and Mary Lane, who attend a party at the apartment of shady adults Jack and Mae where joints are given away free to get the kids hooked. Mary's kid brother Jimmy runs somebody down high on weed and Jack ends up framing Bill for shooting Mary.

For "Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical" the story remains basically the same, although now the Bill and Jimmy are combined so the kid in trouble is now Jimmy "the Cannibis Killer" Harper (Christian Campbell), which is an economical change. But the more significant change is that instead of an academic figure the lecture is now given by a person (Alan Cumming) with obvious but unnamed connections to the forces of government who are overly concerned with the need for vigilance. Although much is made of William Randolph Heart's efforts to stomp our marijuana because hemp producers threatened his logging interests, the lecturer is decidedly a figure of the 1950s in terms of fear mongering, casting aspirations regarding patriotism, and emphasizing decency. One of the best elements in the film's satire has an audience member taking exception to some wild claim that the lecturer has made. But every time Mr. Kochinski (Stephen E. Miller) finds something far fetched, the lecturer hits back by quoting cold hard "facts" from Heart's newspaper.

For me the part where I knew that creators Kevin Murjphy and Dan Studney were cooking with grass in this one was when they took the scene from early in the original, where Jimmy and Mary are doing their adolescent take on some lines from "Romeo & Juliet," and turn it into a running joke because Mary (Kristin Bell) is a blonde this time, which means she does not know it is a tragedy and keeps hoping that she and Jimmy end up with the same sort of happy ending Shakespeare wrote about (Jimmy assures her they have six kids). Bell provides the standout performance in the musical, which surprised me a bit because she was so lackluster at the Emmy Awards this year. No wonder they make sure her character is around for the big finish even though she is dead (being happy but hemorrhaging blood will do that to you).

Overall the production numbers are better than the songs, which means you will be more interested in watching "Listen to Jesus, Jimmy" or "Little Mary Sunshine" over and over again than in singing along (there are not subtitles for the DVD but you can turn on close captioning to get the lyrics if you insist on doing so). Beyond the two leads, both of whom are reprising their original off-Broadway roles, the rest of the cast gets to pop up in supporting roles throughout the show, so keep an eye out for that. The cast includes Steven Weber as Jack, Ana Gasteyer as Mae, John Kassir as Ralph (the piano player who laughs maniacally at the drop of a hat), Amy Spanger as Sally ("She fell down!"), Christian's kid sister Neve Campbell as Miss Poppy, and Robert Torti as Jesus. Kassir and Torti are the other two original cast members (although the other roles played by Torti are now done by Weber).

The original "Reefer Madness" is included on this DVD, so you can (re)familiarize yourself with the source material (I had already rented the original on a DVD that also included "Marijuana" and "Assassin of Youth," but I appreciate the effort). There is also SHOWTIME's short featurette on the history of the musical and the cable version, and a commentary track with directory Andy Rickman, producers Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney, and cast members Christian Campbell and Amy Spanger. Throw in the requisite Cast Biographies, Photo Gallery, and Coming Soon trailers for more SHOWTIME original movies and programming. Be aware that the CD out there is for the off-Broadway show and not the soundtrack for this version.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Hooked on Reefer Madness, December 29, 2005
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This review is from: Reefer Madness - The Movie Musical (DVD)
This is a movie that you want to share with friends. One great funny line follows another, the cast gets to show off their singing and dancing talents, which are considerable. The songs are memorable. The DVD case smells like a chocolate chip cookie. What more can you ask for?

The movie is structured as a film within a film. Parents of local high school students attend a special screening of an anti-marijuana propoganda movie (entitled "Tell Your Children") with a lecture from a representative of William Randolph Hearst, played by Alan Cumming. As "Tell Your Children" progresses and those who question the various holes in logic are threatened and humiliated by the lecturer, the parents slowly become xenophobic -- shooting accusing glances at an Asian woman attending the screening, for example.

A previous review stated that this movie is making fun of those "innocent" time when people knew dance steps. In point of fact this movie is making fun of those who would divide society by creating a culture of fear, even when there isn't much danger.

The last lines of the movie illustrate this:

{SPOILER ALERT! BUT THIS MOVIE IS GREAT EVEN IF YOU KNOW THE ENDING!}

"And when the reefer has been destroyed/ We'll go after Darwin and Sigmund Freud/ And sex depicted on celluloid/ And Communists and freaks!"

"When danger's near/exploit their fear!"

"The ends will justify the means!"
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Musical with all in it - Music, Parody...let's say...Fun!, August 23, 2005
This review is from: Reefer Madness - The Movie Musical (DVD)
I've seen the movie in a special screening at my cinema and i have to say, i loved it, like most of the people, who have seen it with me, did. Well, it's a musical, so you expect music and dancing, but this one has so much more...

At first, the idea of transferring the original "Reefer Madness" from 1936, especially a anti-drug-campaign-movie, into a musical was thrilling enough for me to take a look in it. And i wasn't disappointed.

Secondly, the cast is great, i didn't see the "real" musical, so I cannot say how they are on stage, but they did a very good job on screen. And Neve Campbell, whose role was originally a male role, did a very nice and good dancing and singing job.

Well, at last, the songs... they are quite catchy. I cannot say how often I saw myself humming the mary lane song (after you've seen it, you'll know what I mean ;) ).

Well, i hope the DVD will show up with some specials, like a behind-the-scenes or Making-of.

Well, to put it in a nutshell, if you like Musical-Movies, if you like movies, which take themselves not too serious, if you like having fun while watching a movie... buy it!

I'm sure, I will! :)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Musical since South Park, if not Ever!, November 7, 2005
This review is from: Reefer Madness - The Movie Musical (DVD)
Okay, the original "Reefer Madness" film has been a cult hit forever, so when there was a musical produced, it only made sense that sometime, somewhere, someone would make a movie version of Reefer Madness the Musical. And let me just say that Showtime completely knocked it out the park. Everything about this film is absolutely perfect. Well, not everything, to be honest, if you were stoned there is no way you could possibly sit through the entire thing. It's two hour running time begins to get old around an hour and 15 minutes, but that is more than remedied with the epic zombie filled ending. Yes, that's right, I said zombies.

Honestly, if you are reading this review, it means you are at least somewhat interested in this DVD and if you're somewhat interested you really need to buy it. Whether you watch it all at once or in specific segments, it is one of the funniest movies I've seen in years. It's definitely the best musical since South Park the Movie, and it's probably the best made for TV movie ever.

And I cannot say enough about how good Alan Cumming is in this movie. His performance is pure brilliance and must be seen to be believed. This movie is great!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...turning all our children into hooligans and whores", August 25, 2006
By 
H. Bala "Me Too Can Read" (Recently moved back to Carson, California, or as I call it... the center of the universe) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Reefer Madness - The Movie Musical (DVD)
Dang, this was a FUN film! Not to be taken seriously (it parodies the ultra-serious original 1936 film), Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical is a breezy, musical romp which delights in poking fun at Bible-belt paranoia, racism, McCarthyism, and govermental big brotherism.

In a good ol' little town somewhere in mid-America, a stern lecturer (Alan Cumming) warns the town parents of the dangers of marijuana, "the real public enemy number one." The small town denizens are, at first, doubtful as the lecturer narrates the cautionary tale of Jimmy Harper via a film. The movie within the movie then introduces fresh-faced 16 year old Jimmy (Christian Campbell) and his high school sweetheart, the innocent, goody two shoes Mary Lane (Kristen Bell of Veronica Mars and Pulse). Then in comes the villainous pot-dealer Jack (Steven Weber), who initially lures Jimmy away with promises of swing lessons but then succeeds in getting him hooked on the giggle sticks.

What follows is Jimmy's downward spiral into the world of addiction, sin, and jazz music. Interspersed throughout Jimmy's story are reactions of the parents watching his movie as they begin to buy what the lecturer is selling and become more and more frightened, thanks in part to the lecturer's insidious, witchhunting words. And, in the end, a thoroughly convinced and determined parental mob engages in bonfire frolics. Ahh, good times.

The deliberately hokey script and the tongue-in-cheek tone never let you take the film too seriously, while the cast's exuberant, campy, twinkle-in-the-eye performances are clear cut indications that they're having fun making this movie. To me, the breakaway star is Alan Cumming, who not only plays the cold, holier-than-thou lecturer, but also several transitional characters in Jimmy's film. Alan's American accent is flawless, with nary a hint of his Scottish leanings. A stellar turn by him.

Older than 16 Christian Campbell, the cute Kristen Bell, Robert Torti (who plays Jesus, but not Jack Stone here), and John Kassir all reprise their stage roles and are wonderful. Amy Spanger (who resembles Jean Harlow here) is a good sport as she plays the slut Sally, while Ana Gesteyer puts in a layered effort as May, the dope dealer's much abused dame. Steven Weber is appropriately creepy as Jack Stone, the dastardly weedmonger. I wish, though, that Neve Campbell (Party of Five and Christian's little sis) had more screen time; she's only in the "Down at the Ol' Five and Dime" number.

The special features include "Grass Roots" (a behind the scenes featurette), the original 1936 B&W film, the fun and funny film commentary by Director Andy Fickman, the producers, and cast members Christian Campbell and Amy Spanger, a photo gallery, and cast bios.

There are no dance doubles or lip synching done here. The cast all do their own hoofing and warbling, with varying degrees of success. Christian Campbell and Kristen Bell have great chemistry when they're dueting. Ana Gasteyer has a very nice voice. The over the top musical numbers vary from ho-hum to decent to show-stoppingly stunning. Standouts are the title song "Reefer Madness," the bubbly "Romeo and Juliet," "Down at the Ol' Five and Dime" (kind of an homage to Good News), and another Jimmy and Mary duet "Loved By Mary Lane" (which the cast laughingly describes as the "whitest, whitest people on earth" doing Apollo theatre).

But my two favorite numbers are the tasteless but hilarious animated Brownie song (in which Jimmy humps a brownie) and the very sacrilegious but, again, hilarious "Listen to Jesus, Jimmy," in which a Jesus gone Vegas tries in vain to get Jimmy to mend his ways. The lyrics are awful, yet I couldn't stop laughing:

"Thou shalt heed this holy omen;
stop indulging like a Roman.
All the sermons say you gotta...
trust the man with the stigmata."
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen to Jesus, Jimmy, March 24, 2006
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This review is from: Reefer Madness - The Movie Musical (DVD)
The first time I was exposed to "Reefer Madness" was the original 1936 version, during a Social Deviance class at Miami (ohio). The professor showed it as an example of political extremism, and because she thought it was hysterical. I have to agree. Then, about a year ago, showtime started running this new version, and I fell in love!! We've had the DVD for about 2 weeks, and we've watched it 5 times already. I think it's great that there are so many celebrities involved in the project, and the creativity is out of this world.

The music is fun and campy, and "Listen to Jesus, Jimmy," will make you laugh until you're crying. ("I'm the posterboy for Easter!!")

If you're into this kind of thing, you will *love love love* this movie. The original version is included as a special feature, which is great to show anyone who hasn't seen it.

TELL YOUR CHILDREN, IT'S REEFER MADNESS!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie!, January 23, 2006
This review is from: Reefer Madness - The Movie Musical (DVD)
I will let you see the other excellent reviews for this film for a synopsis of the plot. I just wanted to add an "amen" to the people who appreciated this terrifically funny film for what it is--and to add:

Don't forget the bonus features that are part of this DVD. If you haven't seen the 1936 original, it is there in full and worth a look. You'll see that the musical is, surprisingly, not much more campy and "over the top" than the bit of 1936 stupidity that inspired it. In fact, the original just BEGGED to be parodied. Three cheers to the writers, producers and cast (of stage and screen) who took it on and did such a terrific job!

And please don't forget to view the "Grass Roots" feature in the bonus material. In it you will learn how the original RM sprang into being after 3 American corporate giants (Hurst, DuPont and Mellon) conspired to link the harmless hemp industy to the "demon narcotic" marijuana (or marihuana, if you prefer) and create a nationwide scare about it so as to eliminate the profits hemp would cost them: paper production (Hurst), fabric manufacturing (DuPont) and profits for all three (Mellon was the banker for Hurst and DuPont). So together, the put together efforts to pass legislation to make hemp illegal to further their own interests at the economical--and some might say emotional--expense of the rest of Americans. (HMMM The more things change....)

Oh, and I can't say enough about all the brilliant performances. (The casting crew need a cheer all their own.) I was actually entranced by the dance routine performed by Neve Campbell and Jim Weber. If you check out the bonus features, you learn that this dance was actually made illegal in the USA because of the number of dancers who literally broke their necks trying to perform it. If you see it, you'll have no trouble believing that.

This movie is also a very timely wake-up call about the dangers of complaisance and blind acceptance of government "spin." And it entertains you and makes you laugh at the same time. If that doesn't constitute a total package, I don't know what does.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I adore Reefer Madness!, September 17, 2005
This review is from: Reefer Madness - The Movie Musical (DVD)
Ok, so telling people Reefer Madness is one of my favorite movies gets me a few looks, to be sure. But it really is a great movie - it's a parody of a 1930's propaganda film. The story line is pretty similar to the original, which shows you how ridiculous the original was! I cannot count the times I have had one or more of the songs stuck in my head. This satire is so funny, with good choreography and WONDERFUL music. The lyrics are to die for! A movie that includes singing oysters, seductive brownies, and "Romeo AND Juliet" is one that should be included in any collection! It sounds a little bizarre, and it is, but it's so worth watching. It's also a bit raunchy (there isn't a song called "The Orgy" for nothing), so I wouldn't watch it with kids (or parents).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It took long enough Showtime!, November 10, 2005
By 
Bad Willow (Sunnydale,USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Reefer Madness - The Movie Musical (DVD)
This past spring I watched this on Showtime and I wasn't dissapointed.When it was good it was great! I wanted the DVD but then I found out it wouldn't be released on DVD until November.I had to wait about seven months!
I don't recommend this as a total substitution for the original...more like an add on pack.

For me the best parts were the 5 way chant,
"Listen To Jesus Jimmy"
and "Shakespeare"

The movie is purposely campy,which makes it hilarious.It should have been shorter though. (I think about thirty minutes should have been trimmed off before it's initial Showtime release.)

Final/Parting Thoughts:Give it a chance (the DVD),it's very funny and memorable at points despite it's long running time.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hair meets pot, November 11, 2005
By 
chicoer2003 "chicoer2003" (Fresno, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Reefer Madness - The Movie Musical (DVD)
Reefer Madess - the musical is great. It's better than the original (though really different) It's a funny satire of America's present and past. The great cast provide excellent singing (after all they're actors)

So much to like about this orignal and inventive spin on an American classic.
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Reefer Madness - The Movie Musical
Reefer Madness - The Movie Musical by Andy Fickman (DVD - 2005)
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