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Square Grouper: Godfathers of Ganja

3.9 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In 1979, the U.S. Customs Service reported that 87% of all marijuana seizures in the U.S. were made in the South Florida area. Due to the region's 5,000 miles of coast and coastal waterways and close proximity to the Caribbean and Latin America, South Florida was a pot smuggler's paradise. In sharp contrast to the brazenly violent cocaine cowboys of the 1980s, Miami's marijuana smugglers were cooler, calmer, and typically nonviolent. Square Grouper paints a vivid portrait of Miami's pot smuggling culture in the '70s and '80s and its major players: the smuggling Black Tuna Gang, the pot dealing Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church and the tiny fishing village Everglades City.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: n, a
  • Directors: Billy Corben, Alfred Spellman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 19, 2011
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004L9GLPE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,210 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Square Grouper: Godfathers of Ganja" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I've been waiting to see "Square Grouper" since I first heard that Billy Corben (Cocaine Cowboys 1 & 2, Raw Deal) was directing the documentary. I became a Corben fan with "Cocaine Cowboys" and I've enjoyed all of his documentaries so far. What Corben does so well in his documentaries is that he infuses current footage and interviews from the actual people involved in the "crimes" with older archived footage and news broadcasts. These factors give his films such a realistic and edgy feel, not to mention authenticity provided by the first-hand sources including the "criminals", police, lawyers and FBI.

Knowing Corben's style, I went in to this film expecting "Cocaine Cowboys" with marijuana. This film is different though. It presents three separate stories, all set in the state of Florida (naturally, being a Corben film). The main difference in "Square Grouper" is that the pace isn't as fast as "Cocaine Cowboys". Much more mellow, yet still informative and imaginative. I find this fact very befitting the subject matter (or should I say, substance matter?).

The first story is about The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, who believe that marijuana is a sacrament, and the ensuing smuggling charges dropped on them. This part of the film examines the government's stand against a church centered around ganja. The media labeled them as a cult, they saw themselves as nothing but a church. Inevitably, the police become involved. The film begins with a verse from the Bible: "Behold I have given you every green herb bearing seed..." (Genesis 1:29) and I think this is a very important thing to consider for people who are against legalization (if you are a religious person).
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is the three pronged tale of Marijuana Smuggling in South Florida. The Movie is a classic Billy Corben (Cocaine Cowboys, The U) documentary. He is a Miami native and a graduate of The University of Miami.

This, to me is part of Corben's documentaries giving Florida a much needed unique identity. Not just the vacation place for New Yorkers,or a drug state (despite the two documentaries!). Obviously this is not what the movie is about, it is about the stories of 3 communities in South Florida and how they brought in dope, and how it affected them and their communities. He starts in Miami with Ethiopian Coptic Church, a very country part of the Everglades City that was dramatically changed economically by the enterprise and the Black Tuna Gang. The reason for the title is revealed in the movie if you do not get the reference.

If you are interested in drug trafficking, South Florida, good documentaries or Corben's work, you HAVE TO watch this.
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Billy Corban is on my top ten favorite documentary filmmaker lists. He knows how to weave an interesting story. Documentaries need not be boring and when you watch this film you become transfixed. I know when I'm hooked is when I stop looking at all the good production stuff and just want to know what happened next.
I honestly had no idea what a square grouper was. Even when I went to the Tiki Bar in Jupiter.
Watch the film and find out you won't be sorry.
and to the two people that have my two copies that I bought - please return them.
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Format: DVD
In the 1970s, Floridians called the many bales of pot that were adrift in the ocean "square grouper." The new documentary, Square Grouper, tells three different stories about Florida's 1970s pot culture. The three stories are good - but vary in quality.

The first concerns the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, which started when a hippie traveled to Jamaica in search of pot. Eventually, this led to a network of hippies who claimed the herb as a sacrament. They bought a huge house in Miami Beach (to the consternation of their neighbors) and appeared on "60 Minutes" in 1979. This story is amazing - you can't make this up.

The second vignette was the sole disappointment. It concerns a group of pot dealers known as the Black Tuna gang. The former dealers are not contrite (about dealing, planning to "take care of" a judge, and trying to bribe a juror). In fact, they blame all of their problems on a government vendetta. The story is interesting, but I didn't like the Black Tuna people.

The final story sets the film back on course. Deep in Florida's backwaters lies the tiny fishing village of Everglade City. After the local fishing industry collapsed, many of the townspeople became involved in transporting pot; in fact, so many became transporters that - at one time - 80 percent of the men in the town were in the corrections system. Again, there are good stories - particularly about how the good ol' boys spent the money that they made dealing.

While I'm not crazy about the Black Tuna segment, Square Grouper is well worth watching.
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By X on April 29, 2013
Format: DVD
Helps show that the "war on drugs" is an absolute joke and a failure. Many of these non-violent offenders did decades of prison time for a PLANT THAT GROWS IN THE WILD. The first group of smugglers portrayed, Coptic Church, were letting the children smoke their weed and thus should have been prosecuted for this over anything else but overall, the remainder of the people were just ordinary folks with families that certainly did not deserve the treatment they received by a worthless government agency (DEA).
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