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Woody Harrelson narrates on a very interesting and highly informative
documentary on the history of US law and drug policy regarding the
highly controversial substance cannabis. Highly entertaining and witty
with a vast collection of clips and videotapes of politicians,
musicians and pot parties. Yet again, the US government has egg on its
face as the amount of money spent on the war on marijuana rises, along
with the amount of people using it. Exposing some of the blatant
ignoring of government reports and findings, Grass moves along a good
pace and doesn't get too carried away at any point with statements of
how great cannabis, mostly just the facts. However, there is a lot more
to the plant that has obviously not been included, as the film focuses
around the efforts made by the US government only, and not cannabis as
Definitely an interesting film, with lots to learn from it, but by no means the definitive word on cannabis.
I'm pretty damn sure this has to be one of the most well made, enjoyable and successful documentaries I've ever seen in my life. If you get a chance to watch "Grass" don't make the mistake of missing it. You will naturally love it if you're a sworn pothead but I think people who are strongly against cannabis should be the first ones to check this one out. "Grass" may not change your opinions about the stuff but it will probably give you some new views to look at it. Best of all, incredibly interesting archive material makes "Grass" funny, fascinating and entertaining experience for everyone. Those final words (after end credits) are just terrific! Basically "Grass" tells how much money war against marijuana has cost and raises the big question: was it really all worth it? I think not. Watch "Grass" yourself and make up your own mind.
I watched this right after completing a research paper on marijuana
policy, and it was certainly a nice break after working entirely out of
dry text. Much easier on the eyes than hundreds of pages of tiny type.
There certainly is a lot of stuff this movie left out, including some of the funnier things (such as the marijuana murder trials of 1938, or the 120-second Congressional hearings for the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act), but it definitely gets the point across in a colorful, often rather silly way complete with movie clips, weird songs, goofy video-game graphics, old-ranting-politician footage, and some of the more ludicrous public service announcements. The cultural bent makes it much less dry than most of the strictly historical, legal and political reading I've done, which is saying a bit as the legal history is pretty entertaining.
Just in case you somehow miss the point (or forget about it while watching Cab Calloway tap-dance), Grass makes a heavy point of repeatedly pointing out the escalating amounts of money spent on this unobtrusive little weed, and highlights the blatant lies the public has been subjected to over the past century by reiterating "The Truth" for every decade or so.
The only real downside to the movie is that it skipped over the disclaimer that every marijuana decriminalization piece really needs to have in it somewhere: There is no such thing as an entirely safe drug.
In conclusion, I would recommend this movie quite highly if you're looking to be introduced to the subject in a tolerably entertaining fashion, or if you're sick of reading and want something a little more audially/visually stimulating. For real information on the drug, however, I'd recommend reading "Marihuana: a Signal of Misunderstanding" instead.
A lot of the discussion about -Grass- both here and in the press has focused
on what the film is not. It isn't a documentary about marijuana use, nor is
it intended to be. Instead, it's a film about the history of the "war" on
marijuana in the U.S.
Mann's films are done in a "high" visual style (no joke intended) that is very graphic-intensive. While this isn't to everyone's taste, it does cut through the otherwise heavy use of archival footage. The narration is incisive, but it is kept thankfully to a minimum. The result is a documentary that entertains and instructs.
I was somewhat disappointed that the film did not go on in any detail about the post-1980 period, where some of the most interesting battles have been fought. Other than that, -Grass- is an excellent summary of how the "drug war" in the U.S. came to be fought in the way that it is today.
I suppose my other disappointment is that the film focuses exclusively on the U.S.; I had hoped that a Canadian such as Ron Mann would have examined the equally interesting history of marijuana prohibition in Canada.
-Grass- is well worth a viewing, both for its visual appeal and its committed take on an interesting subject.
Nice that they got Harrelson for the narration (not to mention some of the
Firesign guys, etc.).
Perhaps a little *too* boffo at times, but nonetheless a wonderful compendium of pot Americana crafted, accrued, and organized to drive home an important point; what on God's green earth drives this monumental institutional fuss over a weed?
I will look at anything Paul Mavrides (Art Direction) puts his hand to; he's such a monster, gob bless 'im!
For some reason, I'm driven to make a very generic point about this genre of film by highlighting the "inscrutability" of the subject matter. In my mind, "Grass" is in the same category as unexplained phenomena, religion, conspiracies, suppressed inventions, etc. I call it "topic candy", as it pushes the mind to attempt to objectivize the subjective in a fun and frolicsome way. Again: What, after all, *are* the underlying mental/spiritual/social attitudes that fuel marijuana scares, and a kind of concentrated paternalism that makes state socialism look like mom 'n' pop free enterprise by comparison? And attempts by films like "Grass" to attack these kinds of topics is a high-risk game. When you tackle a subject which is, after all, a mental state, you risk appearing irrationally predisposed, but at the same time stand the chance of turning over a rock somewhere in our collective consciousness to find something that is true and illuminating. Which leads to the questions: Does "Grass" take these risks? Yes. Do these risks pay off in "Grass"? My answer: A qualified "maybe". Whether "Grass" succeeds or not isn't as important to me as the fact that it takes those risks. That's really how I feel. And, maybe, that willingness to put things out "on the line" is a kind of success in itself.
If you are a fan of edgy sonics and graphics and have an interest in U.S. anti-drug hysteria, take the time to watch this film. It'll teach you a *few* things you may not have known before. And its highlighting of the mounting national expense for the drug war (fiscal and social) *will* give you serious pause....
'Grass' is a war documentary. From small beginnings, this war has escalated
throughout the 20th century, costing billions of dollars, with no resolve in
This sociological piece favors one side, that of legalization, and an end to the war on drugs. 'Grass' raises questions that, whatever your feelings towards the drug, are due for some objective debate. The subject matter is exclusively Grass in America, with only occasional mention of other drugs or countries.
Grass hurtles through a fascinating account of the social and political history of marijuana in the US. Important bills, social movements, and other events are documented in an appropriately mellow manner. The production is mostly stock footage with clever animations dispersed to signal a new law or time period. The soundtrack delivered the required music; 'One toke over the line', some Louis Armstrong and the Peter Tosh classic 'Legalize it'.
While largely focusing on the socio/politics of marijuana there is also an effort to dispel many of the myths of user effects. Humorous interviews and 'informational video's' from all eras show attempts by lobby groups to portray pot as Satan in a plant. It is made clear that there is no evidence that the drug causes insanity, perversion, and homicidal behavior. Just what the drugs effects really are, the documentary admits, is almost entirely unknown.
'Grass' is not a pot adventure; it doesn't advocate use. The focus is a condemnation of American belief that throwing people in jail will change individuals private practices.
This is a funny , tongue in cheek look at the American laws against
marajuana and how naive authorities can be when it comes to
The film is basically a look at old political rants and public imformation
films on the evils of dope and how misguided they were and still
There are some very funny clips such as the parents of a boy who is sent to
prison for 50 years for possession of 1 ounce of grass who say" i'ts a
little harsh"!!! There is nothing like a bit of understatement. Also the
speech by Ronald Reagan who said "Marajuana causes insanity and memory
loss"..well he should know all about that shouldn't he!
I couldnt care less if it was legalised or not, im not in the habit of
smoking subtances that make you lose control...i've got beer that can do
If people want to have a joint , let them.Who are they
7 out of 10.
this movie is well worth seeing whether you are for or against
i never heard about this movie, was it even in the theaters? unlike most documentary movies this was is well put together and it was entertaining to watch.
if you read a lot of the books out there that explore hemp legalization you will find that they concur with a lot of the points raised in this movie.
i found that this movie did not do enough to discuss some of hemps medicinal advantages. also this movie did not discuss it's use as an alternative biomass fuel.
it's good to educate yourself and question whether we have been hearing the real truth over the years. check out the emporer wears no clothes. you can probably find a copy at amazon.com. that books discusses in great depth some benefits to legalizing hemp.
'Grass' obviously more or less documents America's war on cannabis and the
various media angles used to 'educate' the masses on the dangers involving
in using it. While the film is far from perfect, it does manage to capture
some truly interesting moments in the history on the war on drugs. For
instance, look for the funny cartoon commercial of a guy with a pot on his
head, beating himself on the head (pot) with a utensil.
Good laugh. Quite informative and interesting. Overall, certainly worth the viewing time.
Rating - 7/10
The United States of America has spent untold billions to search out,
arrest, prosecute, and imprison people who use marijuana; all the time,
money, and effort that has gone into this has had very little effect;
and it does seem odd, particularly given evidence that alcohol and
nicotine are much deadlier, that we put so much emphasis on the clearly
futile effort to eradicate its use. It is a situation ripe for a
documentary that combines hard fact with witty satire, and this is
precisely what GRASS attempts to do.
But "attempts" is the operative word here. While the film is accurate re the facts it presents, it tends to ignore facts it doesn't like--chief among them that any drug, all the way from cough syrup to heroin, can be abused, and marijuana is no exception to the rule. Ron Mann's failure to acknowledge this tends to undercut his own argument, and what ultimately emerges is a film that argues FOR the legalization of marijuana TO people who are already in favor of it.
That said, while the film presents plenty of amusing graphics and often hilarious snips of vintage films such as the notorious REEFER MADNESS, the pace is just a shade too laid back to hold the narrative together. When all is said and done, it lacks both the informational and visual spark of a truly first rate documentary. Worth watching once, but only if you don't expect too much from it.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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