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When it comes to musicals, movies like Chicago and Moulin Rouge come to
mind. Most people loved one or the other (or both) of those, so Reefer
Madness has to work hard to live up to expectations. While it is not as
visually extravagant as Moulin Rouge, this movie is just as funny, and
while the dances are smaller key than Chicago, they are perfectly
choreographed and blend together well. All actors do their own singing
and dancing, and they do quite well.
The film is about the negative effects of Marijuana on society, in the form of a fable. An all-out, way over the top, in no way politically correct fable. You start suspecting that the writers are not going to hold anything back as soon as Jesus appears in a single silk loincloth, surrounded by showgirls. Very few aspects of the christo-republican lifestyle are not subjected to some good old fashioned irony and black comedy, but democratic values take a bit of beating too.
Reefer Madness is based on the stage play of the same title, which was fine-tuned during its 8 year run. The effects of the long tweak-time are obvious, the movie is crammed full of jokes -- from small asides to full-on audience rollers -- and there are virtually no duds. The on-screen adaptation lives up to the material, at no point does this flick feel at all like a stage play.
The long practice shows on the performances as well, Kristen Bell and Christian Campbell -- both carrying on their roles from the stage play -- do a great job both as naive 1940's schoolchildren and as uninhabited addicts. A notable change from the play is the addition of Alan Cumming who is putting in a great and unrestrained performance as always.
I saw the movie at a Sundance screening at midnight. Not only was the theater totally sold out, but all of the audience members were wide awake and cheering, clapping, laughing and utterly enjoying themselves for the entire duration.
In case you get a chance to go to a theater-screening, do it, it deserves the big screen. Otherwise don't forget to program your DVR to record the Showtime premiere!
In case it is not obvious from the above, this movie is the definition of A+ fun and entertainment.
Tonight on show time I watched the pure genius that is Reefer Madness! As musical theatre lover I appreciated the movie right at the beginning when the school play was "Green Grows The Lilacs" which is the play that the musical "Oklahoma" was based on. Not only though was this movie hysterical the whole way through, but the music was incredible and the lyrics and book were outstanding, but on top of it all IT WAS SMART! To take an old movie like Reefer Madness and turn it into a musical and a political satire was pure brilliant! All the performances were outstanding as well, but to me Ana Gyster stole the show! She is just incredible, her voice, her comedic timing, and every little nuance she adds to make that character hers! Christian Campell was also amazing! In fact there was no performance or part of this movie that was wrong...if you're smart and have a good sense of humor you'll LOVE IT! And if I could rate this movie higher than a 10 I would! P.S Rob Torti rocks my world!
For those of you who get Showtime, watch this show! For those who do not, cozy up to someone who has the channel, promise to bring really yummy munchies, and wheedle an invitation to watch it. This movie - think of it as South Park guys Trey and Parker given free license to create a live musical - exceeded every expectation for an "originals" picture. The songs were lively, the dance numbers way over the top. There were a couple of slow moments early in the movie but they were only there to contrast with the madness to come. This should have been released to theaters, but I suspect that someday it will be. Destined to become a cult classic, this film seems to have been made to become the replacement for the moldy Rocky Horror Picture Show for serial Saturday midnight airings. Get out your fake blood, your garish evening dresses, your tacky lingerie, your devil's horns and your Jesus robes. This movie will be around for a long, long while.
Reefer Madness should give us all new hope for the return of the
movie-musical genre and the sweet days of Rocky Horror-style comedy! I
love it when a musical is adapted from stage to screen, and the
director takes full advantage of things that can be done in a movie
that cannot be realized on stage. Reefer Madness takes full advantage
of its film medium while still maintaining an unfailing sense of
theatricality. The direction, choreography and vocal performances are
This awesome movie is flawlessly cast and realized. It's a must-see for any fans of musicals, intelligent comedy and, well, weed.
People that didn't like this...just don't like musicals and that's fine. In this day in age where people are so ready to cast musicals off into the film industry abyss, it is great to see something like this come along. If you are turned off by the subject matter you just don't get it. See the original "instructional" short and you will, all too quickly, understand that this movie is right on the money. Big brother government + media fear = America of today and back in the 30's. Just think back to last years terror threat scenarios and you will begin to understand how our government perfers to control by fear and manipulation. Not only is this movie a riot, to me this movie captured the essence of paranoia and "quirkyness" the first one really had. It is well written and combines the best aspects of movies like "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Little Shop of Horrors", both of which are classics as I'm sure this one is destined to become.
Christian Campbell is definitely one of America's gems. And the entire
cast of this hilarious film should be honored with a statue somewhere.
"Reefer Madness" is a pure joy, and in 2005 America it is shockingly
TIMELY since we are overrun with moralists of the sort depicted by Alan
Cummings in this film.
If you enjoy a modern satire, and if you love clever music and great choreographed song numbers, this is the film for you. If you have no sense of humor, watch something else.
Steven Weber and Alan Cummings put in great performances. Both are highly underrated actors who have brought magic to many films, and this is no exception. Alan Cummings comes close to stealing the show.
But in this film it is Christian Campbell who dazzles the most. He is hilarious almost beyond belief in his moments as the All-American Uber-Wholesome kid. That smile is so perfect and infectious. They could never have found anymore more perfect for this role: someone capable of moving from Mr. Wholesome to Mr. Ruined-by-Marijuana - and his singing and dancing talent came through perfectly in this film. Bravo Christian Campbell!
I'm SO used to being disappointed by underwritten roles, songs, plot & dialogue, phoned-in performances, etc., in most of what I see in films and T.V. lately... but THIS is SUBLIME! Though it's hilarious and campy, the lyrics are witty and demand intelligence, and the music's terrific, as is every single performance. But there just isn't any actor or aspect of the show to single out as brilliant; every moment of Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical is no less than perfect! My husband, my friends and I haven't been able to stop watching it (it was on Showtime On Demand 'til Saturday), nor can we get the songs out of our heads.... Surely Showtime is going to rerun this on DVD, and (PLEASE!) release it on DVD A.S.A.P. Do yourself a favor and catch it.(And no, I'm in no way affiliated... just a film "buff"!)
Just saw Reefer Madness tonight on Showtime and it was fantastic. I
thought the score is very relevant to the politics that are going on
currently and were right on target. It was interesting to hear the
lyrics commenting on the political "spin" that seems to be very
relevant to both political parties. Also the targeting "fear" instead
of actual problems is very representative of today's political climate.
The cast was great too, especially Christian Campbell who is very talented and very good looking as well - he should be in more! I also enjoyed Steven Weber and Alan Cumming who have always been favorites of mine.
I watched it last night on show-time and i loved it , really good for a show time film.It's very different from your your typical musical,it's closer from Rocky horror picture show than Oklahomma thats for sure. Alan Cumming was perfect as the narrator of the story,his role was mysterious and fun and he did a great job with the part.Ana Gayester was my favorite actress in the film she was just brilliant,and her voice!!!what a voice,bring on the Emmy even if i doubt that a film about marijuana will get one,Ana would deserve it,her comic timing was just perfect and she was very subtle too,I watched the movie twice and had found new things to praise about her acting,really for me she was the star of the show.Kristen Bell was so very cute,I wanted to give her a big hug all trough the movie,she couldn't be more perfect for the part of Mary Jane. One person that nobody commented on yet and for me deserve praise is Robert Torti (Jesus)the part were Jesus sings against marijuana is one of my favorite part of the movie.Making Jesus looks like a cabaret singer was very funny and Robert Torti did it with so much energy and sense of fun that even if his in the movie for that scene only,he leaves a lasting impression. The songs were very good but really only two were stuck on my mind "Mary Jane,Mary Lane" and the "Refeer madness" song. Anyway great movie catch it on show Time,I sure hope that they are planning a DVD release,I'll buy it as soon as it comes out.
This film is so much better than the 1936 trash-fest that no mere
comparison can do it justice. Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical is a
smart, funny, and well performed parody of American paranoia, using the
original Reefer Madness plot as a launching point to satirize McCarthy,
fundamentalism, race, and the obsession with privilege, wealth and
'breeding' which have so sadly marred our history.
Unlike the original, nearly everything in this production is done right. The likable characters are the good ones, and the villains are truly despicable. The addition of a decent set of amusing tunes helps to keep the plot moving along (one of the biggest failures of the original film was the inconsistent and often painfully drawn out plot), and the use of some talented Broadway players (Christian Campbell and Kristen Bell are particularly fun to watch) as well as a script guided by rational thought as opposed to ignorance (as was the case in 1936), all make this film unusually entertaining and funny (the author generally dislikes straight comedies and has very high standards for musicals).
(Sorry for all the parenthetical statements) Most of you are probably aware of the plot, so I will summarize what distinguishes this from the original rather than simply summarizing the film. This version of Reefer Madness is less a paranoid right-wing attack on marijuana use than an amusing musical which compares the pot-scares that inspired the original film in 1936 to McCarthyism, fundamentalism, racism and various other ethical pathologies America has faced in its history (and today). The film does not promote marijuana use, but does play up the absurdity of the arguments that make it appear to be more harmful than, for example, cigarettes, alcohol, heroin, etc - all of which have been or were, at one time, used by the drug's most vocal enemies.
Jimmy Harper, in his voyage from an all-American high school kid to a dope-fiend, meets Satan, Jesus, Joan of Arc, the undead, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt along the way, ending up in a lot of trouble with the law. Spurning his high school sweet heart and terrifying his family, Jimmy sinks deeper and deeper into a pot-crazed state of insatiable lust, violence and - of course - jazz. Finally, this version ends differently from the 1936 film - but I won't give away the conclusion.
For me, giving a musical comedy a 7 is some of the highest praise I can give (The Wizard of Oz, Tommy and Singin in the Rain get 9s), so, if you're into this kind of thing, you really should check this one out.
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