Inspired by the 1936 anti-marijuana propaganda film, Reefer Madness is a musical by Showtime. The film stars Steven Weber as Jack, Ana Gasteyer as Mae, John Kassir as Ralph, Amy Spanger as Sally, Neve Campbell as Miss Poppy, and Robert Torti as Jesus. The film was a pretty fun watch especially if you enjoy musicals.
Directed by Andy Fickman from the screenplay by Kevin Murphy & Dan Studney based on their musical stage play, the three men also serve as the film’s executive producers. Reefer Madness< ...i> is musical that works best if you have a knowledge of the original subject. The basic story of Reefer Madness remains basically the same as the 1936 version, although now Bill and Jimmy are combined so the kid in trouble is now Jimmy “the Cannibis Killer” Harper (Christian Campbell).
One of the brighter moments in the film sees an audience member taking exception to a wild claim that the narrator has made. The production numbers in the film are great mainly because they hold a level of high interest. Numbers like Listen to Jesus, Jimmy and Little Mary Sunshine are pretty entertaining songs.
Reefer Madness is an interesting remake for modern ages. If you’ve seen the original, take a 2 hours out of your life to watch the remake. You’ll come out plesantly surprised at how entertaining the film was.
Presented in 1:85:1 widescreen that has been enhanced for 16:9 Televisions. The overall picture of the film is rather bright making a majority of the scenes very pleasing to the eye. Due to the film’s extra brightness, I noticed many scenes that had edge enhancements resulting in some overly bright scenes that made me think my contrast and brightness levels had been messed with. A good presentation here that could have been flawless if not for the aforementioned fault.
Presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 or English 2.0. Since this is a musical, I expected the audio to be very clear and easy to understand. My only complaint here is that there are no subtitles (even though it lists captions for the hearing impaired in the audio sub-menu). Subtitles would have made some of the songs’ lyrics easy to make out. A word to the wise is not to watch this film with the 2.0 audio option as this option made the song’s even harder to understand. The regular dialogue sounded pretty clear with no real sense of noticeable blocking occurring. Overall, a solid presentation minus the lack of subtitles.
For a made for television film, I was pretty surprised with the amount of extra’s here, particularly the original 1936 film.
- Grass Roots (16:00): This was probably the best feature as it focused on the main subject of the film discussing the various names for ‘marijuana’ and its usage. The feature also served as a basic making of feature discussing the events leading up to the film’s making. Definitely worth checking out if you want to find out more about the events behind the film.
- Original Black & White 1936 Film (1:05:36): The original 1936 film is presented here. A grainy presentation here, but what do you expect from a source that is nearly 70 years old. Basic Summary: 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.
- Audio Commentary with Director Andy Fickman, Producers Kevin Murphy & Dan Studney and Cast Members Christian Campbell & Amy Spanger: A pretty informative commentary track here as it lets the viewer know all they would ever want to know about marijuana and its usage, who invented it, etc. I found it funny how the director and producers found most of the dance numbers to be funny and ‘gay’. As most commentaries, they go over the technical details of the film in what cost what, some difficulties they had and the overall enjoyment of the film. A very interesting add on to the film.
- Cast Biographies: Here we get biographies for Kristen Bell, Christian Campbell, Neve Campbell, Alan Cumming, Ana Gasteyer, John Kassir, Amy Spanger, Robert Torti and Steven Weber.
- Photo Gallery: A standard run of the mill photo gallery showing some of the moments from the film.
- Coming Soon: Here we get previews for Our Fathers, L Word Season 2, Easy Sex, Sexual Life and Queer as Folk Season 5.
I was quite surprised with this film here. Having never seen the original 1936 version, I did not think I was going to like this film from first sight and first smell (yes smell. The DVD case smells like chocolate). What resulted was myself highly enjoying this film especially a majority of the musicals numbers. Sure the story is not too fascinating, but the musical numbers really are catchy and do add to the enjoyment of the overall film. If you have not seen this remake and are a fan of musicals in the least sense, you own it to yourself to at least rent this film. When it comes to a purchase, I can definitely recommend this release if you A. enjoy musicals, B. like catchy music numbers and C. Have a good sense of humor. Don’t come into this film expecting to be blow away with some logic, just sit back and be prepared for a good time.
Special Features List
- Grass Roots
- Original Black & White 1936 Film
- Audio Commentary
- Cast Biographies
- Photo Gallery
- Coming Soon