tek's rating:

Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical, on Showtime
IMDb; Showtime (archive); TV Tango; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play

This is a 2005 TV movie based on a stage musical (first performed in 1998), which itself was based on the 1936 movie Reefer Madness. The original was... I think... originally supposed to be a propaganda/educational film against the use of marijuana, though it became more of a comedy, enjoyed... I think... primarily by users of marijuana. It's included as a bonus feature on the DVD of the TV movie, and I must say... it's pretty ridiculous. Definitely fun to watch ironically, even if you don't smoke the stuff. The 2005 movie (and the musical) more or less follows the basic plot of the original film, though there are some definite changes to the story (as well as the obvious addition of song-and-dance numbers). And of course, this version is unquestionably played for laughs. Anyway... yeah, it's pretty much hilarious, and the songs are great fun, and the cast is awesome. The sets and wardrobe and dialog and everything is pretty awesome.

So, it's set in 1936. A lecturer comes to a small town high school one night, to present a film about the dangers of marijuana, which is watched by local parents. (The lecturer, played by Alan Cumming, also appears in various roles throughout the film he's screening. And the film is occasionally interrupted for scenes in the classroom, with interaction between the lecturer and the parents.) The film is about a high school student named Jimmy Harper, a very normal, decent, 1930s kinda all-American boy-next-door type. He's got a girlfriend named Mary Lane (Kristen Bell). But he gets conned by a reefer pusher named Jack (Steven Weber), and quickly becomes addicted to marijuana. Of course his whole personality and his behavior immediately completely change for the worse. Jack lives at the home of a woman named Mae (Ana Gasteyer), who I guess is his girlfriend, though he's rather abusive toward her. She helps him push the weed, though she's clearly not happy about it. She just accepts everything he does because she's addicted to the stuff, herself. There are any number of other addicts who spend time there, but the main ones are a woman named Sally and a guy named Ralph. Of course they're both obviously nuts because of their use of the drug.

Well... I don't really want to say any more about the plot, just that things get progressively worse for everyone as the story, you know, progresses. And I must reiterate that the movie works on pretty much every level... as a musical, as an absurdist comedy, as an over-the-top period piece (the movie is full not only of '30s slang, but also tongue-in-cheek clichés of how people supposedly talked and acted in that era), and perhaps even as a cautionary tale against ridiculously exaggerated cautionary tales (of course the way pot-smokers are portrayed in the movie bears no resemblance to pot-smokers in real life, and there are even allusions to the era's other types of witch hunts, most notably about communism). But mostly it's just a hell of a lot of jaw-dropping fun.


TV movies index
musicals