Prepare to have your minds blown, because here comes some exposition of epic proportions (preempted by a little reaction of my own): After watching Reefer Madness I was a little confused about the accuracy of the story. Okay, so I knew there weren’t kids going crazy, humping chairs and killing people because of marijuana; obviously, it’s majorly exaggerated, but I wanted to know if there was any hint of truth to the fear behind the plot. So here goes: In 1936, a film was created to inform parents about the horrific danger threatening the youth of America, that threat being marijuana. Soon after, it was reedited and distributed as an exploitation film. The plot of this film was about the depths to which high schoolers will fall after becoming addicted to the drug, including murder, rape, etc.
If only the creators of that film could see all that it inspired… Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical does everything in its power to mock the fears presented in this film and make them fun and exciting, while actually creating pretty strong commentary on the society of the 1930s in the process.
Meet Jimmy Harper (Christian Campbell) and Mary Lane (Kristen Bell), the tragic young lovers of this story, representing the innocence of the generation. At the beginning of the film, their puppy love springs to life with songs like “Romeo and Juliet,” which is full of lines about the beauty of Shakespeare’s words, as well as their hopeful outlook of the long lives Romeo and Juliet will have together, surrounded by children and friends. With this outlook, you know things are going to go wrong for these two. Sure enough, Jimmy gets hooked on the reefer and would much rather spend his time singing about brownies as Mary sits alone in her church pew, regretting lying to a stranger about the seat next to her being taken.
Though this innocence is funny enough on its own, it is paralleled beautifully by the naiveté of the parents as they are shown this tragic tail at an informative meeting. A woman faints, a man is called a communist, and as a viewer you just can’t help but laugh at how ridiculous this all seems in today’s society, especially considering that many are fighting to legalize the drug. Though not everyone is for this, we at least have moved past the idea that it has the capability of turning kids into zombies, hooligans and whores.
And one last thing, at first I wasn’t sure how to take the use of color, vs black and white footage. What I was debating was whether or not I agreed with the sections of the films that used color (the educational film of Jimmy and Mary’s tragic tale), vs those that did not (the parents meeting). However, I believe that it was an artistic choice to emphasize the black and white nature that the people of the 30s must have looked at subject matter like this, vs. the ridiculous and heightened “reality” of the world hooked on marijuana. So though I was kind of iffy about it at first, I am actually glad they chose to present the film this way.
If you like musicals and/or satires, or just want to watch something about marijuana, then Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical is for you.
Final Grade: B