A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical

April 20, 2011

Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical

I have been told that the number 420 has something to do with drug culture. It’s a reference I never picked up because I’m so frighteningly square. Anyhow – we bought this movie with the intention of watching it as our four hundred and twentieth movie. Then we realized that movie 420 is going to fall on Easter day, and we already had a movie set for that day, so we’re watching this today for April 20th. It still works.

We slightly overdosed on Reefer Madness back when we reviewed it because we watched it twice in one day. Once for our project and once for Rifftrax live. It was quite a lot of Reefer Madness to take in in a single evening, and it was a work day as I recall as well, which means that by the end I was completely burnt out. Even with the help of Mike, Kevin and Bill it was mighty hard to get through the movie a second time. All I’m saying here is that I wasn’t completely sure tonight if I was quite ready to endure this movie a third time, but I’m happy to report that in campy musical form it is far more tolerable.

The hook here is that we’re watching a concerned parent group being shown a film which is very similar to the original Reefer Madness. The plot and characters of this movie are very similar to those in the movie this musical is based on, but exaggerated for maximum comedic impact. Things which, in the original, are unintentionally hilarious, such as the fervor with which the narrator describes the horrifying potency of reefer, are here deliberately lampooned, and to great effect. We still have the story of innocent young teen Jimmy being sucked into a seedy underworld of drug use and debauchery. It still leads to a hit-and-run accident that kills an old man (although under slightly different circumstances than in the original) and it still involves him being framed for the accidental shooting of his high-school sweetheart. It still involves a very strange depiction of the effects of marijuana use which involves manic, crazed twitching and a lot of shouting and flaring tempers, starting right from the very first puff of the demon weed. (More addictive than the heroin.) It’s just played very broadly for laughs and involves a whole bunch of catchy songs.

Boy are the songs catchy, too! The narrator sings to a group of concerned parents about how weed will turn their children into ruffians and whores. Jimmy and Mary have a great Pollyanna number about how innocent and in love they are with each other – just like Romeo and Juliet. They haven’t read the end yet but they think the two must end up just swell. There’s a big dance number when Jimmy takes his first toke that involves jungle rhythms, scantily clad dancers, and a leering goat man. One big addition to the musical that I don’t remember from the original movie is a redemption story for Jimmy where he realizes the error of his ways and tries to straighten up and leave the dope behind, and it involves easily the biggest brain-worm of a song in the whole musical when he sings about being loved by Mary Lane. (So catchy is it that one of the parents watching the movie is humming the chorus during the next scene.)

I can see why this musical was so popular. Just like Little Shop of Horrors before it it takes a cheesy movie and thrives on that cheese. When you have a lounge-singer style Jesus singing to Jimmy about the superior high of god you’ve gone into a whole other world of parody – sort of like the “be a dentist” number in Little Shop. The music is catchy and the over-the-top performances are hilarious. The completely self-aware parody is well handled and the performances are fantastic. Best of all I did actually find myself laughing out loud a few times.

I’m glad we bought this, even if it was only as a stunt for the movie a day project. It’s a funny, well produced romp with a lot of great dance numbers and catchy songs. I had a thoroughly good time watching it, and I’ll probably be watching it again sometime – even on days that aren’t April 20th.

April 20, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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