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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 9.68%
Average: 6.45%
Pretty Bad: 32.26%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 25 user ratings

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Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical
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by Scott Weinberg

"Maybe a few bong hits would make this thing funnier."
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Adapted from the (apparently very popular) stage play of the same name, which itself was a satire of the infamous 1938 anti-marijuana propaganda film, this new approach to "Reefer Madness" wants so desperately to be the next "Rocky Horror Picture Show" that you can almost feel the wasted effort. Full of kitsch, corn and several overlong production numbers, it's certainly not a boring little movie. But it's funny only in small isolated doses...and the music's just not all that good.

Reefer Madness is like one of those train-wreck dinner guests. It's loud and grating, it's not nearly as funny as it believes itself to be, and it wears out its welcome long before it actually vanishes into the night. For the early section of the movie you'll sit there, smiling politely, desperately waiting for the few clever cracks or the interesting pieces of insight that are dropped onto the carpet...almost by accident. After about an hour, you'll be hoping that the dinner guest is winding down, that the overbearing volume of the affair is about to dwindle and that soon you'll get some relief.

And the guy continues to blather for another 40-some minutes.

This coming from a movie fan who was actively looking forward to Reefer Madness. Since I'm a fan of A) the original 'Madness', B) goofball movie musicals, and C) reefer itself, this flick was a "do not miss" from the minute I saw it listed in the Sundance Movie Guide. Plus it impressed me that the theatrical source material had been so well received -and- that the project sprung from the brain of an old Mystery Science Theater lunatic. Cast members like Alan Cumming, Ana Gasteyer and Kristen Bell were just the icing on the cake.

Director Andy Fickman clearly has an eye for the kitsch and kook of the era that he's parodying. Reefer Madness looks like Bye Bye Birdie mixed with LSD. The musical numbers are directed with style and verve...even if every single one of 'em runs twice as long as they need to. The cast is quite enthusiastic and consistently colorful...but it's the laughs that doom the film. As in, the almost complete lack of them. Much of the material is just way too obvious: the double-entendres are single-bladed, the spoofy stuff is bonk-on-the-noggin predictable, the marijuana material runs out of smoke after about 15 minutes, and the oh-so-ironic, intentionally blocky acting performances do very little to help the film.

"Intentionally bad" is still bad, and one can only take so much of the elbow-in-the-ribs presentation before we start to get bruised and irritated. Yeah, the original Reefer Madness was a truly insipid and inept movie. We're not exactly aiming at a difficult target, are we? We get it. Let's move on.

Shaved down to perhaps a 60-some minute cable special, this new Reefer Madness could be a whole lot of fun. At its best moments it has a plucky energy and an eclectic weirdness that could command your attention quite capably. Alas, too much of a slight thing proves to be endlessly unappealing. Like many of the film's musical numbers, Reefer Madness, as a whole, starts out quite clever and amusing. And then it just keeps going. And going, long past the point where any decent listener would have politely said "Errr, didn't you just fly right by the punchline...about eleven minutes ago?"

Obviously there's nothing in the world more subjective that what will make YOU laugh, so I'd certainly understand if you were still looking forward to "Reefer Madness" with a bong-gripping enthusiasm. On the whole I found it a pretty disappointing little misfire. But keep an eye on the Showtime channel later this year and you'll probably see it pop up sixteen times a week.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 02/01/05 08:27:16
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/11/14 Geraldine Fernando This movie is a love letter to theater nerds who are stoners. It's incredible. 5 stars
10/07/09 Joise Cotton is a goddess Always entertaining 4 stars
9/26/08 Timothy Kirkland This movie was a surprise for me. A little long but it had the crypt keeper in it! Great! 4 stars
4/10/08 art has it's ups'aND IT"S DOWN"S but MORE UP"S THAN DOWN"S 3 stars
1/27/07 Sasha Soo weird, and soo funny. and yes Kristin Bell was the BEST! 5 stars
11/17/06 kk Saw snippets of it and laughed my socks off!! Kristen Bell was FANTASTIC! 5 stars
11/25/05 Debra The movie is hilarious IF you know the history of the drug war and/or pot culture. 5 stars
11/13/05 Corky Not funny enough, simply put. A valiant, John Waters-like effort, however. 3 stars
10/11/05 Lena Kristen Bell was fabulous! Definitely the best part of the whole movie. 5 stars
9/06/05 Wowie Zowie Hilarious musical-comedy. This "hit" is a hit! 5 stars
8/06/05 Zack This is a great movie! 5 stars
7/30/05 James Quinn The Music was very well written and performed, Overall, it was most entertaining. 5 stars
7/15/05 Erin I've seen this about 5 times, only once while sober, and I enjoyed it equally in any state. 5 stars
7/01/05 Lauren Loved it a lot! 5 stars
6/10/05 Charmaine TImberlake I thought it was awesome 5 stars
6/02/05 Jess its hilarious, the songs are catchy and the cast does an awesome job! 5 stars
5/27/05 lonestar loved it, loved it, loved it !!! can't wait to buy a dvd 5 stars
5/12/05 m.a.tucker I love it and have seen it six times. It is hilarious and too, too campy. Weinberg's wrong 5 stars
4/24/05 Nina Funny...some of the songs sucked, but Kristen Bell rocks 5 stars
4/19/05 Sandy Tries too hard - songs are mostly lame 2 stars
4/18/05 sam wanted so to like it but.....did not. 2 stars
2/16/05 Wilt Chamberlin Hilarious spoof of an awful propaganda flick! 5 stars
2/04/05 Ricardo Not Chicago clone thank God! 4 stars
2/02/05 Philip Taylor it sucked 2 stars
1/24/05 Polak A real disappointment. Too much Broadway, way too long - unfunny! 2 stars
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  16-Apr-2005 (R)
  DVD: 08-Nov-2005



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