Reefer Madness (2005 film)

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Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical
Reefer Madness (2005 film) poster.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Andy Fickman
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Kevin Murphy
  • Dan Studney
Based on Reefer Madness 
by Kevin Murphy
Dan Studney
Starring
Narrated by Alan Cumming
Music by
  • Dan Studney
  • David Manning
  • Nathan Wang
Cinematography Jan Kiesser
Edited by Jeff Freeman
Production
company
Dead Old Man Productions
Distributed by Showtime
Release dates
  • April 16, 2005 (2005-04-16)
Running time
108 minutes
Country
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Germany
Language English
Budget $25 million

Reefer Madness, also known as Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical, is a 2005 American made-for-television musical comedy film adapted from the musical of the same name based on the 1936 exploitation film also of the same title. The film, directed by Andy Fickman, written by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney, and produced by the three, premiered on Showtime on April 16, 2005.

The film stars Kristen Bell, Christian Campbell, and John Kassir reprising their stage roles, with the notable addition of Alan Cumming and Ana Gasteyer in other lead roles, with Campbell's sister Neve making a cameo appearance as Miss Poppy. Robert Torti, who played the characters of both Jack and Jesus onstage, portrays only the latter in this version.

Plot[edit]

The Lecturer tells the assembly of anxious parents about the evils of marijuana ("Reefer Madness"). With the help of his assistant, Blumsack, he then launches into the tragic tale of one boy's struggles with the demon weed.

One dark night, Jimmy and Sally are driving wildly back to the house, stoned, when their car hits and kills an old man. Sally runs away. Jimmy, scared straight, drives in a panic to Mary's house, where he tells her he still loves her ("Mary Jane/Mary Lane"). However he realizes that by staying with her he is putting her in danger and tells her that he has to leave town without her.

Jimmy goes back to the Reefer Den. But this time, Mary pursues him, planning to rescue him. The Lecturer's presentation ends; the entire audience joins the suddenly real film cast to explain how they will join the fight against things they don't understand, thus connecting the 1930s crusade against marijuana, with the Hollywood Hays Code and prejudice directed at racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, labor unions, gays and lesbians.

The galvanized townsfolk hold a huge anti-reefer bonfire, in a scene similar to the book burnings that took place in Germany in the 1930s, as well continuing the film's theme of associating marijuana prohibition with other campaigns against minorities and dissent.

Cast[edit]

Musical numbers[edit]

  1. "Reefer Madness" - Lecturer, Parents, Zombies
  2. "Romeo and Juliet" - Jimmy, Mary, Ensemble
  3. "The Stuff" - Mae
  4. "Down at the Ol' Five and Dime" - Mary, Miss Poppy, Lecturer, Ensemble
  5. "Jimmy Takes a Hit" - Sally, Jimmy, Jack, Mae, Ralph, Ensemble
  6. "The Orgy" - Sally, Jimmy, Jack, Ralph, Mae, Moloch, Ensemble
  7. "Lonely Pew" - Mary, Lecturer, Ensemble
  8. "Listen to Jesus, Jimmy" - Jesus Christ, Joan of Arc, Satan, Ensemble
  9. "Mary Jane/Mary Lane" - Jimmy, Mary, Mae, Jack, Singing Clams, Miss Poppy, Dead Old Man, Officer Sordelet, Jesus, Joan, Satan, Ralph, Sally, Chinese Man, Company
  10. "The Brownie Song" - Jimmy, Mae, Sally, Jack, Ralph
  11. "Little Mary Sunshine" - Ralph, Mary
  12. "Mary's Death" - Jimmy, Mary
  13. "Murder!" - Jimmy, Ralph, Mary, Satan, Sally, Jack, Mae, Zombies
  14. "The Stuff (Reprise)" - Mae
  15. "Tell 'Em the Truth" - Mae, Lecturer, Jimmy, Mary, Jack, Sally, Ralph, Company
  16. "Romeo and Juliet (Reprise)" - Mary, Jimmy
  17. "Reefer Madness (Finale)" - Company
  18. "Reefer Madness" (end credits) - Lecturer, Sally, Company
  19. "Mary Jane/Mary Lane" (end credits) - Mary, Jimmy, Company

Production[edit]

In 1998, writing partners Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney, who had met while studying at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, were driving from Oakland to Los Angeles and listening to Frank Zappa's Joe's Garage, when they began discussing how one might stage the piece. "So I started picturing it in my head," Studney recalls. "Frank Zappa's concept of a musical and then it just hit me. I turned to Kevin and said 'What about doing Reefer Madness as a musical?'" By the time duo reached L.A., they had already written the first song.

The high school is named after Harry J. Anslinger, the first Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics, known as the Father of the Drug War.

Release[edit]

Reefer Madness premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. It also screened in competition at the 2005 Deauville Film Festival and won the Premiere Audience Award. On April 20, four days following the film's television premiere, Showtime aired the musical back-to-back with the 1936 exploitation film that inspired it.

Home media[edit]

Showtime released the DVD on November 9, 2005. The DVD includes the original film and an audio commentary by director Fickman with several cast members.

Accolades[edit]

The film won the 2005 Emmy Award for Music and Lyrics (for "Mary Jane/Mary Lane", which was written specially for the film). It also received Emmy nominations for Choreography and Make-Up Effects.

Soundtrack[edit]

A soundtrack CD was first released by Showtime in their "stash box" press package. Mixed from the 5.1 audio masters, this version has several anomalies including a few sound effects.

On October 28, 2008, Ghostlight Records released a double CD of the soundtrack from the film and original Los Angeles cast recording. The night before, The Public Theater's Joe's Pub hosted a release party concert featuring a four-person ensemble and leads Alan Cumming, Ana Gasteyer, Christian Campbell, John Kassir, Robert Torti, Amy Spanger, and Jenna Leigh Green doing an abbreviated concert version with introductions to each song by Kevin Murphy.

The two versions of the soundtrack differ in quite a few places, both from each other and from the film, but it is most noticeable during the song Murder. The Showtime CD features a longer version of the song, sans all spoken dialogue. The Ghostlight CD features a truncated version of the track littered with dialogue from the film.

References[edit]

External links[edit]