What happens when an unintentional comedy is remade as a deliberate comedy? Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical takes on the 1930s anti-marijuana Reefer Madness by adding musical numbers and upping the stereotypes of the original.

Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical opens in a black-and-white classroom in 1936. A lecturer (Alan Cumming, who plays several roles in the movie) is showing parents and teachers his film depicting the perils of marijuana: "Creeping like a communist, it's knocking at your doors/turning all our children into hooligans and whores!" His lecture -- and movie -- is full of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and hyperbole (like the "fact" that marijuana is more addictive than heroin) -- and he treats any questioning or disbelief as a sign of anti-patriotism and anti-Americanism.
The movie-in-the-movie is about two all-American pure teen sweethearts: Jimmy Harper (Chris Campbell) and Mary Lane (Kristen Bell). These two are in love, rehearsing for Romeo and Juliet (and she just knows it'll have a happy ending!), and getting ready for the big dance. But Jimmy can't dance -- and this leads him down the path of corruption.

Jimmy falls for the snares of slick marijuana dealer Jack Stone (Steven Weber), a slick, brutal man out to addict kids. His den of iniquity includes: Mae Coleman (Ana Gasteyer), an older woman who knows how evil weed and Jack are but can't kick "the stuff"; Sally (Amy Spanger), the beautiful temptress who has a habit of walking into things and endangering her kid; and Ralph (John Kassir), the burned-out weirdo who got hooked on pot in college and wears his varsity sweater all the time.

Naturally, one puff of marijuana turns the innocent kids into addicts, thieves, murderers, sex addicts, and even cannibals! And what better way to show all this than lavish musical numbers? From the initial G-rated dance at the soda shop (featuring Chris's sister Neve Campbell) to a Vegas-style number with a shirtless Jesus (Robert Torti) to a wild animated sequence, there's music a-plenty here!

Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical is a fun one-joke movie, er, movie musical. Not unlike The Colbert Report, the conservative view is delivered so excessively "serious" that it becomes its own joke. The cast here is excellent -- both in comic timing and at singing and dancing -- and the movie is an excellent parody of its unintentionally silly source material. (The dvd also includes the original movie!) So if you want to spend some time in a looney version of the good old days, threatened by the demon weed, then check out Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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