Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Reefer Madness


Not the 1938 bit of cult idiocy—which, I learn, was actually titled Tell Your Children in its original release—but the 2005 Showtime version of the Broadway musical. It premiered last night, and will surely be released on DVD one of these days. It is loosely based on the movie … at least, I think so, though I only suffered through that once, a long time ago, and all I remember is the scene with the guy at the piano toking and getting wilder and more insane by the second. The rest is a big bore, watchable only if you’re so zonked out you’d laugh at Adam Sandler.

They use the framing device of a PTA meeting in the 1930s where a guy from the government is showing a movie about the dangers of marijuana, worse than heroin, disguised as an innocent, healthy cigarette. Then the movie comes alive and we see the tragic story of degradation. It’s pretty well done, purposely acted just as bad as the original, with some really goofy musical numbers. My favorite was a vision of Jesus as a greasy nightclub entertainer. Some nice touches, including the name of the school: Harry J. Anslinger, the “Commissioner of Narcotics” that originally sold the idea of the dangers of demon weed, and thus wasted uncounted hundreds of billions of dollars and lives.