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11/12/2005 Archived Entry: "Best Musical EVER"

UNTIL LAST NIGHT, the only time I've ever watched a DVD and then immediately insisted on watching ALL of the bonus features was when I watched Firefly. It was just that good -- I didn't want it to end. As Claire blogged, I tried to get her to watch it, and after endless excuses about why she hadn't yet done so, I finally sent her my own copy of the DVDs. I never got them back (although she did send me a replacement set via Amazon).

But last night, not only did I watch a movie and then immediately watch the bonus features, I actually rewatched the entire movie with the commentary turned on. It was just that good. The movie is Showtime's newly-released Reefer Madness: The Musical, and it has it all: the over-the-top slapstick and clever dialog of Dodgeball, the insider gags of Galaxy Quest, the psuedo-seriousness of The Brady Bunch Movie, and the razor-sharp political commentary of Canadian Bacon.

Based on the same-name propaganda film of the 1930's, this side-splitting satire skewers the Drug War while poking at Republicans, racism, religion, and more. Better yet, the more you know about the history of the Drug War, the funnier the movie is (the "Harry J. Anslinger High School" is just one example). And let's face it: how can you go wrong with a movie featuring Jesus as a cheesy Vegas lounge singer? Residents of Ganjastan will also appreciate the "420" references scattered throughout the film.

The music itself was a very pleasant surprise and a source of much hilarity. From catchy pop to sultry ballads, the lyrics perfectly match with the mock-serious tone of the movie. More importantly, the performers (especially SNL alumni Ana Gasteyer) easily dance that fine line between playing it too straight and playing it too campy.

Claire (and TCF's resident film connoisseur, George P.) in particular will appreciate the sets, costumes, and lighting. They are -- dare I say it? -- "visually stunning." For the wholesome-small-town scenes, everything is Leave It to Beaver-ish: houses are neat inside and out, fresh bright colors and brilliant whites abound, and characters are starched and scrubbed. During the "Den of Iniquity" scenes, however, dark lush burgandies and golds predominate, clutter is scattered everywhere, lighting is dimmed, and costumes exude seediness. (BTW, I especially loved the finishing pose at the end of the "Five and Dime" number.)

The DVD (available from Amazon.com) comes with the original Reefer Madness included as part of the bonus features. If you haven't seen it, you really ought to watch it first in order to fully appreciate the remake. Get Reefer Madness: The Musical. Get the soundtrack (note this link is for the off-Broadway musical and not the movie). Buy it for your favorite toker (or your favorite libertarian).

As for me, I've learned my lesson. I've ordered Claire her very own copy. It's on it's way, Claire -- Happy Yule, a little bit early.

Posted by Debra @ 05:12 PM CST

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