This film’s quite old and surprisingly short. It’s almost like watching an informercial to an extent where there’s a general plot but it’s all built around a message. Definitely not a bad thing per say but unfortunately you do feel like the story wasn’t given a lot of attention. The characters just aren’t very good and that’s an issue because you need to have characters you can root for. You don’t really have anyone like that here though and the ending’s pretty bad which doesn’t help matters either.
The film starts off by having a principal give a stern lecture about why drugs are no good. In particular he singles out Marijuana as the most dangerous one of all. Mainly because of how easy it is to distribute and the fact that we won’t be getting rid of it anytime soon due to how it grows all over the place. Try as they may to stop it, people have been receiving it in cities around the world. He urges the students to crack down on this and not to weaken. Meanwhile, Mae and Jack have other plans for the school. They have been distributing drugs for a long time and have now decided to start targeting students as an untapped market. This works out very easily for them which is unfortunate. It’s as simple as inviting the gang over to their place and handing them the drugs. Slowly but surely they work on getting the rest of the characters.
Bill is effectively the lead here and he’s a nice enough kid. He likes playing tennis, has a nice girlfriend, and just has a well rounded life. Even his grades are really good. Unfortunately he is yet another character with a weak will here. The villains get to him pretty quickly and aside from the drugs he even gets involved in an affair. There was definitely no way you would like Bill past this point. He really just doesn’t do a good job of handling the situations. Mary is a solid heroine but she does falter a bit too quickly when going to the house of the drug dealers. Naturally she doesn’t know she is smoking Marijuana and thinks it’s just a normal old cigarette but that’s why you shouldn’t be smoking in the first place.
Now, it should be said that there is a big difference between smoking and doing drugs of course. One is flat out illegal (or was at the time) while the other is just fatal for your health. Naturally I advise not doing either one of those activities or even drinking beer. You should just stick to soda or root beer. Anything that causes you to not be in your normal state of mind just doesn’t sound like a good idea. It’s one of those things where even if it was legal unless you need something for medicinal purposes or some kind of serious injury then it just doesn’t seem like a good idea.
So the film does have a good motive here of trying to get people not do to drugs by showing how it can wreck your life completely. Bill’s grades go down, he loses his best friend, and his reputation has been forever tarnished. Others aren’t able to cope with the guilt ad break down. At the end of the day none of the characters were better off from doing drugs and that’s what the film wanted to point out. It does so in a rather grim way which is to be expected but doesn’t make the film any better. It would have been nice if the principal could have figured out what was going on a little sooner and put a stop to it. He had his suspicions of course but at the end of the day he just wasn’t able to do anything about it which was the problem.
Meanwhile from the villains Jack was unapologetically evil the whole time as he gave drugs to the kids. He’s definitely not a likable character in the slightest but recognizes his place in things. He even offers to shoot one of the students to keep the whole thing under wraps. Then you’ve got Mae who keeps saying they shouldn’t be doing this but at the end of the day she still goes through with everything. Whenever a villain hesitates like this or keeps saying that they should stop you can’t take her seriously because she’s still along for the ride. It sounds like she’s just trying to take the moral high ground for later on but it doesn’t work. Particularly with such an active role she had in corrupting Bill. Both villains were definitely on the evil side whether one made objections or not.
Overall, Reefer Madness definitely shows that it’s madness to do drugs. Especially when you’ve already got a very good life you need to not get greedy. While there is no situation where you should pick up the Marijuana at least you can see how someone would be desperate enough to do so if their lives were in shambles. A rich kid who has an excellent set of friends, grades, and seems generally content getting mixed up in all of this? That’s definitely a mistake you don’t want to see happen. While the film has some good messages here I would ultimately say to take a pass on this one. By now I’d say you will have seen enough posters and essays on why drugs are bad in the real world so you don’t have to sit through a whole film to understand the message.