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Mary Jane: A Musical Potumentary (2016)

From off the grid to under the grow lights, Mary Jane: A Musical Potumentary follows the story of a back to the land pot farmer coming to terms with raising her son and her income in a black market economy.


John Howarth


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Credited cast:
Edward Asner ... Corporate Manager
Joan Schirle Joan Schirle ... Mary Jane
Zuzka Sabata Zuzka Sabata ... Dharma / Trimmer
Shelly Knoll Shelly Knoll ... Chanterelle / Trimmigrant
David Powell David Powell ... The Rock Singer / Big Mama
Meridith Anne Baldwin Meridith Anne Baldwin ... Crazy Jeannie / Trimmer
Leira Satlof Leira Satlof ... Daphney
Ryan Musil Ryan Musil ... Manny / Cop
Pratik Motwani Pratik Motwani ... Ravi
Mark Teeter Mark Teeter ... Barry Jane
Fred Neighbor Fred Neighbor ... Hank
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Yiouli Archontaki ... Trimmigrant
Moses Norton ... Grower


From off the grid to under the grow lights, Mary Jane: A Musical Potumentary follows the story of a back to the land pot farmer coming to terms with raising her son and her income in a black market economy.

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20 April 2018 (USA) See more »

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User Reviews

Might Be Tolerable If You're Stoned - But I Doubt It
22 January 2019 | by seriouscritic-42569See all my reviews

I'll try all sorts of low budget indies hoping for hidden gems and a friend stumbled onto this and forced me to watch it with them. They are no longer my friend. That should tell you a lot.

There's three ways to explain how this film turned out like it did. 1) No one making it had more than a modicum of talent; 2) they had talent but were too stoned; 3) they weren't stoned at the time but too much imbibing the demon weed has made them not care about the difference between good and bad: "its the doing it, man, that's the thing - we don't care about quality - we're not into that label game, man!" It's not so much a film as a mess. Maybe it was just an excuse to put people enjoying weed on camera (seems to be the only qualification for many working on the film). It jumps between part documentary, with talking heads and news footage (which just gets abandoned shortly after introducing the conceit), part tedious musical segments which play like boring videos of boring songs or poorly staged numbers from an amateur theatrical production; part faux awards event and lecture where "Mary Jane" (the films worst actress) lectures or interacts with other questionable performers (some scenes that start at one location finish up at this "event" as if they simply filmed part of the movie in a tent for budget reasons), and the remainder of the time is spent with "Mary Jane" and her friends acting like there's no cameras around (a dramatic - and in this context I use that phrase very loosely - recreation) before turning and talking directly to the camera as if trying to mimic House of Cards but it feels more like the filmmakers simply can't concentrate. Very few of the performers manage to behave naturally; some veer wildly between speaking like a real person and then mugging painfully (and don't get me started on the women who think they're starring in an embarrassingly bad high school production of West Side Story) but the woman playing Mary Jane takes the prize in the horrid performance department - she goes through eighteen facial expressions just silently choosing a pair of scissors. It doesn't help that all the dialogue is heavy handed; not speech so much as recitation. With the exception of one joke concerning Leviticus, the spot on spewing of facts and stoner attitude sounds more like a reading from a child's report as opposed to conversing.

But the film considers itself a musical yet, frankly, the songs are terrible. Some are musically tolerable, and some of the singers and musicians are talented enough in an amateur sort of way (still no excuse for adults dubbing children's singing though), but the lyrics are the worst kind of lame. Either shallow, simple rhyming or it's like a bad episode of Schoolhouse Rock. Let me correct that: the WORST episode of Schoolhouse Rock. But it not only flops about all over the place in terms of style, it has an equally undisciplined, scattershot way of addressing any issue or idea. It touches on a lot of things, fleetingly at best, such as alluding to the possible environmental harms local growers do (which you would think would matter to folks supposedly in touch with nature) but they don't examine or discuss, instead sliding quickly to the basic theme which seems to be "I just want to do whatever I want to do." The single thematically interesting musical number about culpability (if you're engaged in an illegal action, however silly that illegality might be) which suggests that everyone is part of the same system is immediately discounted by "Mary Jane" just saying, "No I'm not", and then they move on as if that settled the debate.

And out of respect for Ed Asner I won't go into detail about his ten seconds onscreen, or the single skit he's in, suffice it to say he must be one of the filmmaker's friend or, perhaps, did something horrible in his past and this is how he atones for it. In fact, calling the scenes "skits" might be the best description of what is happening. Different skits by different creators with no consistent thread or overview, all edited together and masquerading as a musical. Like a college theater class production where everybody has to contribute something - regardless of ability.

Worst of all for a film set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, it makes nothing about the locals and the lifestyle look appealing. Is everyone so smug, self-righteous and condescending - or stoned? The older ex-hippies even mock the younger versions simply because they're not old school. It's like a reverse propaganda piece, and maybe that's the true purpose of the film. If you're not stoned while watching it, you certainly won't find any other justification for this meandering, tedious slice of backyard film-making.

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