Lisa Schwarzbaum
June 16, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Grass

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
78 minutes
performer
Woody Harrelson
director
Ron Mann
genre
Documentary

We gave it a B

The quality of Grass, a funky history of American marijuana culture by groovy Canadian filmmaker Ron Mann (Comic Book Confidential), may be lost on the faithful to which it preaches. This jovial tour through changing attitudes toward cannibis is so plugged into pothead logic that the opening credits are rerun at the end.

But unlike the unintentional hilarity of the crazed and crummy 1936 ”warning” diatribe Reefer Madness, Grass is actually a well-shaped joint. Mann lovingly lingers on the pursed-lipped career of Harry Anslinger, the government’s first antidrug administrator. Yet rather than just giggling at Anslinger’s increasingly apoplectic crusade (Smoking grass causes insanity! It causes communism!), Mann’s prance through the decades is also an alert history of hipsterism and its middle-class dilution into hipsterism-lite. For emphasis, hemp promoter and middle-class celebrity Woody Harrelson narrates. Cheers. B

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