Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue!

And now for something at least a little different. Sorry for those of you who wanted a Goosebumps or Are You Afraid of the Dark? recap--but those are still to come.

What do your favorite cartoon stars from the 80s do in their spare time? Why, they run around figuring out why piggy banks are stolen, try to bogart your joint, and essentially ruin your good time. In 1990, McDonald's produced Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue--basically a thirty minute long PSA starring lovable cartoon characters like the Smurfs, the Ninja Turtles, Winnie the Pooh, Garfield, the Chipmunks, and Alf. Yes...Alf. When a little girl named Cory has to deal with her brother Michael doing marijuana, it's up to the cartoons to help.

It starts as Papa Smurf sounds an alarm when Michael steals Cory's piggy bank for pot money. Uh, Papa Smurf?

Last I checked you guys were thinly veiled Communist promoters. Please. Don't tell me you're not secretly cackling at Michael's socialist spirit and his knowledge of property being theft.

A bunch of other cartoon characters come out of the woodwork from various places to try to warn Cory what's going on. They sneak after her into Michael's room when she confronts him about stealing her piggy bank, which he's smashed open for drug money. The chipmunks huddle under the bed, noticing a metal box. They wonder what's inside.

Simon says, "I hate to suggest this but my guess would be marijuana. An unlawful substance used to experience artificial highs." My guess would have been a carrying case for his diary that would later be published by one Beatrice Sparks as an anti drug screed for generations, but maybe I've been reading too much Go Ask Alice.

The cartoon characters decide to spring into action.

Later, at the video arcade, Michael smokes pot with his drug buddies. The smoke turns into what's supposed to be a creepy looking pot associated villain named Smoke (but in actuality looks like a rip off of Hexxus from Fern Gully). Bad animators!

Smoke encourages Michael to try as many new drugs as possible. The po-po's show up and Michael's friends run off.

But the cop is really just Bugs Bunny in lecture mode who yells at Michael. Michael's all, "There's nothing you can teach me that I can't learn from Mr. Hathaway," but Bugs is having none of it.

Meanwhile, back at home, Michael and Cory's parents are in the kitchen. His dad asks his mother why two beers are missing from the fridge.

She replies that he must have had them when he was watching the football game. You know, when Green Bay lost and that dumb bitch forgot to buy the right kind of hot wings sauce and you had to hurl the bottles at her. Luckily, it was just Coors Lite, so all was fine. Oops, wrong PSA!

Cory ponders telling her parents that something's wrong, but decides against it.

Back to Bugs Bunny who takes Michael in a time machine. Flashback time! Michael two years ago, pre-drugs. He runs into some skeevy looking kids and gets peer pressured into smoking pot.

Bugs Bunny asks if he'd jump off a cliff if everyone else was doing it. "Milhouse is jumping off a cliff?!" I scream. Er, yeah. Bugs Bunny gives Michael a speech on believing in yourself and how we've all got problems but some of us deal with them. Chuck Jones, you were alive for this travesty. How the hell did you let this happen?

Later, Michael smokes pot with his friends who talk about doing crack. Love that huge Blossom hat and gigantic earrings and permed blonde hair that the girl is sporting. It's like someone melded Claudia Kishi and Stacey McGill into one and made her into an animated pot smoker (does that mean she's part Dawn Schafer?). The kids ask Michael for his money to use to buy crack and he's reluctant, understandably. (That stuff's okay for catching fish, sure, but soon you need stronger and stronger bait.)

The girl and the Hexxus knock off grab Michael's wallet and run off. No! Your bar mitzvah money! What would the Rabbi Boteach say if he could see you now? Michael chases her down, and then Michelangelo intervenes by uncovering a manhole.

Michael falls into the sewer and Michelangelo lectures him on not looking where you're going. We're going to get an anti-pot lecture from the ninja turtle who talked Leonardo into going above ground at 3 A.M. last weekend to look for the lone Pizza Hut in Manhattan because, "Dude, Domino's will NOT satisfy this craving"? It's like the time Sasha Baron Cohen tried to give me a lesson on not bringing hookers and feces to Tavern on the Green.

Next! A trip through the human brain, with Piggy and Kermit. The Muppet Babies show Michael how horrid his brain looks because of drugs. Oh, please, Kermit, your brain probably looks like swiss cheese by now considering all the erotic asphyxiation Piggy's put you through by now.

Huey, Dewey and Louie show up to give their iteration of, "Drug'sre bad, mkay? If you do drugs...yer bad."

Uh, guys, isn't it about time for you to hit up your Cigar Smokers Anonymous meeting? Don't think I don't remember the time you guys bought Uncle Donald a box of cigars and he thought you were guys were experimenting and he made you smoke the whole box.

Then there's a totally gratuitous song and dance number involving all the cartoon characters. And I cringe for the voice actors. There's no worse gig than singing about saying no to drugs for Cartoon All-Stars. None. Not even if you're a phone sex operator whose customer on the line wants you to pretend to be a golden showers loving Tinky Winky.

Michael wakes up on his bed. What a trip! Cory comes into the room and asks him to tell Mom and Dad about his problems. He refuses and grabs her wrist, shoving her against the wall. "Don't ask me about my business, Cory!" Michael warns her.

She leaves. But she comes back later after Michael's left, thinking that she should take the drugs to be like her brother. Hexxus lite tempts her, and she ponders going for it.

Meanwhile, Alf takes Michael through a funhouse/amusement park. Daffy Duck as a fortune teller shows Michael his future on drugs. "It...it's me!"

This is a shot of you right before you OD. But on the plus side, your death will result in Dr. Conrad Murray going to jail, in your record sales sky rocketing, and the documentary based on your last performance being sold out everywhere.

Michael realizes the truth. He walks back to his bedroom to see Cory about to do the drugs and he screams at her to stop. If only Amy Winehouse had had a cute animated older brother.

Michael decides to stop doing the drugs and hurls Hexxus, Jr. out the window. Then it's off to confess everything to Mom and Dad and hopefully get an all expense paid trip to the Betty Ford Clinic.

Musings on the episode. Am I the only one disappointed at a lack of Captain Planet in this episode? I've got a drug induced withdrawal fever and the only cure is more "HEART!"

Also, did Michael ever get his wallet back?

Cartoon characters who were asked to participate in Cartoon All-Stars but couldn't go through with it:

Jonny Quest


Ever since Hadji turned the sahib onto the ganja, he just can't do drug specials with a straight face.

Fritz the Cat


Yeah, no R. Crumb creation could possibly do an anti drug PSA. Why was he even asked? Oh, some dumbass confused "Fritz" with "Felix" and he got an invite. (Hey, it's not as bad as the time Devil Girl got an invite to the Georgia Fathers and Daughters Purity Ball of America and didn't turn it down.)

Cookie Monster


Well, he has become more moderate with age. But the catch phrase "MARIJUANA IS A SOMETIMES DRUG!" and his exhortations that kids should smoke up only after they've done their homework just wasn't anti drug enough.

Lisa Simpson

Sure, she was a do gooder and relentlessly into socially just causes even as early as 1990. But her solution of how we should discourage kids from lighting up while still keeping marijuana plants around to use the hemp for cheap, non-sweat shop produced clothing instead of burning every pot plant, anything that looks like a pot plant, and anything that has touched a pot plant made her unpopular at the network.