Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue
Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue is a 1990 American animated drug-abuse prevention television special starring many of the popular cartoon characters from American weekday, Sunday morning, and Saturday morning television at the time of its release. Financed by McDonald's and Ronald McDonald Children's Charities, it was originally simulcast on April 21, 1990 on all four major American television networks (by supporting their Saturday morning characters): ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS, and most independent stations, as well as various cable networks. McDonald's also distributed a VHS home video edition of it, produced by Buena Vista Home Video, which opened with an introduction from President George H. W. Bush, First Lady Barbara Bush and their dog, Millie. It was produced by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation and Southern Star Productions, and was animated overseas by Wang Film Productions Co., Ltd.. The musical number "Wonderful Ways to Say No" was written by Academy-Award winning composer, Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, who also wrote the songs for Disney's The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin.
The plot chronicles the exploits of Michael, a young teenage boy who is using marijuana and stealing his father's beer. His younger sister, Corey, is constantly worried about him because he started acting differently. When her piggy bank goes missing, her cartoon tie-in toys come to life to help her find it. After discovering it in Michael's room along with his stash of drugs, the cartoon characters proceed to work together and take him on a fantasy journey to teach him the risks and consequences a life of drug use can bring.
In recent years the special has been mocked for being over the top with its depiction of marijuana use. Some have also pointed out the hypocrisy of it for being sponsored by McDonald's considering the alleged health risks linked to consumption of fast food while it tries to point out the unhealthy risks of drug use.
In Corey's room, an unseen person steals her piggy bank from her dresser. The theft is witnessed by Papa Smurf, who emerges from a Smurfs comic book with the other Smurfs and alerts the other cartoon characters in the room (Garfield as a lamp, Alf from a framed picture, Baby Kermit as an alarm clock, Winnie the Pooh as a doll, and Alvin and the Chipmunks from a record sleeve, and Slimer who passes through a wall).
The cartoon characters track down the thief and discover that it is Corey's older brother, Michael. Simon opens a box under Michael's bed and identifies its contents as marijuana. Meanwhile, Corey expresses her concerns about Michael's change in behavior. He storms out of the house. The cartoon characters quickly realize that something must be done about his addiction and they set off, leaving Pooh behind to look after Corey.
At the arcade, Michael smokes pot with his old "friends" and "Smoke", an anthropomorphic cloud of smoke. They run out and are chased into an alley by a policeman, who is then revealed to be Bugs Bunny wearing a policeman's hat. He traps Smoke in a garbage can and uses a time machine he borrowed from Wile E. Coyote to see when and how Michael's addiction started. It turns out he became addicted to drugs through peer pressure by some older high school kids. After Michael has returned to the present, he meets up with his "friends" and they decide they want to do some crack. He is hesitant, until one steals his wallet. He and Smoke chase after her, until they fall down a manhole and meet up with Michelangelo, who tells them that the drugs are messing up his brain, but they are not convinced.
Michael wakes up in his room, believing the whole thing to be nothing but a nightmare. Corey walks in and tries to talk to him, but he angrily yells at her. He comes to his senses and tries to apologize, but she runs out frightened. Saddened, he looks at himself in a small mirror and is shocked to see Alf looking at him. Alf grabs him and pulls him into the mirror. Inside a Hall of Mirrors, Alf shows Michael his reflection of how he is today, then this reflection if he does not stop taking drugs: an aged, corpse-like version of himself. When he insists that he could quit if he wants to and that he is in charge of his own life, Alf takes him to see the "man in charge". He is horrified to see that it is Smoke.
Later, Corey and Pooh go back into Michael's room and find his marijuana box. Smoke appears and throws Pooh inside a cabinet and starts tempting Corey into trying it. She reasons that if she does so, then maybe she and Michael could have fun together, like they used to before he started doing drugs. Michael comes back into his room, just in time to stop Corey from using the drugs herself. He tells her that he never wants to see her end up like him, and admits he was wrong, though he is unsure if he can change. She advises him to talk about his problems to their parents and to her. Smoke tries to persuade him otherwise, but he throws him out the window, as he feels that he has "listened to him long enough." After falling in a garbage truck, Smoke vows to return. Michael and Corey go tell their parents about his drug problem.
The special marked the first time Warner Bros. cartoon characters Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck were voiced by someone other than legendary voice artist Mel Blanc. He had died shortly before the production, and Jeff Bergman was called upon to recreate the voices.
The characters, from 10 different franchises, are:
- ALF: The Animated Series: Alf
- Alvin and the Chipmunks: Alvin, Simon, Theodore
- DuckTales: Huey, Dewey and Louie
- Garfield and Friends: Garfield
- Looney Tunes: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck
- Muppet Babies: Baby Kermit, Baby Piggy, Baby Gonzo
- The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Winnie the Pooh, Tigger
- The Real Ghostbusters: Slimer
- The Smurfs: Papa Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Hefty Smurf, Smurfette
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Michelangelo (Although he appears in the special, he is not shown on the poster or VHS cover.)
- Hank Saroyan – Voice Director
The special was screened in Australia in November 1990. Like the American broadcast, the special aired simultaneously on Australia's major commercial networks (Seven Network, Nine Network and Network Ten). Prime Minister Bob Hawke introduced the Australian screening. It was screened in New Zealand in October 1991 on both TVNZ and TV3 simultaneously. Then-Prime Minister Jim Bolger introduced it instead of the U.S. President. It was screened in Canada on the CBC, CTV, and Global Television Networks and most independent stations shortly after its initial U.S. broadcast, although all of the characters had their respective shows aired on either CTV or Global but not CBC. Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney introduced it. A French-language version of it aired later in the year on SRC as well as on TVA and TQS. The Televisa family of broadcast networks and independent stations aired it in Mexico shortly after the U.S. broadcast. The Mexican telecast was introduced by then-President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. It was aired in Spain around the same time, being broadcast on TVE1, Antena 3, Telecinco with then Queen consort Sofía of Spain introducing it.
- USA Network
- Disney Channel
- RTE Two (1994–2004)
- Channel 4/S4C
- ITV 1
- Seven Network
- Nine Network
- Network Ten
- Canadian syndication
- Antena 3
- Italia 1
- SAT 1
- Kabel 1
- TVP Regionalna
- TVP Polonia
- Polsat 2
- RTL 7
- Nasza TV
- "Cartoon special: Congressmen treated to preview of program to air on network, independent and cable outlets". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. April 19, 1990. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
- Bernstein, Sharon (April 20, 1990). "Children's TV: On Saturday, networks will simulcast 'Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue,' an animated feature on drug abuse". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
- "Hollywood and Networks Fight Drugs With Cartoon". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. April 21, 1990. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- Bernstein, Sharon (April 20, 1990). "That's Not All, Folks—Cartoons Join Drug War: Children's TV: On Saturday, networks will simulcast 'Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue,' an animated feature on drug abuse". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
- Gerstenzang, James; Decker, Cathleen (March 3, 1990). "Bush Praises TV for Enlisting Cartoon Heroes in War on Drugs President's visit: He brings his anti-drug message to Southland entertainment executives and schoolchildren". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
- Flint, Peter B. (July 11, 1989). "Mel Blanc, Who Provided Voices For 3,000 Cartoons, Is Dead at 81". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved June 26, 2008.
Mel Blanc, the versatile, multi-voiced actor who breathed life into such cartoon characters as Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Pie, Sylvester and the Road Runner, died of heart disease and emphysema yesterday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 81 years old.
- "Jeff Bergman". behind the voice actors. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- Toons join the drug war! TV Week, November 3, 1990
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- Cartoon all-stars to the rescue : joint hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee on the Judiciary, One Hundred First Congress, second session, on an entertaining way of enlightening children about the dangers of substance abuse, April 19, 1990.