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Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue
Remembering My Childhood
You know, I don't often share this with people, as most would probably say that I was borderline crazy as hell, but I'll gladly tell you strangers out there about this. You see ever since I was born, my childhood was rather...well for lack of a better term....kind of boring. Growing up in a household with a over controlling father, I didn't really get too many chances to go out much. Sure, I probably could've if I wanted to, but.....it wasn't worth the risk. Trust me, my father could put the fear of god into anyone, and that's no lie. However, that's another story to address at another time. Anyway, I know many readers out there are probably wondering why am I even bothering to bring this up....well I'm about to get into that now.
As a child, I used to have a very over active imagination. If I wasn't off daydreaming in my own little world while drawing, I'd be either watching some of my favorite cartoons or movies, as those were my form of escapism early on in my life. I remember back when I was a child during the 80's, many of my favorite shows used to always have these PSA messages at the end where we'd learn some valuable lesson; either don't do drugs or listen to your parents...or whatever. The point is that most of the cartoons that I used to watch like "G.I. Joe" and "He-Man" had PSA messages.
Well in 1990, all the major networks promoted that there would be animated special featuring all of my favorite cartoon characters, at the same time. Of course, since I was ten years old at the time, I was kind of ecstatic about the whole thing. I guess one could say the hype that "Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue" was the equivalent to the upcoming "Avengers" film for today's audiences....only not as lame...or dated..
Unlike most people, I honestly don't have too many fond memories of my childhood; outside of cartoons and movies that I watched. Therefore, if you were to ask me to write a review on any film that I might have seen as a child, then I'd be able to write it exactly how I felt about it back then. Of course, I wouldn't want to do that on hubpages, since most people would probably think I was freaking crazy as hell. However, I still remember them.
Although I'll be the first to admit that "Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue" is...for a lack of a better term...overly preachy about the concept of drug abuse and peer pressure, but it does touch on a good point. Drug and alcohol abuse among teenagers is not something to be taken lightly, so you have to almost applaud the creators behind this animated special to construct a PSA using some of kid's favorite cartoon characters.
The video that inspired this hub. Warning, it contains spoilers for those that want to watch the cartoon at the end of this hub, and some adult language
Inspiration behind this hub
To be honest here, it never would've dawned on me in a million freaking years to ever write a review on this animated special for various reasons. One, I usually don't do reviews of animated TV specials (especially ones designed to be a PSA- Public Service Announcement), as they generally don't have enough story content for me analyze. Secondly, I had almost forgotten all about this show, until I saw Nostalgia Critic's review of it.
As some of you can probably tell, he does seem to be a bit comical in his analysis of the show, as I tend to agree with all his points to quite honest.
However, after seeing his review, I must admit that it did bring up a lot of old memories. And from what I can remember of the show from my childhood, I remember that I actually did like this animated special a lot. Not because of the message, but mainly I liked the idea of seeing my favorite cartoon heroes teaming up on one show. However like all things in life, we tend to often outgrow a lot of things. This being one those things. After watching the Nostalgia's review, it did bring back a lot of fond memories of my childhood, as I felt compelled to watch this again out of pure curiosity. I know that probably wouldn't make sense to a lot of people, but I just wanted to see if the animated special still held up to today's standards, so I decided to write a review on it.
CARTOON CHARACTERS LISTED IN THE SHOW:
TV Show Origins: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Back story: Based off the popular TV series back in the late eighties to early nineties, there was a series based on the popular comic book called "The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." According to the show, the turtles were mutated by this mysterious substance known only as Ooze that triggered their mutation from ordinary turtles to humanoid turtle fighting machines. Raised and trained by the great Master Splinter, the turtles were sent out into the world to fight crime and protect us from the menacing Foot Clan, led by their nemesis Shredder.
Michaelangelo has always been the class clown of the group, and aptly dubbed as a "party dude" according to the theme songs.
Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck
TV Show Origins: Although technically speaking, Bugs and Daffy never made their debuts on the big screen, as they were used to star in cartoons that were featured before the main feature started in theaters. However as time went on, Looney Tunes eventually went on to become even more famous than some of the movies they were featured with, as Warner Bros. has garnered various Academy Award nominations over the years due to the characters' success.
Eventually as opening cartoons before films were phased out completely from cinema, the Looney Tunes eventually found their way to the small screen in reruns, as it continued to be a giant commercial success. Although Bugs and Daffy aren't the first characters created by Warner Bros, they certainly have become the most recognizable over the years.
Back Story: There's really not much of a back story to tell about these characters, unless you want to dig deep into their animation history. However, like Disney's Mickey Mouse, Bugs and Daffy have been known to play various roles in several cartoons that have continued to delight audiences to this day.
TV Show Origins: Based off the popular comic strip by Jim Davis, Garfield has become America's favorite fat cat over the years; spawning various TV shows, animated films, specials, books and toy lines.
Back Story: As the story goes, Jon Arbuckle is a typical comic strip artist that's essentially an every man. He ends up adopting a young kitten named Garfield, who ends up becoming more than he bargained for, as he can literally eat almost anyone out of house and home. Eventually during Garfield's stay, Jon invites his friend to stay with him, who happens to own a dog named Odie. Although not much is really explained about what happened to Jon's friend, but the later strips eventually show that Jon adopts Odie as well; thus the legendary tales of America's favorite fat cat begins.
TV Show Origins: Based off the popular comic strips by Peyo in 1958, there was a brief show that told the many misadventures of the Smurfs. Although the show is a bit dated by today's standards, it's still a widely beloved kid show to this day.
Back Story: Back in the middle ages, the Smurfs reside in a village where they live peacefully among each other. Unlike most conventional societies that rely on some form of bartering, the Smurfs pretty much have a barter trading free system; where no currency is ever needed, and every Smurf just fills in their perspective parts perfectly without complaints. This has caused some theorists to speculate that the Smurfs is a kid show that really endorses Socialism in a rather commercially colorful way.
During it's run, the show spawned various animated specials, Emmy Awards, and a live action film featuring the characters. Each Smurf is named after their own unique disposition, there's only one female Smurf (don't ask me to explain how that works), and there's an evil Wizard named Gargamel that's always trying to catch them. Why does he want them all the time?
It's tough to say because it's been rewritten various times. One story line suggests that he just merely wanted to eat them; while others suggest that the Smurfs' DNA somehow holds the key to ultimate power. Regardless though, the Smurfs continue to be a international phenomenon to this day.
Winnie the Pooh and Tigger
TV Show Origins: Winnie the Pooh was created by A.A. Milne, back in 1926. Unknown to most people, A.A. Milne based the book series on his son and his stuff bear. Like most children, his son had an active imagination, so his father naturally turned some his son's misadventures into the popular children's story. Milne would later go on to write various stories featuring the popular beloved kids' character. In 1961, the rights of the character were sold to Disney, where they would feature the popular character in various movies, animated specials, merchandising, and TV shows.
Back Story: Pooh is essentially a stuff bear owned by Christopher Robin. In reality, Pooh may be nothing more than a stuff animal. In Christopher Robin's imaginary world, he's actually a goofy lovable little bear that loves honey, and he often finds himself getting into all sorts of misadventures.
Huey, Duey and Louie from Duck Tales
TV Show Origins: In 1937, Disney introduced us to Donald Duck's nephews in comic strips, and later featured them a year later in the theatrical short, Donald's Nephews, in April 15, 1938.
Over the years, the trio would be featured in various other theatrical shorts for Disney's along side their main features. But as I said earlier with "Bugs and Daffy", theatrical shorts were eventually phased out over time, and many of the shorts were shown in reruns on TV. From here, the trio would continue go on to become household names along with many of Disney's other animated characters, as they were featured in various other animated specials, and TV shows.
Eventually in the late 1980's, the characters would be featured again in a cartoon series called "Ducktales", but only this time they're not being raised by Donald Duck. No, Scrooge McDuck is now the caretaker of these little tykes, and they would go on to star in various misadventures along the way. Although most of Scrooge's endeavors were wrapped up in some sort of greed scheme, the show had a likability and charm of it's own that still holds up to this day. As some can tell by the animation of the "Cartoon All Stars To The Rescue" cartoon, the Huey, Duey and Louie version that's used is derived from "Ducktales."
Of course, the trio would later be featured in other shows such as "Quack Pack", where it show them during the teenage years living with their Uncle Donald again.
Back Story: Since we're assuming the version this special uses is derived from the "Ducktales" show, the back story goes something like this. Donald Duck is a navy officer that's called in to deploy overseas, but he can't leave his nephews alone while he's gone. Therefore, he asks his Uncle Scrooge McDuck to watch after the boys. Reluctant at first, Scrooge eventually agrees after being given a guilt trip by Donald. Scrooge, at the start of the series, doesn't exactly like the idea of raising his nephews, as he's too preoccupied with making money. Well, upon learning this, the boys run away, so Scrooge is forced to chase after them. Like all family shows/movies that feature a protagonist adult prick that hates kids, he eventually comes to realize that there's more things to life than money, as he admits to loving the boys. Aw, how sweet. Of course, that's not to say that Scrooge ever gave up on his ambitions to make himself richer, as most of the "Ducktales" adventures would often involve Scrooge either trying to amass more wealth, or try to hold onto the money that he has from other threats.
Alf aka Gordon Schumway
TV Show Origins: Back in the eighties, Alf was introduced on NBC. Back in the day, NBC thought it was a good idea introduce us to a show where an average suburban family would end up having to hide and take in an alien from another planet. As some can guess, the alien was named Alf, who could almost eat anyone out of house and home, but he would also get his suburban hosts into a lot misadventures along the way. The show would go onto become a giant success for NBC; spawning various merchandise, comic books, TV specials and spin-offs.
The animated Alf show being one of them, as he's featured in "Cartoon All Stars To The Rescue" from this incarnation. Of course, this wouldn't be the only spin off that we'd see Alf star in, as he also had a brief talk show on TV Land, where he would play sort of a "Johnny Carson" type talk show host, with Ed McMahon as his sidekick. Unfortunately, the show only lasted seven episodes; which is a shame because I actually found the talk show a lot more interesting than the animated spin off. However, I digress.
Back Story: Since the Alf that's used is from the animated version, then we'll be going over the animated show's back story. Although many argue that allegedly George Lucas created the concept of prequels with his infamous "Star Wars Prequel Trilogy", but that's not actually the case. For you see, the animated Alf show was actually a prequel to the original NBC series; which featured how Alf's life was like back on his home world, Melmac. By the way for those wondering, Alf was NOT his real name either. No, his name was Gordon Schumway, as Alf is actually an acronym for "alien life form" that was given to him by his adoptive Earth family, but that's another topic to discuss at another time.
As I said earlier, the show featured Alf back his earlier years on Melmac, as he's still a young teen in high school. Showing what life was like on Melmac before it inevitably exploded. Although the show wasn't anywhere near as popular as it's live action counter part, at the time, it still enjoyed moderate success.
The Muppet Babies
TV Show Origins: Who doesn't love Jim Henson's Muppets? They're charming, clever, and always rather fun to watch. Sure, all their movies are borderline predictable, cheesy, and often over the top...but that was part of their charm. Nobody could pull off over the top cheesiness like the Muppets could, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Of course, Jim Henson also did other great puppeteer work that was much darker like "The Dark Crystal", but his most popular creation has always been the Muppets.
However, like all things that are popular, you know there was bound to be spin offs; hence we have "Muppet Babies." "Muppet Babies" was a show back in the late eighties that featured the popular Muppet characters as babies.
Back Story: Before there was "Rugrats", "Muppet Babies" was on the scene; featuring the popular Muppet characters as babies. The show would often depict the Muppets going on misadventures in the realm of their collective imaginations.
Slimer from "The Real Ghostbusters"
TV Show Origins: "Who you gonna call? GHOST BUSTERS!" Back in the eighties, Ivan Reitman directed a popular movie called "Ghost Busters." The movie was basically about a group of college graduates that majored in various scientific fields, who suddenly try to advance their research in exploring the supernatural. To make a long story short, the protagonists of this film open up their own business that specializes in the art of catching ghosts for a living.
The film went on to be a giant commercial success, as it spawned various toy lines, a sequel, video games, and a cartoon based on the films.
Back Story: Slimer was featured in the first movie, but he was barely in a few scenes. However, that didn't stop him from becoming one of the more recognizable characters of the franchise; thus he was made into more of a main character in the cartoon incarnation. In the show, Slimer has a tendency to be a bit of a coward at times, but he's always willing to help out the Ghost Busters whenever they need him.
Alvin and the Chipmunks
TV Show Origins: Created back in 1958 by Ross Bagdasarian, as the Chipmunks would go on to star in various animated shorts, and inevitably be given their own TV series in the 1980's. The eighties TV series would go onto spawn various TV specials, and a feature film called "The Chipmunk Adventure." Not to mention, a few live action films; with part 3 on it's way to theaters later this year (cringes).
Back Story: The eighties version would feature the animorphic chipmunks living in a suburban neighborhood; being raised by their guardian Dave Seville, who was also their music manager as well. The chipmunks would often find themselves getting into all sorts of misadventures, as they tend to carry the embodiment of childhood in most of their episodes. Along the way, the show would also introduce their girl friends, the Chippettes, but they're not in this special, so I won't bother going over their back story.
Analysis of the Show Then and Now, and Final Thoughts
Synopsis: Under age teenage kid falls to peer pressure of doing drugs like Marijuana, as it forces him to constantly lie to his family, and steal money from his younger sister. The cartoons all stars from various franchises somehow cross over from their perspective worlds to ours to help the teenage kid in his time of need. Please don't ask me how it's reasonably possible for these characters to cross over like that, as it's never explained in the TV special.
From here, the cartoon characters have an elaborate intervention with the kid, as they try to scare him straight from doing drugs in the first place; before it's too late. Will they succeed and scare the boy straight? Or, will the kid give the cartoon all stars the bird? You'll just have to watch the special at the bottom of the hub to find out.
My Thoughts Back Then: As I mentioned earlier, I actually liked this cartoon a lot when I was a kid, but most of it had to do with the idea of seeing most of my favorite cartoons in the same show. Hell, you could've made the special easily about the joys of eating mud, and I still would've been stoked to have seen this show back in the day. Well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration there, but you get the idea. Although that's not to say that I didn't notice the show's obvious message about drug abuse and peer pressure. Even at the time, I found the show overly preachy about it's message towards drug abuse, and peer pressure. But nevertheless, I actually enjoyed the special for what it was back when I was a child. Granted, I wouldn't dare say this was my favorite animated movie, as I was more of a "Transformers: The Movie" kind of guy myself. However, I probably would've given this movie something along the lines of three out of four. It wasn't the best animated feature that I've seen, but it was one of my favorites as a child.
My thoughts about it now as an adult: After watching this special AGAIN, I came to a very harsh reality that sometimes what we may love as children....doesn't exactly hold up as we get older. If anything, I found this animated special to not only be overly preachy about the concept of drug abuse and peer pressure, but some of the images are kind of disturbing to say the least. Granted, the show is nothing more than an elaborate PSA special designed to appeal to children, by using popular children's characters. However, the disturbing violent images in it's attempt to scare kids away from drugs tends to get borderline scary, and kind of annoying at the same time.
As far as PSA messages go, the special certainly delivers on point with what it was trying to accomplish in terms of delivering that message. In fact, you have to almost applaud the original master minds behind this show for their good intentions on delivering a positive message to kids.
Unfortunately, the images they use to scare kids from doing drugs can sometimes be downright disturbing. Don't get me wrong, it's easy to see what they were trying to do with this special, but some of it was just unnecessary. If anything, the kid never gets punished by his parents, nor are the parents ever featured in this movie; which under mines the whole George H. Bush speech about listening to your parents BEFORE the special came on. Yes, apparently the President took time out of his schedule to make some long winded speech about drugs, and listening to your parents before the special came on. Which would've worked fine if the "Cartoon All Stars To The Rescue" would've shown the parents being more actively involved, but it never happens. No, instead what we get is images of Huey, Duey and Louie trying to run the kid over with a roller coaster cart, and he's basically left for dead inside his own head by the Cartoon All Stars themselves, as his own brain is on fire. Gee, isn't that nice of them? I sure would love to listen to people that basically leave me inside my own brain to die, as it's...ON FIRE!
To make matters even worse, the characters can often get borderline annoying. Seriously, I never thought I'd live to see the day that Bugs Bunny goes from being funny to being downright irritating. Hell, even the musical that tells the kid about all the possible ways to say "no" is annoying, and almost unbearable to watch.
To be honest, I don't even think this animated special would hold up too well today. Unlike the eighties, hardly any cartoon show features PSA's anymore, and the ones that do aren't as commercially popular. Plus, you have to remember over half this cast is outdated, as it's been decades since some of these characters have been relevant. Sure, many of the kids today might recognize such icons like "The Smurfs", "Winnie the Pooh" and others, but I doubt seriously many will be familiar with the "Muppet Babies" or "Alf."
Overall, I think the animators had great intentions behind this film, as drug abuse and peer pressure is a good issue to talk to kids about. Unfortunately, the movie is dated, it's overly preachy to the point of being annoying, the characters are irritating, and some of the images are far too graphic for the film's target audience. Now before anyone brings up how I liked the movie as a child, let me be the first to point out that I used to also watch films like "Heavy Metal", "Terminator" and "Predator" as a child too, so the images from "Cartoon All Stars To The Rescue" never bothered me. However, I can easily see these images bothering kids today that aren't used to seeing the level of violence that I used to watch as a child. In the end, I'd have to give this movie a one out of four. It has a great message to deliver, but it's a shame that message is wrapped into a show that can sometimes be too graphic for it's initial target audience.
Final Thoughts: In the end, I wouldn't say this is the worst animated special that I've seen, but it's certainly not one of the best either. Granted, the message it tries to convey is a great one, but there are ways to do it without coming off as overly preachy, annoying, or using violent images that would probably frighten almost any child out there. There's better ways to deliver that message across.
In the special, Bugs Bunny had a time machine (again, don't ask). Bugs could've easily have shown the kid's future to make him get off drugs without the needless violent images of locking the poor lad in his own head, as it's on fire. Or better yet, the show could've been told from the little sister's point of view, as it was shown that she knew about her brother's addiction, but didn't tell their parents because she didn't want him to be mad at her. The cartoons could have had an intervention with her about how it's important to tell your parents if you know something is wrong with your sibling, then show the parents getting actively involved. SEE! I just gave you folks two plausible scenarios in which the message could've worked better than what was presented here. Alas, I'll let you be the judge of that, as all my readers are more than welcome to check out the animated movie for themselves below this review. Enjoy.
Cartoon All Stars To The Rescue (Full Episode)
Cartoon All Star Question?
Did You Like This TV special?
Cartoon All Stars To The Rescue
Directors: Milton Gray, Marsh Lamore, Robert Shellhorn, Mike Svayko, Karen Peterson
Writers: Duane Poole, Tom Swale
Cast: Ross Bagdasarian Jr., Jeff Bergman, Townsend Coleman, Wayne Collins, Jim Cummings, Joey Dedio, Danny Goldman, Georgi Irene, Janice Karman, Aaron Lohr, Jason Marsden, Don Messick, Lorenzo Music, Laurie O'Brien, Lindsay Parker, George C. Scott, Russi Taylor, Frank Welker, Paul Fusco, Angella Kaye, Barbara Bush, George H. Bush
MPAA Rating: NR