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Awesome Anti-Drug ‘Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue’ Animated Special Turns 20

Twenty years ago today something wonderful happened. Alf, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Slimer, the Muppet Babies, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Winnie the Pooh, Garfield and a host of other iconic Saturday morning cartoon stars teamed up to tell kids across America that drugs would destroy them. Two decades later, their message may have faded, but the assembly of animated celebrity might in “Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue” resonates with unceasing nostalgia.

The animated special follows angsty, Midwesternish teen Michael as his little sister and her Saturday morning cartoon allies save him from his escalating substance abuse problem over the course of roughly 30 minutes, which includes a snappy musical number reminding kids of the many ways they can “say no.” I think the generation it spoke to can vouch for its effectiveness or lack thereof. Not every kid gets an army of quasi A-list animated properties to save them from addiction, after all.

Some highlights include Alvin and the Chipmunks rifling through pot paraphernalia with disgust, Pooh watching in horror as Michael smashes his sister’s piggy bank for crack money, Michael repeatedly questioning the reality of his cartoon-studded situation and Baby Miss Piggy’s passionate hatred for drugs manifesting as a fourth wall-shattering flying karate kick. As Alf himself laments, “Toto, we’re not in cartoon territory anymore.” Except, you know, we totally are.It’s a goofy adventure and a hilarious example of a well-meaning message getting muddled beneath a dozen layers of adult irony. As a cultural artifact, it shines. As a weapon in the war on drugs, it…well, probably less than shines.

If you haven’t seen it, prepare to have your mind blown.

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