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GO ASK ALICE (1973).

It's been 25 years since I first saw this infamous, anti-drug TV-movie, which, at the time, was reportedly based on the diary of a 15-year-old named Alice, who went from innocent high schooler to teen junkie (more recently, the book was exposed as a fake). A precursor of the AfterSchool Special, this sappy melodrama piles on every imaginable drug cliche; and you can tell just how effective the movie is, since I watched it as an impressionable kid, but still blissfully indulged in a booze 'n' drug-drenched adulthood. Kicking off with a mediocre cover of "White Rabbit", Alice (a decidedly unteenaged Jamie Smith Jackson) moves to a new town, buys a diary ("a place to be me"), and hopes to fit in. Soon, thanks to peer pressure and her lack of self-worth, misguided Alice thinks that the only way to be "super-cool" is to be super-stoned. No surprise, at her first party, Alice gets dosed with LSD and soon makes mind-altering a regular event. Meanwhile, her disconnected parents (including William Shatner as her dad, complete with a fake mustache and glasses, to match his toupee) never notice their kid is popping pills, doing lines, screwing, and dropping acid. Better still, her new friends are so patently evil that they push drugs at the local junior high! Soon, Alice's life is spiraling straight into the toilet. She's sleeping in the park, has blackouts, freak-outs, vague memories of strange sex acts, and even when she tries to go straight, her acid flashback in the middle of a babysitting gig deposits her in a hospital ward. In the end, Alice might realize the error of her ways, but from what I could tell, this chick was so naturally vapid that drugs could only improve her personality. Heavy for its time, this combination of PSYCH-OUT and THE BRADY BUNCH (or: "Marcia Brady, Junkie"), is a fondly-remembered classic in suburbia-to-suicide drug films. Director John Korty (THE EWOK ADVENTURE) lays on the bummer plot twists with a backhoe, while Special Guest Star Andy Griffith turns up as an unconventional priest who warns the runaway Alice of possible "brain damage." Also, look for brief appearances from future AMERICAN GRAFFITI stars MacKenzie Phillips (as a 14-year-old doper) and Charlie Martin Smith (playing a student in search of drugs), plus Robert Carradine as a long-haired stoner. All in all, a fitfully amusing time capsule, with the amount you ingested while watching it, in direct proportion to its number of unintentional laughs.

© 1998 by Steven Puchalski.