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THE DRUG KNOT (1986).

Teen-oriented anti-drug films have come and gone, but this hour-long TV diatribe is a true classic of this genre. And like any shitty AfterSchool Special, it's about as subtle as a punt to the groin. Although I don't think the show has been rerun since its first telecast, let's hope that someday it becomes a family tradition, in a league with HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS, IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN, or Cinemax's annual showing of H.O.T.S... Directed by that fine American auteur, Anson Williams (yep, fuckin' Potzie was behind the camera!), this is the cliche-riddled tale of teenagers under the influence. The prime candidate for self-destruction is young Dermot Mulroney (BAD GIRLS, WHERE THE DAY TAKES YOU), an ego-fed high schooler who smokes grass, snorts coke, plays the saxophone (badly), and even argues with his parents! Perennial sitcom whore Tracy Nelson co-stars as his worried white-bread girlfriend, and a pre-MARRIED WITH CHILDREN David Faustino is his little brother. But what sets this entire endeavor apart from the ordinary lemming-like "Just Say No" propaganda is the presence of David Toma, who stars as himself, doing what he does in real life -- travelling to schools, lecturing about the evils of chemical abuse, and (though the show conveniently forgets to mention this part) getting paid quite lucratively to do so. The students are rounded up in the gym, and this condescending clod tells them the real truth about "grass, reefer, maryjane, joint, stick, point, weed, marijuana", plus plenty of inspirational tales of kids "blowing their minds." He's got cool stories about one kid who ran down the street naked and gouged out his own eyes after an Angel Dust high. Or the infamous student who rotted out all his nose cartilage from too much cocaine. (Damn, the guy sure knows some interesting neighborhoods. All my high school ever did was smoke skanky grass and steal beers from the 7-11.) Of course, Toma's goomba scare tactics have every student glued to every word, and this suburban messiah gets a standing ovation from the teary teens at the end (even the Metalheads, who haven't cried since Ozzy left Black Sabbath). Toma really cares about these kids -- and it's obvious how much he cares about those pubescent teenaged girls when he takes them aside for long, hard hugs and one-on-one Tough Love talks. This show pulls out EVERY melodramatic plot twist and easy target in order to grind out this tragic tale of misspent youth. But the only thing this drama definitively proves is that Anson Williams is as big an asswipe as we all suspected. Utterly hilarious bombast, and best enjoyed while on heroin.

© 1993 by Steven Puchalski.