Video Feature Name: Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue
"Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue" was an animated drug prevention special that was aired on ABC, CBS, and NBC in April 1990, featuring a crossover of various popular cartoon characters from American Saturday morning television at the time of this film's release such as those from Alf, Alvin And The Chipmunks, Disney's DuckTales, Winnie The Pooh, Muppet Babies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Garfield And Friends, The Real Ghostbusters, The Smurfs, and Looney Tunes. Because Michelangelo, like all the characters from the other cartoon shows listed, is presented in this special as nothing more than a cartoon character coming to life, and because this adventure doesn't tie in with any of the stories featured in the Turtles' first cartoon show, it is considered a "non-canonical" story. Financed by McDonald's, the special was originally simulcast on April 21, 1990 on all three major American television networks (by supporting their Saturday morning characters): ABC, NBC, and CBS, most independent stations, as well as cable networks Nickelodeon and USA Network. McDonald's also distributed a VHS home video edition of the special, produced by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, which opened with an introduction from President George H. W. Bush, and First Lady Barbara Bush. The show was produced by Southern Star Productions for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and was animated overseas by Wang Film Productions.
The plot chronicles the exploits of Michael, a teenager who is using marijuana and stealing his father's beer. His younger sister, Corey, is worried about him because he's 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 various cartoon characters proceed to band together and take Michael on a fantasy journey to teach him the risks and consequences a life of drug-use can bring and save the world.
In Cory's bedroom, 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, 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 Cory's big brother, Michael. Simon opens a box under Michael's bed and identifies its contents as marijuana. Meanwhile, Cory 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 Cory.
At the arcade, Michael smokes pot with his old "friends" and "Smoke", an anthropomorphic cloud of smoke with a mafioso-like appearance and personality. Afterward, one of the teens shows the group a drug that appears to be Crack, just as what appears to be the cops show up. Upon being discovered, they run out and are chased into an alleyway by a policeman. Smoke disappears through the wall, telling Michael that, "at times like this, he's on his own". The "policeman" is then revealed to be Bugs Bunny wearing a policeman's hat. Bugs traps Smoke in a garbage can and uses a time machine (which he borrowed from "some coyote") to see when and how Michael's addiction was started. It was discovered that rather than wanting to get started on drugs, he was bullied into doing it by his "friends".
Back at the house, Michael's father notes that two of his beers are missing, but is convinced by Michael's mother that he drank them the night before while watching football (the implication is that Michael actually stole them, unknown to both his parents).
Meanwhile, his mother expresses her concerns about him to Cory and asks her if there is anything wrong, to which she replies no. Pooh comes to life soon after, and asks why she didn't tell her mother about Michael. She explains that if she tells and Michael gets in trouble, she will be the first one he will suspect. Pooh admits that may happen, but asks her to think about what will happen to Michael if she doesn't tell. She tries to explain things to her father, but is unsuccessful.
In the park, one of Michael's "friends" says that she can buy crack cocaine for ten dollars. He is uncertain of this, but Smoke steals his wallet and tosses it to the girl, who runs off with it down an alleyway. Michael gives chase, but falls down a manhole with Smoke. There, they are greeted by Michelangelo, Baby Kermit, Baby Piggy and Baby Gonzo.
The Muppet Babies take Michael on a roller-coaster ride through a drug-inflicted human brain. When the ride is over, Michael realizes that the brain they just toured is his and that they are currently inside him. He is also about to fall off a skateboard. The Babies escape, but Michael and Smoke are left behind.
Michael wakes up at the feet of Huey, Dewey, and Louie who, with the other characters [Joined by Tigger], teach him Wonderful Ways to Say No, through a song.
Michael wakes up in his own bedroom and thinks the whole experience never happened. At that moment, Cory comes into the room and tells him that Pooh wants to know why he never talks to their parents anymore. He tells her to tell Pooh to mind his own business and kicks her out of the room. Cory runs off in tears, and Michael regrets his behavior. However, Smoke comes out from under the bed and claims that he did the right thing. Michael points out that Cory is his little sister and that he doesn't know what's right anymore. As he stares into a mirror inside his marijuana box, his reflection is replaced with Alf's, who pulls him through the box into a hall of mirrors. Smoke tries to follow but is left behind.
Inside the Hall of Mirrors, Alf shows Michael his reflection of how he is today, then his reflection if he doesn't stop taking drugs: an aged, corpse-like version of himself. When Michael 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' -- Smoke.
Cory and Pooh re-enter Michael's room and find his marijuana box. Smoke appears and tempts her to try the drug. When Pooh tries to persuade her otherwise, he is thrown into a cabinet by Smoke. Cory reasons that if she does what Michael does, then maybe they could have fun together, like they used to before he started doing drugs.
Michael comes to a fortune-telling tent and asks the stall tender (Daffy Duck) to see his future for him. It turns out to be Michael lying on his death bed, his face even more ravaged than what Alf showed him. He is horrified by the prospect of that being his future, but Daffy tells him that it can be avoided if he stops taking drugs, along with the help of some advice from ALF, Bugs Bunny, the Muppet Babies, Huey, Duey and Louie, and Michelangelo.
Michael runs out of a nearby door back into his bedroom, just in time to stop Cory 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 Michael throws him out of the window, as he feels that he "listened to him long enough". As he lands in a dump truck, Smoke vows to return. Michael admits that Smoke is right, and that he will try to return. Cory agrees but says that "when he gets here, we'll be ready for him," to which the cartoon stars add a resounding agreement.
The special ends with Michael and Cory going to tell their parents about his drug problem, while Pooh jumps into a poster on the wall with the other cartoon characters.
The special was able to get so many characters from various franchises because the license holders gave producers royalty-free access due to the public service aspect of the special. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy were marked to make an appearance, but were replaced with Huey, Dewey, and Louie.
This cartoon marked the first time Warner Bros. cartoon characters Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck were voiced by someone other than legendary voice artist Mel Blanc. Blanc had died shortly before the production, and Jeff Bergman was called upon to recreate the voices.
The characters, from 10 different franchises, are:
- The Smurfs: Papa Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Clumsy Smurf, Hefty Smurf (though Smurfette is seen on the poster and the cover of the VHS, she actually does not appear in the special.)
- ALF: The Animated Series: Alf
- Garfield and Friends and the television specials: Garfield the Cat
- Alvin and the Chipmunks: Alvin, Simon, Theodore
- The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the 4 featurettes from 1966 until 1983: Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger
- Jim Henson's Muppet Babies: Baby Kermit, Baby Piggy, Baby Gonzo
- The Real Ghostbusters: Slimer
- Looney Tunes: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck (Wile E. Coyote is mentioned but not seen, but his time machine was used by Bugs.)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Michelangelo (although he appears in the special, he is not shown on the poster or VHS cover.)
- DuckTales: Huey, Dewey, and Louie
- Jason Marsden - Michael
- Lindsay Parker - Corey
- Townsend Coleman - Dad, Michaelangelo
- Laurie O'Brien - Mom, Baby Piggy
- Joey Dedio - The Dealer
- Georgi Irene - John
- George C. Scott - Smoke
- Jeff Bergman - Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck
- Frank Welker - Slimer, Hefty Smurf, Clumsy Smurf, Baby Kermit
- Lorenzo Music - Garfield
- Danny Goldman - Brainy Smurf
- Russi Taylor - Baby Gonzo, Huey, Dewey, and Louie
- Jim Cummings - Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger
- Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. - Alvin, Simon
- Janice Karman - Theodore
- Paul Fusco - Alf
Similarities to other works
The story is similar to Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", with the cartoon characters showing Michael the drugs in his past, present and future life, and showing what they have done and what they will do unless he stops taking them. In "A Christmas Carol", Ebenezer Scrooge was shown the past, present and future, through the spirits of Christmas. Coincidentally, George C. Scott, who voiced Smoke in this special, played Scrooge in the 1984 film adaptation of the novel.
- The show was screened in Australia in November 1990 simultaneously on the Seven, Nine and Ten networks. Prime Minister Bob Hawke introduced the Australian screening.
- The show was screened in New Zealand in October 1991 on both TV2 and TV3 simultaneously. The Prime Minister of New Zealand introduced the program instead of the U.S. President.
- The show was screened in Germany on all major TV broadcasters in the late 1990s. Reruns were shown through 1992. A VHS tape was available for sale and rent through 1996. The German version featured most of the original German voice actors of the different characters; however, the President Bush intro was omitted with Annemarie Renger, the former German President of the Bundestag, in his place.
- The show was screened in Brazil in 1994 on now-defunct Rede Manchete, even though none of the characters had their respective shows aired by this network. At the time, Ducktales, Winnie the Pooh, Looney Tunes and Muppet Babies were broadcast by SBT, while The Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters, Garfield and Friends, ALF: The Animated Series, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were aired on Rede Globo. The Brazilian version featured most of the original Brazilian voice actors of the different characters (Angélica voiced Corey, Michael's younger sister). All the actors worked for the show on a volunteer basis.
- The show was screened in Mexico on Televisa and all independent stations in the fall of 1990. As Mexico had only one commercial television network at the time, the special was broadcast through the network's Canal de las Estrellas and Canal 5 sub-networks as well as many independent stations, including those owned by Televisa. The Mexican version featured most of the original Spanish-language voice actors of the different characters; Televisa reminded them that the special counted as part of their community service. Carlos Salinas de Gortari, then the President of Mexico, introduced the special, replacing President Bush's introduction.
- The show 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. The Canadian Prime Minister introduced the special. A French-language version of the special aired later in the year on SRC as well as on TVA and TQS and featured the original French-language voice actors of the different characters.
- USA Network
- RTE Two (1994–2004)
- BBC One
- Channel 4/S4C
- BBC Two
USA: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Australia: Roadshow Home Video (seized)
UK: Video Collection International (seized)
Poland: Hagi Film i Video Wrocław (seized)
- Financed by McDonald's, the special was originally simulcast on April 21, 1990 on all three major American television networks: ABC, NBC, and CBS, along with syndication to most independent stations.
- McDonald's also distributed a VHS home video edition of the special, produced by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, which opened with an introduction from then-President George H. W. Bush, and First Lady Barbara Bush.
- The show was produced by Southern Star Productions for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and was animated overseas by Wang Film Productions.
- The special was able to get so many characters from various franchises because the license holders gave producers royalty-free access due to the public service aspect of the special. However, Garfield was used without consent from his creator Jim Davis.
- The special was mostly released as a rental-only videocassette in the early 1990s.