Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue

“Fasten you seat belts! It’s gonna be a bumpy ride!”

Written by Duane Poole, Tom Swale; Directed by Milton Gray, Marsh Lamore, Bob Shellhorn, Mike Svayko, Karen Peterson (supervising); Starring the voices of Ross Bagdasarian, Jeff Bergman, Townsend Coleman, Wayne Collins, Jim Cummings, Jody Dedio, Paul Fusco, Danny Goldman, Georgi Irene, Janice Karman, Aaron Lohr, Jason Marsden, Don Messick, Lorenzo Music, Laurie O’Brien, Lindsay Parker, George C. Scott, Russi Taylor, and Frank Welker. Theme music composed by Richard Kosinski, Sam Winans, Paul Buckmaster, Bill Reichenbach, Bob Mann, Guy Moon, and Alan Menken. A TV special aired on April 21, 1990.

How dare I discuss this when so many others with notoriety have before me? Well, unlike them, I actually LIKE this. Unironically even. Since the plot is relatively well known, I’ll keep that part to a minimum and just give my overall opinion on it.

Many find this special disappointing. With its title, you’d think it’s some kind of action-packed thrill ride with the greatest heroes animation has to offer. I can see why most would feel let down, but I wasn’t one of them. I wasn’t born when this special aired. In fact, I wasn’t aware of the thing until 2007. I happened to catch a glimpse of it during a cartoon music video, and wondered what it was. My best guess was that it was some promotional ad for a TV network. I mean, why else would all these toons owned by different companies all be here?

Luckily, someone in the comments also was clueless and asked what the source was. Now with title in hand, I looked it up. So I knew it was an anti-drug thing the whole time.  While I agree that it would have been so much cooler as that aforementioned thrill ride, I think this is still a work of genius. Aren’t kids much more likely to listen to cartoons? And we’ve got a good mix of characters. Let’s run through them.

The Smurfs: never really saw them. (Especially not those horrific life action films. Don’t people know that cartoons are drawn because they look horrifying in realistic styles?) Considering how profitable they had been around the time, I think they were a good choice.

Alf: Can’t say this was a smart choice. You really wanted Alf as part of your anti drug squad? His live action series had just barely ended, and I’m guessing his popularity was ending. If this had come out a few years earlier, I’d have less problems. But it’s hard for me to hate a guy who munchs cats. And yes, I do get a kick out of him threatening to eat…

Garfield: I love this guy! Have ever since I was a kid. Garfield and Friends was something I watched every morning before school. He deserves to be here.

The Chipmunks: I was also rather fond of these guys as a child. Mostly because of “The Chipmunk Adventure” (I rented that movie every time I visited the local video rental place. Those were good times.) Not as big a fan as I once was, but I’m glad they’re here.

Winnie the Pooh and Tigger: Pooh is my favorite Disney character. I’m pleased as punch to find him in this. Tigger is also great. Another two solid picks.

Baby Kermit, Piggy, and Gonzo: I’m also quite the Muppets fan. Sadly, their adult counterparts wouldn’t fit in, being live action and all. I’ll settle for this version of them. At least it allows Kermit the frog to share the screen with Garfield and Pooh.

Slimer: I’m not really a Ghostbusters fan. Granted, I’ve yet to see the animated series they’re borrowing from. I have seen the movie. It’s not bad, but I don’t find it funny or really all that entertaining. But the franchise was still doing great at the time, it’d be idiotic to NOT include anyone from it.

Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck: The reason we are discussing this. With a title like “Cartoon ALL-STARS” you darn well better have at least one Looney Tune. Two is better than that. They had to pick the two most popular,  and they did. (Wile E is also mentioned. Too bad he didn’t show his face)

Michelangelo: Also not much of a TMNT fan. I’d like to watch the 80’s series. Someday. Again, being the profitable series it was, they made a good choice of picking a turtle. They chose the kids favorite too.

Huey, Dewey, and Louie: It would have been cooler if Mickey, Donald and Goofy had been chosen, like they were originally intended to be, but these three are a good second choice. I like Ducktales.

So, that’s the lot. (Despite the fact Smurfette appears on the VHS cover) Overall, I like the selection. However, the special is definitely not perfect. The toons seem to keep changing size without explanation, and the majority of the characters feel very underutilized. Slimer disappears after everybody leaves the house. (At least he got one line) And Daffy doesn’t show up until the final few minutes. Also, most of them don’t contribute much to the problem at hand. It’s a good thing they all join in the song. (Most of them anyway. As stated, Slimer is gone by this point and most of the smurfs are too. He was probably eating them. And Alf steals Bugs’ line. Prick)

It doesn’t flow too naturally, either. The “human” characters disappear and warp around the world as needed. I guess it simulates how one feels on drugs? (“How’d I get back to my room? My weed must’ve given me super powers.”) Everything just seems to end too fast. It’s a shame they only got a half hour to tell their story. This would’ve been much more informative at twice the length.

Despite these complaints, there are some good parts to be had. Our villain isn’t terrible. He may just be a cloud of smoke named Smoke (despite no name being given during the run time) but he’s evil enough to suit his purpose. Does a good job of not giving a crap about anyone or caring. Just like real drugs! Also, this is the first time Bugs and Daffy aren’t being voiced by the voice god, Mel. Jeff Bergman is a good replacement. (Not a great one. There is no such person aside from Noel. Even then, he wouldn’t  be perfect. No offense Mr. Blanc.)

All in all, this wasn’t the best it could be, but I think it came out fairly decent. I’m sure it was hard enough just getting everyone to agree to let their characters join in the fun. (It’s odd that the parents can’t get along as well as the children. Bugs and Mickey visit each other every Christmas and birthday.) If they had been given more time, I’m sure this could have been remembered more fondly. Anti-drug message and all.

Favorite part: I’m tempted to choose the few scenes showing our main character has a Looney Tunes poster in his room, but unfortunately, it’s too blurry to make out. ( I think it contains Bugs, Daffy, Sylvester, Tweety, Taz and Porky) If only I could SEE IT! Instead, my pick goes to the song. It’s catchy and brings everyone together. (Just what every crossover gourmand wants.)

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