Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue

Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue is a 1990 American animated drug-abuse prevention television special starring many characters from American animated television series at the time of its release.[1] Financed by McDonald's, Ronald McDonald Children's Charities, it was originally simulcast for a limited time on April 21, 1990 on all four major American television networks (by supporting their Saturday morning characters): ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, and most independent stations, as well as various cable networks.[2][3] McDonald's also released a VHS home video edition of the special distributed by Buena Vista Home Video, which opened with an introduction from President George H. W. Bush, First Lady Barbara Bush and their dog, Millie. It was produced by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation and Southern Star Productions, and was animated overseas by Wang Film Productions Co., Ltd.. The musical number "Wonderful Ways to Say No" was written by Academy-Award-winning composer, Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman, who also wrote the songs for Disney's The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Hercules.

Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue
Cartoon All-Stars.jpg
Promotional poster.
GenreSocial guidance film
Written byDuane Poole
Tom Swale
Directed byMilton Gray
Marsh Lamore
Bob Shellhorn
Mike Svayko
Karen Peterson (supervising)
Voices of
Theme music composerRichard Kosinski
Sam Winans
Paul Buckmaster
Bill Reichenbach
Bob Mann
Guy Moon
Alan Menken
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producerRoy E. Disney
ProducerBuzz Potamkin
EditorJay Bixsen
Running time32 min.
Production companiesMain:
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation
Southern Star Productions
Original networkABC
USA Network
Original release
  • April 21, 1990 (1990-04-21)
Followed bySee below

The plot chronicles the exploits of Michael, a young teenage boy who is using marijuana as well as stealing and drinking alcohol. His younger sister, Corey, is constantly worried about him because he started acting differently which also becomes a concern for his parents (who are also starting to notice his changes). When Corey's piggy bank goes missing one morning, 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 cartoon characters proceed to work together to do an intervention and take him on a fantasy journey to teach him the risks and consequences a life of drug abuse can bring.


In Corey's room, 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 (Alf from a framed picture, Garfield as a lamp, Alvin and the Chipmunks from a record sleeve, Winnie the Pooh as a stuffed animal, Baby Kermit as an alarm clock, and Slimer who passes through a wall).

Alf, Garfield, Alvin, Simon and Theodore track down the thief and discover that it is Corey's older brother, Michael. Simon opens a box under Michael's bed and identifies its contents as marijuana. Meanwhile, Corey expresses her concerns about Michael's change in behavior, causing him to storm 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 Corey.

At the arcade, Michael smokes pot with his old "friends" and "Smoke", an anthropomorphic cloud of smoke. They run out and are chased into an alley by a policeman, who is then revealed to be Bugs Bunny wearing a policeman's hat. He traps Smoke in a garbage can and uses a time machine to see when and how Michael's addiction started. It turns out he became addicted to drugs through peer pressure by some older high school kids. After Michael has returned to the present, he meets up with his "friends" and they decide they want to do some crack. He is hesitant until one steals his wallet. He and Smoke chase after her, until they fall down a manhole and meet up with Michelangelo, who tells them that the drugs are messing up his brain. Soon after, Baby Kermit, Baby Piggy, and Baby Gonzo take Michael on a tour of the human brain. There, Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Tigger join the rest of the cartoon characters in trying to teach Michael the many "Wonderful Ways to Say No."

Michael wakes up in his room, believing the whole thing to be nothing but a nightmare. Corey walks in and tries to talk to him, but he loses his temper and angrily yells at her, nearly breaking her arm and hurling her to a wall. He comes to his senses and tries to apologize, but she runs out frightened. Smoke appears and tells him he did the right thing, but he's not sure. Saddened, he looks at himself in a small mirror and is shocked to see Alf looking at him. Alf grabs him and pulls him into the mirror. Inside a Hall of Mirrors, Alf shows Michael his reflection of how he is today, then this reflection if he does not stop taking drugs: an aged, corpse-like version of himself. When he 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". He is horrified to see that Smoke is the "man in charge".

Later, Corey and Pooh go back into Michael's room and find his marijuana box. Smoke appears and throws Pooh inside a cabinet and starts tempting Corey into trying it. She believes that if she does so, then maybe she and Michael could have fun together like they used to before he started doing drugs.

Meanwhile, the drug-induced carnival in Michael's mind leads him to Daffy Duck who reads Michael's future in his crystal ball - and it's an even sicklier version of himself than before. After one last warning from the cartoon characters, Michael, now extremely ashamed of himself and his drug problem, comes back into his room just in time to stop Corey from using the drugs herself. He tells her that he never wants to see her end up like him, and admits he was wrong for using them in the first place, though he is unsure if he can change despite his obvious desire to do so. She advises him to talk about his problems with their parents and to her. Smoke tries to persuade Michael otherwise, but he grabs him and throws him out the window, as he feels that he has "listened to him long enough." After falling in a garbage truck, Smoke vows to return, but all of the cartoon characters appear on a poster on Michael's wall as a reminder to always say no when confronted by drugs. Michael releases Pooh from the cabinet and smiles down at Corey as they go tell their parents about his drug problem.

Voice cast and charactersEdit

The various characters' owners licensed them for free because of the public service aspect of the special.[4][5]

The special marked the first time Warner Bros. characters Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck were voiced by someone other than Mel Blanc. He had died shortly before the production,[6] and Jeff Bergman substituted.[7]


The special was screened in Australia in November 1990. Like the American broadcast, the special aired simultaneously on Australia's major commercial networks (Seven Network, Nine Network and Network Ten). Prime Minister Bob Hawke introduced the Australian screening.[8] It was screened in New Zealand in December 1990 on both TV One and Channel 2 simultaneously. Then-Prime Minister Jim Bolger introduced it instead of the U.S. president. It 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. Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney introduced it. A French-language version of it aired later in the year on SRC as well as on TVA and TQS. The Televisa family of broadcast networks and independent stations aired it in Mexico shortly after the U.S. broadcast. The Mexican telecast was introduced by then-President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. It was aired in Spain around the same time, being broadcast on TVE1, Antena 3, Telecinco with then Queen consort Sofía of Spain introducing it. Also was aired in Chile on October 28, 1995, around the same time, being broadcast on TVN, Canal 13, Megavisión, Chilevisión and La Red, with then First Lady Marta de Frei introducing it.

Home mediaEdit

Buena Vista Home Video made a limited release on VHS in the United States the same period it aired.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Cartoon special: Congressmen treated to preview of program to air on network, independent and cable outlets". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. April 19, 1990. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
  2. ^ Bernstein, Sharon (April 20, 1990). "Children's TV: On Saturday, networks will simulcast 'Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue,' an animated feature on drug abuse". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
  3. ^ "Hollywood and Networks Fight Drugs With Cartoon". The New York Times. April 21, 1990. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  4. ^ Bernstein, Sharon (April 20, 1990). "That's Not All, Folks—Cartoons Join Drug War: Children's TV: On Saturday, networks will simulcast 'Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue,' an animated feature on drug abuse". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  5. ^ Gerstenzang, James; Decker, Cathleen (March 3, 1990). "Bush Praises TV for Enlisting Cartoon Heroes in War on Drugs President's visit: He brings his anti-drug message to Southland entertainment executives and schoolchildren". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  6. ^ Flint, Peter B. (July 11, 1989). "Mel Blanc, Who Provided Voices For 3,000 Cartoons, Is Dead at 81". The New York Times. Retrieved June 26, 2008. Mel Blanc, the versatile, multi-voiced actor who breathed life into such cartoon characters as Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Pie, Sylvester and the Road Runner, died of heart disease and emphysema yesterday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 81 years old.
  7. ^ "Jeff Bergman". behind the voice actors. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  8. ^ Toons join the drug war! TV Week, November 3, 1990

External linksEdit