Of the dozens of social guidance films screened for this article, the five below stand out as the funniest (for adults). Unfortunately, these movies are hard to track down; Eugenie, How to Become an Alcoholic and It Must Be Love 'Cause I Feel So Dumb are available from Phoenix (1-800-221-1274), but they go for about $100 apiece. The others you'll have to hunt for on the Internet.
1) From the Future...the Drug Avengers (1988): The opening of this animated flick has the "President of planet Earth" -- a sharp-looking brunette -- appearing at the Galactic Federation Headquarters applying for membership for her homeland. The third planet is denied, however, because too many Earthlings harm themselves using drugs, according to the green, tentacle-headed leader of the Federation.
Fortunately, the representative from planet Kronos, a blue hourglass-shaped alien with spinning blue diamond retinas (who appears to be high himself), brings forth a motion for a probationary period for Earth to get its act together. "We will vote by a show of appendages," says the leader, and the vote passes. Thus, the Earth president goes back in time to the twentieth century with a bunch of kids and a mini yellow brontosaurus named Apauza (don't ask) and teaches today's kids that medicine isn't candy, it's medicine, even though it looks like candy.
2) Eugenie (1977): Eugenie is a young teen with a mom who wears revealing blouses and dates scum-of-the-Earth Jack. Jack French-kisses Eugenie's babysitter. "He had a hard-on," the babysitter tells Eugenie, who appears baffled by this disclosure. This film aims to help young women understand their transition into adulthood better, but the message gets buried beneath the film's indecipherable plot. In one scene, Eugenie is dancing suggestively to "Lady Marmalade" for Jack, who is drinking out of a highball glass. In the next scene, her mother asks Eugenie if she thinks her dress is too revealing and if she should wear a slip. "You look beautiful," Eugenie says. Huh?
3) How to Become an Alcoholic (1998): The title of this twelve-minute gem was later changed to How Not to Become an Alcoholic when irate, irony-impaired teachers complained. "Anyone can become an alcoholic. It can happen to people of any age, at any time in their life," host Joe Dempsey tells us. And the proof is in the disturbing face-molding digital technology.
Amy, a cute young blonde preteen before her alcoholism, "began drinking in junior high, then sometime during her early twenties officially became an alcoholic," Dempsey notes. The picture of smiling, young, sober Amy suddenly morphs into a wrinkled, wretched disgrace. Amy, no!
4) Ecstasy: What's All the Rave About? (2002): Dr. Donald R. Vereen Jr. of the Office of National Drug Control Policy speaks directly to teens in this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services drug-prevention film. Vereen is a black man in a dark suit with glasses. He has an intimidating mustache, sits in front of a backdrop that looks like a law library and speaks in a terrifying monotone:
"As a parent I am alarmed. When I look at my children and their friends, I see endless possibilities before them. Right now, every good thing that life has to offer is available to them. Will they be able to realize their potential? Or will our culture have convinced them to risk their hopes, their dreams -- and possibly their very lives -- for a fleeting, drug-induced high?"
Cut to a grainy video of ravers groping and dancing sloppily and a girl in a harness suspended between two poles, bouncing and flipping on a trampoline.
"Young people are willing to pay between $25 and $40 for the tablet that cost under $1 to manufacture. Huge profits can also come from the sale of Ecstasy paraphernalia. Bottled water is sold at prices far above normal. Pacifiers to alleviate teeth clenching. Glow sticks to enhance the visual experience. Mentholated rub to smear on the inside of surgical masks to open the bronchia."
The anti-capitalist rant is the most perplexing part of this film. Are those markups really the issue? And just how much does Donald think the U.S. Army pays for a hammer?
5) It Must Be Love 'Cause I Feel So Dumb (1975): By far the best guidance film ever made is this Phoenix flick, best enjoyed with Jujubes and a date. It stars Alfred Lutter as thirteen-year-old Erik, cursed with braces, oversized glasses and long sideburns, the kind that aren't really sideburns but wisps of hair tucked in front of his ears. He's in love with cheerleader Lisa, as he moonily informs his golden retriever, Bill. He even spray-paints her name in pink on the side of a building.
The film's lenience when it comes to spray-painting is but one small aspect of its greatness. When trying to pick up Lisa at school, Erik gushes that she "sure can shake those pom-poms." Later, as she struggles with the soda machine, Erik gives it a Fonzie-style kick, which magically produces a Coke. He hastily opens the can and sends brown, sticky liquid all over her face and favorite shirt.
Erik tries to make amends by showing up at her party that weekend clad in a plaid jacket, bright red pants, bow tie, and white carnation. "I'm crazy about dancing," he confesses, and tears it up while a homely brunette watches him lustfully from the couch. In the end, of course, Lisa falls for a jock type and Erik walks into the sunset with the homely brunette and everyone stops feeling dumb.
But here's the rub: Woody Allen ripped this movie off. Note its pre-Annie Hall release date and other Hall similarities; set in New York, its main theme is a neurotic confusion of the heart. It features a short, cornball male lead in glasses and a taller, stylish female love interest. Last but not least, Lutter is a far better comic actor than Allen.