Picks and Pans Review: Crack U.s.a.

updated 11/13/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/13/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

HBO(Fri., Nov. 10, 8 P.M. ET)


This documentary, shot in Florida's Palm Beach County over eight weeks, hits like a distilled version of TV's grittiest series, the real-life crime-watch Cops. We see blitzkrieg raids on crack houses, undercover drive-by busts and the insides of drug treatment centers, all part of the devastating subculture that surrounds this overwhelmingly addictive form of cocaine.

Crack U.S.A. loses steam in its second half as the filmmakers get bogged down, focusing on three adolescents as they try to corroborate their assertion that teens are hardest hit by the crack plague, but the documentary's impact is still sobering.

A few years ago, all the talk was about more complex, more expensive "designer drugs." Ironically it has turned out to be fast-food drugs like crack and ice (a smokable variety of amphetamine now making its way east from Hawaii and California) that are tearing us apart.

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