Picks and Pans Review: Crackdown on Drugs

updated 04/10/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/10/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

As U.S. government-endorsed films go, this is less pedantic than most, though that isn't saying much. Produced in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration, it is hosted by Scott Valentine, Nick Moore on TV's Family Ties. Valentine is earnest in his often halting attempts to articulate the dangers of drug addiction and ways to combat it. This 56-minute tape includes scenes of Valentine talking to students at New York's Xavier High School, and as stiff as the setup is, these segments are striking, primarily because so many of the teenagers seem so familiar with drugs. Brief interviews with experts are less likely to make much of an impression on either parents or youngsters (though there's a clear explanation of what crack is: cocaine that has been treated so it is smokable and more potent). There's also a dramatized sequence about a boy who becomes addicted; it is hammily acted and way too drawn out. The greatest impact comes from what is in effect testimony by two former addicts. The fact that only two are shown, however, seems strange, given the nationwide scope of the problem. It's also unfortunate that both ex-addicts are white and fairly square sorts at that: It's hard to imagine teenagers, especially black teenagers, relating to them, despite the poignancy of their message. Says a woman who is identified only as Jodi, 26, recalling how her addiction broke up her family and made her suicidal: "All I wanted to do was die. My life was worth nothing. I was nothing." (Bennu, $39.95; all profits go to drug prevention/treatment programs—212-213-8511, collect)

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