RVOD023 Drugs Are Like That

(1979, Educational/Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy

So, drugs are like harmless things that are not drugs.

Rating: ***1/2

In a nutshell:

Two kids discuss how drugs are like lots of things that drugs are not like.


I think that Kevin is more like drugs than Mike or Bill.A brother and sister (I assume) retrieve a box of Legos from the closet to build an elaborate network of battery-powered gears and wheels. While they build, they hold a tentative, awkward conversation—full of long silences and mind-numbing repetition—on the subject of drugs. They conclude that drugs are like the following:

1) A baby’s pacifier.
2) A rousing game of step-on-a-crack, played well into adulthood.
3) Spinning in a swing before a softball game.
4) A cookie-seeking three-year-old falling off a countertop.
5) A lake, complete with bathing beauties and a rope swing.

In conclusion, the Lego siblings turn on their machine and watch it twist and turn in silent awe. One of them switches one little piece around. Huge clouds of gray smoke pour out of the contraption before it explodes into a shower of sharp-edged individual pieces. The kids conclude that, you know what, drugs are like that.


Spiders! Spiders! Eeeaaaaarrrrrggghhh!As a father of small children, one sequence in particular made me cringe. When the three-year-old slipped and tumbled four feet onto a tile floor, landing on her upper back, neck and head, it sent an electric shiver down my spine. Then her mom opened the kitchen door and tapped her foot angrily instead of, you know, rushing to hold her daughter still while screaming at her spouse to call an ambulance. Maybe when the kids conclude this section with “drugs are like that”, they’re referring to a parent so out of her mind on ‘ludes that she can’t recognize a potentially fractured spine when she sees one.

As you have no doubt figured out by now, none of the things discussed above have anything in common with drugs. A pacifier will not alter your brain chemistry, inculcating you with a literal physical dependency upon it. Neither will children’s games, spinning swings, highly-placed cookies, or inland bodies of water. The spinning swing might make you a bit dizzy for a few seconds, but otherwise none of these things will alter your consciousness in any way, either.

Oddly, the whole short is more pro-drug than not. No one ever comes out and says that drugs are bad for you. The short says that drugs might be bad for you. Then again, it goes on to state, drugs might not be bad for you. Why take the chance, the short asks. And then, by implying that “drugs are like harmless things that are not drugs” (Mike’s words) it stacks the deck in favor of the possibility that drugs might be harmless. Scripting its child protagonists to speak as if they’ve just burned their way through an entire bale of cannabis doesn’t help the case against drugs either. Maybe that Lego thing they’re building is an animatronic bong.

The Rifftrax “Big Three” (Mike, Kevin and Bill) provide the commentary. After the pointless, meandering children’s conversation has revealed a remarkable lack of short-term memory, Mike suggests that they “check their house for carbon monoxide.” When an adult becomes hooked on the step-on-a-crack game, Bill says “he’s a step-on-a-crackhead.” When the narrator recaps at the end, Kevin notes that drugs are also like “Persian poetry, topsoil, the Ides of March, butterscotch pudding, and paperclips.” Mike and friends become increasingly and hilariously frustrated while the exuberantly wrong-headed short continues to pile one inept simile atop another until the whole thing unashamedly falls to pieces at the end. This latest short is also one of the funniest to become available at Rifftrax—which, according to Bill, is also like drugs.