Written by / 3/03/2016 / No comments / , , , , ,

WILLIAM SHATNER FATHERS THE ANTI-DRUG KICK 'GO ASK ALICE'

An ABC Movie of the Week
In AMERICAN GRAFFITI, Mackenzie Phillips played Carol, a curious young teen who, after being handed off by older girls, hangs out with the leading car shark played by Paul LeMat: making for one of the greatest polar-opposite "couples" in cinema history...

Mackenzie Phillips
Phillips was a combination of innocence and rebellion… Her character, although a good girl deep down, wanted to venture into the wild California streets, and the performance embodied both a fearless confidence mixed with a shy undertone, making it impossible to imagine any other person in the role... and that actress provides a cameo in one of three made-for-TV flicks either starring, co-starring or featuring Mack Phillips, the first being: GO ASK ALICE, with a scrawl opening up with: “This motion picture is based on the authentic diary of a 15-year-old American girl. The only alterations have been those necessitated by considerations of length and acceptability for family viewing.” Sounds more like the description of a dress than a movie about a girl on drugs and, made in 1973 and centering on the late 1960’s, the colorful clothes are probably the most interesting aspect. Anyone who ever got loaded as a teen knows that you spend a lot of time coming down… Simply put, most of the adventurous trip is a bummer… Waiting and waiting around for more… And more and more and more…

1974 rating: **1/2
This reviewer experienced these particular self-induced doldrums during the 1980s, so during the famously drug-fueled 1960's it was obviously much worse… or better, depending on your perspective… and the kids probably got a lot higher for a lot longer… and longer and longer and longer... Summing up an entire generation of enlightened zombies... Although you wouldn’t know how the good times rolled in watching GO ASK ALICE, based on a bestselling book that girls still (have to) read today: Our stoned starlet writes a diary about her drug use and listens to awful covers of really good music including Billy Preston, Traffic and that famous Jefferson Airplane song WHITE RABBIT that begs the listener to “Feed Your Head,” which needed a lot more doing here…

Jamie Smith-Jackson
Most of the story has Alice either coming down or being outcast from her one straight friend. There are some insightful diary observations about how she’s not wanted amongst her druggie "friends" since she’s always getting in trouble, and the non-users frown on her reckless lifestyle. In another scene, during a rehab discussion of former addicts telling tall tales of their party life, Alice points out they’re getting high by reminiscing on their past, and there’s little difference between using drugs and glorifying them.

Another GRAFFITI alumni
One of many problems in the ultra-flawed vehicle, seeming made to show teens on televisions rolling into classrooms, is we never feel Alice’s isolation enough to learn why she needed drugs in the first place. A good if awkward young lady one minute, the next she’s the poster child for rebellion as the movie skips around from party to party and rehab to rehab…

Our Leading Lady
At one point, Alice and a cohort hop on a bus after having stolen drug money from their cheating boyfriends… Here, finally, we have potential: Two teenage girls taking to the road with a load of stolen cash is potential exploitation cinema at its finest! But the very next scene Alice wakes up in a park and has a discussion with a fourteen-year old girl who moonlights as a hooker…

The Song of Songs
This character, Doris, played by Mackenzie Phillips, who, as explained earlier, the same year would win over audiences as the Carol in AMERICAN GRAFFITI (Charles Martin Smith also has a cameo), represents the path Alice could easily wind up in. Damn shame we never witnessed any of these adventures: A backstory into Doris's existence, or perhaps the duo painting the town, would be welcome... But instead Alice returns home, again not relating to dad William Shatner while going back and forth on a treadmill through rehabs, leading to a bond with priest Andy Griffith. And while there are moments where ALICE provides time capsule/guilty pleasure intrigue, and Eve Plumb lookalike Jamie Smith-Jackson turns in a decent, if overly subdued, lead performance, for the most part it’s a patchwork of scenes that don’t quite connect as a whole, feeling more like a bunk acid trip than the real thing.

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