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More objective than most...
1 August 2005 | by (People's Republic of West Yorkshire) – See all my reviews

...But still not entirely honest.

Interesting if you're a fan of Rik Mayall, this is an educational film aimed (I assume) at sixth-form or later drug education classes.

It covers all the main drugs of abuse (except, predictably, alcohol and tobacco) with a combination of amusing character acting from Rik, strange and sometimes rather funny portrayals of particular moods, trendy mid-90's music (with videos and bizarre psychedelic backgrounds) and vox-pop style interviews with people describing personal experiences with the use of (mostly illegal) drugs.

On the whole it's a fairly reasonable and accessible portrayal of the personal issues and consequences of drug use, legal consequences and health risks, suitable (despite its UK '18' certificate) for late teenagers who may be more receptive to its style and lack of overtly judgemental messages.

In some places the treatment is not entirely unbiased however, with the relative risks of different drugs being somewhat shifted in favour of a "all drugs have a good and a bad side" message.

Also, issues such as the purity or otherwise of the drugs are conflated with the actual basic issues surrounding the drugs themselves in such a way as to make it unclear which is the greater risk. For example, the principal danger of heroin abuse (addiction) is given little more treatment than the question of whether it's cut with brick dust. Although the issue of purity is very important with the more easily cut drugs and is responsible for many of the health risks these are not intrinsic to the drug itself and this should be clearly understood. If heroin (e.g.) were not addictive then the dangers of its being cut would be far less important; this also bears on the method of administration, since the consequences of injecting many of the pollutants commonly found in such preparations are significantly worse than the consequences of smoking or swallowing them.

Also the vox pops are (occasionally) of dubious authenticity. Several people claim to have severely abused almost every drug covered, which although possible is extremely unusual as most drug users tend to follow fairly rigid patterns of polydrug use. It is an interesting question whether at least one of the contributors is bragging - in the section on LSD her statements on having seen full visual hallucinations are flatly contradicted by the other contributors, who state that such a naive popular conception of the action of hallucinogens is far from the truth. It is interesting to wonder whether the film-makers intended this to be the case, as these comments are juxtaposed with one another.

Depending on how it is viewed this could lead to the audience deciding, with Rik's main character, that none of them are worth the effort. Alternatively they could decide that it is no more risky to chase the dragon or smoke crack than it is to try magic mushrooms.

Although amusing and witty in places the style smacks (ahem) of trying rather too hard to be cool. This may lessen its impact on its target audience.


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