Friday, February 24, 2023

Steroids are bad.

Poor grades, Benetton polos, local drug-pushing bullies, pricey gym memberships & pricey steroids. Welcome to the mid-90’s. Or, Juventud En Drogas ("Youth On Drugs")

After confronting some drug-dealing bullies trying to mess with his girlfriend Sofia (Michelle Mayer)Arturo (Raul Araiza) is helped out by bodybuilder “Derek” who just happens to be passing by. Arturo admires Derek’s strength & muscular appearance that he wishes to be like him, so then Derek tells Arturo that he should join the gym he goes to and he will teach him to lift weights. Arturo then manages to convince his parents to pay for his gym membership and thus begins to lift weights. Arturo wants to be big like Derek badly, but he still feels “weak” and after another confrontation with the bullies that leaves him beaten hard—Derek gives Arturo a taste of his “vitamins” which increases his strength & energy. Arturo is then lead to believe that taking steroids is the only way he will get muscles like Derek and this leads him to steal from his own parents & others to pay for his steroid addiction. The steroids not only affect his judgments, but also his health as well. Arturo begins to feel ill easily (body aches) and having angry outbursts amongst his close ones. 

I first watched Juventud En Drogas many years ago when I was a teenager and it was one of those movies that caught my eye big time because of how completely exaggerated & overly-dramatic it is. I’m a sucker for 90’s anti-drug propaganda and this movie is very anti-drug and I’m all for it. The drug of the movie is of course steroids and here we see all the side affects amongst Raul and Derek which consist of aggressive feelings & various, nasty health issues. An exaggerated portrayal of it all? Abso-fucking-lutely. Was there a moral lesson learned from this movie? Maybe-fucking-so.

Juventud En Drogas features an all-star cast which consists of Edna Bolkan as a naive but loving mother, the great Valentin Trujillo plays a dotting father that doesn’t get his hands dirty. Not once do we see him flashing a gun here! Then there's Raul Araiza playing lead character Arturo and it’s quite believable since Raul himself appears as a twerp longing to have it all so easily. I will say though that Raul looked a little too old to be playing a teenager, but then I'm reminded that 20+ year old actors play teenagers all the time. Ah heck, even the great & gorgeous Michelle Mayer here plays a teenager too, despite looking much older than an actual one. The steroid-addicted bodybuilder "Derek" is played by Miguel Angel Guzman Velazquez aka “Mr. Mexico” and ironically we find out later in the movie that "Derek" is actually just named "Miguel Angel". Hmm. 

Interesting to note is that Juventud En Drogas was something very different coming out from Mexcinema Video Corp and if you’re familiar with the video labelespecially during this timethen you’ll know every single Mexcinema title is either about drug trafficking, general criminal elements & ultra cheap comedies. This lead me to wonder—what made Mexcinema produce a movie like this? And why only this one? Well from what I’ve had gathered, this was a product of its time and also the religious values of the Mexcinema higher-ups of those days. Bodybuilding has always been a fascination to people, but during this time (mid-90’s) it was very fresh with the many hunks appearing in TV & movies and also the gym fad of those days were always about showing off big muscular men, rather than just fit & lean people. Then there was Alberto Blasco & his son Alberto Jr, the heads/producers of Mexcinema who I’ve been told were Christians and making a movie like this just seemed obvious of them trying to redeem themselves after putting out so many exploitive titles, especially ones glorifying drugs. Enrique Murillo directed Juventud En Drogas and he of course by then was just directing whatever he was offered alongside his ever-growing editing work.

Juventud En Drogas is an intriguing movie of its time and surely to be enjoyed on a lazy afternoon and/or after working out at the gym. Just don't take steroids, okay? Be cool.