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The anti-drug melodramas of the 1980's tended to take a hysterical tone towards their subject matter but "Angel Dusted" is a surprisingly subdued exception to that rule. Instead of lingering on lurid scenes of drug abuse, the script concentrates on the social dynamics that shape drug abuse and the aftereffects it can have on a family. The dramatic component of the film can be a bit soap opera-ish and some awkward bits of humor are shoehorned into the story but those elements probably made the messages easier for the era's audience to assimilate. It helps that "Angel Dusted" has a strong cast: John Putch is convincingly intense as the troubled son and Jean Stapleton (Putch's real-life mother) and Arthur Hill offer strong yet subtle performances as the confused but well-meaning parents. Darlene Craviotto, the film's writer, also lends some subtle support as a drug facility's main counselor. Dick Lowry's direction is workmanlike but that suits the material. The end results are modest stuff and dated by modern standards but "Angel Dusted" is of historical interest to students of anti-drug films as a uniquely restrained and thoughtful example of this subgenre. ~ Donald Guarisco, Rovi
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