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Film / Tricky People

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Tricky People is a 40-minute Pædo Hunt / Too Smart for Strangers Public Service Announcement written/directed by Fred Holmes and produced/distributed by Nest Family Entertainment in 1998. The PSA is based on Jan Wagner's book "Raising Safe Kids in an Unsafe World" and features an introduction by Wagner and the PSA's mascot character Yello Dyno.

The story of the PSA centers on a girl named Lyric who falls prey to professional "tricky person" Reginald Charming. The PSA prides itself on its "startling and accurate" portrayal of tricky people and was created to educate its viewers on recognizing the traits of a tricky person.

Tricky People contains examples of:

  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba:
    Reginald Charming: I'm an upstanding citizen.
    Yello Dyno: If you're an upstanding citizen, I'm Ethel Merman! There's no business like show business...
  • Award-Bait Song: "Safely Held in Your Heart". Apparently, being molested turns you into an angsty Grammy-worthy singer-songwriter.
  • Berserk Button: Reginald doesn't like being lied to, as Lyric discovers the hard way.
  • Big Bad: Reginald Charming
  • Big Damn Heroes: Yello Dyno arrives just in time to rescue Lyric from Reginald's dastardly photo-shoot.
  • Children Are Innocent: As is naturally expected in a Pædo Hunt / Too Smart for Strangers PSA. Particularly anvilicious is Carmen's tearful confession to Yello Dyno of "not [being] a little girl anymore".
  • Clueless Aesop:
    • The message seems to alternate between the sensationalist "Tricky people are villains who should be fled from and arrested" and the more sensible "Tricky people are human beings who have their own problems and need some counseling to help them deal with their issues".
    • Yello Dyno scolding the kids for not knowing Charming was a tricky person comes off as pretty callous and oblivious, considering it was his job to teach them what a "tricky person" was in the first place and he's the responsible adult of the group. Putting the blame on a group of children for being manipulated by a predator is definitely sending the wrong message.
  • Cool Shades: A part of Yello Dyno's attire, with debatable effectiveness.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Charming is a record executive who uses his power to trick children into being alone with him.
  • Cry into Chest: Carmen cries in Yello Dyno's arms after she tells him what Charming did to her.
  • The Dragon: Wendell
  • Epic Fail: After Reginald tells Wendell not to touch anything in his office while he's away, Wendell not only immediately disobeys the order the second Reginald has left, but he makes a complete mess of Reginald's desk in his attempt to play with a Newton's cradle.
  • Face Palm: Carmen when she learns the other kids left Lyric alone with Charming
  • Faux Affably Evil: Charming presents himself as a nice and charismatic man but it's actually a manipulative child molester.
  • Flat "What": The kids give one after Yello Dyno proclaims to them that Charming is a tricky person.
  • Growing Up Sucks: As Carmen implies herself.
  • Hate Sink: Reginald Charming is a dark and serious villain, standing in jarring contrast to the colorful and zany protagonist in Yellow Dyno. A popular record producer and "upstanding citizen", Charming is a serial pedophile and child porn artist who uses his position of trust and charisma to lure kids in for photoshoots and picking out a girl he especially likes. One of his previous victims was Carmen, who photos Charming holds against her and threatens her with. He later tries to take "private photos" of Carmen's friend, Lyric, and implicitly tries to force himself onto her before Yellow Dyno saves her. A surprisingly realistic and menacing depiction of a child predator, the emotional trauma he puts Carmen through is highlighted when she laments her lost innocence and her fear of telling anyone about Charming.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Reginald's photo shoots with Carmen (in flashback) and Lyric (in the climax) are treated like this.
  • Innocence Lost: As Carmen tells Yello Dyno, "I'm not a little girl anymore."
  • Insistent Terminology: They're not sexual predators, but "tricky people".
  • Karma Houdini: In the end Reginald Charming gets arrested, but Wendell gets off scot-free despite enabling a sexual predator. Of course, given his bumbling stupidity and genuine concern when he sees Carmen is upset, it's likely Wendell was completely oblivious to Charming's schemes.
  • The Klutz: Wendell
  • Large Ham: Yello Dyno
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Wendell
  • Mood Whiplash: No one would blame you if you came to the conclusion that the scenes with Yello Dyno and the scenes with Reginald Charming were directed by separate people.
    • Hell, the scenes with Reginald by himself and the scenes with him and Wendell feel like they were directed by separate people.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Reginald Charming.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Yello's voice actor does a Chris Rock impersonation for most of the character's dialogue.
  • Number Two for Brains: Wendell
  • Pædo Hunt
  • Papa Wolf: Yello Dyno is clearly meant to be this toward kids in general, though his mannerisms and speech patterns can make it tricky to take him seriously.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Wendell is this to Reginald Charming.
  • Properly Paranoid: Yello Dyno apparently has a habit of patrolling the mall and accosting anyone he even suspects of being a tricky person. The one time we see him doing this in action, he turns out to be right.
  • Public Service Announcement
  • Re-Cut: The RedLetterMedia team found out that two cuts of the film exist. The latter cut excises roughly 10 minutes of additional scenes mainly involving Carmen and Lyric's interactions with Charming (ones they deemed way creepier and lurid than what was left in) and included a new disclaimer from Yello Dyno that the film may disturb viewers.
  • Revenge Porn Blackmail: Carmen is blackmailed by Reginald into not telling anyone what happened with the pictures he took of her.
  • Rimshot: One of the kids in the band makes one after Edna is complimented for her performance in the "Tricky People" number, to which Yello Dyno responds "What am I? Chopped liver?"
  • Super-Strength: Yello Dyno can rip locked safes open with little to no effort.
  • Talent Double: Most of "Safely Held in Your Heart" is clearly sung by an adult.
  • Title Drop: A grand total of 43 times over the course of the PSA.
  • Too Smart for Strangers
  • Totally Radical: Yello Dyno. His radicalness is dated even by the standards of the time the show came out, seeing as he makes references to Al Jolson and Ethel Merman.
  • Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: Wendell's the lackey to Reginald Charming's villain. Given the film's subject matter and Charming's portrayal, Wendell's presence seems downright bizarre.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Reginald Charming's presence and conduct is all the more jarring in a world inhabited by Yello Dyno and Wendell.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Yello Dyno and Carmen are not pleased when they find out the kids left Lyric alone with Charming after Yellow Dyno explicitly warned them about "Tricky People".
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Yello Dyno