A fun, kitsch parody of 50s educational films, Puberty: Benji’s Special Time is a chuckle filled romp through adolescent changes and the questions that come up along the way. Introduced as Sunshine Educational Film’s Part 5 installment of the “Ready, Set, Grow Series,” “Benji’s Special Time” blends 50s educational stock footage, original film and narration.
One day at school, Benji (Eli Fæs) discovers a strange stiffening of his penis one day while sitting in science class. When he come home he asks his dad about it. Dad (Warren Doody) refers Benji to Uncle Gates (Mark Moody), the zoo keeper for an answer. Probably the funniest segment of the film, Uncle Gates explains that erections are normal in the animal community, even taking out a giant model of an erection for illustration. While on a miniature train ride through the zoo, armed with the model, Uncle Gates says “Benji, I’ve seen lots of penises in my day, animal penises that is.” After the encounter Benji comes away with little answers. Only a suspicion that Uncle Gates is an alcoholic. When Benji discovers the pleasure of touching himself one morning he again goes to dad. This time Benji’s passed on to Father Wooten (Dennis Dalen) who with fire and brimstone scares Benji, telling him such behavior will send him straight to hell. The next morning Benji has his first “nocturnal emission.” This time Benji goes to Sheriff Bob, the educational cowboy with his dilemma. Sitting next to Sheriff Bob, a TV puppet, Benji asks about his unusual “emission.” Needless to say, all are shocked and Benji is banned from the show and called a pervert. Finally, after getting few answers from friends, a distraught Benji is consoled by his mother (Tamra Baker), getting a basic idea of why these things are happening to him. We end with Benji walking off with his new girlfriend, but the narrator warns that the next segment will be “Teen Pregnancy, What Do I do?”
“Benji leads a pretty swell life.” Indeed, one could say the same about this short film. Leaving the viewer begging for more after its entertaining 17.5 minutes, Puberty: Benji’s Special Time exploits a long past genre in order to provide a humorous look back at the confusion of adolescence. Writer, director Luke Fannin has a feature in the works, “Fernando,” due out sometime around the beginning of 2000.