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Recess: School's Out

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Recess: School's Out

Starring: Andrew Lawrence, Rickey D'Shon
Director: Chuck Sheetz
Rated: G
RunTime: 84 Minutes
Release Date: February 2001
Genres: Animation, Kids

*Also starring: Ashley Johnson, Courtland Mead, Jason Davis, Pamela Segall, Dabney Coleman, James Woods, Melissa Joan Hart, Dan Castellaneta

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

Help me out with something that I just don't get. Why would people pay movie ticket prices for films that are nothing more than another episode of a television cartoon series that they could stay at home and see for nothing? I can understand this if the movie, and the series on which it is based, has some edge, as did RUGRATS IN PARIS. But RECESS: SCHOOL'S OUT is about as generic a kids' movie as you're likely to find. There's not much to laugh at and barely enough material even to keep the viewers awake. It's harmless enough, but watching a blank wall is also pretty benign, so its lack of offensive material hardly serves as a recommendation.

RECESS: SCHOOL'S OUT is the type of movie that sets your mind to worrying about the strangest things. I became concerned that a wind might hit the screen. If it did, the characters, which are drawn to look as flat as paper dolls, would certainly all blow down, leaving us with no actors for the story. Now that would undoubtedly upset the youngsters in the audience. Actually the kids in our audience were so quiet I began to wonder if they had fallen asleep.

The completely forgettable story concerns a renegade ex-principal, Dr. Philliam Benedict (James Woods), who sets up a covert operation one summer at Third Street School. The nefarious Dr. Benedict, with the help of a huge laser, has a plan to abolish summer vacation. Theodore 'T.J.' Detweiler (Andrew Lawrence) and his buddies are out to thwart the evil educator and save playtime for kids all over America.

Most of the script is as bland as Saturday cartoons, but a few lines are good ("Technically, after the completion of fourth grade, we are pre-young adults." and "I got to warn you. I'm a black belt in origami.").

There is one saving grace for adults: the music -- high-energy, classic rock tunes, including "Born To Be Wild," "Dancing In The Street," "Wipe Out," "One" and "Let The Sunshine In." It's about the only thing that will keep most of them awake. Buy the CD. Skip the movie. If your kids want to see RECESS, let them watch it on television.

RECESS: SCHOOL'S OUT runs 1:24. It is rated G and has nothing to offend anyone of any age.

My son Jeffrey, almost 12, gave the movie ** 1/2. He thought the plot and characters needed improvement. His buddy Maxim, age 12, gave it **, saying that he liked the fighting part the best. Both of them said that they really liked the soundtrack but didn't like the hippie period flashback. (I especially liked that scene, but I was at Berkeley in the 60s so it brought back good memories.)

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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