Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
|Featuring:||Andrew Lawrence, Ashley Johnson, Courtland Mead, Jason Davis and Rickey D'Shon Collins|
|Producer:||Stephen Swofford, Joe Ansolabehere, Paul Germain|
|Distributor:||Walt Disney Pictures|
Disney’s early-2001 release “Recess: School’s Out” is the silver-screen version of a popular Saturday-morning cartoon. Adults may wonder why this only-average film didn’t go straight to video. Not wanting to be too harsh on this film, I took my ten-year-old son to the theater. His response: “it was O.K.”. We both agreed that the best part of the film was the use of oldies music to tie up the loose ends of this well-worn plot.
T.J. Dettweiler (voice of Andy Lawrence) leads a group of 4th grade misfits. “Recess:” begins on the last day of school, including the usual school-life antics. Students make fun of teachers and give school Principal Prickely (Dabney Coleman) plenty of trouble. When the cafeteria ladies find some leftover food on the last day of school, they decide to let it continue cooking all summer and serve it in the fall. We all laughed at the bad lunch joke. And now that summer vacation is upon them, all of T.J.’s friends skip town for various summer camps.
Shortly after they leave, T.J. observes strange activity going on at the school. He tries to tell the local law enforcement, but they just laugh him off. In fact, one of the subtle reoccurring messages in the film is that police never take the word of children seriously. T.J. finally convincences the school principal to check it out. After Prickely disappears, T.J. rounds up all his friends. The storie’s villain is Phil Benedict (James Woods), an ex-principal that tried to end recess years ago and worked hard at creating year-round school. He is a former secretary of education (in an obvious attempt at slamming former U.S. Cabinet secretary William Bennett.)
“Recess: School’s Out” is filled with satire and slang. It also has a lot of violence for a “G” rated film.
The mix of traditional cel animation and computer animation is weak. The screen writing is just alright. Parents play only small roles and seem to lack interest in their children. The voices of the stars and music will have the usual connection with the adults. My favorite part was Robert Goulet singing “My Green Tambourine” while they roll the credits. Unfortunately, this was the most imaginative part of the film. “Recess:” isn’t the worst film you could take your child to, but it is not the best. My suggestion is either wait for the film to hit the local second-run theater, or the video store, or just skip it.