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Movie Review

Recess: School’s Out

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
STAFF WRITER

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family
Genre:
Animation
Length:
1 hr. 22 min.
Year of Release:
2001
USA Release:
February 16, 2001
Relevant Issues
Recess: School's Out
Featuring: Andrew Lawrence, Ashley Johnson, Courtland Mead, Jason Davis and Rickey D'Shon Collins
Director: Chuck Sheetz
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.

Former Principle Benedict

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.

T.J

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.


Viewer Comments
I just took my six-year-old daughter to see this. She liked it and I probably enjoyed it more than she did. The film is full of ’60s, ’70s and ’80s references that kids won’t get, but they helped to make it fun for me. I especially enjoyed the film’s positive outlook: there were nerdy kids, fat kids, short kids and skinny kids, but the film didn’t make fun of any of them; everyone was accepted as they were. Even the grownups were shown in a positive light by the film’s end. Only a couple of uses of the word b—t kept me from giving this a “nothing objectionable” rating. For me, the film’s cheerful outlook more than made up for its lack of brilliant writing and state-of-the-art animation. I may go to see it again, with or without my kids—it’s a fine feel-good film.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Bryan Fortson, age 40
My kids (ages 3, 4,and 7) all enjoyed this movie. I found nothing objectionable about it, other than as an adult, it wasn’t very entertaining. But, then again, I don’t really expect to be entertained by kid’s movies. This is a good, safe movie which the whole family can enjoy.
My Ratings: [Good / 2½]
—Anon., age 36
it’s a great movie for all ages. I think that even if a grand-parent would like it if they went with their grand-child. I would recommend that Recess fans would love this movie. it’s excellent!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Kristen Lemna, age 11
I thought this movie was great! I’m 16,and I like action movies and comedy the most, and this movie had them both.It had absolutely nothing offensive that I could see, and I catch everything in a movie. This movie is a great family movie because it’s funny enough for adults and lively enough for kids. If you want to see a movie that won’t have any swearing, blood or sex, but you still want to be entertained, I would say this movie is for anyone.
My Ratings: [Good / 3½]
—James Shool, age 16
I brought my whole family to the movie (kids ages 3,8,11, and 13) and we all enjoyed it. In general it is a pretty clean movie—no profanity, but there is a lot of action—kids being the hero’s, fighting the bad guys. The kid’s use water balloons, squeeze ketchup bottles, shaken up sodas, and school food and the container it was in as weapons. I think you have to stretch if your looking for anything bad in this movie, however, there was nothing to be learned either. It is simple a movie to go and enjoy without reading much into it. Bottom line: I would suggest this movie for kids 8 and older.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—BB
It is a great movie to see with friends it teaches you about talking things through. I recommend it to everyone!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Anonymous, 21
This is a great kids movie! It has no objectionable material and will hold the interest of both kids and their parents. This one is a real winner.
My Ratings: [Good / 3]
—Dustin Foree, age 13
This was a fun film that people of all ages should be able to enjoy. Nothing offensive or scary to young children. The only kind of violence was throwing water balloons. Great movie!
My Ratings: [Good / 3]
—K.E, age 13
The movie was great there was nothing at all offensive. The animation wasn’t the best but it worked.
My Ratings: [Good / 4½]
—M. Hennes, age 12
…RECESS should be commended for its attempt to make an exciting adventure film for elementary school age children while managing to do minimal social or spiritual harm to its young audience…
—Movie Guide
…looks exactly like what it is, a bigscreen version of a TV show…
—Variety