Recess: School's Out

Springing from ABC's One Saturday Morning, Recess: School's Out is an affable but ultimately forgettable movie. The best way to describe Recess is the kids from Rugrats in the fourth grade. The animation is fairly sub-par, and even the addition of some computer graphics cannot do much. The story quality also remains firmly in the tv genre, and while there are attempts to add humor for adults, very few of the references work (the Pink Floyd one is the best). The kids here live for recess, and summer vacation is the ultimate recess. They are free to do whatever they want, and have a three month detente in the ongoing, friendly war with their teachers and principal. T.J.'s (Andy Lawrence) problem is that all his friends are going away to camp, while he remains at home by himself.

T.J. begins noticing strange goings on at school. Green lights emanate from the windows, and strange men are lurking about. The more he investigates, the more worried he becomes. At one point, he enlists the help of his nemesis Principal Prickly (Dabney Coleman, You've Got Mail), who promptly disappears. The only option left is to gather his friends and get to the bottom of everything. It turns out that Dr. Philliam Benedict (James Woods, Any Given Sunday, The Virgin Suicides) has a nefarious plan to completely eliminate summer vacation. He believes that this will result in higher test scores (it's explained in the film). Note that besides the name, there are many aspects of the Benedict character similar to William Bennett.

Creators Joe Ansolabehere and Paul Germain and writer Jonathan Greenberg all worked on the television series. This could simply be three episodes strung together. There are some grander elements to the story, but nothing that merited a movie. Director Chuck Sheetz also has television experience, which really doesn't help things. They throw everything into the movie from ninjas and rabid kindergartners to 60's kitsch and Steppenwolf. The kids are fairly anonymous, with one trait to each to distinguish them. One kids sings like Robert Goulet (mainly because Goulet is the singing voice), one girl is the braniac, one is the army tactician...The problem with most 'children's movies' is that they pander to kids. Adults sit through them bored. People can make movies that appeal to both. Recess does not quite make it. Parents will not actively loathe this movie, they will just be intermittently bored. It does have its moments, and the kids are amusing at times, but this is a movie for kids first and foremost.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 24 minutes, Rated G.

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