RECESS: SCHOOL'S OUT
Director: Chuck Sheetz
Cast: The voices of James Woods, Andy Lawrence, Ricky D'Shon Collins, Jason Davis, Ashley Johnson, Dabney Coleman
Running Time: 1:24
Release Date: 2/16/01
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Review by Mark Dujsik
I, like all kids, loved Saturday morning cartoons, and all of the ones I grew up with are gone. Taking its place are shows I have never either seen nor, on occasion, heard of. "Recess" is one of those shows, which I believe I stumbled upon one lazy Saturday morning. I didnít pay too much attention to it, and I have not tried to find it again. If I were a frequent viewer, Iím sure I would like Recess: Schoolís Out a little more. However, Iím pretty surprised by how much I did actually enjoy it without any true introduction to its characters or its humor.
Recess follows the essential outline of most cartoons turned into feature movies. The plot places the characters in a situation that the small screen (and probably budget) could never contain. On the last day of school, T.J. (voice of Andrew Lawrence) is preparing for a long, fulfilling summer with his friends. Unfortunately, all of his friends have decided to go to assorted camps for the summer to prepare them for their futures. It seems like a dreadful summer for young T.J. (one detail that struck home: the movie theater is closed!), until some strange events begin transpiring at the school. People seem to have occupied the school and are conducting strange experiments involving levitation. Once T.J. sees a laser come out of the roof of the gymnasium, he calls upon his friends at camp to help him unfold the conspiracy. What they discover is that Dr. Benedict (voice of James Woods), a former principal, is attempting to eliminate summer vacation by changing the path of the moon. The plot is too big for its own good. This is obviously contrived to be as big as it could possibly be, and it ultimately detracts from the humor.
The movie does have a lot going for it. There are a lot of elements for the older audience who will be accompanying the targeted market. The soundtrack is a collection of recognizably great oldies. Thereís even a flashback to the 60s that is obviously intended on giving the adults a chance to laugh at themselves, and actually gives Benedict an interesting twist as a villainóheís the ultimate yuppie. These things will probably pass right over the heads of the kids, but it will hardly matter to them. Beyond these factors, the movie itself is actually pretty funny. These are characters that would probably grow on us if given a chance. I especially liked Mikey (voice of Jason Davis), an aspiring singer whose singing voice is provided by none other than Robert Goulet. He also provides one of the best lines in the movie. After hearing the villains are using a tractor beam, he responds, "Plow the surface of the moon? But whatever will they plant?"
These are definitely characters with comedic promise, but the movie is so concerned on establishing its big story, that it leaves them too far behind. Sure the fans of the show will be familiar with the characters, but for those without the show as a crutch, we are short-changed. I loved the scenes between T.J. and his parents, but they are far too short. Eventually, the parents are nowhere to be found. I have a suggestion for the creators: if there is to be a sequel, concentrate on these characters in their own environment. They do have potential for much bigger laughs than the ones here.
Copyright © 2001 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.