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"RECESS: SCHOOL'S OUT"
(2001) (voices of Andy Lawrence, Dabney Coleman) (G)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
None Minor Heavy *Moderate Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None Heavy None None
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor None None Mild Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Children's/Comedy: A group of fourth-graders tries to stop a deranged, former school principal from eliminating summer recess forever.
PLOT:
It's the last day of school before summer vacation at Third Street School and fourth-grader T.J. Detweiler (voice of ANDY LAWRENCE) is doing what he does best, namely making the lives of Principal Prickly (voice of DABNEY COLEMAN) and Miss Finster (voice of APRIL WINCHELL) as miserable as possible.

Nevertheless, with the ringing of the afternoon bell, school's out and twelve weeks of goofing off and having fun begins, or so T.J. thinks. Much to his surprise and dismay, his close friends are all headed off to various summer camps. There's Gretchen (voice of ASHLEY JOHNSON), the brainy one who's headed for space camp; Vince (voice of RICKEY D'SHON COLLINS) who's hoping to improve his baseball skills; Gus (voice of COURTLAND MEAD) who's off to a military boot camp; Mikey (voice of JASON DAVIS) who has a great sounding singing voice (courtesy of ROBERT GOULET) and is off to sing with others; and Spinelli (voice of PAMELA SEGALL) who's enthused about attending professional wrestling camp.

Suddenly all alone, T.J. doesn't find much solace from his parents (voices of APRIL WINCHELL & PAUL WILSON) or his older sister, Becky (voice of MELISSA JOAN HART). Yet, when he sees an odd green light emanating from his supposedly closed school and various shady looking characters going in and out of it, the outlook of his summer radically changes.

When neither his family nor the police believe his wild-sounding story, T.J. recalls his friends from camp. They soon learn that Dr. Philliam Benedict (voice of JAMES WOODS), their school's former principal and one-time Secretary of Education, has taken over their school and is using it as his base camp to carry out the cause he's long championed, and that's eliminating summer recess.

As T.J. and his friends discover that Benedict plans to shift the moon in its orbit with his special laser and thus forever eliminate summer, and consequently summer recess, they set out to do what they can to stop him.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Since it's an animated film aimed squarely at them, many kids - especially if they're fans of the TV cartoon series from which this is based - will probably want to see it.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: G
For not containing material to warrant a higher rating.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • Although it's debatable whether kids view cartoon characters as role models, here's a quick look at the characters (many of whom are not developed beyond their initial, superficial characteristics).
  • T.J. is the group's unofficial leader and "prank-meister" who's disappointed that everyone's going off to summer camp, thus near ensuring a boring and lonely summer for him. Once he uncovers a grand conspiracy, however, he helps save the day.
  • GRETCHEN is the brainy girl of the bunch.
  • VINCE is the athlete wannabe.
  • GUS is the meek kid who ultimately takes control of the situation and heads up the kids' raid on the school (thanks to him attending summer boot camp).
  • MIKEY is the kid with the terrific singing voice.
  • SPINELLI is the tough girl who doesn't take any nonsense from anyone and is enamored with professional wrestling.
  • BECKY is T.J.'s older sister who essentially wants nothing to do with him, but eventually helps out.
  • PRINCIPAL PRICKLY is the school's authoritative principal who's constantly irritated by T.J.'s behavior, but ultimately has all of the kids' best interests in mind.
  • MISS FINSTER is a pedantic instructor who's also often irritated by the kids' behavior and sets out to protect her school when she hears that people have broken into it.
  • PHILLIAM BENEDICT is a crazed, former principal who thinks that by eliminating summer and consequently, summer recess, test scores will go up and he'll be seen as education's savior. As such, he's prepared to move the moon out of its orbit with his laser and thus forever eliminate everything to do with summer.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this G-rated film. Despite the rating, and as is almost always the case with such pictures, there is some violent content - including some action-style fighting, chasing and accidents - that may be somewhat unsettling, suspenseful or even a bit scary to some younger kids, all depending on their age, level of maturity and tolerance for such material (that's more action-oriented rather than spooky scary as in some other Disney films).

    Various characters have bad attitudes, and the main male student is known as being a prankster and something of a fun-loving troublemaker. Beyond that, there's some behavior that could prove to be enticing to some impressionable kids to imitate, and there's some brief talk from a girl's diary about participating in or wanting to participate in some passionate kissing with some boy.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for anyone in your home who might want to see it, you may want to examine our detailed content listings more closely in order to access more detailed descriptions of what occurs in the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • None.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • There's a brief joke about T.J.'s mom thinking he has a fever and wanting to take his temperature with a thermometer and petroleum jelly (meaning it won't go in his mouth - but this never occurs).
  • We hear Mikey let out a large, bellowing belch.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Benedict and his cronies have both for wanting to move the moon out of its present orbit, thus eliminating both summer and summer recess, and Benedict is surly towards nearly everyone.
  • We briefly see some kid selling "contraband" at the school (no illegal items, but evidently stuff he's not supposed to be selling on school grounds).
  • Ms. Finster admits to hiding the school's ice cream through the year that she now plans to sell (but to make money for more chalk and erasers).
  • T.J. gets on the P.A. system and impersonates Principal Prickly (we also hear that he's pulled other various pranks on the principal throughout the year and that he plans to "t.p." - toilet paper - a golf course, but he never does the latter). He later impersonates someone else over the phone.
  • Donning a traditional older sister attitude toward her younger brother, Becky calls T.J. "T-Jerk" and "You little dork."
  • Some local police officers laugh at T.J. and others when they report what they've seen.
  • T. J. blackmails his sister to drive him to the various summer camps to pick up his friends (or else he'll publish her diary entries on the Internet).
  • The kids steal a box out of a van to check its contents.
  • One kid, Randall, is a tattletale and reports everything he hears to Ms. Finster.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be unsettling, suspenseful and maybe even scary to some younger viewers, all depending on their age, level of maturity and tolerance for such material (although what occurs is rather tame compared to many other G-rated, animated flicks).
  • Two workers inside a military installation hear the alarms go off (while some suspenseful music plays) and the door into their room is suddenly blown open. Various men then rush in including one large man who shoots some sort of energy beam/electricity at two men, rendering both of them unconscious.
  • As a little bit of suspenseful music plays after T.J. sees a mysterious green light come from his school, a large and foreboding looking man briefly chases him away.
  • The kids sneak around their school at night and then try to hide when they see/hear adults coming their way. Later, they try to get out of the school while chased by various guards and ninja warriors.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Zapper device: Used by the bad guys to render several men unconscious.
  • Nunchukas/Throwing stars: Respectively wielded and thrown by various ninja warriors employed by Benedict.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Saggy butt," "Blow a gasket," "Maggot" (said like a drill sergeant), "Get your fanny over here," "Jeez," "T-Jerk" (what Becky calls T.J.), "You little dork," "I've got to take care of business" (what T.J. says when he tells his sister the reason to stop at a highway rest stop), "Jerk(s)," "That was messed up," "You big lummox," "Nuts" (crazy), "What the J.P. Morgan is going on around here?" "Chicks" (women), "You goombah," "Little brats" and "Idiot."
  • T.J. impersonates several people (one over a P.A. system, the other over a phone) to fool others.
  • T. J. blackmails his sister to drive him to the various summer camps to pick up his friends (or else he'll publish her diary entries on the Internet).
  • T.J. and his friends break into the school by climbing up the outside of the building with a rope (all to rescue Prickly). Later, they all crawl through the ventilation system at school.
  • We hear Mikey let out a large, bellowing belch.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A heavy amount of suspenseful and ominous music plays during the film (although not all of the scenes where that occurs have that same degree of suspense, etc., especially for older kids).
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • None.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • The kids look through Becky's diary and read passages of her reminiscing or imagining passionately kissing some guy (we don't see the kissing).
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • None.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • That kids should enjoy summer recess and other, free time as both will become scarce and precious commodities as they grow older.
  • Whether shifting the moon slightly out of its orbit would forever eliminate summer, and whether that would occur everywhere or only where this story takes place (and thus mean perpetual summer somewhere else, etc.).
  • That kids should report mysterious things to their parents or the police (and not worry about them being ignored or laughed at as occurs here).
  • VIOLENCE
  • A truck, driven by someone working for Benedict, purposefully crashes through a chain link fence.
  • A door is blown open in a military installation. A large man then enters and shoots some sort of energy beam/electricity at two men, rendering both of them unconscious.
  • A school bus window shatters when Mikey holds a singing note too long (although the breakage was not his intention).
  • T.J. accidentally bangs into a sliding glass door as he tries to run into his house.
  • Prickly gets what looks like an electrical jolt when he puts his key into the door at the school, and then appears to be vaporized as his body vanishes, leaving only his shoes behind (but we later see that he's okay).
  • Finster (a large adult) tries climbing up the outside of the school building via a rope, but it breaks and she falls, landing on a student (we don't see the impact, but do see her lying on top of him afterwards).
  • The ventilation ducts the kids are hiding in collapse to the floor (but no one is hurt).
  • Spinelli uses her head to whack a thug in the gut or crotch, which causes him to double over on the floor (this is while various bad guys are chasing the kids). T.J. drops a handful of marbles that cause other guards to fall to the floor, and some ninja warriors throw throwing stars at the kids as they escape.
  • The bad guys toss T.J. into a storage room where they have Prickly tied up.
  • In a flashback, Benedict falls down some steps.
  • After some guards chase T.J. and Prickly around a corner, we hear some sounds of violence (punching, etc.) and then see T.J. and Prickly came out, dressed in the guards' clothing.
  • The kids hit guards and various bad guys with water balloons and use a rope to trip others. They then throw various sports balls at the bad guys from above them. T.J. and Prickly then pour a large vat of chowder on one of the goons and then drop the vat onto him, causing him to careen down a stairwell with it over his head.
  • A general melee breaks out as more kids and teachers show up to battle the bad guys. During this, some guards run into each other; Spinelli holds a guard's arm behind his back; one female teacher punches two bad guys; more water balloons and ketchup and mustard are fired upon guards; Spinelli lands on four ninjas in a professional wrestling move; Finster repeatedly punches the main goon in the face until he's knocked out; Benedict knocks one of his own men aside; and Prickly punches Benedict.
  • Vince throws a baseball that causes a "photon channeler" to explode and the accompanying laser beam apparatus to crumble to the floor.



  • Reviewed February 10, 2001 / Posted February 16, 2001

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