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Disney's Recess: School's Out

SUMMER'S here, so the inevitable onslaught of kiddie-shaped flicks begins.

School's Out

SUMMER'S here, so the inevitable onslaught of kiddie-shaped flicks begins. A shame it has to begin with this lacklustre Disney affair, which shows none of the wit or invention of House of Mouse hits such as 'Toy Story' or 'A Bug's Life'.

'Recess: School's Out' is, sources assure me, a popular show on The Disney Channel, although why is a mystery after seeing this.

The film centres around six school friends, T.J., the leader of the group, Vince, the baseball star, Mikey, a tenor to rival Pavarotti, Gretchen, the science geek, Gus, the mousey new kid and Spinelli, a street-wise, would-be wrestler.

The summer holidays are here, and T.J. is looking forward to six weeks of mischief and mayhem with his pals.

But their parents have other plans, and all except T.J. are sent off to various camps (providing the film's only good joke, when Spinelli's gang at wrestling camp are seen around a fire, singing "Someone's wrestling, my Lord, kumbaya, heads are breaking, my Lord, kumbaya...").

Principal Prickly (a name straight out of Scooby Doo) and battleaxe teacher Ms Finster are also looking forward to a nice, relaxing break from the troubles that T.J. and co cause them.

But this summer's recess holds no rest for any of them. The school is taken over by a mysterious organisation, and the lonely T.J. spots strange green lights emerging from the hall.

With police and parents unwilling to help, the young scamp turns to Prickly for help, but he is vaporised by the green light. Or is he?

Time to call in the gang. T.J. blackmails sister Becky (voiced by 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch' star Melissa Joan Hart) into collecting everyone from camp, and soon they have snuck into the school.

This combined teacher/pupil force uncover a Bond villain-esque plot to rid the world of summer, and summer recess, and allow full-time teaching and better test scores.

No, it's not Labour's new education policy, it's a dastardly scheme led by bitter ex-principal Benedict (James Woods), still smarting over being replaced by Prickly due to his hatred of recess.

There was potential for some smart in-jokes here to keep the adults happy too, but the film-makers have instead opted to up the sentiment, so we are subjected to some horrible 'rediscovering of the inner child' (what is it with Americans and the 'inner child'? Weren't any of them ever young?) and lessons in valuing childhood.

It's hard to see what kids will like here either. The animation is flat and two-dimensional, with no bright colours and few memorable characters.

It's not even that funny, with an awful lot of dialogue and little action, and whether they'll understand the tiresome 70s flashbacks is debatable.

'Recess' suffers the same curse as the 'Doug' and 'Rugrats' movies; there's nothing cinematic about their premises.

It's like watching four episodes of the series cobbled together, or, in this case, like watching the plot of one episode dragged out to an hour-and-a-half.

Hard to see who they're pitching this at, quite honestly. It's not quite childish enough for the very young, but it's nowhere near smart or funny enough to keep savvy older kids or despairing adults happy.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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