Let’s go back to a 90’s Kids/90’s Babies’ childhood memories. This involves a former programming block called, “ABC Kids” which used to air Saturday Morning Cartoons including, House Of Mouse, Winnie The Pooh, Pepper Ann, Teacher’s Pet, among other cartoons. Boy oh boy, those were the good ol’ days, before the dark times, before Disney Channel was corrupted by Dan Schneider’s influence on airing unfunny Nickoloaden sitcoms. One cartoon in particular is probably ABC Kids’ most popular cartoon under the name, Recess.
Recess aired in 1997 to 2001. The show follows the adventures of six kids with distinctive personalities who basically come up with a scheme to try to make school fun as possible by breaking the rules in a World War II like atmosphere. They also encounter various school cliques with each one forming their own society/government as well as their teachers and going through typical personal everyday life situations that we can all relate to. As the series became an instant hit among young television viewers, Disney immediately begin developing a feature film since 1998. Due to a hectic schedule for the animators, it took Disney three years of developing the movie, at first, it was gonna released as a direct-to-video movie, until Disney realized that the cartoon was too popular for kids, they’ve officially decided to release it in theaters. Thus Recess: School’s Out opened worldwide.
Recess: School’s Out was released in 2001. It received decent reviews from critics and fans alike. Plus, it made enough money at the box office.
This review doesn’t feature any big SPOILERS. Which means you’re ok to read this article, just so you know if you’ve never seen the whole thing.
Successful: Voice Actors from the cartoon, reprise their roles and they all did great on their respective performances. Every time I hear Spinelli’s voice, I tend to say “Dang it Bobby!” If that doesn’t ring a bell, Spinelli’s voice is actually the voice of Pam Adlon. A.K.A. Bobby Hill from Mike Judge’s King Of The Hill. Anna Chlumsky (Ellie from The Last Of Us) also voiced Gretchen.
James Woods did a fantastic job as Phillium Benedict, who serves as The Main Villain of the film. He’s a much descent antagonist than Jesse Eisenberg’s obnoxious portrayal of Lex Luthor in Batman Vs. Superman.
Fun Fact: Burt Reynolds was offered a chance to voice Benedict, but producers decided that his voice was too scary for children so they’ve decided to go with Hades instead.
The humor in this movie managed to give me a couple of laughs. My favorite part is when Mikey sings “Oh My Little Buttercup.” To put the cherry on top, Robert Goulet provides the singing voice of Mikey, as he did in the cartoon.
The film opens with the traditional Disney logo with The Gang playing with their kazoos, I think it indicates that the film is gonna be keeping you entertained to prevent you from getting bored.
2D Animation is retained and it looks beautifully detailed than the actual series, giving animators spare time to polish scenes.
Benedict’s motivation is revealed in a flashback. I won’t tell you what its all about.
Principal Prickley’s role is expanded and fleshed out on why he became a principal in the first place. I’m gonna give him Bonus Points for delivering a dramatic speech involving childhood memories, he’s somehow right about the good ol’ days about having fun as a kid.
The Gang sing a song about “his name is my name too,” if you know what I’m talking about. That tune was also used in Harland Williams’ film, RocketMan who sings the song without realizing he’s annoying his fellow crew member. Even though that song is extremely obnoxious, the kids managed to sing it as a way they’ll remember each other if their mission fails or they’ll never see each other after Summer Vacation is over.
One character makes a reference to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall.”
Spinelli calls one of her friends a “goomba.” This could be a possible reference to one of Mario’s enemies.
During The Climax, the song, “Nobody But Me” is played in the background. Why does that sound familiar? Remember that fight scene in Kill Bill with The Bride fighting Lucy Liu’s lackeys? I bet Quentin Tarantino must’ve did some babysitting for Robert Rodriguez’s kids by taking them to see Recess: School’s Out. As a Tarantino fan, I’m giving Recess, an Extra Point for possibly inspiring Quentin to select this song for The Bride’s bloody fight against Lucy’s henchmen.
During The End Credits the song, “Let The Sunshine and another song from The 60’s, are played. Did Judd Apatow watched this movie with his kids and decided to include “Let The Sunshine” during The Dance Party Sequence in The 40-Year-Old Virgin? If so, I’m totally gonna give this an Extra Point.
Botched: Without giving too much away, The Villain’s grand master plan is inspired by Mr. Freeze’s evil scheme from Batman & Robin. OH MY GOODNESS! Dr. Evil can come up with unique master plans than Benedict! In the words of Scott Evil, “RIP-OFF!”
The song, “Born To Be Wild” is played in one scene. I had to give this flaw a negative, because this song is overused in numerous films & television programs. Using this track belongs to The Department Of Redundancy.
Henchmen are completely incompetent, because they lack actual weapons. In real life, they would’ve been crazy prepared with every single tool. Too put salt in the wound, Benedict is also stupid that his plan is pointless, due to the fact that he ripped off Mr. Freeze’s grand master plan without realizing that his goal is nonsensical. Look, I understand that he’s a deranged sociopath like Cletus Kasady/Carnage from Spider-Man, but Disney, did you forget that your target audience is for kids not homicidal maniacs?
The Final Verdict: B, FOR BIGGER & BETTER!
In my opinion, Recess: School’s Out is a feel good animated film for the whole family. If you grew up watching Recess like me, I highly recommend the entire series along with the movie, as a sign to introduce your kids an actual animated Disney cartoon.