It's the most exciting time of year at Third Street Elementary-- the end of the School Year! But boredom quickly sets in for protagonist TJ Detweiler, as his friends (the other 5 protagonist children) are headed for Summer Camp. One day, while passing by the school on his bike, he notices a green glow coming from the school's auditorium. This is the work of the insidious ex-principal of Third Street, Phillium Benedict and his gang of ninjas and secret service look-alikes! Benedict is planning to get rid of Summer Vacation using his newly-acquired Tractor Beam, which he stole from the US Military Base in an effort to raise US Test Scores, and it's up to the Recess Gang to stop him! In the end, TJ and the gang, with the help from the other students, Principal Prickly, Ms. Finster and the other teachers, destroy the laser, Benedict and his henchmen are arrested, and the kids (TJ's buddies) decide to spend their Summer with TJ. Written by
Burt Reynolds was originally cast as Benedict but was replaced with James Woods as the producers thought Reynolds' performance was too over-the-top and sinister. See more »
When T.J. is looking at Prickly walking with two guards, the first shot shows Prickly wearing his generic green and pink shirt, however in the close-up, he is wearing a white shirt with a blue tie. See more »
As a youth, I remember the show Recess with great memories. I remember it playing on Toon Disney (now Disney XD, respectively) at around 3:30pm when I was in the third grade. I used to rush home and watch it before carrying on with my homework. It was childhood nostalgia at its finest. I wasn't introduced to the series till around 2004 or 2005, so when the film came out in 2001 I had no interest in seeing it because, well, I didn't know what it was.
It wasn't until about six months of watching the show I finally found Recess: School's Out and watched it. Back then, I thought it was one of the greatest animated movies of all time. I was shown it again at the end of the year in forth grade when the whole grade watched it at once. Memories like that will never die for me.
Not seeing this since around sixth grade, I used to rewatch it at least twice a year, seeing it again in 2011 kind of saddened me. I hesitate to watch old animated films I adored as a kid and some films like Fools Rush In which was a kid favorite of mine because I fear of tarnishing my memories of those movies. I remember them to be "amazing" and "hilarious." When reality catches up to me, most of my childhood favorites are only average pieces of film.
First of all, the film focuses on a bizarre storyline. T.J. Detweiller's forth grade year comes to an end and he has plans of riding bikes, camping out, and just hanging out with his five friends Mikey, Spinelli, Gretchen, Gus, and Vince. Only problem; they are all going to some sort of camp for most of the summer leaving T.J. secluded.
T.J. spends his first days of summer riding his bike and moping, like any kid with no friends over the summer would do. He notices strange activity going on in the school. There is a giant laser beam, satellite monstrosity inside of it and when he goes to the principal for help, the principal is dematerialized right before his eyes after trying to unlock the front door.
It turns out, that Dr. Phillium Benedict, former principal of the school, is trying to realign the moon to make a "year round winter" so summer vacation will be obsolete. His obsession with "test scores" and "improvement" leads to this chaos, so T.J. rounds up the gang to have an adventure and save their summer from extinction.
The plot is entertaining, but it is unbelievably strange and awkward. Eliminating summer vacation? I could see that. Hell, it is already happening in some schools. But I don't know if any proctor is planning to realign the moon. Another thing, where are the neighbors to the school? Don't they see the laser beam come out? And who wouldn't notice the long beam of green light light up the sky? The police are absolutely no help either. I can understand if a kid comes in saying "people are in a school with a laser beam" and the cops not believe him. But if multiple people, even adults, came in saying nearly the same thing don't you think the police would at least investigate. In order for this plot to work, half the town has to be a bunch of unaware nitwits.
And for a kids movie, it doesn't really have any attract factor for adults. The sixties music and the retro scenes are actually something adults may like. They only last for a short while though. Some scenes in this film like the scene of T.J. riding his bike with One is the Loneliest Number and the end credits with the whole Recess gang covering My Green Tambourine was actually the most favorable parts of the movie. I remember from my youth watching those scenes.
The animation is a bit different from the show. The show was hand drawn, and the movie is CGI. In 2001, CGI still wasn't a normal thing for all animated films. It's that awkward period between the past and the present. The buildings look blocky, but the characters look great. It isn't the beauty and remarkable quality Toy Story has, but animation isn't everything. It gets by.
Recess ranks up with the biggest nostalgic memories with me. While appreciating the movie when I was younger, the movie doesn't really serve more as a purpose than an extra trip to the theater. This could've easily been a TV movie, but maybe Recess deserved a film adaptation to the big screen. While some of the fun has deteriorated, there is still some there that will most likely never go away. The scenes in the treehouse were still as fun as they'll ever be.
Starring: Rickey D'Shon Collins, Jason Davis, James Woods, Paul Wilson, Ashley Johnson, Andrew Lawrence, and Dabney Coleman. Directed by: Chuck Sheetz.
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