Recess: School's Out

on February 16, 2001 by Dwayne E. Leslie
   This film starts minutes before the end of the school year and the beginning of what is called the ultimate recess--summer vacation. With grand ideas of what his crew could do for their 12-week break from school, 4th-grader T.J. soon realizes that he is the only one who isn't going to camp for the summer.

   Meanwhile, a military compound is seized and the components are transferred to the last place anyone would think to look--3rd Street School.

   Things seem bleak and dismal as T.J. must spends his summer vacation alone. While cruising the neighborhood, he notices alien-like happening at his school. When his parents and the police are not willing to listen, the only ones who can help are his friends. It becomes personal when the students find out that a rogue principal is planning to eliminate recess forever. By pulling together all their talents--and with a little help from the faculty--they scheme to thwart his plans.

   This film successfully enhances the Saturday morning animated television series and makes it time well spent for both children and adults. Not only is the animation favorably tweaked for the bigscreen, but the film has several positive messages. The main point is that the film will have younger minds thinking about their future. Since the characters are kids turning into young adults, the scenes that have them reminiscing on past summer vacations will have an impact. The focus on the fact that there are only a few good years to enjoy in one's childhood is an excellent springboard for adults who want to bond by sharing their own experiences. There is also an emphasis on enjoying each moment to the fullest, because you never know how much fun you had until it's past.

   This is a smart story and well paced. The sixth-grade royalty, savage kindergarteners and the rest of the television cast are all accounted for. To help keep the adults tuned in, there's a flower-powered soundtrack full of memorable tunes, especially the one sung during the end credits. Voiced Andrew Lawrence, Dabney Coleman and James Woods. Directed by Chuck Sheetz. Written by Jonathan Greenberg. Produced by Stephen Swofford, Toshio Suzuki and Dave Swuz. A Buena Vista release. Rated G. Running time: 84 min

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