[Moving picture of popcorn]

Laramie Movie Scope:
Recess: School's Out

Leave Them Kids Alone

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

February 22, 2001 -- "Recess: School's Out" is an animated comedy action film based on the popular TV show, "Recess." It is an odd mixture of contemporary children's culture and that of the baby boom generation (which grew up in the 1950's and 1960's). Nearly all of the songs on the soundtrack are from the 1960's. The final song is emblematic of duality of the film, a 1960's era Motown hit by Martha and the Vandellas. "Dancing in the Street" is performed for this film by a 14-year-old singer named Myra. It is a joining of the generations.

The hero of the story is T.J. Detweiler (voice by Andrew Lawrence of "Recess" TV show). He's a smart grade school kid, who is a natural leader. Andy's plans for a summer vacation go awry when all of his friends go away for camp, leaving him alone. Something interesting happens to shake him out of the summer doldrums. He sees strange activities at the school, which should be closed down for the summer. The school has become the nerve center of a nefarious, clandestine operation involving a large particle beam weapon.

The police won't take T.J.'s reports seriously, so he recruits his friends to help investigate. Soon the teachers and the school's principal, Vance Prickly (voice by Dabney Coleman of "Stuart Little") get into the act as well. The main teacher is Miss Finster (voice by April Winchell of the "Recess" TV show). T.J.'s friends include a big boy, Mikey Blumberg (voice by Jason Davis), science whiz Gretchen Grundler (voice by Ashley Johnson of "What Women Want") and the shy Gustavus 'Gus' P. Griswald (voice by Courtland Mead of the "Recess" TV show). Veteran actor James Woods also adds his voice talents to the movie, as, what else, the villain.

One of the central issues of the story has to do with growing up and learning to relate to adults. In one scene, T.J. and Mr. Prickley are locked up together. Through their conversation, T.J. comes to realize that he has more in common with the principal than he would like to admit. He has the realization that all kids have at some time: that adults are people too. The other message of the film is that kids ought not to be in such a hurry to grow up. They ought to enjoy their time as kids. The story is also about teamwork and how kids learn to develop the skills they have, and how that is a lot easier if someone believes in them and encourages them. This is a very positive movie.

The artistry of the animation is pretty basic. It is similar to that of "The Simpsons." Director Chuck Sheetz has directed episodes of the animated TV shows "King of the Hill" and "The Simpsons." A process called "Digital Ink and Paint" was used to speed up production of the movie and to enhance the animation. Principal animation was done at the Sun Woo Studios in Seoul, Korea. Storyboarding began in March, 1999 and animation was finished in August of 2000, a pretty short time for an animated feature. The strong suit of the film is not the animation, however, it is the story and the character development. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 2001 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.
[Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)