Recess: School's Out
is an animated film
based on the television series Recess
. This film was produced by Walt Disney Pictures
, and released to movie theatres
Saving the world, one playground at a time.
The movie starts as Dr. Phillium Benedict plans to ban recess
But back to usual business at Third Street School, TJ and his pals sneak ice cream right out from under Ms. Finster's nose and share it with all of the children of the playground. When Ms. Finster finds out, T.J. disguises his voice as Principal Prickly and tells the students that they should scarf down every last bit of ice cream found on the playground, and tells them Prickly has a "fat, saggy butt", making the students roar with laughter, at which point Principal Prickly catches him in the act.
Dr. Phillium Benedict, (voiced by James Woods) the former Secretary of Education (fired after trying to abolish recess nationwide in a prior episode) and former principal of Third Street School, steals a tractor beam and places it in the school during summer vacation. He plans to use the device to alter the moon's orbit, thereby altering the weather and creating permanent winter, and even get rid of summer vacation. He hopes to raise test scores by doing this (and become president).
T.J. Detweiler is the only kid in town (aside from Randall) who doesn't go to a summer camp. Bored and friendless he rides by Third Street Elementary School one day only to notice strange events are taking place-- an eerie green light is emanating from inside the school. T.J. tries to tell his parents and the cops, but no one believes him (the cops laugh out loud when anyone tries to suggest what is really going on, a running gag throughout the movie). He finds Principal Prickly at the West Side Golf Course and brings him to the school (the principal is still skeptical and annoyed from being pulled from his game in the middle of his vacation) where he is promptly "dematerialized" (really kidnapped through some kind of teleporter) on the front step, leaving only his golf shoes. Later, with some help from his sister, TJ gets his friends together. They do not believe him either...until they see Benedict's tractor beam come out of the school and fire a green ray into the sky.
They all try to stop Benedict, but fail on their own. In order to save the world as they know it, every single student in school is brought in, including the former sixth graders, such as King Bob. Additionally, Ms. Finster arrives with the rest of the school's faculty to stop Benedict - they, like the pupils, refuse to give up the largest period of time when they don't have to worry about school. In the midst of a large battle between Benedict and his men vs. the students and teachers staged in the laboratory (really the upgraded auditorium), Vince destroys the photon channeler using a baseball and the kids and teachers win. Despite his persistence, Benedict and his henchmen are defeated and arrested, and the series essentially ends. With Benedict and his men in jail, Mikey, Gus, Gretchen, Spinelli and Vince decide to spend their summer with T.J., because they have plenty of time to prepare for their futures, but they only have a little time left for just being kids. One thing T.J. should remember though-- by the time the new school year starts, he still has a meeting with Principal Prickly-- he hasn't forgotten the "saggy butt" comment. It should be noted that themes such as good vs. evil, growing up, and to some extent the loss of innocence are prevalent in this film.
The music in this film is predominantly New Wave
and 1960s popular music
. The following songs were on the soundtrack:
- 1. "Dancing in the Street" - Martha And The Vandellas
- 2. "Born to Be Wild" - Steppenwolf
- 3. "One" - Three Dog Night
- 4. "Incense and Peppermints" - Strawberry Alarm Clock
- 5. "Wipe Out" - The Surfaris
- 6. Nobody But Me - Human Beinz
- 7. "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" - The 5th Dimension
- 8. "Green Tambourine" - Robert Goulet
- 9. "Recess Suite" - Denis Hannigan
- 10. "Dancing in the Street" - Myra
Note: "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix was also used in the film, though it is not included on the soundtrack.
- This was Andrew Lawrence's last "appearance" as T.J. Detweiler, as he did not return for the direct-to-video releases, as the other cast members did.
- Philliam Benedict is a play on William Bennett, who was Secretary of Education during the Reagan administration, as well as Benedict Arnold, the much-vilified traitor in the American War of Independence.
- At one point in the movie, Ms. Finster yells out "HEY, Teacher! Leave them kids alone!". That is a line from, and a direct reference to the 1979 hit Another Brick in the Wall (part II) by Pink Floyd.
- When the kids at the music camp are sleeping on three beds, they have names: Luciano, Jose, and Placido. These are the first names of The Three Tenors: Luciano Pavarotti, José Carreras, and Plácido Domingo.
- The 1960s models of both Phillium Benedict and Peter Prickly are based on famous icons of the 1960s. Peter Prickly was based on John Lennon, member of The Beatles, and can be recognized from the 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine. Phillium Benedict was based on Captain America, Peter Fonda's character in the film Easy Rider.
- Hidden Mickey: When the kids, hiding in the heating duct, witness the tractor beam being tested, the first shot of the moon being hit show a cluster of craters on the upper right side, shaped like Mickey Mouse's head.
- When the 1968 Phil arrived on his motorcycle the Jimi Hendrix song Purple Haze can be heard.
- In the scene where TJ bursts into Becky's room, there is a poster of a young man hanging on her wall, wearing the Floppy Burger uniform. He may or may not be the Jimmy that Becky continually dreams and writes about in her diary.
- Had Benedict succeeded in altering the moon's orbit, the climate changes that it would supposedly bring about would have catastrophic environmental consequences across the world. The sharp drop in temperatures would cause plants and crops to die out, which in turn would cause famine and mass extinction.
- The idea of changing the moons orbit was explored to the novel Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer and its companion The dead and the gone in which the moons changing orbit causes numerous worldwide catastrophes.
The film's reception was rather mixed, only garnering a 61% on Rotten Tomatoes and a C at boxofficemogo.com.
Despite the mixed reviews, the film was a Box Office Success at the US and Canada Box Offices, earning $36,706,141 at the Domestic Box Office rate. However it performed poorly at Overseas Box Offices, earning only $7,754,709, with a total worldwide rate of $44,460,850.
- Jackie Chan Adventures: As Ms. Finster reports to the police about the sighting of ninjas at the school, the police laugh at her report, saying they should contact Jackie Chan to tackle the job. Additionally, Clancy Brown, who did the voice of the Ugly Bald Guy in this movie, did the roles of Captain Augustus Black and Ratso in Jackie Chan Adventures.