The budget-minded retro freaks over at VH1 have long since exhausted the meager comic possibilities posed by tongue-in-cheek references to Garfield's hostility towards Monday, the urban legend involving Mikey dying after simultaneously consuming Pop Rocks and soda, and Pat Morita's unconventional training techniques in The Karate Kid. But someone forgot to tell the makers of the dire new Jamie Kennedy vehicle Kickin' It Old Skool, which recycles each of the above pop culture references and many, many more. Kennedy's latest arrives tragically late to the '80s nostalgia party, long after even the most backwards-looking pop-culture history buffs have picked up their complimentary bedazzled gift bags, gone home, and grown the hell up.
In an unpromising variation on the deluded B-boy character he's played on The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, Malibu's Most Wanted, and Blowin' Up, Kennedy here plays a breakdancer who lapsed into a 20-year coma after attempting a dangerous move on stage. After waking from his coma, this parachute pants-wearing Rip Van Winkle-meets-Rob Van Winkle poser rounds up his old breakdancing group to compete in a So You Think You Can Dance-style television dancing competition. In a romantic subplot that would feel arbitrary and unconvincing even if it didn't have prominent undertones of quasi-pedophilia, Kennedy tries to woo his middle-school crush (Maria Menounos) away from her creepy television-host boyfriend despite boasting the mind of a prepubescent boy.
For a film that has nothing to offer but lazy '80s nostalgia, Kickin' It Old Skool doesn't even bother to get the details right. The film's first scene takes place in 1986, but prominently features a dance number borrowed from 1984's Flashdance and a Thriller-era Michael Jackson jacket. Pop culture moved slower in the '80s, but it didn't move that slowly and it seems awfully peculiar that someone bothered scouring vintage clothing stores to provide Kennedy with an elaborate wardrobe of adult clothing 20 years out of date. The climactic breakdancing scenes are fun and high-spirited, but with an unconscionable running time of 107 minutes, they take forever to arrive. Were the filmmakers really so wedded to every scene they couldn't find 15 minutes to cut? Besides, shouldn't we as a culture being moving on to depleting the comic potential of '90s nostalgia by now?