Recess: School's Out

A big-screen adaptation of a popular, attitude-drenched animated series, Recess: School's Out features the sorriest animation this side of a Digimon vehicle. But prepubescent fans of the show probably won't mind, and neither should their parents. A film with a lot of heart outside its occasional bursts of frenetic activity, Recess features the summertime adventures of a prank-loving kid named T.J. (voiced by Andrew Lawrence) who's left alone when his usual gang of colorful friends departs for various career-oriented summer camps. But a series of mysterious events, in particular the apparent disintegration of his principal (Dabney Coleman), prompts T.J. to reunite his pals. Together, they unearth a shadowy, recess-hating organization—headed by James Woods and featuring a member who bears an uncanny resemblance to dreamy conservative CNN commentator Tucker Carlson—bent on displacing the moon in an effort to end summer vacation forever. Outside of a few amusing conceits, particularly a character who sings with the unmistakable voice of Robert Goulet and a group of kindergarteners characterized as feral savages, Recess doesn't offer much to entertain audience members outside its core fan base. But it's pleasant and inoffensive enough that anyone shanghaied into escorting kids to the movies won't mind too much, and it effectively conveys its core message that kids should be allowed to be kids as long as it suits them, lest they turn into self-serving, moon-moving baddies.

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