This 2001 release of a movie based on the very successful schoolyard animated TV series, Recess, is pretty much a classic. It reminds of the days before guns kept popping up in schools across the nation. A time the most dangerous thing that might happen in your 4th grade class was the class reptiles getting loose and possibly biting someone.
Things are changing at 3rd St. Elementary School. School is letting out for summer vacation, and everyone is celebrating, from Principal Prickly (Dabney Coleman) to the tiniest savage kindergartener. King Bob (Toran Caudell) is graduating to middle school, and TJ Detweiler (Andrew Lawrence ) and his gang are splitting up over the summer. Everyone is going to camp, except for TJ, and his squealing arch enemy, Randall (Andrew Lawrence). Vince is going to baseball camp (Rickey D’Shon Collins), Gretchen (Ashley Johnson) is going to Space Camp, Mikey (Jason Davis, singing voice, Robert Goulet) is going to performing arts camp, Spinelli (Pamela Segall, now Pamela Adlon) is going to wrestling camp, and Gus (Courtland Mead) is going to some kind of junior military boot camp. The Ashleys are going to cheerleading camp, and even Hustler Kid is going to wrestling camp to learn how to be a sports promoter. TJ’s summer is going to be the most boring ever, or so he thinks.
While riding his bike by the school one day en route to a reluctant, but desperate playdate with Randall, TJ sees some shady, but official looking guys at the school. He wants to investigate this further, so he goes in for a closer look, and sees some eerie green glow coming from the windows in the school auditorium.
He discovers there is some kind of elaborate set up being put together, and a huge laser cannon comes out of the school roof. After telling those in authority about what he has seen, he gets the brush off, except by Principal Prickly. Prickly goes to the school to see if TJ’s story is true, then is zapped when he tries to unlock the front door. After TJ has a good scream, all he finds are Prickly’s fried shoes, and his school principal has disappeared. TJ decides it is time to get the gang back together to learn more, since he can’t do it alone.
After blackmailing his sister, Becky (Melissa Joan Hart) into driving him all over the state by holding her diary hostage, he find everyone, and shows them what is going on. They have a real mystery on their hands, and when they find out who is behind all this and why, it brings up a great flashback from 1968, featuring much younger versions of Prickly and Miss Muriel Finster (April Winchell)and lots of peace signs, rainbows and hippie culture. Our misguided villain is the ex-principal of 3rd St. School, Dr. Philliam “Phil” Benedict (James Woods), and his goal is to get rid of the biggest recess of all, summer vacation. He intends to do this by getting rid of summer, since scholastic testing scores are high in cold nations like Canada, Norway, and Sweden. What he does not seem to realise is that these nations score well, not because they are in cold climates, but because the schools are properly funded. Moving the moon might give the planet a permanent winter, but it won’t make these kids from having a summer vacation.
This movie has an amazing retro soundtrack featuring music from all genres of 1960s pop, rock, and Motown. From the opening with Martha and the Vandella’s “Dancing in the Street” to the bubblegum pop track of The Lemon Pipers “Green Tambourine”. The whole movie has a groovy vibe that anyone will enjoy, though younger viewers might not understand why they can’t ride on multi-coloured school buses.
I give this film a Musing review of