Positively making me smile like a wild Cheshire cat, this cartoon film is a jolly trip down memory lane even if the story is basic and the songs become a distracting addition. I still wish I went to a school with a playground like they had.
As summer vacation happily rests on the corner, TJ (Andrew Lawrence) and his friends pull off an ice-cream prank; a big show of their close nature and the fact they’re just kids fooling about. Sadly TJ is left to a possible summer alone where he learns Third Street school may be harbouring secrets and for once he may have to save the building instead of causing chaos to get out of lessons.
Based on the popular Disney animated series from the late 90’s, this movie is at the end of the day nothing more than a stretched out episode and it does feel like that. I wish it didn’t because maybe my youthful days remembered Recess as a more exciting escape but watching this film critically made me realise how simple the plot is. That being said there is some smart writing, with jokes landing well and ‘Home Alone’ style madness ensuing as the school children team up to save the day.
The best factor for me is the nostalgia felt when watching the movie play out, obviously that wouldn’t have been the case for kids and adults when watching it upon the 2001 release date but even then I feel the designated audience would have lapped up this fun hi-jink as we see Spinelli, Vince, Gus, Gretchen and Mikey join together to uncover the surreal goings on in the school and stop the bad guy from bringing about an ice age…yes an ice age, that’s the big bad threat of this film.
The music choices feel a bit pushed and perhaps only suited for the grown-ups as more classic songs such as One and Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In play over some of the sequences. They do feel forced as if trying to build some pulse and energy to proceedings when the storyboarding should have done it alone. The vibrant 60’s themed soundtrack is amusing though in the flashback to younger teachers being hippy and loving free love, a quite obvious reference to drug culture of the time I wouldn’t have ever picked up on before, heck the closing credits are a psychedelic ride too.
Apart from a couple of glitchy computer generated moments and a thinly drawn out extended episode of a film, this is by far an enjoyable and comical cartoon excursion that makes me remember the good old days.