After Doug, Disney turned another successful (or so I assume) TV show into a movie, this time, Recess. Now, I have never seen much of Recess aside from a couple of minutes here or there but I was aware of its existence which is something. So, without further ado, let’s begin.
The movie opens with a shot of them moon which totally reminds me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Next up we see a facility with big, fat KEEP OUT sings all around it. Inside two workers are alone and not very concerned until there are people braking in to the facility, stunning the guys.
Apparently the research (again, I’m assuming) can’t stay there because it’s too easily detected or something. Instead, they are going where no one will find them, 3rd Street School.
With that we cut to the school. There are dozens of kids with different social circles, feeding into various stereotypes we have all been fed since forever. People familiar with the show probably know the kids but I don’t. Either way, Ms. Finster (which I heard as Spinster throughout the entire movie) is overseeing the loading of boxes while a small unfriendly kid is tattle tailing all that is going on during recess right now. But Muriel Finster doesn’t care because the boxes are filled with ice cream she hid from feeding to the kids so she can now sell it back to the government and also it’s the last day before summer vacation. Tattle Tail remarks that the Recess gang hasn’t been around so we cut to them lifting boxes from the truck and dispersing the school’s playground in an ice cream shower. It’s one of the best kind of showers if you ask me.
TJ is impersonating the Principal who obviously is on to him and appears next to him because obviously.
In a classroom, the kids are counting down the last seconds towards summer vacation and everyone dances to some 60s music. It’s awesome.
The Recess gang walks home and TJ asks what they will be doing all summer but he soon gets the sadz because all his little buddies are going away to different camps to work on their resumes or something. God, these kids are 4th-graders, let them be kids. Anyway, cut to the next day when all kids are leaving for their various camps at the same time, at the same place because of contrivance reasons I guess.
Sad montage of TJ being all alone and having no one to play with, womp womp.
At home, TJ gets a lecture by his parents for getting up so late. His sister comes in, she is going to spend her summer working at a burger place (another Buffy shout out, but maybe I just want to see them).
TJ is having his worst summer ever until he rides his bike past the school and sees weird green light shining from the gym. An angry man comes running so obviously he goes to investigate some more. Cars are arriving with boxes that are being unloaded. It’s all very dubious. TJ watched through the window as they are levitating a safe with a green tractor beam. Um, okay. So he runs home to tell his parents but they don’t believe him or don’t care; maybe both. So TJ next runs to the police but it seems the Recess universe has its own branch of Traumalands LOLPD. They just laugh at his description so TJ goes to the golf course where he finds the Principal whom he can convince to follow him to the school.
On the doorstep the Principal gets greenified and vanishes left for his shoes. Okay…
TJ blackmails his sister by use of her diary and the steamy entries about her and her boyfriend/crush to get his buddies from camp. To me, it looks like the kids are actually not having as great a time at their camps as they thought they would be having but maybe that’s just me.
Together, they watch the unloading of more boxes at school. Man, those are lots and lots of boxes. They grab one of them to only find paperwork inside. The kids think this is just some restocking of the school’s supplies and are mad at TJ from dragging them from their career camps or whatever until the roof of the school opens (ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?) and a huge dish comes out, shooting a laser beam at the sky.
They decide to get on this case. In order to not raise suspicion, they’re going to be campers by day and spies by night because sleep is totally overrated, right? I don’t get this part but really, we’re talking about 4th graders investigating a green tractor beam shooting out of a school so who am I to be doubtful.
We get treated to a cute bonding session of the gang up in the tree house and I’m a sucker for that. I love it when we see friends being friends and kids being kids because friendships are important. They even sing a song because this is Disney and they are contractually obligated to include singing (jk, I don’t think they are but it seems totally legit).
Something weird is going on with the principal since he disappeared. One of the secret guys is taking off a Principal mask and it’s weird. Meanwhile, the gang is coming up with a plan but Tattle Tail is around to eavesdrop so he immediately runs to Muriel Finster who is doing some punching/boxing exercises. As he explains her about the gang’s plan to break into school we see them doing so.
Finster is behind them though only she is a bit too big to take the same entry way as the kids.
The kids see how the school was basically turned into some weird scientific research facility (which doesn’t remind me about Buffy season 4 at all, nope). The scientists are having issues but the guy running this shit-show isn’t having any of it. Dr. Benedict seems merciless and like a real douchecanoe.
To me, it looks like they are replicating the Death Star but okay. They actually want to move the moon because WHY THE HELL NOT, RIGHT?!
Mickey, who has been eating while they were watching all this from their hideout suddenly has to burp and they reveal their presence. Womp, womp. They have to flee from ninjas and everything; it’s utterly ridiculous but fun. They manage to escape through a gate but TJ is the last one and he gets dragged back inside. TJ get thrown into a storage room where he finds the Principle bound to a chair.
The gang minus TJ are at the LOLPD but they laugh at them again because they are the worst.
Meanwhile we learn that the Principal and Dr. Benedict went to teacher school together and we’re treated to a 60s flashback. It’s everything you ever hoped for! Doc guy is not only batshit crazy but leo dating Muriel. He wants to eliminate recess in order to increase the kids test results. I don’t think that’s how it works but okay. He gets fired though because Principal intervenes and Principal becomes principal to the school. Sorry, that sentence was a bit confusing.
The gang is working through the boy of stuff they stole before. Gretchen recognises the lunar something in a date book and we learn that Crazy Doc is planning on moving the moon to a different orbit.
Principal and TJ are inside the school trying to find out what’s going on. In the office, TJ finds his confiscated walkie talkie but before he can give a full report to his friends, they find something utterly disturbing. Fade to black.
Doc Crazy wants to get rid of summer vacation. HOW DARE HE!
He explains how this is supposed to work. See, without summer there won’t be wasted time on summer vacation and also Canada, Iceland and Norway have the highest test scores because it’s snowing there all the time?! Yeah, absolutely no.
TJ’s sister is helping the gang collecting all the kids from the various camps.
Muriel is also at LOLPD explaining what she saw at the school but again, they are proving to be the worst at their jobs.
Held in a cage, Principal gives TJ a great speech about why he is in favour of recess and summer vacation. It’s amazing and I’m a sucker for good speeches! He has also taken the key from Carzy Doc and lets them out of the cage.
All the campers have gathered, Gus gets made their leader and together they come up with a plan to save summer vacation. It’s pretty awesome!
Inside the school, Principal and TJ are working on their own little mission, preying time until TJ’s friends will be there to safe them.
It takes a while and the kids do use a lot of imagination and their united skill sets to get into the school and we’re treated to a TJ-Gang reunion. It’s sweet. But the action sin’ over because the tractor beam needs to be stopped first. Even Muriel appears and has motivated the other teachers to join as well.
And that’s how summer vacation was saved!
In the end, TJ gives the diary back to his sister and they have a cute moment before he says thanks to Principal. They share a great moment and I get all misty eyed. Damn it, Disney, I was not prepared for this, stop making me all emotional! The gang then goes on to enjoy the rest of their vacation just being kids.
I have to say, I was surprised by this movie. It was really good and much more entertaining than the Doug one, in my opinion. I loved the message where, in the end, all the kids from their different social standpoints and circles came together to work with each other. They overcame their prejudices and also TJ learned that teachers are just humans and that the principal isn’t a bad guy at all. He has a soft spot for recess and favours kids enjoying their kid-lives for as long as possible. All in all, a very sweet and good movie!