Recess: School's Out

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Recess: School's Out
Recess Schools Out film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChuck Sheetz
Screenplay byJonathan Greenberg
Story by
Based onRecess
by Paul Germain
Joe Ansolabehere
Produced by
  • Joe Ansolabehere
  • Paul Germain
  • Toshio Suzuki (uncredited)
  • Stephen Swofford
Edited byTony Mizgalski
Music byDenis M. Hannigan
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • February 10, 2001 (2001-02-10) (premiere)
  • February 16, 2001 (2001-02-16) (United States)
Running time
83 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$23 million[2]
Box office$44.5 million[2]

Recess: School's Out (also known as Recess: The Movie – School's Out) is a 2001 American animated comedy adventure film based on the Disney television series Recess,[3] and features the voices of Andrew Lawrence, Rickey D'Shon Collins, Jason Davis, Ashley Johnson, Courtland Mead, Pamela Adlon, Dabney Coleman, Melissa Joan Hart, April Winchell, and James Woods.

The film centers around T.J. Detweiler and his friends uncovering a plot to get rid of summer vacation taking place at their school. It was produced by Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Television Animation and Walt Disney Television Animation Digital Production with animation done by Sunwoo Animation and Sunwoo Digital International. The film began production in 1998 (during the show's second season) and was finished in 2000.

The film was distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, premiered on February 10, 2001, and released theatrically in the United States on February 16, 2001. The film received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics, but performed well at the box office, grossing $44.5 million on a $23 million budget.[2]


In the Nevada desert, a group of men break into a military base and steal a top-secret project, intending to use Third Street School as their headquarters.

Meanwhile, after T.J. Detweiler and his friends pull one last prank before summer vacation begins, they shock him by revealing they will be attending different summer camps, departing the next morning. Two days later, T.J. notices strange activity occurring at the school before an aggressive bald man named Kojak intimidates him. Investigating further the next day, he sees some scientists inside levitating a safe with a tractor beam. When neither his parents nor the police believe him, he goes to Principal Prickly for help, who is dematerialized after putting his key in the lock. Desperate, T.J. blackmails his older sister Becky to drive him to the camps to retrieve his friends.

The group obtains a box from one of the vehicles at the school, only to find inconsequential documents inside. T.J.’s friends accuse him of deceit until a giant laser device emerges from the roof and Kojak emerges disguised as Prickly, verifying T.J.’s suspicions. They then formulate a plan involving going to camp during the day and meeting up at night. The following day, T.J. finds Prickly’s golf pants in the dumpster, with a “Help Me!” note in the pocket; they infiltrate the school that night to rescue Prickly, unaware of school snitch Randall Weems eavesdropping. Randall informs the school deputy principal Muriel Finster, who intends to apprehend them. After the kids discover the auditorium has been turned into a laboratory and are discovered, T.J. is captured by the guards while his friends escape, which a flabbergasted Finster and Randall witness. T.J. is then locked inside the stock room, encountering a bound and gagged Prickly. Both discover that Dr. Phillium Benedict, Prickly's ex-best friend, is overseeing the operation inside the school.

Prickly exposits Benedict's background to T.J.: in 1968, he, Finster and Benedict went to teacher training; Finster was Benedict's then-girlfriend. When appointed Principal of Third Street School, Benedict proposed abolishing recess to improve test grades, but furious parents protested it. Prickly asked the superintendent to encourage Benedict to rescind, but when he declined, the superintendent replaced him as principal with Prickly, with Finster disgustedly dumping him for his cruel plans. Swearing revenge on Prickly for his losses, Benedict went into politics, eventually becoming secretary of education, until he was fired by the President for reattempting to abolish recess nationwide.

While T.J.’s friends review papers inside the box, Spinelli acquires a date book that mentions lunar perigee (taking place at 12:22 pm the next day). Gretchen realizes the device they saw earlier is a tractor beam and deduces that Benedict plans to use it to move the moon when it nears Earth. T.J. and Prickly get to Prickly’s office, where they discover Benedict’s plan to eradicate summer vacation by creating a new permanent Ice Age that will force kids indoors year-round, and alert T.J.’s friends before they are recaptured, but eventually escape. Meanwhile, T.J.’s friends persuade Becky to drive them to the camps and pick up all the other students. Taking charge, Gus concocts a plan to invade the school, which succeeds, and most of Benedict’s henchmen are defeated.

Meeting up with T.J. and Prickly, the group confronts Benedict in the auditorium, who summons more guards to stop them. However, Finster bursts in with the other teachers to save Prickly and the students, and a battle ensues. Benedict attempts to activate the beam himself, but Prickly punches him out, causing him to fall on and activate the beam. With Prickly unable to reverse it, T.J. tosses his baseball to Vince and instructs him to throw it at the machine, destroying it. Finally aware of Benedict's plot, the police arrive at the school to arrest him and his henchmen for their crimes.

As the media praise the students and teachers for thwarting Benedict's plot, T.J.’s friends decide to spend the rest of their summer with him. T.J. goes to Prickly’s office to thank him; Prickly thanks T.J. for reminding him why he started teaching: to help kids. T.J. then joins his friends as Prickly dons his peace symbol necklace from 1968, then jokingly reminds T.J. he will still be reprimanded for his earlier prank when September comes.




Recess: School's Out (Original Movie Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedJanuary 13, 2001
LabelWalt Disney
Singles from Recess: School's Out
Review scores

Home media

Recess: School's Out was released on VHS and DVD by Walt Disney Home Video on August 7, 2001.[4] As of November 12, 2019, the film, along with the series, is available to stream on Disney+.


Box office

The film earned $36.7 million in North America and another $7.8 million from other countries. The worldwide gross was $44.5 million, against a $23 million budget.[2] The film was released in the United Kingdom on July 27, 2001, and opened on #7.[5]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, the film has an approval rating of 60% based on 70 reviews, with an average rating is 5.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Though basically a television cartoon stretched out to movie length, Recess has enough successful jokes and smart writing to make it a worthwhile view."[4] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 43 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[6] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the film a two and a half stars out of four, saying, "Parents may find it amusing, but it doesn't have the two track versatility of Rugrats in Paris, which worked for kids on one level, and adults on another."[7] Bob McCabe of Empire Magazine, gave the film a one out of five stars and said, "Even if it did keep the ankle biters quiet for an hour or so, this still wouldn't be worth your money."[8]

Common Sense Media gave the film a two out of four stars and said: "Simply a TV episode blown up for the big screen."[9]


  1. ^ "Recess: School's Out". American Film Institute. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d "Recess School's Out (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2015-01-26.
  3. ^ "Scale Down the Bad Guy in Kids' Animated Films". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-10.
  4. ^ a b "Recess: School's Out (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2020-11-18.
  5. ^ "UK Weekend Box Office 27th July 2001 - 29th July 2001". Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  6. ^ "Recess: School's Out reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Recess: School's Out movie review (2001) | Roger Ebert". rogerebert. Retrieved 2021-05-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "Recess: School's Out". Empire. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  9. ^ "Recess: School's Out! - Movie Review". 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2021-05-21.

External links

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