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[Short Reviews]


Forget Bush’s fantastical plan to raise scholastic scores, or even our own MCAS fracas. This screen version of the animated Disney TV series takes the concept of “better education” to its totalitarian extreme. Fired secretary of education Philliam Benedict (James Woods in a role that obviously spoofs former education czar William Bennett) concocts a scheme worthy of a Bond villain to cast the globe into eternal winter. Why? To end summer (and summer break) so kids will stay inside and study harder. What’s even more illicit is that Benedict somehow ascended to the post of secretary after being removed as a school principal for abolishing recess. But this is a film for and about kids. No one believes fourth-grade jokester T.J. (Andy Lawrence) when he stumbles upon Benedict’s giant ray gun and army of ninjas — the police laugh at him and his parents think he’s bumped his head again. So it’s up to T.J. and his crew of misfits to thwart Benedict and rescue the school’s missing principal (Dabney Coleman). As ridiculous as Recess sounds, director Chuck Sheetz spins it into an enjoyable breeze. The humor regularly hits the mark, and the kid lessons are well baked. Essentially, it’s The Simpsons for 10-year-olds.

By Tom Meek

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