Recess: School’s Out

Recess: School’s Out (2001)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: the voices of James Woods, Andy Lawrence
Extras: Puzzle Game, Animation Camp, Theatrical Trailer, Music Video, Digital Comic Book, Creator’s Secrets

The plot of Disney’s ’Recess: School’s Out’ is oddly reminiscent of Dan Simmon’s horror novel ’Summer of Night’. The animated film, based on the popular Saturday morning cartoon series, begins on the last day of school. T.J. (Andy Lawrence) is prepared to spend the summer having fun with his friends, but they all have plans to go to various camps. Left alone, T.J. wanders the streets of the neighborhood, when he notices some strange activities at the Third Street School, such as green lights coming from the auditorium. He’s tells his parents and the police, but no one believes him. When he informs the principal, Mr. Prickly (Dabney Coleman), Prickly suddenly disappears. T.J. realize that he must round up his friends from their summer camps to help him discover what’s going on inside the school. What they discover could threaten the happiness of children worldwide.

Being unfamiliar with the TV series, I was afraid that I’d be lost in ’Recess: School’s Out’, but the movie quickly introduces T.J. and his friends, and one immediately feels comfortable with the characters. This is a fun movie and the central theme, which involves children and their love for summer vacation, can be appreciated by most anyone. The animation is of a higher quality than the TV show and the film is very colorful. Knowing that parents would be watching the film, the filmmakers included a heavy dose of ’Baby Boomer Friendly’ 60’s nostalgia. ’Recess: School’s Out’ contains some mild cartoony violence during the finale and some typical pre-adolescent sassmouth (T.J. is like Bart Simpson lite), but otherwise there is no objectionable material. This is one Disney film that really can be fun for the whole family.

Having been a theatrical release, ’Recess: School’s Out’ is presented on DVD in an anamorphic widescreen and is letterboxed at 1.66:1. The image is extremely sharp and clear, rivaling digital broadcast quality. There is no discernible grain, and the colors look excellent. There is no distortion or artifacting, as are there no visible defects from the source print. The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is surprising effective. ’Recess: School’s Out’ sports a rousing, military score which comes crashing through all five channels and pounds the bass as well. The dialogue is clear and audible, with the sound effects being nicely spaced throughout the sound system.

This DVD includes several fun extras. ’The Ten Secrets of ’Recess’’ has series creators Paul & Joe sharing ten intriguing tidbits about the show that fans will love. ’Animation Camp’ is a brief, but detailed look at how the film was conceived, animated, and completed. There is an interactive 3-D puzzle game entitled ’The Schoolyard Challenge’, as well as a digital comic book, which one can read, or have read to you. We have two music videos on the disc. The first is yet another remake of ’Dancing in the Streets’ by Myra and the other is a cover of ’Green Tambourine’ by Robert Goulet. (You’ll have to see the film to understand the Goulet connection.) And finally, we have the theatrical trailer, which is presented full-frame and in Dolby Digital 5.1.