Recess: School's Out

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Recess: School's Out (or Recess: The Movie in certain countries) is a 2001 animated film of the popular Disney animated series Recess (released at the end of the fifth season), produced by DisneyToon Studios. It was the fourth movie based off a Disney television series to be released theatrically, the second (and most successful) movie based on a One Saturday Morning show, and the final One Saturday Morning based movie of the '90s lineup (Teacher's Pet would be the last movie from the block altogether, unless one show makes a revival of some sort). The movie began production in 1998 (during the show's second season, which pretty much explains how popular it was) and was finished in 2000.

It's the end of the school year, and T.J. is looking forward to having the time of his life with his friends all summer long...until he finds out each of them are going to different summer camps. Boredom and loneliness sets in for him until he notices something strange going on at the school. He makes his older sister, Becky, pick up the rest of the gang from their camps (unwillingly), so they can aid him in finding out what's going on, as his parents (or the police) won't believe him, and after getting Principal Prickly to see what was going on, he somehow was zapped inside the building. The gang don't believe him at first, and think he made the whole thing up for them to come back from camp, until they see a satellite come out of the school and shoot a laser into the sky. Two nights later, they plan a stakeout (with Randall snooping around and seeing what's up, and getting Miss Finster to try and stop them).

They find out that a former principal and his cronies are trying to work on a plan to end summer vacation for good, creating a permanent winter. After accidentally getting spotted (thanks to Mikey), the villains chase after the kids, including an army of ninjas. While the other five escape, T.J. is caught, and is put in the same room Prickly was captured in. Apparently, Prickly knows the former principal (Philliam Benedict), who has wanted to get rid of recess since the '60s. Will the gang thwart the plans to get rid of recess and summer vacation? Well, seeing as the show was renewed for another season and two direct-to-DVD movies after that, you already know the answer.

The movie did very well critically, and very well in the box office, earning $36,706,141 domestically, and ended up with a total worldwide gross of $44,460,850 against the $10 million budget, and could be considered Disney's second biggest animated success for 2001 (With Monsters, Inc. in first), as their next animated film for the year wasn't as sucessful.

Tropes used in Recess: School's Out include:
  • Absentee Actor: While almost every supporting student has a role in the film, whether they speak or not, Cornchip Girl and Menlo are surprisingly absent.
  • Actor Allusion: In one scene, Becky is talking to her friend Melissa on the phone. Her voice actress? Melissa Joan Hart.
  • Adults Are Useless
    • Completely averted in this case.[context?]
    • Played straight with the police, at least until the end of the movie.[context?]
  • Air Vent Passageway: This is how the main six got into the school for the stakeout.
  • And I'm the Former Princess of Morocco
  • Animation Bump: There's better animation in the movie than in the series, though it did have a much larger budget and didn't have the deadlines the show had.
  • Badass: This film shows that Miss Finster is an excellent hand-to-hand combat fighter, and Ms. Grotke is a martial arts expert.
  • Badass Adorable: The main six again, but now Turned Up to Eleven in their badassery.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Benedict.[context?]
  • Big No: Done by Mikey when he finds out the villain's plan.
  • Big Whomping Heroes: The teachers.
  • Big Whomping Movie
  • Black Belt in Origami: T.J. yells this as he's being dragged away by mooks.
  • Bland-Name Product: Off to the left of one of the overhead shots of the school is a Raskin-Bobbins ice cream shop.
  • Brick Joke
    • In the ending, Prickly says that he hasn't forgotten about TJ's comment about his rear end, which was part of a prank TJ pulled at the start of the movie.
    • T.J.'s disbelief that Finster was a looker.
  • Body Double: Although not willingly done by Prickly: Shortly after Prickly was teleported inside the school and imprisoned by Benedict's goons, Prickly apparently left the school when TJ was trying to convince his friends that he was being genuinely honest about something up with the school (they found documents that they initially indicated that the staff were simply people restocking the supply room, to his friends anger), although after they witnessed the weather altering laser in action, they then assumed that Prickly was behind the whole thing. It wasn't until TJ did some more sleuthing the next morning where he stumbled upon Prickly's golf pants that the truth became even more insidious: The "Prickly" that they earlier witnessed was actually the ugly bald guy incognito, presumably to keep the other people in the dark about what's really going on at the school, and the real Prickly was being held hostage.
  • Call Back:
    • First:

Principal Prickly: Why do you do this to me, Detweiler? Do you enjoy tormenting me? Do you hate me?
T.J.: On the contrary, sir, I have only the utmost respect for you.

    • Later:

Benedict: Why do you do this to me, Pete? Do you enjoy tormenting me? Do you hate me?
Principal Prickly: I don't hate you, Phil. I just think you're insane.

    • First:

(when Vince is practicing pitching at baseball camp)
Coach: Come on, Lasalle! Throw it, don't aim it!

    • Later:

(when Benedict is activating the tractor beam, T.J. throws Vince a baseball)
T.J.: Vince! Remember: aim it, don't throw it!

  • Censorship by Spelling: Used when T.J. is heartbroken after his friends leave for camp, and he's all alone, and then his sister comes downstairs.

Becky: Bye, mom, bye dad, bye T.Jerk.
T.J.'s mom: Now, Becky, I want you to be nice to your brother. He's feeling a little S-A-D right now.
T.J.: I can spell, mom.

  • Chekhov's Gun
    • Gretchen's voice-changing device first appears in "The Army Navy Game" and is later used twice in this film.
    • T.J. finds his confiscated baseball in Prickly's desk when he goes to search his office, then throws it to Vince during the climax so he can use it to destroy the tractor beam.
    • Also, T.J. instructs Vince to do the opposite of what the coach at baseball camp told him to do earlier.
    • The lunch ladies decide to leave a pot of corn chowder in the school over the summer, later found by T.J. and Principal Prickly.
  • Colon Cancer: On Walmart's website, the movie's listed as Recess: The Movie: School's Out.
  • Completely Different Title: In Germany, it's (translated), Big Recess: The Secret Mission.
    • French: Recess: Give Me a Break!
    • Polish: Recess: Goodbye School
    • Swedish: Recess: Mission to Save Summer Vacation
    • Finnish: Recess: Save the Summer Holiday.
    • Some other countries called it Recess: The Movie or stuck with the original title.
  • Complexity Addiction: The villain's plan is very complicated. His plan of making children in the U.S. smarter involves moving the Moon.
  • Conspicuous CG: The opening shot of the town and the school. The pasted-in kids' run cycles don't even match up with their speed!
  • Continuity Nod
    • Spinelli uses her "Madame Fist" line that she used in the pilot episode.
    • Gretchen's voice changing device is seen again after being introduced in "The Army-Navy Game".
  • Darker and Edgier: Not as huge as other examples, but it's darker than the main series.
  • Direct to Video: When in pre-production, this is what the creators were considering. But due to the show's huge sucess, Disney wanted it to be put in theaters. So the plot was expanded and got an Animation Bump. Unlike Doug's 1st Movie, which was intended for DTV but was released in theaters instead (at the very last minute), this one was much more sucessful. Kind of like how |Toy Story 2 was going to be.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: The kids' performance of "Green Tambourine" during the credits.
  • Demoted to Extra
    • Lawson only appears in a quick cameo, getting sprayed with silly string (another kid was testing it on him to make sure it worked) and giving a thumbs up when the kids are getting ready to save T.J., however, he's still listed in the credits, hinting that he was going to have a bigger role, but his scenes were cut from the final film.
    • Miss Grotke only appears at the beginning of the first half of the film, and doesn't return until the battle towards the end. She also only has seven lines in the entire movie (two of them being screaming). Justified as the movie does take place during summer vacation (and unlike the other two main teachers, she has no ties to the Big Bad, obviously because she's younger than the two and wouldn't have appeared in the flashback scene anyway), and her scenes during the battle were pretty memorable.
  • Dueling Movies: Just barely averted. As discussed in the Trivia section, Recess: School's Out was slated to release in summer 2000, to coincide with the theme of the film. However, the still very lucrative Pokemon The Movie 2000 was released during that time as well. Disney executives kept pushing it back until February 2001. This decision helped Disney in releasing the first of two financially successful animated films for 2001, as well as earn an overwhelmingly positive response from the critics.
  • The Dragon: Ugly Bald Guy.
  • Even Evil Has Standards
    • In the opening, when a military base holding the moon-moving technology is being raided, Dr. Benedict asks if the personnel were killed by the stun rays. His lackey says no, and he responds that he doesn't like violence. Justified, as he was a school principal at one time.
    • Also, when Benedict and Fenwick end up arrested in the ending of the movie, Fenwick tries to talk his way out of arrest by pinning the blame on his boss and tries to claim that he was following orders. Randall's, who was nearby when witnessing it, only reaction to it was saying "Jeez, what a squealer!" out of disgust, implying that he felt that Fenwick's ratting out Benedict, his boss, to save his skin was low even for an informant like himself.
  • Evil Former Friend: Benedict to Prickly.
  • Fan Disservice: When the teachers come in for the climax battle, Miss Finster is wearing a lime green spandex suit with visible camel toe. Uh...
  • Fast Roping: Used by the teachers during the climax.
  • Flyaway Shot: Used at the end of the movie, and an inversion plays at the beginning of the movie.
  • Genre Busting: Comedy/drama/satire/sci-fi/action/prison escape/coming of age
  • Gondor Calls for Aid / Misfit Mobilization Moment: After TJ's been captured, the rest of the gang return to camp, and rally the rest of the Third Street student body to fight back.
  • Graduate From the Story: Subverted, as the kids all leave the fourth grade in this movie, they still attend the same school in Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade, not to mention they're back in fourth grade for season six, though this is only because the series was Uncancelled.
  • Groin Attack: Spinelli does this to the bald guy, though instead of kicking him, she headbutts him in the groin.
  • Hippie Teacher: Apparently, all the teachers were this during the '60s.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Randall comments that one of Dr. Benedict's goons is a squealer as he tries to weasel his way out of being arrested.
  • I'm Going for a Closer Look
  • Ironic Echo
    • The villain berates Prickly with the same words he says to T.J. at the beginning.
    • Of course, Prickly's answer is ten times more hilarious.

T.J.: (to Prickly) I don't hate you, sir. In fact I hold a lot of respect for you.
(later)
Prickly: I don't hate you, Phil. I JUST THINK YOU'RE INSANE!

  • I See London: Prickly is shown in his boxers after getting kidnapped. It was explained why his pants were missing, or at the very least it was implied: Benedict had his pants removed and placed in the dumpster (which T.J. found when sleuthing around the school the morning after his friends spied on them at night) as a means of humiliating him before tying him to a chair and then gagging him with tape.
  • It's Personal: T.J.'s motivation after finding out that Benedict is trying to get rid of recess.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Miss Finster back in the '60s... except for the fact that she has the same voice as she does in the present. However, April Winchell was probably going to use her normal voice for that scene, but she was already using it for T.J.'s mom.
  • Just Following Orders: Fenwick attempts to use this excuse when he is being arrested alongside Benedict. The police don't buy it.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The movie was released to DVD in mid-2001, but because of the show's cancellation, Walt Disney Home Video stopped releasing it around 2005. It's still availible at a few stores, and most trade-in DVD/entertainment stores, but that's it. It's unknown whether Disney's going to be releasing the movie on Blu-Ray as well.
  • Logo Joke: In the beginning, the Walt Disney Pictures logo at the time plays as normal...after the flash of light goes by, the main six are standing on each side of the castle, playing the rest of the theme for the logo on their kazoos.
  • Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Phillium Benedict.
  • The Movie
  • The Nineties: The movie was released in 2001, though the film takes place in the summer of 1998.
  • Ninja: Part of Benedict's task force.

Gus: Ninjas! Why did they have to be ninjas?!

  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Phillium Benedict was most likely named for former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett.
  • Oh Crap: Gus's C.O. at military camp's reaction when he realizes shortly after mocking Gus for becoming the military leader of the Third Street Resistance that Gus was actually being very serious about his being the military leader.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The bald guy isn't given a name in the movie. He's credited as "Bald Guy". Finster does briefly refer to him as "Kojak", however.
  • Pan-Up-To-The-Sky Ending: Using a clear blue sky.
  • Parental Bonus: The movie's built on this trope. It's freaking Recess, so of course this trope's going to be heavily involved.
  • Pet the Dog: Miss Finster with Miss Grotke at the end of the movie, after discovering that she's a martial arts expert. The sweet part kicks in when you remember that in previous seasons, Miss Finster didn't like her very much.
  • Playing Against Type: Although the role he played was technically still a villain, Tony Jay usually plays the role of intimidating villains (such as Shere Kahn, Monsieur D'Arque, and Claude Frollo). However, he plays the role of the head scientist who ended up getting detention after the weather altering laser ended up shorting out again... who acts like a complete wuss as soon as it became apparent that the laser shut down unexpectedly.
  • Police Are Useless: T.J. tells the police what's going on. They don't believe him. The other five tell the police what's going on. They don't believe them. Miss Finster and Randall tell them what's going on. They don't believe them. By the end of the movie though, they find out eventually and arrest the villains.
  • Rearrange the Song: After the prologue, the main theme plays... beefed up and more awesome.
  • "The Reason You Whomp" Speech: Unsurprisingly, it happens in a dramatic moment between T.J. and Principal Prickly. Very surprisingly, T.J. is the recipient of it. When T.J. and Prickly are both imprisoned by Benedict, T.J. angrily accuses Prickly of not caring about saving summer vacation. Prickly retorts with a long speech about how T.J. has unfairly cast him as a villain with no conscience, and that he always forgets that every adult he knows was a kid at some point.
  • The Resolution Will Not Be Televised: This was meant to be the finale to the series. And then it was Uncancelled.
  • Sad Times Montage: Used with T.J. after his friends leave for camp, with "One" by Three Dog Night playing.
  • Sensual Spandex: And it HAD to be worn by Miss Finster.
  • Series Continuity Error
    • In the 1968 flashback, Miss Finster appears to be in her early 20s. But in "Weekend at Muriel's", she appears to be in her early 20s in a picture from 1952. Does that mean she's younger than she looks? (Or even older than she looked?)
    • At the beginning, King Bob crowns the next king of the playground, King Freddie II (who at the time of the movie, was in fifth grade), due to Bob graduating. But in season two, Freddie was shown in the sixth grade with King Bob. (Though when the second season was still being worked on, there weren't any plans for a movie until the season premiered when it got green lit.)
  • Series Fauxnale: This was going to be the end of the series. However due to the well performance of the movie, it was renewed for one more season. Sadly, there wasn't much to the season, as after about four episodes, it hit the notorious sixty five episode limit Disney has.
  • Shout-Out
    • "Hey, teacher! Leave them kids alone!"
    • This movie's pretty much just one big shout out to The Sixties.
    • Also, Ms. Finster referred to the Bald henchman as "Kojak," referring to the bald police detective of the same name.
    • The scene in when T.J. and Prickly are captured, and Prickly's talk about summer vacation to T.J. reminds an awful lot of Toy Story.
  • Smoldering Shoes: Prickly's.
  • The Song Remains the Same: All of the insert songs in the movie are intact in the foreign dubs.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: While all the main kids have large roles in this movie, T.J. gets the most time to shine, leaving some fans to think that the film should've been called The T.J. Detweiler Movie.
  • The Stool Pigeon: Randall, obviously. However, there is also Finwick, who in the end becomes a Betrayer Barry in the hopes that he'd be acquitted if he pins all the blame on his boss while insisting that he was only following orders, while also offering evidence for the state trial. Ironically, Randall ends up being disgusted by this.
  • Swiper, No Swiping: Mikey shouts at the villain to stop during the final showdown. He asks if Mikey really thought he would stop if somebody just asked after he went through so much to get there. Mikey asks if he said please would he stop.
  • Title Drop: The movie's working title was Summer Vacation: The Ultimate Recess, which is what T.J. quotes in the beginning. However, the trope was then averted when the title was changed.
  • Title: the Adaptation: Actually averted in this case, which is rare for a movie based off a TV show. However, this is played straight in a few foreign countries, where it's called Recess: The Movie.
  • Took a Level in Badass Adorable: The main kids, as mentioned before.
    • Gus gets a special mention here, as he's the one who staged out the plan to rescue T.J. for the other kids to follow.
    • T.J. as well, as he's the member of the main six that gets the most focus in the movie.
  • Water Guns and Balloons: During the final battle, not to mention silly string is involved as well.
  • You and What Army?
  • You're Insane!:

Benedict: Why do you do these things to me, Pete? Do you enjoy tormenting me? Do you hate me?
Prickly: I don't hate you, Phil. I just think you're insane!