Recess: School's Out

Recess: School's Out (also known as Recess: The Movie – School's Out and Recess: The Ultimate Summer Vacation or Summer Vacation: The Ultimate Recess in the working titles) is a 2001 American animated comedy film based on the Disney television series Recess.[3]

Recess: School's Out
Recess Schools Out film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChuck Sheetz
Produced by
Screenplay byJonathan Greenberg
Story by
  • Paul Germain
  • Joe Ansolabehere
  • Jonathan Greenberg
Based onRecess
by Paul Germain
Joe Ansolabehere
Music byDenis M. Hannigan
Edited byTony Mizgalski
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • 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]

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 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 also serves as the show's season five finale.


An unidentified group of criminals break into a U.S. Army base in the southwestern desert. After overpowering and tasering the scientists working on and the guards protecting the secret device, the criminals, most of whose faces are not shown at this point, examine the device. Their leader, whose hands and feet are his only parts seen, tells the group to hide the stolen device and start working on their evil plan inside Third Street School as soon as summer vacation begins.

On the last day of the school year at Third Street, T.J. Detweiler and the rest of the Recess Gang pull off one last big prank before summer vacation begins. Since the school year is over and there is no time left for Mrs. Finster and Principal Prickly to impose and carry out any more punishments, they have no choice but to let the kids go free. T.J. is at first happy that school is out and he will have all summer to play with his five best friends. His happiness is short lived, however, when Vince, Spinelli, Gretchen, Mikey, and Gus all tell him that they will be at camp all summer long. As it turns out, almost all the students at Third Street school are spending the summer at different summer camps according to their main interests and future career plans. T.J. quickly becomes very bored and lonely, and actually starts wishing that the summer will end soon.

Completely alone and with no enriching activities to do, T.J. reluctantly goes to a play date with Randall, who is the snitch and most unpopular kid at Third Street. Apparently, Randall was the only other kid at the entire school who did not go to camp that summer. On the way to Randall's house, T.J. passes by the school and sees strange green glowing light emanating from all the windows. He goes over to investigate, but before he can see any more, T.J. is chased away by a tall, burly bald man. The next day, T.J. goes back to the school to investigate. He climbs over the chain link fence, peers into a window, and sees some scientist-like people shooting green beams from what appears to be a laser machine. Astonished and horrified, T.J. goes home to tell his parents about what he saw, but they do not believe him. He then goes to the police station to report his observations, but the police do not believe him either.

Just as T.J. comes out of the police station, he spies Principal Prickly come out of a nearby golf supply store. T.J. follows Prickly's car on his bike to the golf course, where he tells Prickly what he saw. The principal is annoyed by having his own summer vacation interrupted by T.J. and also very skeptical of what T.J. tells him. However, his friends who are golfing with him convince Prickly to go with T.J. to the school to see what is happening. Upon arriving at the school, Prickly inserts his key into the school's main entrance. But as soon as he does this, Prickly is zapped by a massive surge of green electric energy and is dematerialized, leaving only his smoldering golf shoes on the steps in front of the school.

Knowing that there are no more adults to turn to for help, and that no one is probably going to believe his story now, T.J. blackmails his sister Becky into driving him to each of his five friends' summer camps to bring them back and help him investigate more. Although they all initially accuse T.J. of inventing a story to trick them into coming back to be with him that summer, after the entire group witnesses the school's roof opening up and the giant laser device rising up through the open roof, they are all forced to admit that T.J. was telling the truth and agree to help him investigate. Each member of the Gang returns to their respective camp during the day and sneak back to spend the night together in the treehouse in T.J.'s backyard, from where the school can be clearly seen.

The next day, T.J. finds Prickly's golf pants in a dumpster on the school playground. He also witnesses the big bald man who chased him away from the school earlier using a mask to impersonate Principal Prickly. Inside the golf pants pocket is a note requesting help. The Gang decide to infiltrate the school that night to rescue Principal Prickly and find out what is really going on. Randall, who had been spying on them while hiding inside a garbage can in T.J.'s backyard, goes to Mrs. Finster's house that night to tell her about the Gang's plan to break into the school. The Gang, Randall, and Mrs. Finster all arrive at the school. The Gang succeed in entering the school through a window, but Mrs. Finster gets stuck in a basement entrance. Inside the school, the Gang crawls through the ventilation passageways (which they had frequently done so throughout the school year). When they reach the section above the auditorium, the Gang peer through an opening to see the auditorium converted into some sort of operation base occupied by strange people who appear to be scientists and technicians. In the auditorium is the large laser machine they saw rise through the roof earlier. The section of the ventilation passageway that the Gang are inside breaks under their weight, causing them to fall into the auditorium. The mystery group's leader, whose full body and face are now seen and has been identified (by a member of the mysterious group) as Dr. Benedict, order his guards, some of whom are dressed like Japanese ninjas, to chase after the six kids. While the other five escape out of the school, T.J. is captured by the guards and locked inside the stock room where Prickly is also held prisoner.

Dr. Benedict comes to see T.J. and Prickly in the stock room. To T.J.'s surprise, Prickly and Benedict know each other. After he and Prickly exchange hostile words at this mutually unpleasant reunion, Benedict leaves his two captives in the stock room. Prickly then tells T.J. the full story of himself and Benedict. Back in the 1960s, Prickly first became a teacher at Third Street School with the intention of benefiting society through teaching children. His good friends who also became teachers at Third Street at the same time included Muriel Finster and Dr. Phillium Benedict. In 1968, Benedict became the school's principal and decided to abolish recess, hoping to improve children's academic performance, specifically test scores. His decision greatly upset teachers and parents alike, who staged massive protests at the school against Benedict's new policy. After Prickly informed the superintendent of Benedict's abolition of recess, the superintendent immediately undid the unpopular policy and replaced Benedict with Prickly as principal of Third Street Elementary. Perceiving this as Prickly betraying him, Benedict ended his friendship with Prickly. Benedict's girlfriend Finster, who was the school's recess monitor and has been ever since, broke up with him in disgust because his plan of abolishing recess would have resulted in her being out of a job. As Prickly and Finster continued their teaching and school administrative careers, Benedict entered politics. He eventually became the Secretary of Education, until the president fired him for attempting to abolish recess again on a nationwide scale.

Through both Benedict's explanation and their own deduction, T.J. and Prickly learn that Benedict plans to abolish summer vacation by altering the moon's orbit with a tractor beam, which was what the laser-like machine in the auditorium actually was, thus putting Earth into a permanent ice age. With Becky's help, the Recess Gang bring all the students of Third Street from their camps back to the school to stop Benedict's plan.

The kids manage to infiltrate the school, incapacitate Benedict's guards, and gain access to the tractor beam and other machines that Benedict's scientists had installed in the auditorium. Realizing that his henchmen are outnumbered and quickly being overpowered by the children, Benedict prepares to activate his tractor beam. Before he can complete the activation, Mrs. Finster arrives with all the school's staff and faculty to help Prickly and the kids. Benedict, who is surprisingly still in love with Finster so many years later, asks her to be his lover again. Finster firmly rejects him for still wanting to get rid of recess, and the battle continues. Benedict's group is now vastly outnumbered and overpowered, and he realizes that he must activate the tractor beam as quickly as possible.

After a brief one-on-one fight with Prickly, Benedict manages to fully activate the tractor beam and fire it at the moon. In the process, the activation lever becomes stuck in the on position and Prickly is unable to shut it off. T.J. tosses a baseball to Vince LaSalle, who throws the ball into beam's power core, short-circuiting the power supply and causing the tractor beam device to collapse on itself. As the tractor beam begins falling apart, everyone inside the auditorium run for cover. The destroyed tractor beam crashes to the ground, destroying Benedict's other machines as well, foiling Benedict's plot for good. Fortunately, the force of the explosions generated by the destruction of the tractor beam and other machines were not sufficient to cause any significant damage to the school. Benedict and his men are arrested for their crimes by the same police who had previously laughed disbelievingly when T.J. first told them about Benedict's scheme. T.J., the Gang, and all the other students and staff of Third Street School are commemorated as heroes by the news media.

T.J.'s friends then decide to spend the rest of the summer with him instead of going back to summer camp. Just before going to have fun with his friends, T.J. meets with Prickly in his office, who thanks him for reminding him of his true and original motivation for becoming an educator: to help children. As T.J. leaves, Prickly somewhat jokingly reminds T.J. that he might be facing punishment for his final prank of the previous school year when he returns to school in September. T.J. replies equally humorously that September is still a long way off, before heading to a pond with his friends.




Recess: School's Out (Original Movie Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedJanuary 13, 2001
LabelWalt Disney
Review scores
1."Dancing in the Street"Martha and the Vandellas2:38
2."Born to Be Wild"Steppenwolf3:27
3."One"Three Dog Night3:01
4."Incense and Peppermints"Strawberry Alarm Clock2:46
5."Wipe Out"The Surfaris2:37
6."Purple Haze"Jimi Hendrix2:40
7."Nobody But Me"The Human Beinz2:14
8."Let the Sunshine In"The 5th Dimension2:29
9."Green Tambourine"Robert Goulet2:36
10."Recess Suite"Denis M. Hannigan5:07
11."Dancing in the Street"Myra3:57


On Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, the film has an approval rating of 61% based on 69 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".[5] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.

Box officeEdit

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.[6]

Home MediaEdit

Recess: School's Out, was released on VHS and DVD on August 7, 2001.[4]


  1. ^ "Recess: School's Out". American Film Institute. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "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 2015-10-03.
  5. ^ "Recess: School's Out reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  6. ^ "UK Weekend Box Office 27th July 2001 - 29th July 2001". Retrieved 31 August 2019.

External linksEdit