A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Jamie Kennedy comedy has crude humor and language. The "equal opportunity" jokes make light of coma patients, the mentally ill, homosexuals, Jews, African Americans, Latinos, and Asians, but not in an over-the-top way. A few scenes show Kennedy's character (a 30-year-old who miraculously comes out of a 20-year coma) "learning" about sex on the Internet (nothing is shown) and practicing moves on a male buddy who's wearing a wig and a bra. It's not a complete raunchfest like Borat or South Park; most teens are now used to this kind of humor -- as long as they're interested in the '80s, that is.
What's the story?
KICKIN' IT OLD SKOOL's protagonist is Justin, a break dancing-obsessed suburban 10-year-old who falls into a coma during a talent-show breakin' battle in the late '80s. Justin (played by Jamie Kennedy as an adult) miraculously wakes up 20 years later, only to discover that parachute pants and cassette tapes are no longer in style and that his elementary-school nemesis Kip (Michael Rosenbaum) is not only still a rich "jerkwad," but also engaged to the girl of Justin's dreams, Jen (Maria Menounos). Reuniting with his "Funky Fresh Boyz" breakin' crew -- a comedic Rainbow Coalition played by Bobby Lee, Miguel Nunez Jr., and Aris Alvarado -- Justin convinces his out-of-shape pals to pop-and-lock their way into a $100,000 dance contest hosted by Kip.
Is it any good?
Right from the opening credits sequence -- which is set to one of the 1980s' best soundtrack hits, "Dancing in Heaven" -- Kickin' It Old Skool is unexpectedly entertaining. Just probably not for the reasons that writer-producer-star Kennedy intended. Like the ubiquitous chain mail that starts with "You know you grew up in the '80s if...," this comedy is a 107-minute tribute to those whose youth was spent trading Garbage Pail Kids cards and memorizing the lines of Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Alan Ruck, aka Cameron Frye, even cameos). So moviegoers of a certain age may find themselves laughing at the stereotypical "wax on, wax off" jokes -- while the teenagers in the audience stay silent.
But aside from the dance sequence and the in-jokes for the '80s-initiated, Kickin' It Old School would play better on late-night television, when your standards are much lower. Things are always funnier when you're half asleep.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how no group is considered off-limits when it comes to Kennedy's mild ridicule. What did you think of the various racial jokes -- like the "Jewbiks Cube" or the "Ghetto Grabber" inventions? What's the purpose of jabs like these -- is it just pure mockery, or is there a more subtle message underneath? Parents should discuss how, over time, some words become socially unacceptable ("retard," for example). Is that a sign of extreme political correctness or simply increased sensitivity? Lastly, just for nostalgia's sake, parents can share their favorite '80s pop-culture trends.
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