Recess: School's Out!



Simply a TV episode blown up for the big screen.
  • Review Date: May 5, 2003
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2001
  • Running Time: 82 minutes

What parents need to know

Violence & scariness

Comic peril -- the kids fight the bad guys with water balloons and silly string.

Sexy stuff

Mild references to teen and adult romance.


Some vulgar language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the jokes in this movie are pretty vulgar for a G rating. T.J. uses the school public address system to make an announcement, pretending to be the principal, and talking about how he scratches his "big, saggy butt" once an hour. T.J.'s parents say they are going to take his temperature with a baby thermometer and some Vaseline (eliciting a few uncomfortable squeals from the audience). T.J. reads aloud from his sister's diary, including dramatic descriptions of teenage romance.

What's the story?

Disney's RECESS: SCHOOL'S OUT! begins as T.J. and his five pals engage in some last-minute hijinks before on the last day of school before summer vacation. T.J. is looking forward to a long, lazy summer with his friends, but finds that all of them are being sent off to enrichment summer programs at various camps. When T.J. sees something suspicious at school, he rounds up the gang to investigate. It seems that there is an evil plot to do away with summer vacation for good, so that students throughout the country will have better test scores. T.J. and his friends have to come up with a plan to rescue the school, the principal, and, most important, the summer.

Is it any good?


Recess: School's Out! is simply an episode of the popular television series blown up for the big screen. It has higher-quality music (including baby-boomer re-treads like "Born to Be Wild," and "Let the Sun Shine") and more expensive voice talent (James Woods as the bad guy, Robert Goulet for some songs). But the plot, dialogue, and animation are no better than the low standards of Saturday morning television. At best, it's innocuous fun and the show's creators have a gift for remembering details about being a kid.

Judging by the reaction of the kids in the screening I attended, it is a crowd-pleaser, especially when T.J.'s gang uses the ultimate kid weapons -- water balloons, silly string, etc. -- on the bad guys. The movie, like the show, is racially diverse and has girl characters who are smart, strong, and capable. The kids are loyal to each other and show cooperation and teamwork. On the other hand, the movie assumes that all children and teachers hate school and that there is nothing interesting to learn and no value from education. Adults are ineffectual, uninterested, or dim. And T.J. forces his big sister to help him by threatening to put her diary on the Internet.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about this movie's message that kids should not worry about test scores or the future but should make time to "just be kids." What is important to T.J. and his friends? Why does the tattletale spend all his time trying to get everyone else in trouble? Was it fair for T.J. to take his sister's diary and let his friends read it? Encourage children to talk about their own experiences in school -- and to tell you why they would not want to give up their summer vacation.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 16, 2001
DVD release date:August 7, 2001
Cast:Andrew Lawrence, Ashley Johnson, Rickey D'Shon Collins
Director:Chuck Sheetz
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Run time:82 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Recess: School's Out! was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bytvconnoisseur June 17, 2015

Actually Good Disney

Along with Pixar, Studio Ghibli English dubs, and The Muppets, this is one of the only good things about Disney media. Plus, it’s super upbeat!
Teen, 13 years old Written byMichael D. Jordan August 14, 2014

Not for 2, 4, or 5 year olds?

phhhf...... I started watching this when I was 4. This is movie is awesome.... Don't ruin my childhood common sense.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written bypyscojoker March 8, 2010

It deserves more

Awesome movie, good message about friendship and loyalty, i don't agree with the two stars it deserves more
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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