Appellate Judge Tom Becker thinks this movie should be kicked to the old curb.
I took this bullet so you don't have to.
Meaning that I sat through this root canal of a comedy, and now I can only try to spare others the pain of subjecting themselves to Kickin' It Old Skool.
Facts of the Case
We open on April 20, 1986. 420? Yep, that's what I thought, but as it turned out, Old Skool was supposed to have opened on April 20, 2006, but it was pushed back a week. April 20 is also Hitler's birthday and was the date of the Columbine massacre. What better way to open a comedy than with a reference to a national tragedy? Or maybe it was a pot joke.
Anyway, 12-year-old Justin and his breakdancing buddies are The Funky Fresh Boys, and they're squaring off in a school talent show against The Groundbreakers. One of The Groundbreakers is Kip, who is Justin's rival for the hand of the lovely Jen.
So, Justin goes to bust a major move and falls off the stage, smashing his head. Twenty years go by in the blink of a title card. Justin survived the fall but has been in a coma and hooked up to machines ever since. Nothing says "funny" like a 12-year-old in a vegetative state on life support—unless it's a doctor telling the parents they have to pull the plug because they're behind in their ALS bills! Ho, ho! Just then, a janitor walks by, and his radio is blaring the same tune that was playing when Justin took his spill. (Apparently, Herbie Hancock's "Rock It" was out of circulation for the past two decades.) Justin wakes up! And now, he's Jamie Kennedy (Scream)!
Hilarity is about to ensue.
While the rest of the world has moved on, Justin believes he's still 12 and it's still 1986. Dressed like the Karate Kid by way of Olivia Newton-John, he sets out to acquaint himself with this new world. Through a witless series of coincidences, he meets up with Darnell (Miguel A. Núñez Jr., Scooby-Doo), an old member of his crew; finds Jen (Maria Menounos, One Tree Hill), who is now engaged to Kip (Michael Rosenbaum, Smallville), who is still a jerk; and miraculously discovers there's a breakdancing competition with a $100,000 prize—enough that he can help pay back his parents, who are bankrupt because of his medical bills.
Now, I know what you're thinking. All that's missing to make this a truly classic comedy would be an obese Hispanic guy and an uptight, preppy Asian who sometimes mixes up his initial consonants for the amusement of his friends. Well, hold on to your hat. Guess what the remaining Funky Fresh Boys morphed into?
Will they follow their developmentally stunted leader into the breakdancing fray, despite being several decades and many cheeseburgers past the limit of comfortable movement? And will our dimwitted retro hero get the girl of his dreams? Or will your DVD player mercifully pull the plug on itself to protest being subjected to this abominable movie?
This Jamie Kennedy experiment entails crossing Big with the Bewitched episode where Ben Franklin was transported through time to Samantha's house. The result? Dreck on a half-shell.
Kennedy's boy-in-a-man's-body is not a charming, playful innocent. He's an obnoxious brat with a whiny voice who seems regressive even for a 12-year-old. The idea that goddess Jen would fall for him is downright creepy, but it doesn't make any more or less sense than her being engaged to the idiotically smarmy Kip.
The '80s are evoked through references to Smurfs, Chia Pets, parachute pants, Flashdance, Garbage Pail Kids, Knight Rider, and other crazes and products. Everything is lumped together, as though the decade was just an amorphous mass of fads rather than a series of years that reflected changing times and tastes.
The film contains the kind of gag-inducing politically incorrect racist and ethnic humor that seems both mercenary and quaint in the wake of the Don Imus mess and the calls to "ban" certain words. Maybe the people who put this together thought it was all very cutting-edge. It isn't. Since this film was released just a couple of weeks after Imus was fired, it's already like a pathetic time capsule.
Actually, the timing of this movie couldn't have been worse. While Kennedy and company were yukking it up about parents having to pull their child's life support, there was actually a case going on in Texas concerning that state's futile care law and a woman who was fighting to keep her child on life support. Ho, ho, alright. Surprisingly, this is the second movie I've seen in less than a week that uses removal of life support as a plot device. Old Skool mines this sensitive subject for all its zany comic potential—namely, none.
What's left to say about Jamie Kennedy? In 2003, he made Malibu's Most Wanted, which some people thought was one of the worst movies ever. Then, BOOM!, in 2005, he gives us Son of the Mask, which most people agreed really was one of the worst movies ever. Now, WHAMMO!, it's 2007, and he gives us Kickin' It Old Skool. Did Nostradamus say anything about this guy in relation to 2009?
The transfer is bright, the audio is fine. We can see and hear clearly while the actors cavort and their obvious doubles breakdance. In 107 minutes, there was only one joke that made me smile. It's one hour and 30 seconds in and too stupid to repeat. The extras consist of a trailer and about 20 minutes worth of deleted scenes. Yes, this was almost 20 minutes longer.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I didn't gouge my own eyes out.
This is a comedy about someone who is still living in the '80s made for people who were born in the '90s. The late '90s. Those who might enjoy this movie will need fake IDs to get past the PG-13 rating. ("No, really, I'm 13. You think I look 9? (chuckle) That's just my genes, we all look young. My mom's 47 and she still gets carded for beer.") Frankly, the mean-spirited and intolerant "jokes" make this unsuitable viewing for kids, and the wretched writing and acting make it unsuitable for everyone else.
How did we say "irredeemably guilty" 20 years ago? Oh, the same way we say it now.
T'row da book at 'em.
"Word" to your agent.
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