Kickin' It Old Skool

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This review was written for the theatrical release of "Kickin' It Old Skool." 

NEW YORK -- Apparently determined to exploit the full comic potential of white boys attempting hip-hop, Jamie Kennedy ("Malibu's Most Wanted") shows up in this high-concept comedy about a 12-year-old boy who lapses into a coma in 1985, only to wake up a grown man 20 years later. Released on Friday without being press screened as part of the pre-"Spider-Man 3" picture dump, "Kickin' It Old Skool" fails to live up to even the feeble potential of its premise.

The young Justin Schumacher (Alexander Calvert) falls into his decades-long slumber after hitting his head while attempting a particularly dangerous break-dancing move during a school competition. During the next 20 years, his perpetually battling parents (Christopher McDonald, Debra Jo Rupp) exhaust their financial resources trying to keep up with his medical bills.

When the now-adult Justin (Kennedy) regains consciousness after hearing a snippet of a vintage pop tune, he finds himself -- like Tom Hanks in "Big" and myriad other cinematic variations -- a boy trapped in a grown man's body, with an '80s sensibility in a 21st century world to boot.

Attempting to win a large sum of money for his parents by winning a modern hip-hop dancing competition, he reunites his old multiracial crew, composed of henpecked husband and would-be inventor Darnell (Miguel A. Nunez Jr.); geeky office worker Aki (Bobby Lee); and overweight Hector (Aris Alvarado). Along the way, he reunites with childhood sweetheart Jen (Maria Menounos), now engaged to his old nemesis (Michael Rosenbaum).

While the film dutifully evokes a variety of '80s cultural artifacts (Garbage Pail Kids, "Flashdance," Beta tapes, etc.) and features cameos from such celebrity figures from the era as David Hasselhoff and Emmanuel Lewis, it doesn't really have much fun with the contrast between then and now. And Kennedy's character seems less a grown-up kid than simply, to quote the offensive word oft recited in the film, retarded.

There are a few decent lines -- Justin complains of having missed out on, among other things, "Gremlins 2" and "Ghostbusters 2" -- but most of the gags, such as his being mistaken for a pedophile while being friendly to a kid in a toy store, are tasteless without being particularly funny. And far too much of the film's overlong 107-minute running time is consumed by endless hip-hop dancing routines.

Clearly still attempting to follow in the footsteps of Jim Carrey ("Son of the Mask" is among his credits), Kennedy will need to find better material than this to put him on the film comedy A-list.

KICKIN' IT OLD SKOOL
Yari Film Group Releasing
A Bob Yari production in association with Jizzy Entertainment and Hi-Def Entertainment
Credits:
Director: Harvey Glazer
Screenplay: Trace Slobotkin, Josh Siegal, Dylan Morgan
Producers: Philip Glasser, John H. Hermansen, Jamie Kennedy, Bob Yari
Executive producers: Jeff Cooper, Jeffrey Cooper, Josh H. Etting, Paul C. Rogers, Scott G. Stone, Stuart Stone
Film editor: Sandy S. Solowitz
Production designer: Tink
Director of photography: Robert M. Stevens
Costume designer: Maria Livingstone
Original music: Richard Glasser
Cast:
Justin Schumacher: Jamie Kennedy
Darnell Jackson: Miguel A. Nunez Jr.
Jennifer Stone: Maria Menounos
Kip Unger: Michael Rosenbaum
Aki Terasaki: Bobby Lee
Hector Jimenez: Aris Alvarado
Mary Schumacher: Debra Jo Rupp
Marv Schumacher: Christopher McDonald
Roxanne Jackson: Vivica A. Fox
Running time -- 107 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13

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