Review

Kickin' It Old Skool Review

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May 07, 2007 | 6:06am EDT

Back in 1986 Justin Schumacher (Jamie Kennedy) woke up one morning expecting to win it all: the talent show the affection of a schoolgirl and the respect of his break-dancing archenemy. All was going well he was knocking the competition dead and the audience was in awe. He tried to cap it off with his signature move—his break-dancing coup de grace—but tumbled off the stage and into the ground nearly killing himself. He spends the next 20 years in a coma until his parents (Christopher McDonald and Debra Jo Rupp) can no longer afford to keep him on life support. As they’re about to pull the plug a janitor walks by with an '80s tune blasting from his boombox. It awakens Justin from his coma as if nothing ever happened—except he’s basically paralyzed. He’s also stuck in 1986 dressing and speaking the only way he knows how. When he decides to self-rehabilitate—since his parents can’t afford occupational therapy—he uses The Karate Kid for inspiration. One day at the mall he runs into his childhood friend and dance-troupe member Darnell (Miguel A. Nunez Jr.) as well as his childhood crush (Maria Menounos) and archenemy (Michael Rosenbaum) who are now a couple. Depressed he decides to gather up the gang and enter a dance contest to try and win it all. Again. Kennedy has gone from a somewhat promising young actor (i.e. the Scream movies) to a crowd repellent. Though there are undoubtedly Jamie Kennedy fans out there it’s hard to imagine someone anticipating the next Jamie Kennedy project as he has essentially managed to put himself off the Hollywood map with Malibu's Most Wanted  Son of the Mask--and now this. Clearly Kennedy should not go with his heart and instead stick with supporting roles in well normal movies. In Old Skool he’s actually grating to look at let alone listen to delivering misfire after misfire. Everyone else in the movie will at least be able to maintain his or her low or non-existent reputations. Juwanna Man star Nunez is his usual off-putting self save for the very occasional mercy chuckle you’ll give him while former Entertainment Tonight correspondent Menounos has some acting work to do if she hopes to evade her good looks like every starlet claims to want. Rosenbaum (Smallville) on the other hand isn’t wrong for his role as an obnoxious bully type just the movie. Then there are cameos from Vivica A. Fox  David Hasselhoff and Emmanuel Lewis—and yeah they’re actually perfect for this movie. All director Harvey Glazer was likely hoping for with Old Skool was a hit-or-miss guilty pleasure but the movie is mostly miss-or-miss-badly. Granted there are a few moments when the hilarity will catch you off-guard (or wake you up)—i.e. a scene in which Kennedy’s Justin still stuck in the '80s and depressed threatens to commit suicide by finishing off an entire bag of Pop Rocks while drinking a can of soda—but everything else fails miserably. The writers all three of whom are TV scribes not surprisingly making their movie debuts are given the doubly wide platform of '80s jokes and a protagonist who’s stuck in a different era. But their jokes—one by one and almost non sequiturs a la a spoof—fall flat. And finally if Old Skool had come out a year or two ago when the '80s-retro fad was in and relevant and mock-worthy the movie might’ve at least had one strike against it taken away. But those days have passed making the movie itself the anachronistic joke it’s trying to pull off.

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