Sunday, May 06, 2007

Kickin' It Old Skool

KICKIN' IT OLD SKOOL (Harvey Glazer, 2007)

Remember "The Chris Farley Show" segments on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE? He would interview celebrities, ask if they remembered something, and follow up with the declaration "that was awesome". KICKIN' IT OLD SKOOL plies the same joke by asking its viewers if they recall things from the 80s. The difference is that it isn't awesome.

Twelve-year-old Justin Schumacher (Alexander Calvert) hits his head executing a breakdancing move during a 1986 talent show and slips into a coma for twenty years in KICKIN' IT OLD SKOOL. On his 32nd birthday he emerges from two decades of unconsciousness when the strains of Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" waft from a hospital janitor's radio into his ears. Good thing, too. His parents were about to disconnect his life support.

The adult Justin (Jamie Kennedy) finds the new world confusing. MTV doesn't play videos, and toy stores carry unfamiliar STAR WARS figures. Things are just as mixed up at home. His parents are in danger of losing everything because of his medical care costs. Determined to pay them back, Justin sets out to reunite his old grade school breakdancing crew and win a dance contest with a $100,000 payout.

His friends resist at first, but it's not as though they have anything to lose by donning b-boy gear and busting some moves again. They lost their pride a long time ago. Darnell (Miguel A. Núñez Jr.) needs money to kickstart one of his many novelty toy ideas into production. Hector (Aris Alvarado), who has packed on the pounds in the intervening years, could use an image makeover from his job as a meter maid. Aki (Bobby Lee), the most successful of the bunch, learns that being a breakdancer might give him a slim chance to impress a woman in the office.

Justin also has a woman to impress. First love Jennifer Stone (Maria Menounos) is engaged to marry his childhood rival Kip (Michael Rosenbaum), who is behind the televised dance showdown.

KICKIN' IT OLD SKOOL equates making incalculable 80s pop culture references with joke telling. The three credited screenwriters cram as many allusions as possible into the dialogue and hope the spark of nostalgia will ignite laughs. Those who grew up wearing Diadora clothes, hearing Mister Mister on the radio, and trading Garbage Pail Kids may find a smidgen of humor in their youth fad reminders, but there's nothing inherently funny about any of it. KICKIN' IT OLD SKOOL is essentially VH-1's I LOVE THE 80s with a negligible plot than a series of snarky talking heads.

KICKIN' IT OLD SKOOL goes step by step through the dance contest bracket as if the audience cares or will be surprised by the outcome. The dancing isn't good enough to hold interest or silly enough to be funny. It's never a good sign when the main character can disappear for most of the film's final third and not be missed, yet that's exactly what happens when Justin is put on Ritalin. Plus, what sense does it make to have the protagonist not participate in all but one of the lengthy dance-off scenes?

Kennedy must have pulled this script off of Adam Sandler's reject pile. The adult Justin's child-like quality is straight from Sandler's playbook, although Kennedy fails to make him memorable at all. Like what he does or not, Sandler puts his stamp on his roles. Kennedy's inability to make an impression more easily reveals KICKIN' IT OLD SKOOL for the collection of played out Me Decade reminiscing that it is.

Grade: D-

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