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Kickin' It Old Skool (2007)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 8/28/2007

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/16/2007

You've got to hand it to Jamie Kennedy, he doesn't give up. Despite the fact that he's only gained medium (if that) notoriety, the man keeps working. His projects vary wildly in quality and success, but that doesn't slow him down. He scored a modest hit with 2003's Malibu's Most Wanted, a film which I found to be surprisingly funny. His latest project, Kickin' It Old Skool, has a similar look, but it came and went quickly from theaters. Now the movie is on DVD and we can decide which direction Mr. Kennedy's career will take this time.

Kickin' It Old Skool opens in 1986 at a middle school talent show. Justin will be break dancing in the show with his crew, "The Funky Fresh Boyz", which consists of Darnell, Aki, and Hector. Before the show, Justin talks to Jen, the girl he has a crush on, but they are rudely interrupted by Jen's jerky boyfriend, Kip. The show starts and Justin's crew faces off against Kip's crew. Justin does a flip movie which is sure to win the contest, but he flies off-stage and hits the floor.

The story then jumps ahead twenty years. Justin (Jamie Kennedy) has been in a coma since his fall, and his parents, Marty (Christopher McDonald) and Sylvia (Debra Jo Rupp), are about to pull the plug on him when he suddenly awakens. Justin has a very hard time adjusting to the world, as he has the mind of an adolesent and the body of a thirty-something man. When he learns that his parents have gone into debt due to his medical bills, Justin decides that he must find a way to make money. He runs into Darnell (Miguel A. Nunez, Jr.) at the mall and they see that a dance competition is going to be held. The contest is part of a TV show hosted by Kip (Michael Rosenbaum). Justin also runs into Jen (Maria Menounos) there, and she's very glad to see him. Justin decides that he should get "The Funky Fresh Boyz" back together and win the contest. So, Justin and Darnell track down Hector (Aris Alvarado) and Aki (Bobby Lee). But, Justin soon learns that it's difficult to get these men interested in a dance contest. Justin must use his childlike enthusiasm to keep the crew together.

Again, Jamie Kennedy is no slacker, and neither were the people who wrote this movie. Clearly, someone sat down and made a list of as many iconic 80's things that they could, as Kickin' It Old Skool references tons toys, cultural icons, and even urban legends from that decade. (The Pop Rocks thing was an especially nice touch.) But that's where the work must have ended, because the rest of this movie is by-the-numbers junk. Kickin' It Old Skool has the feeling of something that Adam Sandler would have done sometime in his Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore era, but unlike those movies, this one isn't funny.

As noted above, Kickin' It Old Skool isn't all that different from Malibu's Most Wanted, as it features a character who isn't doing what everyone else wants him to, but he refuses to change (because that's who he really is.) However, everything here feels very stale. How many times do we have to see the girl who really wants to be with another guy, but she stays with her boyfriend who is a jerk? The movie contains at least two montages, and even if it claimed that it was spoofing montages, they were still there and still dull. The true problem with Kickin' It Old Skool is that it's rarely clever. Break dancing and break dancing clothes seem funny today -- that's the extent of the big joke. Other than that, we get a flurry of one-liners and crude jokes which simply aren't funny. It's painful to see how many of the jokes miss the mark. To be fair, some of the 80's references are funny, but a portion of the audience won't get those jokes.

Fault also lies with Kennedy, as Justin simply isn't an interesting character. Kennedy makes him likable, but beyond that, it's hard to care about his plight. Is it funny that he's a white kid who was a break dancer? I don't know. I seem to remember plenty of white kids who were break dancers. None of the other characters in the movie help to take up the slack for Justin being so dull. Miguel A. Nunez, Jr. is always entertaining, but every time I see him, I feel that he's trying to be Orlando Jones. Maria Menounos is pretty, but she should stick to entertainment reporting, as she isn't a very good actor.

Given the fact that modern hip-hop dancing doesn't look all that different from break dancing, maybe that wasn't the best target for a comedy. Kickin' It Old Skool is unoriginal and unfunny and may be the most painful thing that Jamie Kennedy has made since his TV show, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment. (Did you ever see that? No one knew who he was! It was awful!) I can't place all of the blame on Kennedy, as Kickin' It Old Skool was directed by the man who has produced such direct-to-DVD horror junk as UKM: Ultimate Killing Machine and Dead Mary. Perhaps Kennedy should go back to supporting roles, as in the Scream films, where he was much funnier and not a target for blame. I plan on kickin' this one to the curb.

Kickin' It Old Skool does a head-spin onto DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The DVD features both the widescreen and full-frame versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, but it is a bit flat. The image also seemed somewhat dark. The picture showed no overt grain, nor were there any defects from the source material. On a negative note, I did spot several instances where sudden camera movements would result in pixellation. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The in-movie music sounds especially good, as it fills the rear speakers and perks up the subwoofer. Otherwise, the audio is fairly standard.

There are only two extras on the Kickin' It Old Skool DVD. The first is a series of DELETED SCENES. There are 12 scenes which run 29 minutes and you know that anything cut out of this movie has to be comedy gold. The bulk of that time is taken up by a scene which features cameos by Michelle Trachtenberg, Roddy Piper, and John Ratzenberger. Keeping that scene in the film wouldn't have made it any better, but at least it was interesting.

Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long