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Recess: School's Out
Recess School's Out Theatrical Poster.jpg
Format Film
Network Disney Channel (Film)
Run 83 minutes
Broadcast Infomation
Seasons N/A (Film)
Episode # N/A (Film)
Status Movie no longer in theaters
Both at VHS and DVD (at few stores) are out of print
Previously on Netflix
Is available on Amazon USA
Now on Disney+
Related Recess
Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade
Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street
Recess: All Growed Down

Recess: School's Out is an animated film based on the Disney television series Recess. This film was produced by Walt Disney Pictures and was released theatrically on February 16th, 2001. It was released on VHS and DVD on August 7th, 2001.



T.J. and the gang try to save summer vacation, from a rogue ex-teacher whose plans (though inaccurate) are to turn summer into winter so that students can be forced to stay inside and study, thus improve their school test grades.

Main Story

As the final recess of the year takes place at Third Street School, The Recess Gang plots one final escapade on the school. Spinelli smuggles some of the school's ice cream supply, and she, Vince, Gus, and Mikey catapult all the ice cream they smuggled from the roof of the school. As Miss Finster rushes out to stop the mess, T.J. uses Gretchen's voice-over machine to sound identical to Principal Prickly's, but then the real Principal Prickly shows up and takes T.J. to his office. It is too late for Prickly to give T.J. any real punishment for his prank, as there are only mere minutes before the final bell of the school year rings.

Now that school is finally out for the summer, T.J. and his friends are excited to get started on their vacation. However, T.J.'s happiness is short-lived when he finds out that all five of his best friends (and later, most of their schoolmates) are going to be spending most of the summer are various camps around the state to improve their skills and get started on their futures. T.J. unhappily rides his bike around town, doing things by himself, when he notices that there is something going on at the school. He sneaks inside and finds a secret group of scientists using a laser beam to levitate a safe. Panicked, he tries to tell his parents and the police, but no one believes him. When he gets Principal Prickly to come to see what's going on, he is dematerialized when he tries the enter the school. T.J. uses his sister Becky's diary to blackmail her into driving to all the camps to pick his friends up.

T.J. and his friends infiltrate the school grounds at night and steal a crate of documents, but when they find it filled with Weather Maps, Test Scores, and other boring information, they accuse him of inventing a plot to bring them back. They are about to head back to their camps until they see the tractor beam come out of the school's roof and shoot out a green laser and are shocked to see it. They agree with T.J. that something is going on and they need to find Prickly since they have no proof.

Back at T.J.'s tree-house, T.J. concocts a scheme to stakeout the school every night from his tree-house, but Vince and the others are worried that they could be discovered missing from their campsites. But T.J. manages to create cover-ups and have other campers cover for them. As they stakeout the school; the Gang realizes that they may not have many future summers to spend together. 

The next day, with the rest of the gang back at their camp; T.J. finds Prickly's golf pants in a dumpster, concluding that Prickly is held hostage in the school. So T.J. and his friends infiltrate the school at night with Randall and Finster on their tail, trying to have them arrested, but their plan is ruined when Finster gets stuck in the basement window.

While eavesdropping on a heated conversation between the scientists and another man, they are caught spying after Mikey burps and they flee with Finster and Randall watching confused. T.J. is captured and is put in a storage room where Prickly is tied up in thick ropes and gagged. T.J. gets rid of the gag and the two are met by a man named Dr. Phillium Benedict, who is revealed to be the mysterious man talking to the scientists.

After Benedict and his men leave, Prickly relates to T.J. how, back in the spring of 1968, he and Benedict were best friends. The latter became principal of Third Street School and, during a private conversation with Prickly, revealed that he intended to move to abolish recess to improve test grades and further his career. Benedict was criticized by the parents for it but refused to back down and Prickly went to the superintendent as a means of convincing Benedict to change his mind. The superintendent instead fired Benedict who still would not change his mind and promoted Prickly to the rank of principal. Benedict's girlfriend, Muriel P. Finster, broke up with him, driving Benedict into a hateful vengeance. Later, Prickly says, Benedict went on to become Secretary of Education but he was fired by the U.S. President when he tried to abolish recess again, only this time it was nationwide.

T.J. and Prickly escape, but are caught again by Benedict's bodyguard. T.J. uses his walkie-talkie (in Prickly's drawer) and tells his friends Benedict wants to destroy summer vacation. T.J.'s friends manage to flee the school grounds and go through the crate of documents again. Spinelli finds a date book that says lunar perigee (which happens to be 12:22 the next afternoon) on it; Gretchen deduces that it is no laser beam, it is a tractor beam, Benedict is trying to move the moon's orbit using the beam when it is closest to the earth. Benedict reveals to T.J. and Prickly that his ultimate plan is to turn summer into winter so that kids will be forced inside to study.

T.J.'s friends get his sister, Becky, after convincing her to drive to the camps again, where they pick up their friends. Gus draws up the plans and leads a free-for-all battle to attack the school and rescue T.J. and Prickly. T.J. and Prickly escape the cage that Benedict has imprisoned them in and disguise as two of Benedict's guards. Gus' plan works, and most of the guards and ninjas are knocked out. All the kids pour into the auditorium. Another set of guards protects Benedict as he prepares to pull the lever. As Phillium voices his goals, T.J. points out his plans' flaws but the villain is still intent on going through with them and orders for the beam to be ready.

However, Muriel P. Finster arrives with an army of teachers and other school faculty members. After rejecting Benedict again, she brings the teachers in and a fight breaks out. In the chaos, Benedict tries to activate the beam but Prickly punches Benedict though this causes Benedict to slumps and triggers the beam and Prickly cannot reverse it. Benedict gloats on his imminent success as everyone is horrified but T.J. tosses his baseball to Vince, whose accurate arm destroys the machine. This act saves the day and causes Benedict to bemoan the failure of his plans.

The police (who were presumably given proof of the events) soon arrest the protesting Benedict and his cronies for their crimes.

The kids are lauded as heroes for their success. T.J.'s friends inform him they intend to spend the rest of their summer with him, as they only little time to be kids. T.J. is excited but decides to handle one thing, he rushes into Prickly's office to thank him, only to be thanked by Prickly for being reminded of why he wanted to be an educator. T.J. runs off with his friends, while Prickly puts on the peace symbol necklace, a memento of his past friendship.


  • Crediting error: Jerome is credited as Jordan by accident; Jordan does not have any lines of dialogue in the film.
  • Animation/continuity error: When T.J. and the gang are getting ready to break into the school, T.J. is shown zipping up his jacket. In the next shot, it is unzipped.
  • Coloring/continuity error: Gordy's shirt is colored gray instead of purple for most of the movie until the final battle scene.
  • Coloring/continuity error: When Mikey wakes up in T.J.'s backyard, Vince's sneakers are white.
  • Animation/continuity error: When the guards were chasing Spinelli, and she leads them to the kindergartners, one of them is shown twice.
  • Coloring/continuity error: During the end of "Green Tambourine", T.J.'s trousers' color changes with sunset; it changes to brown instead of dark blue.
  • Crediting error: While Lawson is credited, he does not speak at all in the movie.
  • Animation/continuity error: During the first scene where five members of The Recess Gang are going to their summer camp, Spinelli is shown examining and socializing with her parents. However, when perspective changes, Spinelli is shown standing near Mikey and Vince.
  • Coloring/continuity error: When Ellie Detweiler says "Oh, I'm sure he was just cleaning up", her eyebrows matches the color of her hair.
  • Animation/continuity error: In some scenes of the movie, a character has thick eyebrows (e.g. When Mikey says "Thank heavens, you understand" to the police officers before they laugh humorously).
  • Animation/continuity/consistency error: In the flashback to 1968, the teacher's parking lot is shown as built outside the school, but in the episode "Buried Treasure", Gretchen reveals that the car park was not built until the 1980s, as the treasure was buried under it by Principal Prickly when he was attending the school.
  • Animation/continuity error: When T.J. and Spinelli are shown twice before Mikey burps, Vince is not in the background.
  • Animation/continuity error: When Mikey starts to burp, Gus and Spinelli disappear; in the next shot, they re-appear, and Mikey's eyes are closed without them being animated.
  • Animation/continuity error: When Vince answers a question to the police officers while they are trying to accomplish a dangerous mission, Spinelli's lash lines are thicker than usual.
  • Animation/continuity error: When the gang shows a reaction before they listen to T.J.'s plan about saving Principal Prickly, Spinelli has nostrils.
  • Animation/continuity error: When one of the police officers asks the gang if they escaped a troop of ninja warriors, one of Spinelli's pigtails is near Gus' left side of his top scalp, but when Vince answers it, her pigtail inverts its position to the front of Gus' face, and she is closer to Gus than the previous clip.
  • Animation/continuity error: During one of the police officers scenes, Spinelli appears in the last spot near Gus. However, when Gretchen answers a question from one of the police officers, Spinelli disappears; she re-appears afterwards.
  • Animation/continuity error: Two clips of one police officers scene shows that Gus is closer to Vince than other clips.
    • Similarly, the second clip of one police officers scene also shows that Gretchen is closer to Vince than other clips as well.
  • Animation/continuity error: In one of the police officers scenes, Gretchen is shown standing near Mikey, but she changes positions sometimes during the scene.
  • Animation/continuity error: In one of the police officers scenes, Vince is near Mikey, but he is not exactly in front of Mikey until it shows the gang's jealous reaction at the end of the scene.


Additional Voices Artists

  • Wendy Hoffman - Kid
  • Ashley Michael Bell
  • John Bruno
  • Steve Buelin
  • Ben Diskin - Kid
  • Erin Donavan
  • Murphy Dunnne
  • Ashley Edner - Girl
  • Jessica Gee
  • Jackie Gonneau - Woman
  • Charity James
  • Richard Jannone
  • Jack Johnson - Various Men
  • Danielle Judovits - Megan
  • Erica Miller
  • Sarah Rayne
  • Aaron Spann - Kid
  • Doug Store
  • W.K. Stanton
  • Glen-Bob Sweet - Kid
  • Shane Sweet - Kid


  • "Dancing in the Street" - Martha and the Vandellas (Played when the bell rings on the last day of school; also used in theatrical trailer and VHS/DVD release trailer)
  • "Born to Be Wild" - Steppenwolf (Played when Becky is driving T.J. to pick up his friends, also used in the theatrical trailer and video/DVD release trailer)
  • "One" - Three Dog Night (Played after the rest of the gang leave for camp and T.J. is all alone)
  • "Incense and Peppermints" - Strawberry Alarm Clock (Played at the start of Principal Prickly's flashback to 1968)
  • "Wipe Out" - The Surfaris (Played when the gang is escaping Benedict's guards. A different version is heard in the movie; while the soundtrack uses the original song, the movie features a different arrangement by Denis Hannigan, the composer for the series)
  • "Nobody But Me" - Human Beinz (Played when the students and teachers are battling the villains)
  • "Let the Sunshine In" - The Fifth Dimension (Played at the end of the movie, when The Recess Gang officially begin their summer vacation)
  • "Green Tambourine" - Robert Goulet (as Mikey Blumberg), Blake Ewing (as Gus Griswald), Pamela Segall-Adlon (as Ashley Spinelli), Rickey D'Shon Collins (as Vince LaSalle), Randy Crenshaw (as T.J. Detweiler), and Anndi McAfee (as Gretchen Grundler) (Played during the credits, as performed by The Recess Gang)
  • "Recess Suite" (Score) - A compilation of various background music cues in the movie (In order: T.J. and his friends planning on spying on the school, T.J.'s plan on excusing Gus from camp, the villains first attempt at using the satellite, the beginning of the movie where the villains steal the technology used for their plan, Randall telling Miss Finster about what the kids are doing, T.J. spying on the villains, Principal Prickly giving T.J. a speech on summer vacation, and Becky driving the gang to pick up the rest of the kids from their camps)
  • "Dancing in the Street" - Myra (Played during the credits; final song in the movie. Also used in the theatrical trailer and TV spots. A slightly different version is played in the credits)
  • "Dancing in the Street" - Atomic Kitten (Played during the credits of the UK release in place of Myra's cover; final song in the UK release of the movie. Only available on the UK version of the soundtrack).

Note: "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix and the theme from S.W.A.T. were also included in the movie, but not on the soundtrack. The former not being included due to it being a rearrangement of the original song used for the film. "We Are Family" by Nobody's Angel was played in the trailer advertising the movie's video and DVD release on the VHS of Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street and on TV, but was not used in the film or the soundtrack. 


Originally scheduled for a Summer 2000 release date, Disney decided to push the release date back, due to fearing competition with Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (Based on the popular video game, trading card, and anime franchise Pokémon, which aired on Kids WB! at the time, competing with Disney's One Saturday Morning), which was being released in July 2000. The first trailer for the movie appeared in front screening of Meet The Parents and Rugrats in Paris: The Movie on November 17th, 2000; the second trailer for the movie appeared in the front screening of The Emperor's New Groove and Cast Away on December 15th, 2000.

The film premiered at the Disney-owned El Capitan Theatre on February 10th, 2001, and was generally released on February 16th, 2001. It was released in the UK on July 27th, 2001.

DVD/VHS Release

The movie was released on VHS and DVD in the United States on August 7th, 2001, and on August 28th, 2001, in Canada. The video introduced the 2001 logo for Walt Disney Home Entertainment, which was used until 2006, while the DVD used the logo from 1991, albeit with lower quality in audio. The video went out of print in around 2006, when VHS started to phase out, and the DVD went out of print around the same time, due to the show being removed from ABC and Disney Channel's lineup, as well as waning viewership. However, the DVD continues to be sold in certain stores. There are no current plans for a re-release on Blu-Ray disc. The movie is now available on iTunes and Disney+.

DVD Bonus Features

  • Animation Camp - A behind-the-scenes look at Recess and Recess: School's Out, hosted by Ashley Johnson.
  • Recess: The Schoolyard Challenge Game - Help T.J., Mikey, and Spinelli escape the school in this set-top game.
  • Digital Comic Book: The Trouble with Shorts - A digitalization of the comic story. Narrated by Ashley Johnson.
  • Ten Secrets of Recess - The secrets of the series revealed by creators Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere.
  • "Green Tambourine" Music Video - Performed by Robert Goulet (as Mikey Blumberg), as seen during the end credits of the film. Also included at the end of the VHS. This was not included on the Australian VHS release.
  • "Dancing in the Street" Music Video - Performed by Myra. Also included at the end of the VHS.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • DVD-ROM Features - Includes web links for Recess and Disney sites. As of 2021, the links no longer work.
  • Lloyd in Space Sneak Peek - A preview of the series Lloyd in Space. Included only on the VHS.



  • This was going to be the series finale; however, due to the success of the film, the show was renewed for one more season. Though season six was actually only made up of unaired season five episodes.
  • T.J.'s house looks different than it does in the series. However, because the inside looks the same, it is hinted that his house might have been renovated.
  • While most of the supporting and background students appear in the film, Menlo, Butch, Cornchip Girl, and The Pale Kids fail to make an appearance.
  • During the first scene where the tractor beam is used on the moon while the gang watch from the air vents, a Hidden Mickey can be seen on the moon.
  • In the movie, T.J. refers to all of the gang members by their names except for Gretchen.
  • One of the recording sessions of "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt" was featured in the Recess Gag Reel.[1]


  • Becky Detweiler makes her first physical appearance in the series.
  • This is one of the only animated Disney films with songs that are not new, and already existing (minus two covered songs) (the soundtrack features psychedelic rock from the '60s); the other movie being An Extremely Goofy Movie, using various '70s songs in its soundtrack.
  • This is the second movie based on a TV show from Disney's One Saturday Morning (the first being Doug's 1st Movie), and the final movie based on a show from the block's '90s lineup (unless one show makes a theatrical revival). It was also the most successful movie based on a show from the block both with critics and at the box office, as Doug's 1st Movie did well in the box office but poorly with critics, while Teacher's Pet did poorly at the box office and well with critics.
  • This is the final time Ashley T. has a solo speaking role. Also, for the first time since "Pharaoh Bob", she is voiced by Rachel Crane (Though she is only credited for Ashley Q.).
  • This is the only Recess movie where T.J. is voiced by Andrew Lawrence.
  • This is one of the few Disney movies with a video/DVD case to be almost identical to the movie poster (with a few changes). The only changes were that the tagline and logo switched position with each other, T.J., Spinelli, and Gretchen are shown smiling with their teeth, and the rest of the gang are smiling instead of frowning. International releases also edited the background as mentioned below.

Production Information

  • The original title for the movie was Summer Vacation: The Ultimate Recess in early production. Some early teaser trailers use this title instead. Other names used in production were Recess: The Movie and Recess: The Ultimate Summer Vacation.
  • The film was originally considered to be released direct-to-video when production began in 1998. However, because the Disney executives liked it so much, and because of Recess' popularity, they re-did the movie for cinemas.
  • While the movie was released in 2001, the end credits has a 2000 copyright stamp, meaning that this movie was finished in 2000. It is most likely that the movie was planned for a 2000 release, but had to be pushed back to avoid competition from other movies, such as Pokémon: The Movie 2000.
  • Burt Reynolds originally provided the voice of Dr. Phillium Benedict, but after he dropped out of the role, he was replaced by James Woods.

International Information

  • When the film was released in the U.K., the line where Captain Brad yells "Get your fanny over here!" was cut, due to "fanny" being an offensive word in the U.K. However, it was never censored on the U.K. DVD or on Amazon Video in the U.K., despite it having the BBFC's U certificate on both.
  • The scene where a Hidden Mickey can be seen on the moon was flipped to the right for the UK release.
  • The movie poster is slightly altered outside the US, as the American flag in the background has been replaced with the UK flag in the UK and the outside of the school in other countries. The scene listing sheet in the DVD uses the school background, but excludes the other elements of the poster.
    • In France, the movie poster is slightly different from the original poster; it includes other characters (including the staff and other students) and the different outside of the school background. This cover is also included in the soundtrack outside the US.


  1. Recess Gag Reel: 2:05-2:25


Photos.png The Recess Wiki has a collection of images about Recess: School's Out


Media: Recess (Episode List) | Recess: School's Out | Recess: All Growed Down | Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade | Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street

Characters: T.J. Detweiler | Vince LaSalle | Ashley Spinelli | Mikey Blumberg | Gretchen Grundler | Gus Griswald | Captain Bradley | Cornchip Girl | The Diggers | Hustler Kid | Erwin Lawson | Miss Grotke | Muriel Finster | Becky Detweiler | Dr. Phillium Benedict | Menlo | Brock | Peter Prickly | Bald Guy | Butch | Ashley Armbruster | Ashley Boulet | Ashley Quinlan | Ashley Tomassian | Fenwick | Brandon the Singer | Gelman | King Bob | Chucko | Jocko | Randall Weems | King Freddy II | Chewy | Spencer | Swinger Girl | Upside-Down Girl | Gordy | Hector | Miss Lemon | Lunchlady Irma | Tubby | Jordan & Jerome | Flo Spinelli | Bob Spinelli | Guru Kid

Songs: Recess Theme Song | "We Shall Not Be Moved" | "Jingle Bells" (Recess Version) | "The Otter Dance" | Bonky Theme Song