Recess: School's Out
Recess School's Out Theatrical Poster
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
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 nationwide on February 16, 2001. It was released on VHS and DVD on August 7, 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 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's 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's 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. T.J. unhappily rides his bike around town, doing things by himself, when he notices that there's 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 wouldn't 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's no laser beam, it's 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.



Additional Voices Artists

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


  • "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 villiains)
  • "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) (Chorus: Blake Ewing (as T.J. Detweiler and Gus Griswald), Pamela Segall-Adlon (as Ashley Spinelli), Rickey D'Shon Collins (as Vince LaSalle), 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 villiains, 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 Jimmy 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 Pokemon: The Movie 2000 (Based on the popular video game, trading card, and anime franchise Pokemon, 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 17, 2000 The Second trailer for the movie appeared in front screening of The Emperor's New Groove and Cast Away on December 15, 2000 Theatrical Trailer Voice Of DonLa Fontaine.

The film premiered at the Disney-owned El Capitan Theatre on February 10, 2001, and was generally released on February 16, 2001.

DVD/VHS Release

The movie was released on VHS and DVD in the United States on August 7, 2001, and on August 28, 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 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.

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 2012, the links no longer work.
  • Lloyd in Space Sneak Peek - A preview of the series Lloyd in Space. Included only on the VHS.


  • Crediting error: Jerome is credited as Jordan by accident; Jordan doesn't have any lines of dialogue in the film.
  • Animation 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's unzipped.
  • Coloring error: Gordy's shirt is colored gray instead of purple for most of the movie until the final battle scene.
  • Coloring error: When Mikey wakes up in T.J.'s backyard, Vince's sneakers are white.
  • Continuity error: When the guards were chasing Spinelli, and she leads them to the kindergartners, one of them is shown twice.
  • Coloring error: During the end of "Green Tambourine", T.J's trousers' color changed with sunset, it changes to brown instead of dark blue.

Production Information

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 redid the movie for cinemas.


  • 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 many `70s songs in it's soundtrack. The soundtrack was released in late 2000.
  • 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.
  • While Lawson is credited, he doesn't speak at all in the movie.
  • 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 1980's, as the treasure was buried under it by Principal Prickly when he was attending the school.
  • T.J.'s house looks different than it does in the series. However, because the inside looks the same, it's hinted that his house might've been remodeled.
  • 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's only credited for Ashley Q.)
  • 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, made on the movie's DVD was flipped to the right for the UK release.
  • While most of the supporting and background students appear in the film, MenloButch, Cornchip Girl, and the Pale Kids fail to make an appearance.
  • This is the only Recess movie where T.J. is voiced by Andrew Lawrence.

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

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

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