In an all-too-real twist of fate, Jamie Kennedy produced a documentary this year entitled "Heckler," about the world of critics, with venomous attention paid to the film kind. My advice to Kennedy: perhaps the critics wouldn't be so hard if you stopped making crud like "Old Skool" and aimed a little higher for yourself. You're capable of something in the neighborhood of smiles, but this bottom-feeder proves quite the opposite.
In 1986, Justin Schumacher (Jamie Kennedy) was a break dancer to be reckoned with. His moves were top shelf, but an unfortunate accident left Justin in a coma for 20 years. Now fresh from his sleep in 2006, the world has changed on him. Fighting to take it all in with his childlike brain, Justin wants to reunite his dance posse, the Funky Fresh Boyz (including comedians Bobby Lee and Miguel Nunez Jr.), and start over again, hoping to win the heart of his old love (the astronomically awful Maria Menounos) and defeat his rival, Kip (Michael Rosenbaum, trying too hard), once and for all.
What Kennedy is trying to reach for with "Old Skool" is his own Adam Sandler wonderland. He's taken the "Wedding Singer," waited 10 years to strike, and come up with this ode to the joys of the 1980s about five years after the decade's retro boom has faded. It's a slapdash comedy for pushover audiences and it's horrific to watch Kennedy and his cast not even care about what they're putting out into the world. People, we're getting closer to "Ow! My Balls!" every day.
"Singer" created gold with the 1980s, horsing around with the style and attitudes of the time period. It was a comedy steeped in nostalgia, but had the sense to leap for some wittiness and professional timing. "Old Skool" merely places an 80's pop culture item in the frame and believes the slapstick heavy lifting is done. The screenplay is riddled with this level of inanity; assuming the comedic mileage of just naming recognizable toys and songs is an endless reservoir of laughs. I'm sorry, but just presenting a Smurf onscreen isn't a joke. You have to do something with it.
The same goes for a David Hasselhoff cameo. It's less amusing the fourth or fifth time a feature has rung that bell. Now it's just sad for both the film and the once great Knight Rider.
Taking up the space left behind by the game of retro musical chairs is the typical fixins' for a pre-teen comedy, including ample amounts of fart, urine, and vomit gags. There's also a strange fixation on racial humor that feels incredibly mean-spirited for a dopey comedy like this.
When it comes time for the dancing to commence, "Old Skool" stops to pay its respects. The entire last act is set aside for the big dance-off, and while the moves are passable (courtesy of choreographer Adolfo "Shabba-Doo" Quinones), the energy is lacking. Still, I was as just thrilled nobody was straining to be funny for a change.
The problematic undertone with "Old Skool" is that I found Kennedy's "Malibu's Most Wanted" very funny, and once embraced the actor as someone of cinematic merit. It seems now all Kennedy wants to do is skate by on his newly-honed asbestos-like charm, making a buck off the attention spans of elementary school kids and high school dropouts. Hey, we all need to make rent somehow, but the big screen is not the place to work out your mediocrity. If you've made it the big time, at least have the decency, the utter respect, to give your audience the very best you can. "Kickin' It Old Skool" is just a frightening pile of lazy from an actor who can barely keep his eyes open anymore.
For further online adventure, please visit brianorndorf.com