Image courtesy of www.impawards.com
Jamie Kennedy……….Justin Schumacher
Maria Menounos……….Jennifer Stone
Miguel A. NÃºÃ±ez Jr……….Darnell Jackson
Michael Rosenbaum……….Kip Unger
Bobby Lee……….Aki Terasaki
Aris Alvarado……….Hector Jimenez
With the advent of films about incorporating dancing and the time-honored underdog clichÃ© formula that manages to work time and time again, it was only a matter of time before someone made a film making fun of the inherent poor quality of films like You Got Served, Honey, Step Up and Save the Last Dance amongst a slew of films that have been released in the genre. Easy and relatively inexpensive to make, as well as having a built in audience of teenagers attracted to the soundtrack, the genre is cost effective and almost guarantees a reasonable profit back to the studio. Kickin It Old Skool represents the first major backlash against the genre, then.
Justin (Jamie Kennedy) was once a 12 year old break-dancer who had everything a 12 year old could want. In 1986, Justin was 12 years old and about to complete in a break-dancing contest. But when a freak accident leaves him in a coma, his girl (Maria Menounos), a crack supporting staff (Miguel A. Nunez Jr, Bobby Lee, Aris Alvarado) and even his rival (Michael Rosenbaum) all have become adults and moved on while his mind is stuck at 12 years old. Convincing his former crew to form back together to compete in a dance contest, Justin has to readjust to life and learn all about society has changed since he last saw it.
And on the surface, the film would seem to be rife with parody for the whole subject. Parts of it are absolutely brilliant in how they lampoon the genre and some of the signature scenes and plot devices from a plethora of movies over the last decade. There are times when the film has the intention of being incredibly funny on a regular basis with a self-awareness of how ridiculous it is. The problem, though, is that moments like these are few and far between.
The film spends the majority of its running time not being funny, which is a problem for a film billed as a comedy. Part of the problem is that the script is more in love with making 80s references than it is being funny. It’s one thing to remind people of a decade long since past, as the film’s appeal is to people between 30-40 based on the subject matter alone, but the film is too concerned with making references to that era than it is with actually saying something funny. It’s one thing to mention the Go-Bots and Star Search in passing, it’s another to make them and expect people to laugh because you mentioned something from the 1980s.
Another problem is that it has perhaps the worst script chooser this side of Vin Diesel as its main star. Jamie Kennedy is a legitimately talented comedian with his own style, but seemingly Kickin’ It Old Skool plays towards all of his weaknesses and to none of his strengths. It relies on him to make the material funny by using an unneeded and unfunny delivery styles and a wink wink, nudge nudge’ awkwardness to it all. Kennedy is funny when he has good material to work with and he doesn’t have it here; at best one could describe him as miscast, at worst one could question whether or not he has any comedic abilities whatsoever.
Interspersed with all of the rather unfunny proceedings are some really clever moments. Taking time to spoof some 80s dance movie moments that have remained commonplace 20 years later, there are some brilliant moments when the film is remarkably funny. The film’s final 20 minutes are really funny, spoofing the end of You Got Served and the 1980s film-ending collages signifying a sequel wasn’t to be made. There are moments scattered throughout as well that show a rare nuance of parody that the film as a whole can’t sustain. It becomes a rather unfunny, self-parody for the bulk of its running time instead.
Kickin’ It Old Skool ends up being, unfortunately, yet another blemish on the record of a comedian who has a resume filled with them.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):