When I got my ticket for Kickin’ It Old Skool, the fellow at the box office asked, “Only one?” I admitted I could find no one who would accompany me. He seemed to understand this, and then demonstrated powers of divination that would have done Criswell proud by guessing I’d end up awarding the film a half star. Truthfully, the only reason I’m giving Kickin’ It Old Skool a half star is simple: Our rating system doesn’t allow for negative numbers.
With this film, first-time director Harvey Glazer and TV writers Trace Slobotkin, Josh Siegal and Dylan Morgan have conspired with the stupefyingly untalented Jamie Kennedy to create a brand new genre: the laugh-free comedy. I’d be lying if I said no one in the audience laughed. There were two other people in the theater—a young man and woman—and she did giggle from time to time. This, however, may have resulted from interaction with the young man. I’m inclined to believe this theory because the giggling seemed unrelated to any of the movie’s attempts at humor.
Oh, sure, there have been unfunny comedies in the past, but even such distillations of weasel urine as National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers (2003) or Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (2005) at least offered moments of extreme strangeness as compensatory factors. There’s no strangeness here—apart from the inherent strangeness of figuring out how this thing got made. You might think that after Kennedy proved himself capable of emptying every theater in the civilized world with Malibu’s Most Wanted (2003) and Son of the Mask (2005), someone would have said, “Enough!” But no. And to make matters more mystifying, who do they get to be his co-star? Miguel A. Núñez Jr., the guy who starred in Juwanna Mann (2002). The sad thing is that Núñez comes off much better than Kennedy. This isn’t saying much for Núñez, but it’s something. Individual tastes will have to determine whether or not Núñez is outshined by Emmanuel Lewis in a cameo appearance talking about “mackin’ on hos.”
Yes, I do realize that I’ve managed not to address the specifics of what’s wrong with Kickin’ It Old Skool, but really is it worth it? Here’s the outline: Jamie Kennedy plays Justin Schumacher. He’s spent 17 years or so in a coma as the result of a break-dancing accident. When he regains consciousness, he finds a very changed world. His girlfriend, Jennifer (Maria Menounos, TV’s One Tree Hill), is engaged to his old nemesis, Kip (Michael Rosenbaum, TV’s Smallville)—a man for whom the term “raving anus” was invented. This guy is so obnoxious and smarmy that it’s hard to like the heroine for even considering taking up with him. Justin’s old friends have gone on to something other than break dancing, and his parents are about to lose their house over his medical bills. Naturally, the way to set all this to rights is to win a break-dancing contest. Will he succeed? Let’s just say the ending doesn’t quite qualify for the phrase “edge of your seat”—except perhaps in the sense of being ready to spring from the theater as soon as possible. It would be far less tiresome not to bother to sit down to watch the movie in the first place—something I strongly advise. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content and language.
— reviewed by Ken Hanke