Despite a terrible title that may doom it at the box office, Max Keeble’s Big Move is a boisterous, charming and intelligent new Disney flick. They could have called it “Revenge of the Nerd Trio” or “Animal House: Seventh Grade” or “Show-Down at O.K. Junior High.” Anything other than a title that first makes you think of dried cat food. There are no spaceship battles in Move, no spectacular special effects or mind-boggling animation. It’s just a great story, well-told with likable kids and even a good “message” or two. Max Keeble (Alex D. Linz, Race to Space) who’s been an outcast all through elementary school, is hoping to finally be “cool” in junior high. No such luck. He gets thrown in the garbage dumpster by the school terrorist (Noel Fisher, Freddy Got Fingered), robbed by a maniac teenage stock investor (Orlando Brown, TV’s Absolutely Psychic) and incurs the wrath of the nasty dictator, Principal Jindraike — played with delicious wickedness by veteran comic, Larry Miller (who appeared in another great but title-doomed movie, What’s the Worst That Could Happen?). And we can’t forget the Evil Ice Cream Man (Jamie Kennedy, Scream) who pursues Max every morning on his paper route through the Los Angeles neighborhood of Mar Vista. At least Max has two equally endearing, bright and very loyal fellow nerd friends. There’s feisty Zena Grey (whose turn as the costume-changing mascot was the best reason to see this summer’s limpid baseball flick, Summer Catch) and blubbery Josh Peck (Snow Day) who wears a bathrobe all the time and doesn’t care what anybody thinks about it. Life looks as if it will continue on a slow, miserable track to Perpetual Nerdville until Max’s parents announce suddenly that the family is moving to Chicago. Although devastated at this news, Max sees the silver lining: He can wreak revenge without having to stick around to suffer the consequences (a fantasy held by a lot of us!). With computer savvy, cunning and the immense freedom that is inspired by knowing you won’t get detention, Max leads his friends on a foray into a seventh-grade version of vigilante justice. It’s hilarious. He humiliates all the bad guys, both junior-high age and adult; orchestrates the most outrageous food fight in cafeteria history; creates an ice-cream meltdown; and gets smiled at by the school’s sex pot, the alluring Jenna (Brooke Anne Smith, 1999’s Miss Junior America). How sweet revenge is when the moving van is arriving tomorrow! But nothing is a straight trajectory in Move: Inspired by his son’s newly acquired confidence, Max’s dad decides to leave his tyrannical boss and start his own company. They won’t be moving after all! Uh-oh!! And the fun begins all over again.
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