A shamelessly derivative, if basically likeable, kid's picture that will strike a responsive chord in anyone who ever felt persecuted in junior high, a demographic that probably includes just about everybody worth knowing. When we first glimpse the titular Max (Alex D. Linz), he's your basic 12-year-old paper boy, looking forward to the first day of seventh grade. But to his chagrin, he soon discovers that life isn't exactly taking a turn for the better. Max has two schoolyard bullies after him, including a yuppie monster (Orlando Brown) who steals his lunch money to play the stock market, the school's ambitious principal (comedian Larry Miller, in totally over-the-top mode) hates him with a passion, and he's locked in a life-and-death after-school struggle with an evil ice cream man (SCREAM's Jamie Kennedy). Then everything changes: Max's parents (Robert Carradine, Nora Dunn) announce that the family is moving to a new city within a week. Thus liberated, Max and his friends Robe (Josh Peck) and Megan (Zena Grey) set in motion several James Bond-ian schemes to pay back his tormentors. This being a Disney movie, everyone who truly deserves it eventually gets his or her comeuppance at the same time that Max and company learn the adolescent version of the old saw about what happens when you stare into the abyss. Most of the big comic set pieces are rather obviously recycled from other, better movies, in particular FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF, though the bit with the school marching band playing Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" is actually pretty funny. But the cast is generally game and the whole thing goes down generally easily. Anyone wondering when the grunge-era generation of rebels without a clue was going to, shall we say, go for the gold, will want to note the film's screenwriting credits. The scripters include two former Spin magazine editors and a touring member of Guided by Voices, the most critically acclaimed alt-rock cult band of the '90s. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: PG
- Review: A shamelessly derivative, if basically likeable, kid's picture that will strike a responsive chord in anyone who ever felt persecuted in junior high, a demographic that probably includes just about everybody worth knowing. When we first glimpse the titular… (more)