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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday May 22, 2020 


Max Keeble (Alex D Linz) is facing his first day of junior high school. Despite his best intentions, nothing much seems to have changed. He still hangs with his friends Megan (Zena Grey) and Robe (Josh Peck), he still gets picked on by bullies and he's still the target of a psychotic ice cream vendor (Jamie Kennedy). His new principal Mr Jindrake (Larry Miller) also seems rather strange, particularly his obsession with the school's football team. Max is bummed when he finds out the animal shelter where he volunteers is to close down; but things go from bad to worse when his dad (Robert Carradine) announces the family is moving cross country to Chicago at the end of the week. Then it dawns on him - since he's moving in a couple of days, he can basically get away with anything. And he's not going to let the opportunity to right a few wrongs slip.

Review by David Edwards:
This is the kind of film that sets a huge task for a reviewer. It's just not aimed at us - it's aimed at seventh graders, the kinds of kids who populate the movie itself. And while I was a seventh grader once, that is, I'm afraid, a fast fading memory. Max Keeble's Big move is a Disney movie, and it bears many of the studio's traditional hallmarks. The kids are smart, the adults flawed, and the animals an amusing sideline. The jokes are pretty juvenile, and the film is highlighted by a massive food fight. Still, for all that, it works wonderfully for kids (at least the ones at the screening I attended) and provides a few crumbs for adults to pick over. It also has a moral about bullying that's relevant, if rather heavy-handed. Alex D Linz plays Max, and he does a good job. While it would be easy to have Max come off as a smart alec or a dweeb, he manages to make him a kid with a sense of right and wrong without being a jerk. He's ably supported by Zena Grey (who looks remarkably like a 12 year old Julianne Moore) and Josh Peck as his friends, but the real fun for adults comes from two absolutely manic performances - Larry Miller as the principal and Jamie Kennedy as the ice cream guy. Miller in particular seems to relish playing the ogre of the piece, and gets the best of the film's comic lines. Despite the thin plot, the often lame jokes and the oddly cheap-looking production values, Max Keeble's Big Move largely succeeds for those it hopes to please the most - kids. It makes token efforts for the adults, but this is a film for juveniles so it's, well, juvenile. As it should be.

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
When did all the wholesome, stereotypical childhoods of Leave it to Beaver, Skippy, Fatty Finn, The Little Rascals, The Wonder Years and all those Disney movies die? The Wonder Years never had bullies who would wail on the weakest kid in Junior High. Kevin's principle wasn't some demented psycho who demolished animal shelters. The ice cream vendor never did kung-fu or run over Kevin's bike on the roadside. How childhoods and their on-screen reflections have changed! Max Keeble's Big Move seems to be an amalgam of three shows on the subject, as if the film's execs tried to whip their best ingredients into one smash it. First, it tries a dash of wholesomeness from The Wonder Years. Both pint-sized heroes struggled to fit in at school and with the family, provided moralistic voice-over narration, and felt the first pain of hormones for the girl next door. Second, it has the smarmy prankishness of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, with its snide irreverence for authority and tedium of school life that begs for rebellion. Larry Miller's beleaguered school principal - who gets the best laughs by continually humiliating himself - could easily be Ed Rooney's twin brother. And third, the film tries to be as hip, flashy and street-smart as Malcolm in the Middle (of which Malcom's brother Justin Berfield has a small role here). Those three shows are pretty big shoes to fill, and while it's understandable that Disney was trying for the right combination, the result is a befuddled and rather unfunny attempt at pre-pubescent comedy. The most laughs from the 10-year-old boys that dominated the audience came when a chimpanzee squished the principal's head in chocolate mousse. Those of similar age will dig Max Keeble, but to me it's not funny watching Max strut like he's Ferris Bueller in Kevin Arnold's body. Besides, Winnie Cooper never walked to anything like the Britney Spears "...Baby One More Time".

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CAST: Alex D. Linz, Larry Miller, Jamie Kennedy, Zena Grey, Nora Dunn, Josh Peck



SCRIPT: Jonathan Bernstein, Mark Blackwell, Jim Greer


EDITOR: Tony Lombardo, Peck Prior

MUSIC: Michael Wandmacher


RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes



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