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Click for full sized poster

Max Keeble's Big Move

Starring Alex D. Linz, Zena Grey and Josh Peck
Screenplay by Jonathan Bernstein & Mark Blackwell & James Greer; Story by David Watts and Jonathan Bernstein & Mark Blackwell & James Greer
Directed by Tim Hill
click for Official website

IN SHORT: Good stuff for upper single digits and pre-teens. [Rated PG for some bullying and crude humor. 86 minutes]

We don't put the standard dollar rating on movies aimed at the kidlet audience for the simple reason that most of 'em will get chewed up in a VCR, if they're any good. Max Keeble's Big Move is good -- we could drag both our niece and nephew (she's 11, he's 8) to see it and each would find different things to like about it. But we shriveled up in our seats when the film used Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" as a marching band theme. It's official. We're old.

Our friends at Disney are going to bounce off walls when we say that Max Keeble's Big Move is just as good as the best stuff coming out of the competing Nickelodeon factory, but it's true. Disney used to have the kidlet market all to itself and, knowing that, it got lazy. The competition has got the studio back on its horse. It's a good thing.

Max Keeble (Alex D. Linz) faces the same things that all seventh graders do. He's no longer top dog in the pecking order of elementary school. He's now facing an unknown world of older kids and bigger kids and bigger kids with breasts. He's get his two man crew (Zena Grey and Josh Peck) sticking by him and he does good works like helping out at the soon to be closed animal shelter (which gives co-star evil doer Larry Miller something to cackle over). Max still faces the threat from bullies like Troy McGinty (Noel Fisher) who proudly writes the names of his victims to be on his T shirt and Dobbs (Orlando Brown) who wears business suits and behaves like your standard corporate bad guy as he shakes the little kids down for their milk money. For silliness, there's an ongoing battle with the Ice Cream Man (Jamie Kennedy). For sex, there's supermodel Amber Valletta as his science teacher who explains pheromones to the class.

What does Max Learn from all this? Not much actually. When his parents drop a bomb on him -- the family will up and move to Chicago at the end of the week -- his little mind goes into overdrive to come up with appropriate fare-the-wells for the bullies in his life. That means food fights, petty theft, personal embarrassment and preparing to take it on the chin when the parental units change their mind. As well, Max comes to realize the true meaning of friendship and finds a budding love. Ah, kidlet flicks. Nothing here for grownups, except . . .

The main theme of Max Keeble is that beating up on bullies just makes you no better than him (for those of us who never got that from our kidflicks, we read it in our comic books: "Killing you would make me no better than a common killer, so I won't do it!" (Thanks to Stan Lee for those great childhood memories.) The trick for parental types is explaining the difference between not beating up on bullies and making toast of countries which support terrorists. Hopefully, your kids won't care about the subtle differences. Be prepared, just in case.

Max Keeble's Big Move is for the kidlets. There's nothing here that would merit a parental warning or the need to hide in the back of the theater if the kidlets want to show how big they are. It's not impossible for adults to sit through but, ultimately, it's going to wind up just where we said it would. In the VCR, playing again and again and again.

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