Jamie Kennedy is the Uwe Boll of comedy. Like the infamous German B-movie director, critics hate him and if box office take is any indicator, so do audiences. If the guy has any fans, they don’t seem very supportive. But somehow, he’s made another movie. Flop after flop, failure after failure, he keeps right on going. He may not be talented, but at least he’s persistent.
Kennedy’s latest act of stubborn persistence is Kickin’ It Old Skool, a movie built almost entirely out of bad clichés and worn out nostalgia. It’s the story of Justin, a 12-year-old boy trapped in the body of a thirty-something, pasty white guy courtesy of a coma. He hits his head and it’s the 80s, he wakes up and it’s 2007. Refusing to be dated, Justin re-assembles his old break dancing crew and tries to get his life back on track by winning a dance competition with twenty-year old moves.
Kickin’ is stupid, but at least it knows it’s stupid. The movie is close to tolerable when it’s taking random shots at itself or the dance movie genre in general. Sadly, there’s not enough of that and there is a lot of Jamie Kennedy. Kennedy has nothing. He stands around listlessly mugging for the camera, as if he thinks simply showing up in Hammer pants is enough to make the movie work. Even worse is his co-star Maria Menounos, who should probably stick to wearing low-cut dresses on Entertainment Tonight if she wants to keep working. Some of Kennedy’s other co-stars try. Bobby Lee is mildly funny in his limited role as the token Asian member of Justin’s crew. I have a feeling that if he ever finds some decent material Lee might actually be really talented, but so far the best he’s been able to manage it second place TV sketch comedy on the who knew it was still on the air show ‘Mad TV’ or bit forgettable bit parts in other people’s movies. Hey Hollywood, how about a shot for Bobby Lee? He can’t possibly do worse than Jamie Kennedy.
The most frustrating thing about Kickin’ It Old Skool is the way it’s edited. Logical plot progression seems to be thrown out the window whenever someone thinks of a scene that might be funny. The movie flies off the tracks repeatedly to follow completely random story threads which invariably dead end. Think it might be funny for Jamie Kennedy to breakdance with little kids? Let’s do that for a few minutes even though it makes absolutely no sense, then go right back to whatever we were doing before that as if it never happened. I realize it’s a comedy, but it might be nice if director Harvey Glazer and his team of screenwriters took three or four minutes and tried to explain to their editor Sandy Solowitz what the hell the movie is about before she started hacking it to bits.
I’m not going to try and tell you there aren’t a few funny moments in Kickin’. The movie is so random and disjointed that sometimes it’s hilarious by accident. When weird things happen for absolutely no reason, you won’t be able to help but laugh. Oh and there’s another great obligatory David Hasselhoff cameo in it. He’s on screen for maybe sixty seconds, but runs away with the entire movie. Hasselhoff is carving quite a nice new career out of simply showing up for brilliant cameos. He did it in Spongebob, he did it in Click, and he’s hilarious again in Kickin’. Or maybe it’s just that anybody seems funny standing next to Jamie Kennedy.
However I can’t recommend seeing Kickin’ for sixty seconds of genius David Hasselhoff. Wait a bit and that’ll probably show up on YouTube. For fat, out of shape, former 80s breakdancers there’s some shoehorned nostalgia in Kickin’ it Old Skool, but for anyone else I can’t imagine any reason to see it. If the past performance of Kennedy’s other movies is any indicator, it’s unlikely audiences will talk themselves into enduring it.