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Tim Hill
Alex D. Linz, Larry Miller, Jamie Kennedy, Nora Dunn, Zena Grey, Josh Peck
David L. Watts, Johnathan Bernstein

His World. His Rules.
Box Office:
Budget $12 million.
Opening weekend $5.377 million on 2014 screens.
Domestic gross $17.292 million.
Rated PG for some bullying and crude humor.

Standard 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 86 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 6/18/2002

• Audio Commentary from Director Tim Hill, Producer Mike Karz, and Actors Alex D. Linz, Jamie Kennedy and Larry Miller
• “Alex to the Max” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• “Max’s Halls of Knowledge and Stuff” Game
• Sneak Peeks
• DVD-ROM Features


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Max Keeble's Big Move (2001)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson

Some folks feel that a 35-year-old man shouldn’t review a kid-oriented movie like Max Keeble’s Big Move. Those people might be correct, but since we don’t have any 12-year-olds on staff, I guess I’m the only one to do the job!

Just because a movie shoots for a young audience doesn’t necessarily mean that adults can’t enjoy it. Many kid-oriented flick still offer enough fun for the grown-ups that we can like them, or at least tolerate the results. At times, Max managed a few fun moments for me, but overall, this piece seemed best left for the pre-teens in the audience.

At the start of Max, we meet its titular protagonist, played by Alex D. Linz. We see a fantasy sequence about the exciting life Max wants to lead, but then we encounter his reality on his first day of seventh grade. He teams up with friends Megan (Zena Grey) and “Robe” (Josh Peck) as they prepare for the year.

Unforunately, Max’s seventh grade starts poorly. School bully Troy McGinty (Noel Fisher) chooses Max as his first victim, which leaves our hero covered in old food. Another bully named Dobbs (Orlando Brown) once made a fortune on Wall Street but then lost it. He picks on kids to steal back his money, and Max becomes one of his targets. Much to our hero’s ire, mean teacher Mrs. Talia (Veronica Alicino) does nothing to help him. Max also sets his sights on ninth grade hottie Jenna (Brooke Anne Smith), but she seems disinterested.

Just when Max thinks things can get no worse, his dad Don (Robert Carradine) drops a bombshell: the family - which also includes mother Lily (Nora Dunn) - must move to Chicago at the end of the week for Don’s work. Initially Max seems upset, but then he realizes he can make his final moments matter. He plans to act as though his actions have no consequences, since they don’t for him; he can do what he wants and he’ll be in the Windy City before the repercussions occur.

So Max taunts Mrs. Talia, and he aggravates weaselly and ambitious Principal Jindraike (Larry Miller). He seeks revenge against Troy, Dobbs, and the Evil Ice Cream Man (Jamie Kennedy) who makes his life miserable. All’s well until a) Max realizes that his friends will take the abuse meant for him, and b) Max discovers his family won’t move to Chicago. From there, the movie examines how Max deals with his actions and tries to make things right.

Is there anything more traumatic than the first day of middle school? Well, yeah, but I can’t conjure many more intimidating academic experiences. Almost 23 years after the fact, I still have that painful day emblazoned in my memory, and Max succeeds in the way it attempts to impart the feelings one has during that period.

Otherwise, it doesn’t have too much to do with childhood reality. The movie prefers to be a grand farce, and it incorporates the elements typical of this sort of film. We see many broad and silly characters and get a lot of goofy “in your face” humor with plenty of gross-out moments. Apparently that’s what the targeted age group desires, and Max gives it to them in spades.

However, the movie rarely feels like much more than the result of some focus group polls. It seems as though the filmmakers took all of the requisite components and threw them together for this loosely constructed story. Max has some potential at its heart, for the concept of a kid who gets his revenge and then has to face up to some consequences seems unusual. Normally a movie like this would end with the lead character’s “triumphant” vengeance and not deal with the aftereffects, so I like the fact that Max takes a different path.

However, the movie also wants to have its cake and eat it too, which causes some problems. Nonetheless, most of the film’s issues come from the generic qualities it provides, and it also suffers from some schizophrenia. Max can’t quite decide if it wants to be a heartfelt depiction of a tough time for kids or if it just prefers to dunk them in goo and laugh.

For kids who like that kind of humor, Max Keeble’s Big Move will probably offer some fun. Embrace it in that vein and have a good time. However, anyone looking for more will probably feel disappointed, and adults in the audience likely will find little of interest.

Note: Max Keeble’s Big Move includes one of the most pointless and gratuitous cameos I’ve seen in quite some time. As one of Max’s classmates, we find pint-sized rapper Lil’ Romeo, who plays… Lil’ Romeo. Why? I have no clue - he does virtually nothing in the movie.

And by the way, Max’s middle school apparently has no female teachers who aren’t babes. Even mean and nasty Mrs. Talia’s hot! I work at a middle school, but I’ve yet to find honeys like this there!

The DVD Grades: Picture B- / Audio B- / Bonus B

Max Keeble’s Big Move appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Unfortunately, Disney decided that the folks who want to see Max Keeble’s Big Move would prefer to watch it in an altered aspect ratio, not its original 1.85:1 dimensions. This means that fans are stuck with this edition; I’ve heard no plans for a DVD release with the correct ratio. This left an image that often seemed somewhat cramped on the sides.

In addition to the lack of the original theatrical dimensions, Max showed a mix of other problems, though it generally presented a decent image. For the most part, the picture remained crisp and well defined. Some shots displayed modest softness, but those concerns appeared infrequently. Most of the film displayed distinct and accurate images. I noticed no issues related to jagged edges or moiré effects, but some light edge enhancement showed up at times. In regard to print flaws, the picture seemed a little grainy at times, and I also detected a few nicks and mix of grit, specks, and other marks. The defects never seemed oppressive, but they appeared too heavy for such a new movie.

During most of the film, I found the colors to look nicely bold and vibrant. The movie exhibited a nicely broad palette even through the northern setting, and the DVD usually displayed vivid hues. Black levels appeared deep and rich, but shadow detail seemed acceptable at best. Some low-light sequences looked a bit murky, though they usually displayed acceptable clarity. Ultimately, Max Keeble’s Big Move presented a watchable image, but even when I disregarded the annoying absence of the original aspect ratio, I found it to contain too many concerns for such a recent film.

For Max Keeble’s Big Move, we got a decent Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Music showed good stereo delineation, and effects created a reasonably lively and convincing setting across the front. Elements were appropriately located, and they blended together cleanly. In general, the film offered a good sense of atmosphere. Surround usage seemed somewhat limited, as the movie generally presented little more than basic reinforcement from the rears. Some scenes offered decent activity from the rear; for example, a segment in the school auditorium provided a nice level of chatter. Nonetheless, the track mainly favored the forward channels.

Audio quality seemed positive but not great. Speech showed the main problems, as dialogue occasionally sounded edgy and rough. In general, the lines were a bit unnatural, though they always remained intelligible. Music sounded bright and bouncy, as both score and songs demonstrated good range and fidelity. Effects also worked well. They appeared vivid and clear, and they showed no signs of distortion. Those elements and the music also displayed very solid bass response. The low-end always seemed deep and rich as well. Overall, the audio for Max worked acceptably well, but the track lost points due to its lack of ambition and the moderately weak quality of the speech.

The DVD release of Max Keeble’s Big Move includes a modest mix of supplements. First we encounter an audio commentary from director Tim Hill, producer Mike Karz, and actors Alex D. Linz, Larry Miller, and Jamie Kennedy. Entitled “Five on the Film”, all of them were recorded together for this running, screen-specific piece. Many multiple-participant tracks of this sort suffer from chaotic interaction, but that’s not really a problem here. Instead, the commentary loses points because there’s not enough interaction. Actually, the five guys chat a lot and mix together well, but real information appears only sporadically. The commentary gives us bits and pieces about the making of the movie, but we get a lot of general remarks about how much everyone likes it. Linz seems very obnoxious, but he’s a kid - he’s entitled. Hill and Karz provide surprisingly little material, while Kennedy and Miller toss out a few funny bits. Kennedy comes across as moderately baked, actually. Overall, the commentary may offer some enjoyment for big fans of the film, but I think it seems fairly dull and uninformative.

In Max’s Missing Scenes, we encounter 12 deleted segments. Each of these lasts between 25 seconds and two minutes, 12 seconds for a total of 13 minutes, 52 seconds of footage. To my surprise, much of this footage actually seems fairly entertaining. It’s too bad there’s no commentary to accompany it, for I’d like to hear why it got cut. I’d assume it’s because much of it appears moderately redundant, but it’s still decent stuff. The area also includes the full version of the MacGoogles theme song.

In the category of “Insulted Injury”, note that the deleted scenes for Max all appear in their original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. That’s great, but I wish we could watch the actual movie in the same dimensions.

Next we locate a featurette called Alex to the Max. This seven minute and 55 second piece purports to show a day in the life of an actor from Alex D. Linz’s point of view. It also tosses in very brief soundbites from director Hill, producer Karz, and actors Zena Grey and Josh Peck, but their comments don’t add up to much. Instead, the program largely consists of Linz’s generic statements and some decent footage from the set. The latter makes this show moderately entertaining, but it’s nothing special.

With Max’s Halls of Knowledge and Stuff, we get a trivia game. Proceed through it and you’ll actually get a decent reward: some outtakes from the movie that show alternate endings. The questions are very easy, but the interface makes progress slow; like a cheesy CD-ROM game from 1994, it takes forever to move Max through the halls of the middle school. Still, I’m happy that we receive a prize for this effort; too many DVD trivia games give you nothing substantial at the end.

When you start the DVD, you’ll find the usual complement of advertisements. Here we get a preview of the upcoming theatrical release Spy Kids 2 as well as commercials for Beauty and the Beast, The Rookie, Monsters Inc., Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch, and Snow Dogs. From the main menu, you’ll discover a Sneak Peeks area that includes trailers for the upcoming DVD releases of Teamo Supremo, Tarzan and Jane, Mickey’s House of Villains - incorrectly called Haunted House of Mouse in the menu - and Schoolhouse Rock.

In the DVD-ROM area, we find two features. In addition to a weblink for the Disney video site, we get a game called Max Keeble’s Ultimate Food Fight. Little more than a simple target-shooting contest, it actually is more fun than I expected. The four-level contest starts easy but gets somewhat hectic by the end, and it seems fairly well executed for what it offers. In addition, you get a minor reward if you complete it: a short featurette that looks at the creation of the film’s food fight scene.

As one outside of its target audience, I can’t say that Max Keeble’s Big Move did much for me. The movie had a few entertaining moments, but most folks over the age of 14 will find little to enjoy here. The DVD release of Max left a lot to be desired. Not only did Disney decide to release only a fullscreen version of the film, but also the quality of the picture seemed moderately flawed. At least the audio sounded generally good, and the set also included a reasonable roster of extras.

Although Max Keeble’s Big Move presented decent fare for its audience, ultimately I can’t recommend the DVD, largely because of the absence of original aspect ratio (OAR). To see a brand-new film hit DVD with no OAR option seems unthinkable, but here’s an example. I just can’t urge anyone to rush out to buy a pan and scan product like this, especially since it doesn’t even present a strong picture within the fullscreen parameters. For those who don’t care about aspect ratios, is the image quality problematic enough to make them skip the disc? No, the movie actually looked decent to good; it just showed more flaws than I’d expect from a brand-new film. I’d still hope that folks who care about original ratios would avoid Max Keeble’s Big Move and make sure Disney knows their displeasure with the product.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4482 Stars Number of Votes: 58
2 3:
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