After centuries of being linked to emperors, kindly old uncles and secret agents who talk into shoes, Max has reemerged as one of the coolest names you could possibly attach to a baby boy. Anyone who has a kid named Max, raise your hand. See, you could fill a ballpark.
The state of cool hasn't been too much of a concern to 12-year-old Max Keeble (Alex D. Linz), a paperboy whose imagination exceeds his daring. But now that he is entering junior high in Disney's "Max Keeble's Big Move," being cool is much on his mind. So much so that he is reevaluating his activities with his two nerdy-and-proud-of-it best friends: Megan (Zena Grey), who plays the clarinet (way uncool), and Robe (Josh Peck), a foodaholic who wears a bathrobe to class and is not above swiping stray crumbs off the school bus floor (beyond the valley of the uncool).
As Max enters junior high, however, he is harassed by so many colossal cretins that he feels anointed into coolness by default. His nemeses are legion: an Evil Ice Cream Man (Jamie Kennedy), who has stalked Max with his white truck since Max's mother reported him to the health department; the corrupt principal (Larry Miller), who wants to shut down the local animal shelter; the young tycoon on the make who extorts investments from the pockets of his classmates (Orlando Brown); and, lest we forget, the school bully (Noel Fisher), whose bravado is skin-deep.
Once Max's parents announce that the family is moving to Chicago, Max feels free to act on his revenge fantasies, taking on his enemies one by one. Of course we know his parents will reverse their decision at the eleventh hour, leaving Max in a huge pickle of his own devising. But we also know that Max will rise triumphant, since Disney would be run out of town forever if it foisted a nihilist family picture on unsuspecting children.
Exactly which children Disney hopes to captivate with "Max Keeble's Big Move" is a little unclear. While junior high kids would appear to be the obvious target, the film speaks a broad cartoon language that seems more geared to their kid brothers and sisters. Led by Miller's fire-breathing administrator, the impulse to shtick it up to burlesque-level inanity is encouraged at every turn.
Older kids and their parents should respond to the sophisticated deployment of kitschy graphics (Kelly Hannafin is the art director). They are the coolest thing in the whole movie, Max included, and they are dropped all too early in the frantic proceedings.
MPAA-rated: PG, for some bullying and crude humor. Times guidelines: glorifies revenge; most adults are indifferent, mean or ridiculous.
'Max Keeble's Big Move'
Alex D. Linz: Max
Larry Miller: Jindraike
Jamie Kennedy: Evil Ice Cream Man
Zena Grey: Megan
Josh Peck: Robe
Walt Disney Pictures presents a Karz Entertainment production, released by Buena Vista Distribution. Director Tim Hill. Producer Mike Karz. Executive producer Guy Riedel. Screenplay by Jonathan Bernstein & Mark Blackwell & James Greer, story by David Watts and Jonathan Bernstein & Mark Blackwell & James Greer. Cinematographer Arthur Albert. Editor Tony Lombardo, Peck Prior. Costume designer Susan Matheson. Music Michael Wandmacher. Production designer Vincent Jefferds. Art director Kelly Hannafin. Set decorator K.C. Fox. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.
In general release.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times