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It's Max Keeble's first day of junior high, and things are going badly. Over the course of the day, he is accosted by not one, not two, not three, but four separate bullies: an evil Ice Cream man, a thuggish brute, an entrepreneurial lunch-money thief, and the malevolent (and stupid) school principal Jindrake, who wants to pave over an animal shelter so he can build a football stadium. To top it all off, when Max gets home, his dad announces that his Mean Boss has assigned him a new post in Chicago: By the end of the week, the family has to move.
Max is depressed at first, but quickly realizes that, with no fear of retribution, he can exact revenge on the bullies. He and his best friends Robe (a chubby kid who always wears a robe) and Megan organize a series of zany plots to give the bullies what's coming to them. Of course, this being the movies, things don't go exactly as planned, and Max eventually has to fix what he's broken and stand up to his oppressors once and for all.
A live action Disney flick from 2001, directed by Tim Hill (who went on to make the CGI Alvin and The Chipmunks). The characters and plot are very predictable, but it's got some witty lines and great performances, especially from its young actors and Larry Miller, who serve up several slices of Large Ham. If you can ignore some of the toilet humour and the Ferris Bueller vibes, it's actually a pretty funny movie.
This movie contains examples of:
- Actor Allusion: This isn't the first time that Larry Miller portrayed a Jerkass school administrator, or being humiliated by a rodent, for that matter.
- Adults Are Useless: Even the ones who aren't actively evil are still unhelpful
- All Just a Dream: The beginning of the film.
- All There in the Manual: Apparently recently, there are a few facebook pages on the characters in the movie and reflect on some things that weren't made clear in the movie. For example, apparently Jenna's full name is "Jenna Smith", and she was an aspiring actress.
- Almighty Janitor: The school janitor becomes one when he locks Jindrake into the storage room after learning the principal cut his overtime pay.
- Alpha Bitch: Max Keeble's crush, and his best friend Megan's worst enemy. (To be fair, she's really more of a Brainless Beauty who's so shallow that she doesn't realize she's being mean.)
- Ambiguously Jewish: Max might qualify, given his funny name, obsessive-compulsive mother, and dad's quirky sense of humor and background in show business (okay, advertising).
- Anything But That: Invoked by Jindrake, when discussing "The Keeble"
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Principal Jindrake plans to pave over an animal shelter to build a football stadium, cuts 97% of the school budget in order to build said football stadium, locks one of his students up in the janitor's room as punishment, and steals toilet paper from the school supply closet. Evil.
- Not to mention that even when the only possible reason for building it (to land himself a promotion from the Superintendent "Crazy Legs," which not only failed, but any chances of his ever becoming superintendent was sunk beyond any chance of recovery [as a deleted scene revealed]) was no longer viable, he still intends to demolish the animal shelter anyways. Then there is the fact that, while (unknowingly) confessing to the entire school that he fiddled with the budget, he not only does so without any regret, but he also even went as far as to insult the classes, faculty and staff, as evidenced by the quote below:
Jindrake: So I fiddled with the budget. Fiddlesticks, it's my budget. So we don't have enough science textbooks, big deal, Science is for nerds. Not enough band instruments, who cares?! Band is for losers! So the Janitor has to work without pay... he should pay me for the privilege!
- Bad Humor Truck: Jamie Kennedy as the Evil Ice Cream Man (that's actually the character's name). His Truck, at least in the dream sequence at the beginning, is even modified with an Ice Cream Cannon.
- Bad Job, Worse Uniform: Max's dad is an ad man, and his boss dresses him up in ridiculous costumes to secure clients.
- In a deleted scene, when Max attempts to contact his father at the ad agency, he was also working as someone who plays a Samurai complete with a sword, only to apparently cut himself shortly after swinging the katana, indicating that the uniform might actually injure the actor and not just humiliate him/her.
- Big Eater: Robe.
- Book Dumb: When Troy McGinty is properly introduced by Max Keeble, a report card depicting his grades is briefly shown, and most of it are "F"s, with the exception of Woodshop, which even that was at best a "D".
- Book Ends: Meta-example: The filming of the movie started with Alex Linz going into the ventilation shaft when shooting the scene of Max and his friends breaking into the school. The filming of the movie concluded with Linz exiting the ventilation shaft.
- Brainless Beauty: Jenna, Max's crush, is either this or the Alpha Bitch.
- Butt Monkey: Really, you have to feel sorry for that uptight teacher who gets pelted with chocolate pudding and knocked into a garbage bin during the "food fight" scene.
- Then again, given the fact that she had Max write a 2000 word essay (and eventually have 12,000) due on Friday just because he was late and dripping (which he couldn't even help due to Troy McGinty putting him through a swirlie.), and simply let Dobbs steal Max's lunch money and get away with it, she kind of deserved it.
- Calling Card: One of the Bullies, Troy McGinty, shows everyone who he intends to bully for the day by wearing a coat, to which he promptly unzips to show a shirt with the victim of the day's name that is written in such a way to resemble a word carved into the body. Max Keeble, when getting back at McGinty, even does a variation of McGinty's modus operatum that has a spraypaint streak across his shirt with his name in white letter that he displays to the school before enacting revenge against him.
- Cameo: Several, the most ridiculous being L'il Romeo. (Tony Hawk's appearance, at least, can be explained away as being All Just a Dream.)
- Can't You Read the Sign?: "What, does this seat have your name on it?" "Yes." (points to name on seat)
- Character Blog: Max Keeble, Troy McGinty, and Jenna (full name Jenna Smith) each have a facebook page recently created about them.
- Chekhov's Skill: Max's paperboy aim
- Child-Hater: Principal Jindrake, who refers to his students as acne-scarred riff-raff. You have to wonder just how this a**hole got his job, anyway.
- Comically Small Bribe: Variation: The Evil Ice Cream Man doesn't even attempt to use money to bribe his way out of a speeding ticket, but instead uses a Snow Doodle. Predictably, it fails.
- Compensating for Something: A variation is utilized with Jindrake: Whenever he does the announcements (via telemonitor), he often dresses himself in a manner similar to the President of the United States of America, and has his office utilize a pull up curtain that apparently depicts the Capitol Building in the background.
- Crossing the Burnt Bridge: basically the plot of the movie.
- Dean Bitterman: The deluded and tyrannical Principal Elliot T. Jindrake. He's played by Larry Miller, who coincidentally also played a bitter dean in The Nutty Professor.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Jindrake, no other? Specifically, this line when, during his tour with the Superintendent through the school, they witness a food fight:
"This is completely without precedent. Not only that, but it's never happened before!"
- Did Do the Research: In the film, there were mentions of the Junior High School's highest level being 9th Grade. The school system of University Place, Washington (the implied setting of the movie) does indeed have 9th grade being the highest level in the Junior High School setting.
- Did Not Do the Research: Likewise, Max and his friends were stated to be in the 7th Grade as starting attendees of Junior High. In real life, the University Place school system's earlier grade level for Junior High is 8th grade, not 7th grade.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The Evil Ice Cream Man wanted to get even with Max just because Max's mom called the Health Department and nailed him after Max was unluckily enough to discover a cockroach in his Ice Cream.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: When accepting Jenna's invitation to a milkshake party at buddies (under the promise of nine (actually one) milkshakes), he is being cheered on by various other students when downing his ninth shake in a very similar manner to a binge drinking contest for a Wild Teen Party.
- Also, Both during and after McGinty being terrorized by "MacGoogles" in a blackouted and shut in gym, his reaction is almost similar to a rape victim.
- The Dog Bites Back: The movie is filled with this towards the bullies: McGinty and Dobbs meet this sort of thing from Max Keeble, and later from the entire student body. Likewise, it is also strongly implied that the teachers and staff, as soon as they learned the truth about Jindrake's embezzlement of the school's funds, proceeded to fight back against him, including locking him up in the Janitor's closet for a while (and presumably letting Max escape from it). Also, the teacher who let Dobbs steal Max's money and punished Max for something Max had absolutely no control over ended up being one of the few targets during the food fight to actually have a unified front against her.
- Engineered Public Confession: Wherein Jindrake reveals that he cut school funds to finance his football stadium due in part to Max Keeble turning on the announcement camera without him knowing.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The Evil Ice Cream Man may intend to get even with Max Keeble in retribution for discovering a cockroach in his ice cream that presumably got him in deep trouble with the health administration, yet even he objects to someone like Dobbs stealing students money, especially if they are potential customers.
- Evil Gloating: Goes hand-in-hand with the Engineered Public Confession above.
- Evil Redhead: Troy McGinty.
- Face Heel Turn: It is implied when Max and Troy encounter each other that they used to be friends given Max's excited greeting before realizing Troy intended to bully him.
- Food Fight: Theres nothing like the sweet taste of rebelious freedom in school.
- Freudian Excuse: Troy McGinty bears a nasty grudge against Max Keeble because Max's father once wore a frightening costume at his son's birthday party, which Troy attended.
- Funny Foreigner: The three giant exchange students brought in from Eastern Europe to play football. Though at the end, it's revealed they might actually be Fauxreigners...
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- Max briefly falls hard for the blonde, leggy Alpha Bitch freshman student that all the guys drool over. Whenever this character appears, she is accompanied by the opening strains of Britney Spear's "Baby One More Time."
- And then, of course, there's the hilarious "pheromones" subplot.
- Golden Moment: With the janitor. "Any kid can make a mess. It takes a MAN to clean it up!"
- Groin Attack: When Jindrake is trying to give Crazy Legs a tour of the school as per the inspection, due to unknowingly ingesting Animal Pheronomes from his mouth spray, a squirrel finds Jindrake and attempts to find his mate due to the pheronomes within Jindrake, and... well, let's just say that the Squirrel eventually finds a certain area to test his teeth on.
- Helium Speech: Robe attempts to invoke this on himself while waiting for Max to arrive for the going away party, and succeeds.
- High School Hustler: Max, well, kind of as he is a Junior High school student. One of the complaints about the movie was it was unoriginal and that Max is a preteen ripoff of the more famous hustler Ferris Bueller.
- Hong Kong Dub: When Max goes into his "kung fu" stance
- If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him: Max, trying to save the bullies from an angry mob of nerds who want to throw them in a dumpster, insists, "If you bully them you will be just like them!" Then he tells them to "let them go," with predictable results.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: "See you bassoon!" Max even lampshades how bad of a pun it was by saying "'See you bassoon'? ehh... stupid."
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Troy McGinty almost becomes one once we learn that he was traumatized as a child by the sight of Max's father dressed as a bizarre cartoon character. I say "almost" because that certainly doesn't justify his being a complete Jerkass a decade later.
- Ironic Echo: Sort of. "I was just running away from my problems, and that's not courage. That excourage."
- Also, when Megan tells Jenna to leave after Max turned down her invitation, she says to Jenna the exact same thing that Jenna herself told her when they first met when dismissing her from the chair: "Shoo-Shoo." Of course, Jenna reacts with indifference.
- Karma Houdini: The Yearbook guys, given the fact that they were as much bullying as Troy McGinty and Dobbs were since their primary use of their journalism skills was to essentially take pictures of the students in embarassing or traumatising situations (and even make innocent pictures seem a lot worse with their choice of titles, i.e. "How's this: 'Sheep arrive for slaughter'" on the very first day of school), and unlike Troy, Dobbs, Jindrake, or even the Evil Ice Cream Man, they still haven't received their comeuppance by the end of the movie.
- They seemed more passionate about their jobs than anything instead of bullying (i.e. they were excited about covering the Food Fight), and the only incriminating thing they did was take photos of Max being manhandled by Troy... and try to write an article about traumatized Troy. But besides their yearbook gig, they also serve as informants to Worried Kid by warning him about the bullies he should be aware of to get the plot moving.
- Large Ham: Larry Miller as the principal is over-the-top in Larry Miller's under-the-top way.
- Last Day to Live: About two thirds of the film is this; the rest is cleaning up the mess Max made when it's revealed his family isn't moving after all.
- Last-Minute Hookup: Max/ Megan sort of comes out of nowhere
- by "sort of" it is because it was justified, considering how he ditched her earlier as a direct result of deciding to attend Jenna's party instead of the going away party that Robe and Megan were holding, and felt guilty when he found out.
- Leitmotif: Surprisingly, the Alpha Bitch has one that plays every time she appears. Unsurprisingly, it's the intro to Britney Spears' "Hit Me Baby One More Time"
- Jenna's not the only one who has a Leitmotif. Actually, a few of the major characters have one as well. Dobbs, for example, has the song "If Everybody Looked the Same" (the one that has this lyric that is said really fast as part of the opening.)
- Love Is in the Air: Max switches the principal's mouth spray with liquid pheromones, which causes animals to, um, "chase" after him.
- Malaproper: Principal Jindrake speaks in nothing but these.
"I don't encourage horseplay and malarkey, I excourage it."
- Mean Boss: Mr. Keeble's boss forces him to wear ridiculous costumes in advertising pitches (and in one deleted scene, at least one of the costumes actually have the capacity of hurting the actor]], then says he has to move to Chicago in a week or be fired. Principal Jindrake plays the part very well.
- The Moving Experience: Variation, as Max's family really is moving away, but his dad decides to quit his job, so they end up not moving after all.
- Narrator: Max is the voice over narrator of his own first week of school.
- Noodle Incident: In the second half, when Don Keeble explains that they won't be moving, he mentioned that he quit and "gave Fodge a dose of his own medicine." Exactly how he did so was never explained, although it is implied that he may have somehow gotten Fodge to wear one of the dorkish costumes.
- Offscreen Crash: Jindrake drives past the animal shelter, where he sees Max. Of course, he watches Max a little too closely, and the road not close enough.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Robe. (According to Max, his real first name is Robert.)
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Used in-story, when one of the Eastern European exchange students reveals himself to be surprisingly eloquent.
- Power Trio
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The Superintendent seems to legitimately care about the kids learning and well being, expressing shock that Jindrake, when revealing his plans in regards to building the stadium, admitted that he actually cut back on "unimportant" things such as fire-extinguishers and milk. It is also subtly implied that he doesn't actually like Jindrake or think he is a good candidate for ascendency for his retirement, but has to put up with him, anyways.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Sort of. The Evil Ice Cream Man himself doesn't have red eyes, but during the opening dream sequence as well as one brief moment when Max explains who he is to the audience, his eyes glow red.
- Running Gag: Robe's willingness to eat anything, Jindrake's poor mastery of the English language, Jindrake forgetting to turn off the camera (at first), the newspaper guys...
- Russian Guy Suffers Most: Inverted: A student named "Vladimir" (which is a Russian name, which implies Russian descent) was intended to be one of the victims to Troy McGinty's bullying routine (he had his name written on his shirt in a way similar to a gash), but unlike Max Keeble or Robe, the other on-screen victims, Vladimir ran off before McGinty could get the chance to deal the pain.
- Sadist Teacher: Jindrake. Well, technically he's more like a Sadist Principal, but still.
- Squirrels in My Pants: At one point, thanks to Jindrake unknowingly spraying animal pheronomes into his mouth (Max had rigged his breath spray supply with mating pheronomes), a squirrel enters the library and crawls all over Jindrake, eventually cumulating in the squirrel giving Jindrake an implied groin attack before it leaves due to Jindrake crashing into the other room, all while the superintendent is observing the library without any notice.
- Techbane: Jindrake. To put it simply, whenever he attempts to make the announcements via telemonitor, he usually ends them when pressing the button to turn off the camera, only for it to turn out that he didn't actually turn it off, and usually humiliates himself in the process (First instance is when he, while bragging about himself in a manner to a movie review, ended up exposing that he was actually faking his image as President of the United States and even being near Washington, and the second instance had him sticking pencils up his nose and referring to himself as a walrus [although this part may have been intentional]), with Rangoon, his secretary, usually telling him that the camera, or rather, the red light, is still on. He does eventually manage to figure it out, though (apparently, he needs to press the button twice for it to turn off).
- The Trouble with Tickets: The Evil Ice Cream Man ends up being pulled over by a policeman while chasing down Max Keeble for speeding and presumably attempted manslaughter. The EICM then tries to get out of the situation by bribing the Policeman with a Snow-Doodle. Going by what happens immediately thereafter, the Policeman didn't accept the bribe.
- Those Two Guys: The two guys who work for the newspaper
- Title Drop: Well, half of the title. "Ready for the big move?"
- Or "Not moving was the biggest move of all."
- To the Pain: Jindrake, threatening Max with a new form of punishment he calls "The Keeble." Which thankfully never got a chance to be implemented. Then again, maybe it did, assuming his locking Keeble within the janitor's closet was supposed to be the punishment in question.
- Toilet Humor: Robe getting sick due to his claustrophobia springs to mind
- Too Dumb to Live: The ending where Jindrake ends up drawing all of the animals to himself when attempting to destroy the Animal shelter by using his mouthspray. Jindrake, you'd think that by now you'd at least put two-and-two together in regards to the connections between the animals reacting and you using the spray, since it has occured at least twice before (three times before if one counts a deleted scene where, shortly after Jindrake does a mouthspray during his tour of the school for the Superintendent, a dog escapes from a woman's car and proceeds to attack his pants leg.)
- Trailers Always Spoil: The original trailer pretty much spoils the big plot twist.
- Trapped in Containment: McGinty, when picking Robe as the second kid to bully in the school year, places Robe in a glass case (presumably some sort of trophy case). Made even worse due to the fact that Robe is severely claustrophobic, and just as Max Keeble is alerting the students about his condition after freeing him, he throws up from the trauma (the contents apparently being a Chili Omelet, given Robe's comment shortly after hurling).
- Two-Timer Date: Of the third category, where Max goes to a milkshake party with Jenna's friends instead of the Going Away Party held by Robe and Megan. See What the Hell, Hero? below.
- The Unfettered: Max revenges himself against his bullies because he knows he's not going to be around to suffer the consequences. His friends, however...
- Throw It In: Alex Linz was orignally supposed to portray Max as being flustered when he meets Jenna at school, but he flubbed up and chuckled. The creators thought this was better, so they kept it in.
- A lot of Jindrake's personality was ad-libbed by Larry Miller, basing it on the dean from Animal House.
- Unhand Them, Villain!: At the end of the movie, the three giant exchange students offer to throw the school bullies in a dumpster. After Max insists If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him, he tells them to "let the bullies go," which, of course, they do-- and let them fall into the dumpster themselves. Also, just as Principal Jindrake is about to run his big bulldozer over a poor defenseless animal, Max jumps in front of it and says: "Not today, Jindraike. That's far enough."
- Villainous Breakdown: Dobbs utterly goes to pieces when his palm pilot is stolen.
- He has it easy compared to McGinty when he was trapped in a Gym with its power cut with MacGoogles. The guy was in such a massive emotional and mental wreck that he was huddled in a corner quivering while in a fetal position, barely even able to speak, and was also implied to be in dire need of psychological counseling in a manner similar to having to deal with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
- Visual Pun: Upon learning that they won't be moving, Lily remarks that Don will now be the big cheese. During this scene, Don Keeble is wearing a Cheese costume (making him quite literally the big cheese).
- What the Hell, Hero?: On the last day before the move, Max accepted Jenna's invitation to have a Milkshake party at Buddies, when he was supposed to go to a going away party held by Megan and Robe. Suffice to say, as soon as they found out about this, they weren't pleased.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Big brute of a bully Troy is terrified of a Barney-like Scottish frog named MacGoogles (The trauma was made even worse when Mr. Keeble tries to reveal that he's actually MacGoogles, not because of it's an adult playing the role, but because he actually thought that MacGoogles ate Mr. Keeble). He eventually manages to get over it, after the School Nurse attempts to help him eliminate the psychological trauma of the event.
- You Fail Mathematics Forever: Jindrake, during his assembly, tells them that he's improving the school's zero tolerance policy to one of subzero tolerance, which is more than zero. However, sub-zero is actually a number even less than zero; in other words, a negative number.
- Young Entrepreneur: Bully Dobbs is a Wall Street-smart kid who decides to regain his lost millions by stealing lunch money on the pretence that he's "investing" it.
- Zany Scheme: The various plots to ruin the bullies-- stealing Dobbs' palm pilot, melting the Evil Ice Cream Man's ice cream, terrorizing Troy with a giant frog, and setting Jindrake up for a Humiliation Conga.