“I was a player with a phat attitude… or as I liked to call it… phat-itude…”
- Max Keeble (played by Alex D. Linz) tells us in the opening sequence of the great journey that is Max Keeble’s Big Move.
Spoilers ahead for the 2001 release, Max Keeble's Big Move!
The basic premise of the film is simple, it’s in the title, Max Keeble is moving away. In his first week of Junior High, Keeble learns his father has new a job in Chicago, and the family is due to leave at the end of the week. However, Max has built himself a life he doesn’t want to leave behind; including volunteering at an animal shelter, running his own paper route, and having a crush on Jenna (Brooke Ann Smith). Accompanied by his two best friends, Megan (Zena Grey) and “Robe” (Josh Peck), the trio launches a week-long, milkshake-fueled spree of degeneracy before Keeble is set to depart.
This Walt Disney epic had its theatrical release on October 5, 2001, and blessed the Disney Channel programming for years, teaching millions of children how to act with “phattitude.”
It was a Disney legend, but a box office flop. Because of its $18.6 million box office, against a $25 million budget, on paper, Max Keeble’s Big Move was in the red. The movie's 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes may mean that the majority of people see this as a “bad” movie. The 40/100 Metascore doesn’t help either. However, here we stand over a decade later because Max Keeble’s Big Move is a fantastic film, and a landmark in Disney’s collection of classic cinema.
We should all look up to Max Keeble, because this biopic can teach us how to balance work, school, and attacks from your enemies all while looking cool. Keeble quarrels with numerous antagonists in school and outside, including a smooth-talking business bully played by none other than 2000’s Disney legend Orlando Brown. Another fan-favorite is Evil Ice Cream Man (Jamie Kennedy), a man who rarely sells ice cream, and instead spends time trying to murder a middle-schooler. Despite hiccups from bullies, Keeble seems to breeze by untouched. It’s only when Keeble bashes heads with his principal (Larry Miller) that the story really gets interesting.
Principal Elliot T. Jindrake’s authoritarian rule over the school parallels that of Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union. Every morning begins with Jindrake’s video announcement where he strikes fear into students and makes them pledge undying loyalty to him. Jindrake’s passions are Sport, and being better than everyone, so he manipulates the school budget to build a massive football stadium. To make him even more heartless, he is tearing down an animal shelter in order to make space – the animal shelter that our hero, Max Keeble, volunteers at. It’s only with the power of friendship that he is able to prevail.
The linchpin of this film is the character “Robe” bravely performed by none other than early teens Josh Peck. This was Pre – Drake & Josh fame, but post-recognition on All That, and The Amanda Show – a priming moment in the wunderkind’s career. As Max’s best friend, Robe’s story is similar to that of Samwise Gamgee as he aids Frodo Baggins. Through thick and thin, Robe is there at Keeble’s side, and Josh Peck’s performance would’ve been worthy of a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor, had the film been affiliated with that network.
The main cast is incredible, but let’s not forget about the ground-breaking celebrity cameos from Tony Hawk, Lil’ Romeo and Hopsin. Tony Hawk appears in the opening sequence as Max is being chased by Evil Ice Cream Man. Hawk says “Hey Max,” because obviously him and Max skate together all of the time, but after his greeting, Hawk is shot in the chest (with ice cream) by Evil Ice Cream Man. The injury didn’t seem too bad on screen, but it seemed as if the pain continued longer for Tony.
You see, this film was released on October 5, 2001. Twenty-five days later, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 was released for the PlayStation 2, and ended up selling 4.41 million copies, and became one of PlayStation 2’s highest-rated games of all time (97/100 Metacritic). Now this might seem like something good, but when comparing the game to its predecessor, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, there is a downward trend. THPS2 was released in 2000, sold 4.68 million copies, and received a Metacritic score of 98/100. Max Keeble’s Big Move was released, and just like clockwork, Tony Hawk’s ratings went down. It could be a curse. It could be wild speculation. There are a lot of unanswered questions here, but there is one thing for certain here. Tony Hawk took a hit, both on the charts, and on screen.
Marcus Jamal Hopson, better known as Hopsin, is a rapper that lives a straight edge lifestyle. As a public figure that tries to instill a positive influence in youth by not partaking in drugs and alcohol, why not have him spread that influence into a film? Prior to his earth-shattering role as “Guy #2” in That’s So Raven (2004), Hopsin started his acting career in this film as “Pizza Parlor Kid”. His screen time may not be more than four seconds, but Hopsin’s role as “Pizza Parlor Kid” is fun, entertaining, and assures us that the scene is taking place in a pizza parlor, which may not be vital information to the plot, but it does deeply enrich the Max Keeble Extended Universe.
The film may have not been financially, or critically successful, but it is fun to watch, and at an 86-minute run time, it’s really nothing more than a light binge of your Netflix list. Its plot may not be the strongest (I mean it’s called Max Keeble’s Big Move and Max Keeble doesn’t even end up moving at the end) but it makes up for it with a star-studded (mostly C and D-list) cast, and an epic food-fight scene. And most importantly, it has Max Keeble, “a player with a phat attitude,” or as he liked to call it, “phat-itude.”
Rating: 5 /7