|“||This time, Pete, I'm gonna humiliate you! This time, I'm gonna prove to the world that you were wrong and I was right!! (Prickly: About what?!) About RECESS!! About freedom, about test scores! I found a way to prove my theory. I'm gonna get rid of the biggest recesses of them all: I AM GONNA GET RID...OF SUMMER VACATION!!||„|
|~ Benedict ranting out his true plan to Prickly and T.J.|
Dr. Phillium Benedict is the main antagonist of the 2001 Disney animated film Recess: School's Out!. He is the former principal of Third Street Elementary School and former Secretary of Education. He is also the former best friend of current principal Peter Prickly, the ex-boyfriend of current groundskeeper Muriel Finster, and the founder and head of the Anti-Recess Legion.
Prickly, Finster, and Benedict went through teacher training when they were young and were close to each other, even Finster entered into a love relationship with Benedict. Starting up in his first year as principal of Third Street Elementary during the spring of 1968, Benedict plotted to abolish recess in order to keep students in their classes to raise test scores and further his career. However, the plan did not seem to work well to anyone in campus (including Prickly and Finster), and all of the students felt miserable after Benedict put his no-recess policy into action.
As a result, many of the parents laid down a protest against the school, demanding that recess be reinstated. Despite the protests, Benedict refused to give up his anti-recess policy, which forced Prickly to report to the Superintendent about the situation. Though the Superintendent assured the parents and teachers that Benedict's policy will never be carried out in the district, Benedict still refused to back down, leading the Superintendent to demote Benedict and promote Prickly as the new principal.
Benedict then assumed that Prickly turned his back against him to get the job as principal, though Prickly states that he never intended to do such a thing. Benedict refused to listen and broke up his friendship with Prickly, leading a disgusted Finster to finally end her relationship with Benedict for his rude and obnoxious behavior towards Prickly and his hatred of recess.
Upset over this loss, Benedict angrily swore revenge against Prickly and quit teaching. During the next 30 years, Benedict went into politics and was eventually appointed U.S. Secretary of Education. Two years prior to the film's events, Benedict exploited his position in an attempt to abolish recess on a nationwide scale, but this was foiled by the President, who saw through the plan and dismissed Benedict for it.
Having failed at his latest attempt to get rid of recess after being sacked from his job, Benedict founded the Anti-Recess Legion and plans to get rid of the biggest recess of them all: summer vacation.
Taking Over Third Street Elementary
After stealing a tractor beam from a U.S. military base, Benedict, his chief of security & second-in-command Kojak, his head scientist Professor Fenwick, and his henchmen (both agents, ninjas and scientists & technicians) took over Third Street Elementary School and used it as their home-base, since it was closed for the summer and was the last place on Earth that the authorities would look for the equipment. He also rigged the lock of the school to shock and teleport anyone carrying the keys into the school in case someone did actually attempt to investigate, and he also ordered Kojak to pose as Prickly just to ensure no one got suspicious after the real Prickly was taken hostage. He also had Fenwick and the scientists & technicians conduct frequent tests at the school involving miniature tractor beams in the auditorium, one of which T.J. Detweiller (the protagonist of the film) accidentally witnessed while fuming about how his summer was going. He also had the auditorium altered to be the main control room for the tractor beam.
Benedict later claimed Prickly's office as his main office, which was fitting due to being a former principal. As the plan progresses, Benedict eventually had Dr. Rosenthal detained after the latter's attempt at moving the moon shut down unexpectedly due to bugs in the system and promoted his assistant to that position. Shortly afterwards, T.J. and his gang ended up being forced to expose themselves due to Mikey having an unexpected and uncontrollable urge to belch, as well as the vents giving way to their weight. Benedict angrily orders his henchmen to seize the children, and though the gang manage to escape, T.J. was captured and imprisoned along with Prickly in the stock room. There, Benedict introduces himself and explains to both Prickly and T.J. that he was running a "night school", though they're not convinced. He eventually learned that T.J. and Prickly had managed to sneak into his office and found his walkie talkie, although not before T.J. alerted them that Benedict's plan was to get rid of summer vacation after stumbling on a mural (presumably painted by Benedict himself and/or his men) depicting the end of summer vacation.
The next day, Benedict summoned Prickly and T.J. back into his office, where he explained how he planned to accomplish his goal: on Lunar Perigee (the time when the Moon's closest to the Earth on orbit), he will fire the tractor beam at the Moon to alter its orbit with the intention of causing the entire Earth to freeze over into an ice age and eliminate summer, thus eliminating summer vacation. Disgusted with what Benedict was planning, T.J. told him he won't get away with it, but Benedict is confident that he can't be stopped even if anyone else knew about this before having both T.J. and Prickly locked up in a cage to prevent them from interfering. They soon manage to escape since Prickly swiped Benedict's keys while he wasn't looking and he and T.J. start their mission to save summer vacation.
Fighting Against the Students and Staff
Meanwhile, T.J.'s friends gathered up all of the students to help rescue T.J. and Prickly and reclaim the school. Evidently under pressure of time as well as the kids' resistance, Benedict slowly lost his cool and started barking orders at his remaining henchmen to make the necessary preparations, including getting a back up generator after Gretchen sabotaged the fuse box. Even when Prickly and the students managed to enter the auditorium to stop him, Benedict confidently had more agents arrive. He then explained to the students that his main motivation for this was because the top three highest countries in the world with test scores--Canada, Iceland, and Norway all had cold climate, which meant they couldn't play ball, so the only other method in his mind was for the students to stay inside and study (and also implied that he may potentially be elected President of the United States and be hailed as a hero should he succeed) so that they don't have summer vacation (which, in truth, they most certainly do). However, T.J. counters this by stating that the kids can do lots of fun on a cold climate, such as a snowball fight or camping in igloos. Despite this, Benedict still planned to eliminate summer vacation once and for all, much to everyone's horror.
However, before he could fully activate the tractor beam, Miss Finster arrived to the rescue, much to both Prickly and the students' delight. Witnessing this, Benedict begged Finster to return to him, but she refused by saying that she rather eat playground dirt and that she brought all the teachers and staff to help the students stop Benedict and his men for good. Benedict set his men out on his enemies as he prepared the beam.
As the moon was about to enter Lunar Perigee, in a last-minute attempt, Benedict pushed his head scientist away and attempted to personally fire up the tractor beam. Prickly attempts to stop him, but Benedict holds out his taser, only for an annoyed Prickly to furiously punch him in the face after making him believe that he had a spot on his tie. Despite this, Benedict still managed to activate the tractor beam after slumped by Prickly's punch, and Prickly was unable to reverse the process. Benedict gloated on the imminent success. Fortunately, T.J. threw his lucky baseball to Vince and had him throw it at the reactor core, destroying the tractor beam and the machine, much to Benedict's distraught. Gazing of what's left of the destroyed machine, Benedict yells out in agony over the failure of his plans, and both the students and teachers cheer for their victory of saving summer vacation.
Defeat and Arrest
With his plot exposed and foiled by the students and teachers, Benedict and his men ended up being arrested by the authorities. As Benedict is being hauled into a police car, he furiously tried to protest that he was a former Secretary of Education, only for the arresting policeman to sarcastically respond that he was also the "former Princess of Morocco." It can be implied that Benedict and his cohorts are sent to prison for their crimes.
- The late Burt Reynolds was originally chosen to voice Benedict, but was later dropped out of the film during production, leaving James Woods to take over.
- Dr. Benedict's face design is close similar to Doctor Claw's face.
- Despite his intelligence and former reputation as an educator, Benedict is very deluded and has a lack of common sense, as he does not realize that his plan to bring in permanent winter will only endanger billions of lives as opposed to raising test scores. Even when T.J. angrily pointed out the flaws of the plot before the final fight, Benedict didn't care and instead continued with his plot, saying that he still could try.
- Benedict's plan to remove recess was tested by the government in one episode "Recess is Cancelled". However, as the kids had no way to alleviate their stress without recess, their scores went down, which proves that Benedict's theory was wrong. Either Benedict was wasn't aware of the event by that time or he didn't care as he still wanted to get rid of recess.