|“||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 recess of them all: I AM GONNA GET RID...OF SUMMER VACATION!!||„|
| ~ Benedict ranting out his true plan to Prickly and T.J. |
|“||You took my chick... you took my job! Well enjoy it while you can, Petey boy, ‘cause you're gonna pay! Somehow, someway, you're gonna pay!||„|
| ~ Benedict swearing revenge on Prickly after he takes his place as Principal. |
Dr. Phillium Benedict is the main antagonist of the 2001 Disney animated film Recess: School's Out!. He is arguably the overall main antagonist of the entire Recess series, despite not appearing in it.
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.
He was voiced by James Woods, who also played Hades in Hercules, General Douglas Hein in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Falcon in Stuart Little 2, Gloomius Maximus in Rolie Polie Olie: The Great Defender of Fun, Captain Ahab in The Adventures of Moby Dick, and Martin Walker in White House Down, and Ned Trent in The Specialist.
Phillium Benedict is best described as arrogant, pompous, greedy, delusional, evil and completely insane with an insufferable ego. He despises kids having fun and wants to abolish recess. He claims that he wants to do this to raise children's test scores, but it's clear that he just cares more about regaining his broken reputation that he refuses to move on from. He is also extremely full of himself—something Prickly snarks to him about at one point.
Benedict is also shown to be extremely argumentative, easily provokable and highly abusive towards his minions. Whenever they bungle with his insane plan that he is quick to fly into a screaming rage. He also refuses to see the pointlessness of how insane and preposterous his plan to cancel summer vacation is, nor has he ever considered that summer itself isn't the primary cause of summer vacation (at best those vacation days would be rearranged, not cancelled); his entire plan was based around his belief that countries such as Canada, Iceland and Norway had higher test scores because they did not have a summer vacation due to the colder climate, resulting in students studying all year round (not only do these countries do have a summer vacation, but Benedict never stops to consider that their lower populations and different education systems are the true reasons their test scores exceed those of the US). In fact, TJ even points this out to him, but by that point, Benedict had gone so far without realizing the futility of his plan, that he just went ahead anyway. He also deluded himself into believing that the American people would be grateful for his actions and would subsequently elect him President, never considering at any point that his plan succeeding would in all likelihood result in societal collapse or even the extinction of the human race.
Despite his villainous nature, Benedict once had a genuine love relationship with Finster, describing her as 'the only woman he ever loved' during their early days as teachers in the 60s; he was able to see through her ugly looks and willing to give her a second chance to mend their relationship. However, this all went sour as Finster rightfully states that she would never be with a man who is willing to cross moral lines to get rid of recess and summer vacation, prompting an angry Benedict to abandon whatever feelings he had for her.
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 ban recess in order to keep students in their classes to raise test scores and further his career. Predictably, 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, despite Prickly's insistence that he never intended anything of the sort. 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. 2 years prior to the film's events, Benedict exploited his position in an attempt to ban recess on nationwide, but was foiled by the President, who saw through the plan and dismissed Benedict for his attempt to implement 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 planned 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 and second-in-command named Kojak, his head scientist named Professor Fenwick, and his henchmen (composed of agents, ninjas and scientists) 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 conduct frequent tests at the school involving miniature tractor beams in the auditorium, one of which T.J. Detweiler (the protagonist of the film) accidentally witnessed while fuming about how his summer was going (since all his friends were at separate summer camps). 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 graffiti (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 as their detention, 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 a new ice age and eliminate summer, thus eliminating summer vacation. Disgusted with what Benedict was planning, T.J. told him that 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, Vince, Gus, Spinelli, Gretchen and Mikey, with the help of TJ's older sister Becky, gathered up all of the students from the various camps 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 guards 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 that they could not 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 do not 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, Finster arrived to the rescue, much to both Prickly and the students' delight. Witnessing this, Benedict was pleased to see her and begged Finster to return to him, but she refused by saying that she rather eat playground dirt instead of letting him destroy summer vacation. Angered by Finster's rejection, Benedict swore to make her eat her words, only to see that Finster brought all of the teachers and staff to help Prickly and the students stop Benedict and his men for good. Being at the end of his wits, Benedict furiously orders his men out to beat up the students and teachers.
As the moon was about to enter Lunar Perigee, in a last-minute attempt, Benedict pushed his second-in-command scientist away as he personally attempted to fire up the tractor beam. Prickly attempts to stop him, but Benedict holds out his taser and threatens to shock him to sleep. However, Prickly foils this by tricking Benedict into letting his guard down by saying there's a spot on his necktie, and when Benedict looks at his tie, Prickly furiously punches him in the face. Despite this, Benedict still managed to activate the tractor beam after slumped by Prickly's punch, and Prickly was unable to reverse the process because it's jammed. As Benedict gloated on the imminent success, T.J. tosses his lucky baseball to Vince and had him aim 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. The students, teachers and staff all cheer in victory for defeating Benedict and saving summer vacation.
Defeat and Arrest
With Benedict's plot exposed and foiled, the students and teachers called in the authorities, who arrest Benedict and his cohorts for their crimes. Benedict is last seen being hauled into a police car as he furiously tried to protest that he was a former Secretary of Education, only for the policeman to furiously silence him by sarcastically responding that he was the "former Princess of Morocco". It can be implied that Benedict and his cohorts will be sent to prison and serve a lengthy sentence for their crimes while the students and teachers of Third Street Elementary are declared heroes by the public for saving summer vacation.
- 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.
- Jack Nicholson was considered for the role of Benedict.
- Also, Nicholson was originally considered for the role of Hades, but he turned down the role because he felt that his payment was bad. Curiously, James Woods was considered to portray The Joker in Tim Burton's Batman before Nicholson obtained the role.
- Jack Nicholson was considered for the role of Benedict.
- Dr. Benedict's face design is close similar to Doctor Claw's face.
- Dr. Benedict's suit resembles Lex Luthor's suit.
- 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 did not 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, and the government decided to reinstate recess in order for their scores to go back up for good. This proves that Benedict's theory was wrong, but either Benedict was not aware of the event by that time or he did not care as he still wanted to get rid of recess.