Dr. Phillium "Phil" Benedict is the main antagonist in the 2001 Disney animated film, Recess: School's Out. He is the leader of the Anti-Recess league who plans to Summer Vacation and create Permanent Winter in a lunar perigee in order to raise U.S. Test Scores.
During the 1960s, Benedict was once Principal of Third Street Elementary and a former friend of Principal Prickley. While in his office Prickley proposed an idea of having classes outside the playground. Benedict liked the idea, however as his first official act as Principal he decided to get rid of recess. This shocked Prickley, who told him that recess is like a major play-in and is the one place where kids have their freedom. Benedict denied it, and told him that recess is not going to help his career, and to do that kids will have to remain inside where they belong so test scores can go up, and that starting tomorrow he'll get rid of recess once and for all. When he tried to cancel recess, Prickley, with the intention of just trying to stop Benedict, unintentionally gained his position as Principal of 3rd Street Elementary School by the Superintendent and Benedict was demoted to teacher as well as even Muriel Finster disagreeing with Benedict and calling off their relationship since she could never be with a man who doesn't love recess, causing him to develop a grudge against Prickley. Since then, Benedict quit teaching and went into politics, and then became Secretary of Education in order to carry out his recess cancellation crusade nationwide, but was fired by the President. Benedict eventually amassed an army of Ninjas and men dressed like Secret Service agents, as well as two lackies Fenwick and a scary-looking bald person, and was bent on eliminating Summer Vacation for good.
Role in the film
After stealing a Tractor Beam from a U.S. Military Base, Benedict and his henchmen took over 3rd Street School and used it as their home base, since it was closed for the summer, and since it was the last place on Earth authorities would look. He also rigged the lock of the school to shock and transport anyone carrying the keys into the school in case someone (i.e., Principal Prickly) did actually attempt to investigate, and had the scary-looking bald henchman pose as Prickly just to ensure no one got suspicious. He also had the scientists conduct frequent tests at the school involving miniature tractor beams in the Cafeteria, one of which TJ accidentally witnessed while fuming about how his summer was going. He also had the Auditorum altered to be the main control room for the tractor beam.
Benedict later claimed Prickley's office as his main office, which was fitting due to being a former principal. As the plan progressed, Benedict eventually had the first head scientist detained after the latter's attempt at moving the moon shut down unexpectedly due to the tractor beam having bugs in the system and promoted his second-in-command into the 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. Though the gang manage to escape, T.J. was captured and imprisoned along with Prickley in the stock room. There, Benedict introduced himself and explained to both Prickley and T.J. that he was running a "night school", but they weren't 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, Phillium summoned Prickly and T.J. 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. TJ, disgusted with what Benedict was planning, told him he won't get away with it. He, however, confident that he can't be stopped even if anyone else knew about his plan, then proceeded to have 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 TJ begin their mission to stop Benedict and save Summer Vacation.
Meanwhile, T.J.'s friends gathered up all of the students to help rescue TJ and Prickly and reclaim the school. Evidently under pressure of time as well as the resistance's actions, he also 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, although after Prickly and the student resistance managed to enter the auditorium to stop him, Benedict confidently had the guards arrive. He then explained to the congregated student body that his main motivation for this was because the top three highest countries in the world with test scores n 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 iglooes. 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 had arrived alongside all the teachers and staff to stop Benedict and the battle is on.
As the moon was about to enter Lunar Perigee, in a last-minute attempt, Benedict attempted to personally fire up the tractor beam, only to be stalled by Prickley, who furiously punched 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. 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. With his plans foiled, Benedict and his men ended up being arrested by the authorities and sent to prison for their crimes; Benedict 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."
- Benedict is very similar to Hades from Hercules. Both villains are cruel, selfish, short tempered, and sarcastic. Ironically, both villains are voiced by James Woods.
- Ironically regarding Benedict's plan, another character James Woods voiced, Owlman in the DC animated film Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, ended up warped to an alternate earth that underwent a permanent ice age in the climax by Batman, similar to the ultimate outcome of Benedict's anti-Recess plan.
- Benedict is similar to Prince John in many ways. They were both jealous of authority postion (Benedict wanted to be principal, John wanted to be king). Their rivals were favored better (Benedict - the staff, students, and the superintendent for Prickley. John - his mother and the citizens of Nottingham for his brother Richard). They created poverty in the areas they ruled (Benedict tried to end recess while John taxed really high). They had similar sets of henchmen (Benedict: ninjas, scientists and guards; John: wolf arrowmen, rhino guards, vultures, elephant trumpeters, hippo drummers, and the executioner) including a right hand man whom they constantly yelled at and ignore (zfenwick for Benedict, and Sir Hiss for John) and head soldier (Benedict, Kojak; John, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Captain Crocodile). Both John and Benedict are sent to prison along with their closest associates where their background minions are nowhere seen during their arrests.
- The cane Benedict carried was similar to the one Goofy's toy factory boss had in An Extremely Goofy Movie.
- Burt Reynolds was the original choice to voice Dr. Benedict, but was later dropped out of the film during production.
- Despite his intelligence and former reputation as an educator, Benedict is very deluded and has a lack of common sense, as he doesn't realize that his plan to bring in permanent winter will only endanger billions of lives as opposed to raising test scores. (Any viewer at this pint would admit: "Ok that's nuts ") 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. However, as the kids had no way to alleviate their stress, their scores went down. This shows Benedict's idea was VERY wrong.