December 18, 1992 at 05:00 AM EST

The Prince and the Pauper

Current Status
In Season
George Scribner
Walt Disney Pictures
Short, Kids and Family, Animation
We gave it a B-

In the cartoonish Class Act, those House Party cutups Kid ‘N Play star as high school transfers whose records get switched, leading to a slapstick swap of cultural identities. Kid is the upscale egghead who winds up in wood shop with the tough guys; Play is the junior jailbird who mingles with the snobs. Clever and fun, the movie is the latest update of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, a tale that has been so frequently recycled that nobody remembers the original anymore. The closest thing on video is the 1937 adaptation of the book, in which the look-alike prince and pauper put on each other’s clothes and go on parallel odysseys. Set in Tudor England, this musty artifact preserves the novel’s story line and action but glosses over the author’s sly satirical insights. In fact, if it’s satire you want, stick with Class Act. As a buppie-versus-homeboy comedy of manners, it’s basically kid’s stuff, but it has an irreverent twinkle that Twain himself might have admired. Class Act: B The Prince and the Pauper: B-

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