Launched as a Saturday morning series five years ago, “Saved by the Bell” continues with a primetime movie sequel that plays, for the most part, as if it still belongs on Saturday ayem.
The movie begins with a meaningless war game that seems literally tacked on as filler and closes with — count ’em — 10 minutes of post-wedding party schmaltz that again feels terribly padded to make a 90-minute movie.
In between those embarrassing bookends are haphazard Vegas capers and a road movie, which are slapdash and packaged with excelsior.
Now for the good news. Young fans of the original series created by Sam Bobrick may be lured by the romantic leap forward by attractive co-stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen. Now their starry-eyed characters , with the fetching names of Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski, are high school graduates and on their way to Vegas to tie the knot.
Also along for the larky ride are Zack’s staunch buddies Screech (the antic Dustin Diamond) and Slater (affable, sexy sidekick Mario Lopez) and Kelly’s best friend Lisa (Lark Voorhies).
Costume designer Greg La Voi has a great time outfitting Voorhies; besides her clothes, there’s not much else to cheer about. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried’s characteristic nasal pitch gets wearing.
The plot is wound around the shaky premise that Zack is too scared to tell Kelly that he’s lost their $ 1,200 wedding money to a corrupt sheriff (the comically paunchy Pat Corley) who mistakenly arrested him on the road to Vegas.
Zack and his buddies attempt to earn the money back by taking jobs as caddies and as escorts for a dating service. At least they don’t hit the tables — now that’s refreshing.
Writer Mark Fink does offer a few laughs (mostly from Diamond’s loopy, dazed demeanor), but director Jeff Melman can’t salvage the ragged material.