Phillium Benedict can best be 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 extremely argumentative, easily provokable and abusive towards his minions. Whenever they bungle with his insane plan, 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 Break is. He also never considered summer itself isn't the primary cause of summer vacation (at best those vacation days would be rearranged, not removed). In fact, even when TJ pointed out the flaws of the plan, Benedict had gone so far without realizing the pointlessness that he just went ahead anyway.
Despite his faults, however, he claims to abhor violence, even expressing some relief when learning the soldiers they stole the weather altering laser from are merely unconscious and not dead.
In the spring of 1968, Phillium Benedict was once named the youngest Principal of Third Street School and former best friend of Principal Prickly. Benedict also had a romantic relationship with Muriel Finster, and its implied that he had enough good looks that he was also the heart-throb of several of the female teacher-trainees. Starting up to the time period of the first year, he also adhered to some of the more radical elements of the 1960s, such as expressing his belief to Prickly that the "young is in, and the old is out, way out".
While in his office, Benedict calls in Prickly and proposed an idea of having classes outside on the playground: recess. Benedict liked the idea - however, he voiced that his first official act as Principal he decided to just get rid of recess. This shocked Prickly, who told him that recess is like a major play-in and is the one place in a day where kids have their freedom. Benedict denied it, as he believed that freedom was only good for picking up women but told Pete that recess was not going to help further his career, and to do that kids would have to remain inside where they belong so test scores can go up, and that starting the next day he would get rid of recess once and for all. This plans didn't seem to work well with anyone on campus (including Prickly and Finster) and all of the students felt miserable after Benedict put his no-recess policy into action as a result.
Afterwards, Benedict was forced to deal with many of the students' angry parents laid down a protest against school, demanding the recess to be reinstated. But despite this protest, Benedict was unwilling to go back on his choice to give up his anti-recess policy since he was principal. The Superintendent who was contacted by Prickly after he forced to report him about this situation. The Superintendent assures to the parents and teachers that Benedict's anti-recess policy will never be carried out in the district, to their joy. Benedict refused to back down and tried to protest to his superior, who subsequently relieve him of his duties and replace his position as Principal of 3rd Street Elementary School to Pete as the new principal, to their shock. Benedict was upset and accused Pete of turning his back against him and trying to steal his job, ignoring Pete's insistence that he never intended do no such anything of the sort. Benedict broke up his friendship, then turned to his girlfriend Muriel and wanted her to leave with him, but she refused and finally called off their relationship in disgust since she could never be with a man who hates recess. This rejection along with his demotion caused him to develop a grudge against Prickly even though he assured him it wasn't his fault. During his fury at the turn of events, Benedict accidentally fell off the school steps hard onto the pavement, which presumably resulted in his legs being damaged enough to require the use of a cane as he got older. Benedict refused help from Pete and Muriel before he angrily swore to get revenge with Pete.
During the next 30 years, Benedict quit teaching and went into politics, and very soon he then eventually appointed and becoming the U.S. Secretary of Education. Despite his success before 2 years prior in the film's events, Benedict still remembered Pete humiliating him and losing his one true love in Muriel. He also maintained his position and plan to carry out in his attempt for recess cancellation crusade on a nationwide scale, but was soon foiled and fired by the president, after he saw through the plans.
Eventually from failing in his latest attempt to get rid of recess and dismissed from his previous job, Benedict had founded the anti-recess legion and amassed an army of Men dressed like Secret Service Agents, Ninjas, Scientists & Technicians, including two lackies Professor Fenwick and Kojak, and was bent on plans to eliminating Summer Vacation the biggest recess of them all for good. This group became notorious enough that they had news reports being given about them and their activities by the time the 1998 school year ended.
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 the stolen equipments. 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 ordered Kojak to pose as Prickly just to ensure no one got suspicious after the real Prickley was taken hostage. 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 Auditorium altered to be the main control room for the tractor beam. Dr. Benedict, after Prickly ended up captured when the latter reluctantly tried to investigate the school at T.J.'s request, then had him bounded, gagged, pulverized and also had his golf pants removed and disposed of, presumably as revenge for Prickly's role in getting him fired.
Benedict later claimed Prickly's office as his main office, which was fitting due to being a former principal at the school as he pointed out to Fenwick after he asked. As the plan progressed, Benedict eventually proceeded to viciously rant and insult his science staff for the then-current setbacks to his plan, even refusing their request to relocate to another location (since his grudge against Prickly and Third Street School is so powerful), before ultimately ordering the second test upon being told it was ready. Unfortunately for him, the second test failed, barely moving the moon a few feet before the laser was forced to shut down unexpectedly due to the tractor beam still having bugs in the system, causing him to eventually have the first head scientist, Dr. Rosenthal detained in fury, making clear that Benedict didn't care what the head scientist had told him before about potential problems, and promoted Rosenthal's assistant into the position. Shortly afterwards, T.J. and his gang ended up being forced to expose themselves (Mikey had an unexpected and uncontrollable urge to belch, as well as the vents giving way to their weight). Benedict then angrily orders his henchmen to seize them. Though the gang manage to escape, T.J. was captured and imprisoned, along with Prickly, in the stock room. There, Benedict introduced himself and explained to both Prickly and T.J. that he was running a "night school", but they weren't convinced, with T.J. in particular demanding to know why the "night school" had a laser dish in the auditorium. Eventually, he learned that T.J. and Prickly had managed to sneak into his office and found a walkie talkie the latter had confiscated from the former the prior school year, although not before T.J. alerted his friends that Benedict's plan was to get rid of summer vacation after stumbling on a mural in the principal's office (presumably painted by Benedict himself and/or his men) depicting the end of summer vacation.
The next day, Benedict 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. T.J., disgusted with what Benedict was planning, told him he won't get away with it. But however, Benedict is confident that he couldn't be stopped even if anyone else knew about this and his plan, before he 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 T.J. begin to start 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 kids resistance's actions, Benedict 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, even although after Prickly and the student resistance managed to enter the auditorium to stop him, Benedict confidently had the more 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 - 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. countered this by stating that the kids would just adapt lots of their fun on a cold climate, such as playing kickball in the snow or camping in igloos. Despite this, Benedict still planned on 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 rescue and stop Benedict, much to both Prickly and the students delight. Seeing Muriel again, Benedict was amazed by her beauty and begged her to come back and return to him, but she ignored his flattery by insulting and calling him a "two-bit recess hating pretty boy" as she said that she referred of eating playground dirt than joining him. Angry at her rejection, Benedict claims that it can be arranged. Finster promised that she’ll take him down before that would happen, also revealing her reinforcements composed of the school's teachers and staff after Benedict sarcastically asked what army she possessed to even take him down. Because of this at his end of wits, Benedict furiously orders his men to attack them and the battle was out.
As the moon was about to enter Lunar Perigee, in a last-minute attempt, Benedict pushed aside his head scientist away and attempted to personally fire up the tractor beam, only to be stopped by Prickly. Benedict then holds out and threatened him with a taser as he moved the lever but was quickly stalled by Prickly, who furiously sucker-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 due to the lever jamming in place. Benedict gloats about his imminent victory. 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 yelled out in agony over the failure of his plans, and both the students and teachers, along Becky, the summer camp people and the teachers cheered for their victory of saving summer vacation.
With his plans exposed and foiled, Benedict and his men ended up being arrested by the authorities (who were presumably given proof of things) and sent to prison for their crimes. As Benedict is being hauled off into a police car, he furiously tried to protest that he was a former Secretary of Education, only for the arresting policeman to silence him by sarcastically responding that he was also the "former Princess of Morocco."
It was implied that Benedict and his men will be sentenced lifetime in prison for their crimes.
- The cane Benedict carried was similar to the one Goofy's toy factory boss had in An Extremely Goofy Movie.
- Burt Reynolds was originally considered for the role, 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 and kids would be granted school breaks either way. 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. His lack of common sense and delusion was also showcased when Prickly got the position of Principal of 3rd Street School, where he insisted on believing that Prickly ratted him out specifically to take over the position of principal, despite Prickly's surprised reaction when he got the job, making it very clear that he had not planned to become principal at all, let alone take it over from Benedict.
- Benedict's plan to remove recess was tested by the government in the episode "Recess is Cancelled". However, as the kids had no way to alleviate their stress, their scores went down. This proves that Benedict's idea was very wrong.
- It is unknown why he didn't use his Secretary of Education to fire Prickly and humiliate him that way.
- Elements of his character, including his leading an evil group as well as the first half of the film obscuring his appearance (either only showing his feet or otherwise framing him in shadow) and his being merciless to minions regarding failure, resembled that of the James Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld.