Tuesday, December 20, 2005

It's not such a good sign when the students look older than the teachers: "Three O'Clock High"

Ah, the '80s ... when every week brought a new teen comedy of marginal (at best) quality. Sure, a hidden gem might sneak through; for every "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" there was a "Just One of the Guys." But there also was "One Crazy Summer" and other misfires. (What, you thought Bobcat Goldthwait could carry any movie? Has the Director's Cut of "Hot to Trot" come out yet?)

Falling firmly into this mediocre-and-middling category is "Three O'Clock High." There's no getting around it: This is not a good movie, and it only maybe qualifies as "fun." Now "dumb" ... well, then we're onto something. Of course, this all begs the question of why I bothered to watch. I guess it was because I remembered it from my teen years and wanted to recapture some of that "nerd triumphs over bully" vibe. I would have been better off just going with the more overt entry into that genre, "Revenge of the Nerds."

Here, we don't get Booger or even a reasonable copy. Our hero is Jerry, a meek high school student who runs the school store and writes for the school paper. Unfortunately, he's assigned to profile a new student, tough guy Buddy Revell. Even more unfortunately, Jerry ticks off Buddy, who says he's going to fight Jerry after school. Guess what time school ends?

The rest of the movie has Jerry trying to get out of the fight, and you won't be surprised to learn that all of these attempts are pretty silly and no cause for deep reflection. But even more inane than this series of slapstick scenes is the casting. You'd think that a movie revolving around two kids who are supposed to fight would actually have two kids in the role. Um, no.

Now I can forgive some stuff, and if pressed ... sure, let's say the bad guy is really a man-child who was held back a couple of years. As Buddy, Richard Tyson ("Red Shoes Diaries 3") doesn't look anywhere close to 18, much less 21. Go figure, since he was 26 at the time. But like I said, we can try to look past that.

Somewhat more inconceivable, though, is the casting of Casey Siemaszko ("Back to the Future, Part II") as Jerry. I guess the thinking was that his fresh face would make him another Ralph Macchio, i.e. plays 10 years younger. But I couldn't help thinking two things: (1) This guy looks like a little De Niro, and (2) there's no way he's a teenager. Go figure, since he also was 26 at the time.

Even the appearance of some great role players -- Jeffrey Tambor, Philip Baker Hall, Mitch Pileggi -- can't overcome this colossal miscasting. Sure, it's mildly amusing to watch Jerry squirm. But did anyone really think he was going to get stomped when the clock struck three? In the end, I took away only three funny lines from this movie:

3. "If you're a fag ... "
2. "Don't f*ck this up, Mitchellll!"
1. "You can take that paper of yours and wipe off your d*ck with it!"

As someone whose spent a little time in journalism, I can safely say that wiser words have never been said.


At 5:48 AM, Blogger joeytheobold6079 said...

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