Three O'Clock High (1987)

Written by Richard Christian Matheson & Thomas E. Szollosi
Directed by Phil Joanou
Starring Casey Siemaszko, Richard Tyson, Anne Ryan, Stacey Glick, Jeffrey Tambor

Released by Universal
Rating: R
Region: 1
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Own it.

High school. Meet Jerry Mitchell (Siemaszko). He's your typical shmoe that nobody really pays any attention to, and he's having a bit of a shitty day. You see, his school has a new typical psycho that has a bit of a reputation: Buddy Revell (Tyson). Buddy's just transferred in and, according to the stories, has left a trail of beaten, bruised and bloody classmates in his wake. Jerry's day really starts to suck when, while attempting to get an interview with Buddy, Jerry touches him. If there's one thing Buddy cannot tolerate, it's being touched. So now, at the end of the day, Buddy is going to meet Jerry and beat three generations worth of living crap out of him. Jerry has other plans, of course, but nothing--nothing--seems to be going his way.

Of all the high school flicks that Universal is handling in this latest push, this is probably the most obscure. I think I tripped over it at a video store in the early 90s and said, "Hmmm, isn't that the guy from Young Guns?" By that point I had probably seen everything else in said store, so I plonked down the coin and took at home. Loved it. Again, we're dealing with archetypes here, so Siemaszko is an ideal Shmoe just like Tyson (who would, sadly, go on to star as Grunting Fur-Wearing Guy #1 in Battlefield Earth) is the perfect hulking Teenage Brute. The rest of the cast basically exists to react to and attempt to assist Jerry, but Stacey Glick as Jerry's sister deserves some mention. Why "Cripple the dick" didn't become yet another catchphrase of the 90s, I have no clue.

Why is the idea of a high school fight and the events leading up to so appealing? Well, ordinarily, thirty minutes in you wouldn't give a damn--but the quirk-filled script and the equally off-kilter direction and cinematography keep your attention long enough for Siemaszko to make you care about him, goofball that he is.

Regrettably, there's nothing on here in the way of features--not even a trailer. A commentary between Siemaszko and Tyson would have been very amusing, and hell, throw in the director for good measure. I would have liked to hear about why Joanou made the choices he did, and also how closely (or not) he and the scribes worked together. The end-to-end subtle whackiness of the flick it was makes it work, so hearing something about how it came about would have been very helpful.

Seeing as how this film is the forgotten one of the bunch, this is probably as good an edition as you're going to get. Personally, speaking as a life-long Shmoe, I think it rocks. So I'm saying own it; but at least rent it if you've never seen it before. The amusement is there for the taking.

Discuss the review in the Gabfest!

Greetings to our visitors from the IMDB, OFCS, and Rotten Tomatoes!
Stick around and have some coffee!