Three Strikes (DJ Pooh, 2000)
[originally posted 6Mar2000]
Lesson one: never let the only person at the table neither of you has ever met choose the movie you’re going to see that night. Lesson two: “dinner and a movie” these days must, by necessity, have the movie first. You can’t plan a dinner to finish just around the time that movies start unless you make it yourself.
Once upon a time there was a rapper and his DJ. The DJ had written a movie script, and the rapper wanted to to star in it. It came out about the same time as eighty-seven-and-a-half other movies starring rappers, and there wasn’t really much to distinguish it save the presence of an up-and-coming comedian who later went on to superstardom. And I don’t know whether Chris Tucker is the reason, or something else, but Friday–written by Pooh and starring Ice Cube– became a cult hit. It’s still almost impossible to rent, years later, and when it shows up on prime time television, it gets ratings good enough to put it in the top twenty or so for the week. This, of course, makes Pooh think “hey, my movie must be better than the rest of them. Maybe I should try it again.”
In one month, Pooh has had two movies pop up– Next Friday, the sequel to Friday, and Three Strikes. Everyone and their brother has already panned the former, so I don’t need to add my own thoughts. But I haven’t seen any reviews of Three Strikes yet. So I still get to chime in.
The story revolves around Robert Duncan (Brian Hooks), a two-time offender who gets out of prison and, thanks to a series of misadventures, finds himself in a shootout over a stolen car. Knowing that he’s going to jail for good if the cops think he’s involved in some way, he runs, and spends the rest of the movie on the run from the cops while trying to patch things up with his girlfriend (N’Bushe Wright), avoid the friends of the car thief/shooter he left in the lurch, and calm his dysfunctional family. The usual misadventures occur that one sees in a movie such as this.
And that’s the problem with this flick– it’s the usual, the usual, and more of the usual. Some funny stuff, because Pooh really is good at writing comedy, but for the most part a lot of talented comic cast members fall flat. David Alan Grier, as the primary on the Duncan case, falls flat in almost every scene. Vincent Schiavelli is completely forgettable as Duncan’s parole officer, and David Leisure doesn’t have enough screen time to really get his shtick into gear. These performances balance out the good stuff– Wright, Faison Love as the all-too-likable bad guy, and Duncan’s deadpan sidekick, played by… uhhhhhh… IMDB isn’t listing most of the players here. D’oh!
In any case, it might be worth a rental. If you’re a DJ Pooh completist or just like staring at N’Bushe Wright. Otherwise, ignore it and let it slip into the well-deserved obscurity waiting for it. **