3 Strikes

Genre: Comedy | Age: 15-17


Ages 4 & Under -- No
Ages 5 to 7 -- No
Ages 8 to 9 -- No
Ages 10 to 12 -- No
Ages 13 to 15 -- Probably Not
Ages 15 to 17 -- With Guidance

3 Strikes

Comedy (2000, R.) Released from prison after two convictions, Rob swears to go straight to avoid a mandatory 25-year sentence under California’s “Three Strikes” law for a third conviction. However, everything goes wrong. His friend, Tone, who was to pick him up at the jail gates, picks ups a girl to have sex with her. Tone asks delinquent JJ to pick up Rob, which he does in a stolen car. When pulled over, JJ opens fire on the police and Rob runs for his life. He tries to clear his name, going from friend to friend, all of whom either reject him or victimize him. Finally, Dahlia says she will trade him sexual favors for a telephone tape that proves he’s innocent and JJ is guilty. With the police in pursuit, he finally makes it to a church and the media to deliver the tape.

VIOLENCE/SCARINESS: The violence in intended to be taken humorously, but for the most part, it isn’t funny. Several shoot-outs between Rob and his friends and the police. JJ is wounded in the buttocks, but with little blood. One man hits another over the head with a bottle. Several realistic beatings. A man kicks a dog (off-screen).

CRIMES: Drug Use (U), Homosexual Rape (U), Parole Violations (P), Car Theft (P).

MORALS, ISSUES & VALUES: Almost everyone in this film, adult and teen, Black and White, acts stupidly. Everyone blames the other for what goes wrong; everyone victimized everyone else. The film treats crime (trying to be humorous) as if it were normal, with little or few consequences. Juanita, Rob’s girlfriend, steals money from him. The police are ineffectual idiots; the Black police are trigger-happy idiots. Rob’s father throws him out of the family house. Dahlia withholds evidence to clear Rob’s name in exchange for sexual favors. When one of Rob’s friends hands him a thick wad of hundred-dollar-bills, he rents an expensive hotel room to spend the night with his girlfriend. With hundreds of dollars in his pocket, Rob refuses to tip a parking attendant. Extreme and continuously profanity (mostly racial and sexual) (by everyone) throughout.

SEXUALITY & GENDER ISSUES: Nuclear family. Traditional gender roles. All the men are sex-obsessed. Rob and his father masturbate while watching a TV exercise program. Women are strictly sex objects, to be conquered sexually or ogled at. Implied sex, heterosexual and homosexual, implied oral sex – all followed by a leering fade-to-black. Condoms are displayed. Rob’s uncle is continuously flatulent. Dahlia displays a large assortment of sexual equipment. In a hospital, JJ is threatened with homosexual rape by an orderly. Rob’s girlfriend, Juanita, claims to be his wife. She appears in sexy, red underwear to have sex with Rob. A pornographic video game is seen for a long period. The camera ogles one woman’s very short pants and later her hip-shaking seduction of Tone. We see several skimpily dressed women in a strip club. One man has a very pregnant girlfriend. Considerable blunt sexual talk.

SUBSTANCES: Everyone drinks and uses marijuana (including a working cab driver and an on-duty police officer). Thirty seconds out of jail, Rob lights up a joint while saying he’s going to make every effort to stay out of jail. Marihuana smoking is justified because “it is not a felony.”

COMMENTS: This is supposed to be a comedy and since little of the comedy works; what is left is a pretty ugly film. The world portrayed, in this case the African-American community of Los Angeles, is one filled with hate, distrust, crime, drugs and backbiting. The film offers no solutions to these and many other problems. Rob learns nothing from his experiences. Were this film made by Whites, showing African-Americans as criminal, sex-crazed idiots, reinforcing all the negative stereotypes, it would be considered racist to the extreme. The worst part is that the subject of the unfairness of mandatory sentencing laws, racial profiling, police arrogance, and the lack of hope in the inner city deserves better in either a drama or a comedy. On the positive side, the film does seem to say that whatever happens to Rob, it is through is own choices.

STARRING: Brian Hooks, De’Aundre Bonds, Mo’Nique, Faizon Love, N’Bushe Wright, Starletta DuBois, George Wallace, E40, David Alan Grier.

ALTERNATES: For a more positive comedy about life in the inner city, try “Friday,” but not “Next Friday.” For something more serious, try “Boyz ‘N’ the Hood.”


Nudity -- 3
Sexuality -- 4
Physical Violence -- 4
Emotional Stress -- 2
Blood or Gore -- 2
Language/Profanity -- 5
Immorality -- 5
Parental Guidance -- 5
Watchability for Adults -- 1
Overall (For Kids of the Appropriate Age) -- 1
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Copyright Arthur Taussig 2023