When an artist makes their debut with a masterpiece, they set themselves up for disappointment. Some artists live up to their auspicious beginnings. For instance, Pearl Jam and Counting Crows both followed up their great debut albums with very good ones that were not quite as good as the first but still proved that the bands had staying power. On the other hand, Hootie and the Blowfish followed up their huge first LP with one that was so weak that their fine third album was ignored. This is to get at the point that in 1996, DJ Pooh made his writer/director debut with one of the great comedies of the '90s, Friday. In 2000, DJ Pooh wrote and directed 3 Strikes, the 8th worst movie of this decade, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
3 Strikes deals with a man being released from jail for the second time. Thanks to California's 3 Strikes law, he will get 25 to life if he gets caught doing anything else. Unfortunately for him, the friend who was supposed to pick him up from prison gets sidetracked by a stripper who just happens to be walking down the street in her work clothes, so he is instead picked up by a guy in a stolen car who almost immediately gets in a gunfight with the police. The main character runs away and so begins possibly the most infuriating movie experience I've ever had.
I really mean "infuriating." Watching this film actually made me angry. As it went on, I began to decide what I could throw at the TV that would not cause any damage. By the thousandth scene where multiple characters all talked over each other, I had a huge headache. The timing of the dialogue was not exactly Smith- or Tarantino-esque and it was not helped by the fact that in one scene, one of the characters was very clearly reading from cue cards. He would spit out a sentence, pause, his eyes would flash to the same spot off-screen each time, and then he would speak again.
The acting, as you can tell, is atrocious. David Alan Grier is in it, but he's not even the worst David, as David Leisure -- yes, Joe Isuzu -- also has a scene. Also appearing is George Wallace, who was also in DJ Pooh's The Wash, which I have seen and am shocked that it did not make Rotten Tomatoes' list. The worst offender is star Brian Hooks, who had gotten three acting strikes by his third scene.
At #8, 3 Strikes is the lowest (highest?) film that I have seen on the list and deservedly so. I can remember movies that have been so bad that I've felt physically uncomfortable watching them, but none that aroused such ire. It was easily the most tempted I've yet been to shut one of these movies off early, but, with the film running 82 minutes, I was able to hold on.
DJ Pooh's Friday remains one of the bigger surprise comedies of the last fifteen years. If, prior to tonight, I had seen an ad for a movie by him, I might jump at it. After all, his debut displayed how much talent he might have. But after watching this garbage, I know now that he only had the one great movie in him. One strike and he was out.
I want to include a side-note here that, because I didn't pay close attention to my Netflix queue, we received the Jack Black/Michael Cera film Year One and watched it tonight. With my weekly odyssey of watching horrible movies, I felt intense self-loathing while I was watching it. If I'm forcing myself to watch 100 specific bad films, why should I let myself watch one that isn't on the list? Year One is a boring, unfunny, embarrassing-to-Harold-Ramis crapfest. Between it and the putrid second half of Funny People, Judd Apatow is having a rough 2009.