Make Time for ‘3 O’Clock High’


Anyone who has ever had One of Those Days can relate to Jerry Mitchell, a quintessentially average high school guy who wakes up to the worst day of his life.

And, quite possibly, the last day of his life.

At the beginning of “Three O’Clock High,” a 1987 comedy directed by Phil Joanou, Jerry inadvertently angers bad-guy Buddy Revel, a new student with a penchant for violence and a pathological hatred of being touched. Word in the halls is that Buddy once broke a kid’s neck because the guy touched him.

Jerry, a poster boy for Murphy’s Law played by Casey Siemaszko, wastes no time in accidentally offending Buddy, who grimly informs him that they will fight after the school bell rings at 3 p.m: “You try and run, I’m gonna track you down. You go to a teacher, it’s only gonna make it worse. You sneak home, I’ll be under your bed.”


As the fight looms, everyday events at school become constant reminders of his impending beating. Jerry cringes in science class as he watches a cheerfully narrated nature film depicting a praying mantis devouring a helpless cricket. He flees in horror from a pep rally at which cheerleaders with baseball bats dismember an effigy of a rival football team player.

As Jerry tries everything to get out of the fight, he ends up crossing paths with the principal, an overzealous security guard and the police. His visit to the office of the school disciplinarian, whose room is adorned with stuffed predators and books on Nazi war criminals, is especially memorable, as is Jerry’s attempt to get detention by coming on to his English teacher during a sexually provocative book report.

Jerry’s best friend, Vincent Costello, means well and tries to help, but he’s the kind of guy who would try to extinguish a fire with gasoline.

And Jerry’s quirky would-be lover, Frannie Perrins, also tries to help by summoning Ethan (“my spirit guide. He lived long ago and now he advises me from beyond”) --who is about as much help as one would expect.

“Three O’Clock High” (1987), directed by Phil Joanou. 90 minutes. Rated PG-13.