Parents' Guide to

Three O'Clock High

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Dated '80s teen comedy has bullying, cursing, violence.

Movie PG-13 1987 90 minutes
Three O'Clock High Poster Image

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While the cheese factor of this very dated teen comedy/satire will be enough for some, this movie falls short overall. The biggest problem is in the movie's lack of a clearly defined genre. Is this supposed to be a dark satire of high school life? A horror movie of sorts? An underdog story? Three O'Clock High can't seem to make up its mind, and vacillates among all three without rhyme or reason. This problem ripples into the problem with the bully. It's hard to get a handle on who this Buddy Revell bully is supposed to be. When it seems he's supposed to be an enigmatic force of nature best left alone, like Moby Dick in a leather jacket and mullet perm, he's then shown reading Steinbeck or solving trigonometry equations. But when it seems Buddy might be more James Dean than the biker in Raising Arizona, he reverts back to the mindless thug.

The result is a mess of cliches, like the adult authority figures who are oblivious to the impending after-school fistfight but savvy to every false move Jerry makes, weird attempts at humor involving the lead character seducing his English teacher by wearing sunglasses and smoking during a book report, and an ending as forced as a bad sitcom episode. Again, while there's an endearing cheese factor that makes Three O'Clock High enjoyable for its own ridiculously 1980s sake, there are other teen dark comedies from around that time -- Heathers comes to mind immediately -- that find similar adolescent fodder to satirize and do it much more effectively.

Movie Details

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