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3:15
(1986)

Director: Larry Gross   
Cast:
Adam Baldwin, Deborah Foreman, Rene Auberjonois


When I look back at my childhood, I cannot help but think of a number of bad memories from that era. I suppose that's to be expected when you are incredibly famous from running a vastly popular web site like this one - I remember once reading a study that revealed that if you had a rough childhood, you had a good chance of having a happy adult life. No, I did not live in an home environment that subjected me to abuse or other traumatic incidents, but I have plenty of childhood memories outside of the home that make me wince whenever something sparks my memory of them. For example, I hated the oral care I got as a child. At the dentist, the dental assistant always pulled out at every visit that certain hooked instrument, and would scrape the back of my teeth for what seemed like an ungodly amount of time. Then there was the time when I was under the care of an orthodontist, the less said the better. Most of my bad childhood memories, however, seem to center around school. I remember in elementary school being frustrated by all the stuff that I was "taught". I use "taught" in quotes because it seemed like I already knew most of the stuff that was being taught. (However, once I got to junior high, I quickly learned that I was not as smart as I thought I was.) Also in elementary school, I absolutely hated the annual sports day. Although it meant that there would be no class to sit through during the day, it would mean that I would be forced to participate in (ugh) sports. I don't look fondly on having to go through sports because quite frankly, I was never good at any sports. Name the sport, and you would see that I was always the one in last place at that sport.

There were a lot of other things that I hated about having to go to school. There was the time in grade five when everyone in the class had to choose between two musical instruments to learn to play - the recorder or the violin. Like a fool, I chose the violin. I say "like a fool", because sometime later the class for learning the recorder was cancelled, but not for the violin. My violin playing (as well as that of the few other kids in my class who chose to learn the violin) always sounded screechy, and nothing like the sweet sound of the violin of our instructor. I was relieved on the day that I convinced my parents to get me out of the class and sell the violin. When I look back on all that violin instruction... well, with stories like this, the storyteller always says at this point that they regret that they never stuck with learning that musical instrument they hated learning as child. Not in this case, however -I am glad that I was freed of that infernal screeching, and to this day I have no desire to play a violin. And you can quote me. But maybe the one thing I hated most of all about having to go to school were the people that I went to school with. I didn't have problems with the majority of my teachers - I'm talking about my fellow students. I had the unfortunate experience in school with bullies several times. The worst of these bullies had to be a fellow named Randy Erbacker, who tormented me from elementary school through junior high. I don't know why I didn't report him to the adults at school, but if I could do it all over again I would do at least that - though more likely I would give him a swift sock in the gut. If anyone knows where this "Turdsmacker" (his nickname by the other kids) lives, let me know - I will make it worth your while.

I suppose it could have been worse. I was only tormented by one or two bullies at a time throughout my years at grade school, but that seems like a walk in the park compared to what many kids have to face in school nowadays. There is the phenomenon of Internet bullying, where the bully can usually stay anonymous and torment his or her target to no end. Then there are all those guns kids bring to school and sometimes shoot off. One thing that I am really glad I didn't have to face in any grade at school were school gangs. I was fortunate enough to live in a fairly small town far from a major metropolitan area, so there was no gang influence. Sometimes I wonder what I might have possibly have been made to go through if there were gangs at one of my schools - Lord knows what would have happened to me. As you have probably guessed by now, 3:15 is a movie concerning a school gang. In a certain high school somewhere in the Los Angeles area, gangs reign supreme, one of these being the feared Cobra gang. There used to be six members of this gang, but after a confrontation with another gang that ended up killing one of the members of the other gang, Cobra leader Jeff Hanna (Baldwin, My Bodyguard) is shaken up, and he walks away from the Cobras. A year later, he is determined to follow the straight path, but fate has another plan. When Jeff refuses to help his former gang friends when the police make a surprise drug bust on the school, the Cobras swear to kill Jeff. Jeff doesn't want to fight, but as time progresses and the Cobras start their plan of revenge, Jeff finds he may be forced to fight his former friends after all at their proclaimed meeting time of 3:15 that afternoon.

When I first read the premise of 3:15 in one of my reference books before actually watching the movie, I couldn't help but imagine myself in Jeff's predicament, and I tried to think of any possible ways I could get out of this situation if I happened to find myself in it. Here are the possible solutions I came up with: (1) Gather up the regular students of the school - who have all probably been victimized by this gang at least once each - and all of you jump these mere five Cobra gang members and teach them a lesson in the process. (2) Go to one of the rival gangs of the school and ask them for help, maybe even convincing more than one gang to band together just this once to wipe out the Cobras. (3) Talk to one of the adults at the school - a teacher, or the principal, for example - explain the situation and ask for them to help any way they can. (4) Talk to your parents at home, telling them the situation. (5) Call the police - it's a little known fact, but they don't like stuff such as violent gang members or plans of murder, and would love to lock creeps up of any kind. (6) Pack up a suitcase, get the hell out of the area, and settle somewhere else far, far away. I think these possibilities are the most logical courses of action for a situation such as this, and when I sat down to watch the movie I decided to take these possible courses of action with me to see if the movie's screenplay would be intelligent enough to bring up any of these possibilities for Jeff's character, instead of stupidly ignoring logic and having Jeff's character act like an idiot.

To the movie's credit, most of those possible ideas that I listed in the previous paragraph do get brought up, and are subsequently treated in a way that makes it impossible for Jeff to go along those avenues. For example, the idea that all the non-gang students of the school could gang up on the Cobras is shot down when one student reasons out loud that while they could probably defeat the gang all together, what would happen if they should bump into the gang later when they are not with their fellow students? As for the adults in the school, they are either too inept to deal with the situation or run away in a cowardly-like fashion. Though speaking of adults, the little we learn of Jeff's life out of school reveals that while he does live in a decent home, there seem to be no parents or guardians in his life. Then there are the other gangs at school, one he rejects help from when they ask him to enter their gang, but in a later scene when he asks another gang why they themselves don't battle the Cobras, the movie suddenly cuts to another scene before we get any explanation from the gang. It looks like there was an explanation filmed, but some inept decision behind the camera (at the editing department) keeps it from us. Speaking of behind the camera stuff, there is other such ineptness from the filmmakers. I counted the boom mike creeping into the frame at least twice, for one thing. Then there are various audio goofs, like one conversation taking place in a moving car being obviously post-dubbed judging from the limited background noise. And in one scene taking place in a hospital room, the background noise you hear in a typical hospital does not start until several seconds after the scene begins.

If you're now thinking that 3:15 must be a low budget enterprise, you are right. Despite its low budget, the movie still could have been saved by having an expert and professional attitude in its other parts. Unfortunately, the movie fails to deliver the goods in most other areas. I could get by the fact that all the actors playing teenagers were obviously several years older than their characters - this kind of thing is routine (though if they would actually cast actors of the right age, they would instantly have a vein of realism.) But most the actors don't give memorable performances. Baldwin is not convincingly hard-core when his character is a gang member, and his various decisions out of the gang don't seem believable with his lacklustre attitude. An even worse performance comes from Deborah Foreman (Valley Girl), who plays the girlfriend of Baldwin's character; she comes across as a simple-minded whiner. But the main problem that the movie has comes not from the acting, but from the script. The script, quite frankly, has trouble finding ways to keep the audience awake. After Baldwin's character refuses to help his former gangmates and they swear to kill him, not that much happens for the next hour or so. The movie pads things out during that hour with stuff like endless talk from the supporting characters and the Cobras popping out every so often to remind everyone they are a threat. The climatic confrontation (come on, you didn't think the protagonist would get away) does contain a couple of minor things I didn't see coming, but the rest of the action feels routine and lacking excitement, hardly worth the wait. Is there any reason to seek out a copy of 3:15? Well, if you're a teen victimized by school gangs, maybe. If you were to give a gang a copy, they may be so tickled by the unrealistic portrayal of gangs that they will stop stealing your lunch money.

Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)

See also: The Annihilators, The Black Godfather, The Rivals

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