Antonio Fargas as layabout Uncle Jim, who drinks beer and farts a lot, is the comic centerpiece of 3 Strikes. And if the notion of Starsky and Hutch’s Huggy Bear breaking wind doesn’t fill your sails, you’re out of luck: Writer-director DJ Pooh (who cowrote Friday) returns to this gag again and again in the course of this toxic gas leak.
Paroled back into his South Central L.A. community a second time, Rob (Brian Hooks) knows that, given the state’s tough penal code, a third arrest means a life sentence. But almost immediately upon his release, he gets involved in a police shoot-out while riding in a stolen car. He runs, he hides (at one point among Mexican neighbors partial to tourist-wear sombreros and serapes) — and he’s a wanted man again, hunted down by David Alan Grier, who plays a jerk of a detective with just the right level of dunderheaded pride.
In Friday, seriously funny commentary about life in South Central was made to feel lighter than it was. In 3 Strikes, empty jokes hang heavy, and you may find yourself fanning the air much as Uncle Jim’s family does when the old coot lets one rip. D+