Is it a women-in-prison movie, or is it a strip-club movie? Thank you, director Glen Pitre, for proving that it's possible to combine both lurid genres into one hilariously stupid and sleazy direct-to-video flick. 1999's TIME SERVED is a preposterous slice of trashy dumb fun that takes the basic WIP premise of a sweet, innocent young woman sentenced to a lifetime of torture and degradation for a crime she didn't commit, and updates for the 21st century by adding a trendy subplot involving strip clubs. And if you're wondering how a film could possibly mix strippers and convicts, then you obviously haven't seen enough of these WIPs.
Sarah McKinney (38-year-old Catherine Oxenberg, a long way from DYNASTY) faces serious jail time after her young son blows away his abusive stepfather with a gun he found upstairs. Even though the case is an obvious example of self-defense, Sarah claims that she killed her husband and is handed a ridiculously stiff jail term by Judge Engstrom (James Handy), a psychopath who retires to his chambers, fondles his gun, and rambles on to himself about how all women are whores.
On to prison, where Sarah is forced to strip and is assigned to a hot lesbian cellmate, Rosie (Lourdes Colon), who propositions her right out of the gate. The roomie bears no grudge when Sarah refuses her, and even offers Sarah a chance to become part of the cool crowd, a way to escape the hazing, brutality, and cruel working conditions part of everyday prison life. Y'see, Rosie is part of the prison's unique work release program, a project spearheaded by the corrupt warden (Oscar-winner Louise Fletcher!) and a slimeball named Mr. D (the great trash-film performer Bo Hopkins).
Violating all levels of common sense and the law, the sexier prisoners are allowed out at night to dance at Mr. D's swanky strip joint. Sarah resists at first, not wanting to stoop to that level (somehow she finds scrubbing floors more dignified), but for some reason, it's enormously important to everyone else that Sarah works at the club, and they go to great extremes to put pressure on her. Eventually, she caves in, and an ever-grateful audience is glad that she does, since Sarah, for all her primness, turns out to be a surprisingly gifted stripper, almost as though she had been practicing for a film role...
The story grows even sillier, if you can believe it, as Sarah's incompetent attorney, Patrick (Jeff Fahey), begins to feel a tad guilty about being such a poor lawyer, and, after a few visits with Sarah's vegetable son (remember him?), takes measures to overturn his client's conviction. His methods include sneaking into Mr. D's to watch her dance and hacking into government files to investigate Mr. D's finances. I doubt you'll be surprised to learn that Judge Engstrom's ugly head rears up later in the story. Or that the exterior of the strip club appears to be nothing more than a wooden façade awkwardly placed randomly in the middle of a parking lot. Or that most of the prisoners possess perfect surgically enhanced breasts and a shocking affinity for exotic dancing.
Oxenberg is a pretty good sport, showing up on the set every day knowing she was going to have to do something shamelessly embarrassing for a film hardly worth the effort. Hopkins is having a pretty good time, camping it up with a silly accent, while Fahey, who plays dim bulbs pretty well (perhaps THE LAWNMOWER MAN was good preparation), spices up his work with the knowledge that he's in a stupid film that nonetheless paid him his going rate. MAGNUM, P.I. sidekick Larry Manetti also pops up in this entertaining trashfest filmed around Chicago. If you know someone who claims, "Gee, they just don't make 'em the way they used to," just show this to him or her. TIME SERVED is tasteless, absurd, and filled with gratuitous nudity and a complete lack of logic—just like WIPs in the old days.