November 6, 2003

Scary Movie 3

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In a year of epic trilogies, it seems only fitting that an iconoclastic trilogy be finished to bring those of the epic variety down from their pedestal. Scary Movie 3, the third (and let’s pray that this is the final) installment of the Scary Movie series does just that, slicing to ribbons a whole cluster of Hollywood blockbusters from the horror and action genre of the past year.

The Wayans brothers, who directed and wrote the first two, were not involved this time around. Instead, David Zucker, the director of such classic parodies as Airplane! and The Naked Gun, was brought in. However, minus a few witty jokes, SM3 fails to meet the standard of Zucker’s best known spoofs.

A barely coherent storyline runs throughout the goofball parody of SM3, and it basically follows the same formula as its two predecessors. Let’s just say it involves a video tape that kills those who watch it, a white kid trying to be a rapper, mysterious crop circles, and a walking thesaurus known as the Architect. Sound familiar? In a film like this, rationality is unimportant. All that matters is how badly it can tear to pieces the pretentious drama of films like The Ring, Signs, The Matrix Reloaded, 8 Mile, and The Two Towers.

Yet that is where the film falls short. There are about thirty minutes that are down right hilarious in this film, including a bit with a Catholic priest and a little boy, and an argument between Sydney (Anna Farris) and the dead girl from The Ring over if the seven days she has left to live are business days. But for the other sixty minutes, the film is repetitive and boring. It goes off onto tangents that would have been better off left out, such as a very unfunny parody of 8 Mile. The film is at its funniest when it makes use of visual puns and biting sarcasm, the same tools that made Airplane! a film that has remained funny across generations. Unfortunately, too much of the humor in SM3 is juvenile at best, and after ninety minutes of it, the exit sign looks very welcoming.

Worse, none of the actors really do anything to intensify the parody. Anna Farris returns as Sydney, and adds an effective dose of melodrama, and Charlie Sheen does a hilarious deadpan impersonation of Mel Gibson’s priest from Signs, but they stand alone. The film becomes a series of cameos ranging from Ja Rule to George Carlin, and it begins to feel more like a game of spot the Hollywood star than a movie. Even Leslie Nielsen, Zucker’s favorite nincompoop, looks tired and bored in his role as an incompetent president.

This time around, the film has surrendered its vulgarity and sexuality for a PG-13 rating, a move that will no doubt expand the audience that SM3 is able to haul in. This also is problematic for SM3. Part of what made the first two films funny was the absurdly crude and profane humor. SM3 has its share of vulgarity and tastelessness, but in the end, an extra dose of the absurd would have helped this film out.

The rating adds another note of caution to the film. If you are planning on seeing this, it is important to think, which would be scarier: watching the third installment of this series, or a theater full of screaming thirteen year olds?

Archived article by Zach Jones