Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Scary Movie 3
Review by Sombrero Grande

When I was a kid and I saw a movie that scared me more than I thought it would, I’d always try to take whatever scary characters, situations, etc. that were bothering me and come up with a funny context to put them into in my mind. You see, I’ve always had a bit of an overactive imagination, and if I could make something scary into something funny, it wouldn’t keep me up at night anymore. The Simpsons used to do a marvelous job of this in their Halloween specials. Remember their parody of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining? In one scene, Mr. Burns is leading the Simpson clan around the haunted hotel when an elevator door opens and suddenly everyone is knee-deep in blood. “That’s odd,” remarks Mr. Burns, “the blood usually gets off at the second floor.” Turning something that elicits one strong emotion (in this case, fear) into something that elicits another (laughter) is an excellent way to really up the impact of the latter.

Hoping to really cash in on this characteristic has been the Scary Movie series of films. While I thought the first Scary Movie went a bit too far into the realm of the gross at times--so much so that I passed on watching Scary Movie 2, thinking that it would only get worse (I was told it did)--Scary Movie 3 brings the humor back down to a more tolerable slapstick and wacky hijinks level. There are no geysers of semen in Scary Movie 3. Chalk it up to a change in management. The Wayans brothers, masterminds behind the first two films, left to work on White Girls and the reigns of Scary Movie 3 were handed over to David Zucker, one of the guys responsible for the parody-genre-establishing Airplane!, so it’s not too jarring to find the likes of Leslie Nielsen and Charlie Sheen popping up this time around.

My personal favorite film in the parody genre is Sheen’s Hot Shots: Part Deux, a gleefully wacky spoof on Rambo and war films in general, full of really funny gags and a battalion of cleverly integrated parodies. Put up against HS:PD, Scary Movie 3 stacks up rather short overall, but still offers up a good number of laugh-out-loud funny gags. The SM3 story feels very disjointed and kind of tossed together at times as it bounces back and forth between parodying The Ring and Signs. There are a few others, like The Others, parodied along the way, but none of the spoofs seem to flow into each other as nicely as in Hot Shots: Part Deux. The story seems to stop completely for a while when Scary Movie 3 veers off into a surprisingly long spoof of 8 Mile.

Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris) is one of only two characters returning from the first two Scary Movie films. This time around, she’s a blonde TV reporter trying to get to the bottom of two supernatural events she believes are linked: an evil videotape which kills anyone who watches it seven days later and alien crop circles in farmer Tom Logan’s (Charlie Sheen) corn field. The connection between the two events (other than the fact that they’re happening at the same time) isn’t revealed until the end of the film when we find out that the aliens accidentally watched the evil tape via satellite and are going to attack Earth to destroy the tape’s evil little girl before their seven days are up and she destroys them. If this could have been at least hinted at earlier in the film perhaps the Signs and The Ring elements wouldn’t have felt so disjointed all along the way.

I remember hearing originally that Clerks’ Kevin Smith was going to be writing Scary Movie 3 and a rather big deal was made about it initially in the press, but his name is noticeably absent from the credits. What happened? Smith is known for being outspoken about projects he’s worked on, but I haven’t heard anything about this. Can anyone clue me in? I’m curious.

If you haven’t seen The Ring or Signs, many of the jokes in Scary Movie 3 will probably go right over your head as they pertain to very specific incidents in those films. Overall while the film does have a rather disjointed feel and features its share of dud gags, Scary Movie 3 had me laughing really hard more times than I was anticipating. I’d say it’s worth your while if you’ve seen The Ring and Signs and think it’s funnier when people get kicked repeatedly in the crotch than when they ride geysers of semen.


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