Dimension Films // 2003 // 84 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // June 7th, 2004
Great trilogies come in threes!
First there was the Wayans brothers' original Scary Movie, a joke-a-second comedy that became a surprise hit and raked in oodles and oodles of cash for Dimension Films. Then came a rushed sequel, Scary Movie 2, which also cleaned up at the box office but didn't sit well in fans' stomachs. With a different director at the helm and a mostly new cast, does Scary Movie 3 add up to lots-o-laughs or a room full of chirping crickets?
Gadzooks! Aliens have landed and only one man can stop them...Charlie Sheen!?! Yes, it's up to Emilio's brother, Tom (Sheen), a local, widowed farmer, and his family -- little Susie (Jianna Ballard) and rapper wannabe George (Simon Rex) -- to stop the invading...err, invaders from taking over our planet. Various crop circles in Tom's cornfield tip them off that the aliens will attack soon (punctuated by a huge crop circle that reads "ATTACK HERE" with a large arrow pointing toward Tom's farmhouse).
At the same time Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris, Lost in Translation), a holdover from the first two Scary Movie films, is working as a news reporter and trying to discover what the secret is behind a tape that kills you seven days after you watch it. A little boy she takes care of, Cody, is psychic and able to tell people things that will soon happen to them (even though they're useless premonitions, like letting a woman know her period will start within the second).
As the aliens get closer and closer to earth and the killer tape begins to collect various victims, even the President of the United States (Leslie Nielson, Wrongfully Accused) gets into the action! Get ready for round three with Scary Movie 3!
In a way, a film like Scary Movie 3 is critic proof -- you're either going to find this stuff funny or you won't. There isn't much of a middle ground, especially considering who directed this film. David Zucker, along with his brother Jerry, is a master at fast-paced, everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink comedy. A co-creator of such laughfests as Airplane! and The Naked Gun, Zucker throws everything at the wall hoping some of it sticks. Surprisingly, a lot of it does.
Zucker took over the Scary Movie franchise from the Wayans brothers, writers who produced one very funny film (Scary Movie) and one painfully unfunny sequel (Scary Movie 2). In Scary Movie 3, the tone feels a bit different; although there are the requisite gross-out gags (vomiting, peeing, et cetera), the PG-13 rating makes sure that this film is a bit more kid friendly than the previous entries. What we get is a movie that isn't quite as mean-spirited as the first two films but still has enough bite to satisfy Scary Movie's core audience.
The only way a movie like this truly works is when the cast is game for anything. Luckily, Zucker has found just the right group of actors to pull of this zany material. One of the only returning cast members from the original two films is Anna Faris (who was featured in the finale of Friends) as Cindy, a news reporter at a TV station that only cares about "sex, violence, and weather." Faris shows that she has a true knack for comedy with her bubbly demeanor and often deadpan delivery. Charlie Sheen -- playing a variation on Mel Gibson's character from Signs -- has already proven that he knows how to deliver good comedy (if you don't believe me, check him out in the hysterical Hot Shots! and Hot Shots Part Deux). Here Sheen spoofs his own serious image, even bringing along his wife (Denise Richards, Wild Things) for the ride.
Other entertaining standouts include Queen Latifah and Eddie Griffin as mock characters from The Matrix, Jeremy Piven (Chasing Liberty) as a smarmy anchorman, Leslie Nielsen as the President of the United States, Jenny McCarthy and Pamela Anderson as two bubble-headed coeds, and Regina Hall (also from the first two films) who casually points out while watching the VHS from The Ring that "another little white girl done fell down a well. Fifty black people get their ass beat by police, but the whole world got to stop for one little whitey down a hole."
They say that drama is easy but comedy is hard -- and I believe it. It's sad to say, but I feel like it's been quite a long time since I laughed as hard as I did during Scary Movie 3. There are enough gags in the movie to make even the most cynical of heart crack a smile. If you're up for good old-fashioned comedy that doesn't set out to change the world (only your disposition for the night), Scary Movie 3 fits the bill.
Scary Movie 3 is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Ain't nothin' scary about Scary Movie 3's transfer -- the colors and black levels are all solidly rendered, bright, and bold. In fact, aside of the smallest amount of edge enhancement I couldn't find anything wrong with this transfer. Flesh tones and detail is represented very accurately without any grain, dirt, or scratches in the print. Overall, this is a great looking picture. A full frame version is also available, but not recommended.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in both English and French. This is a very appropriate sound mix that utilizes both the front and rear speakers often. The dialogue, music, and effects are all evenly dispersed and well heard. This is a very effective sound mix all around. Also included on this disc are English and Spanish subtitles.
Dimension has included a few goofy extra features on this disc, starting with a commentary track by director David Zucker, producer Robert K. Weiss, and screenwriters Pat Proft and Craig Mazin. This track is on par with what I expected -- a lot of silliness as each participant jokes, jabs, and generally makes fun of the movie and themselves. While there is some production info and stories about the casting in the track, generally this is best for entertainment purposes only.
Next up are two featurettes, "The Making of Scary Movie 3" and "The Making of Scary Movie 3...For Real." Both of these brief featurettes include on-set interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and a lot of good old-fashioned fun. "The Making of Scary Movie 3...For Real" is more of a spoof of making-of featurettes and should entertain those who enjoyed the movies (for instance, did you know that the film is based on Shakespeare's "The Tempest"? Fascinating).
Following suit are nine deleted scenes with optional commentary, as well as an alternate ending that is truly "alternate" than what's on the film now (think "Aliens vs. Hulk"). Some of the deleted scenes are entertaining and some fall flat, but all are worth watching for true fans of the film.
Finally, there is a short four-minute featurette on the "Aliens vs. Hulk" alternate ending, a few mildly funny outtakes and bloopers by the cast and crew, and some promotional spots for various Dimension DVDs.
Scary Movie 3 is worthy of the Zucker namesake. While I didn't find it quite as good as the first film, I still found myself laughing out loud multiple times which -- considering the state of American comedy these days -- is a rarity. Dimension's work on the Scary Movie 3 DVD is well above average with a fine transfer and audio mix and some rather humorous supplemental materials.
Scary Movie 3 is frightfully good stuff! Recommended.
Review content copyright © 2004 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Dimension Films
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Commentary by Director David Zucker, Producer Robert K. Weiss and Screenwriters Pat Proft and Craig Mazin
* Nine Deleted Scenes
* "The Making of Scary Movie 3" Featurette
* "The Making of Scary Movie 3...For Real" Featurette
* Bloopers and Outtakes
* "Hulk vs. Aliens: Behind-The-Scenes" Featurette
* Official Site