Lionsgate // 2003 // 85 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // September 9th, 2011
Three times the terror and only half the brain power.
In Scary Movie they spoofed slasher movies. In Scary Movie 2 they spoofed haunted house. In Scary Movie 3 they spoof...well, just about everything but the kitchen sink. Signs, The Ring, The Matrix, 8 Mile...any movie made a few years before 2003 and Scary Movie 3 has its number. The plot -- about as loose as a three dollar hooker and just as disjointed -- has to do with reporter Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris, The House Bunny) exploring some mysterious crop circles on ex-priest Tom's (Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men) rural farm while fending off the dangerous advances of a video tape that stalks you within seven days of watching it. Tom's brother, George (Simon Rex), is attempting to become a rapper while the President of the United States (Leslie Nielson, Mr. Magoo) declares war on newly visiting alien invaders. All of these storylines collide in the final moments of Scary Movie 3 making for a truly terrifying motion picture experience.
I feel if I write the phrase "comedy is subjective" I will be breaking rule #101 of film criticism: whenever possible, never deploy the use of an overly clichéd phrase. I like to think I read a fair amount of movie reviews and that those words -- along "feel good movie of the year" -- may be the most overused words in film criticism today. Yet it could be there's good reason for that; the fact is what makes one person laugh makes another turn chilly in the face of onscreen lunacy. Case in point is Scary Movie 3.
This past Labor Day weekend I sat down to review Scary Movie 3 by watching it with some extended family. My mother couldn't stop laughing. My girlfriend sat, arms crossed without even breaking so much as a minor grin (it doesn't help that I found out later the only movie she'd ever walked out on was the original Scary Movie). My brother had seen it half a dozen times prior. Dad fell asleep. As you can see I was dealing with many different ends of the humor spectrum.
Scary Movie 3 will either leave you out of breath with the giggles or cursing the digital medium of Blu-ray. I had seen the original Scary Movie (funny) and Scary Movie 2 (woefully unfunny) and didn't have high expectations for Scary Movie 3 upon it's initial release. What I found was a movie that, while certainly not perfect, contains enough laughs to make it well worth seeking out for both fans of horror movies (which are lampooned mercilessly) and those who enjoy good old fashioned slapstick humor.
What makes Scary Movie 3 go above and beyond is director David Zucker, one of the geniuses behind Airplane! and The Naked Gun trilogy. It takes a lot of smarts to make a movie this dumb, and Zucker's pedigree skills are indispensable during Scary Movie 3. Watching Scary Movie 3 is almost a bittersweet affair -- it's really the last time Hollywood would create a halfway decent spoof before Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg ruined the genre with such atrocities as Date Movie, Meet the Spartans and Epic Movie (and don't think I'm exaggerating -- those movies are to be avoided at all costs).
The performances here are the key; no one plays the film for laughs. Zucker knows that the funniest moments in comedy come not from people acting silly but people acting deathly serious in silly situations. Charlie Sheen (long before he became a national punch line) is amusing as Tom, spoofing Mel Gibson's priest character from Signs. Leslie Nielson as the President of the United States does what he does best: deadpan mugging for the camera. Simon Rex (my favorite actor in the film) hits all the right comedic tones as Tom's rapper wannabe brother. Other actors including Anna Faris reprising her role from the first film and a very amusing Drew Mikuska as her telepathic nephew add a lot of laughs to the proceedings. This is a cast that does yeoman's work; the performances work without (most of the time) going over-the-top.
If Scary Movie 3 has a weak link it's that a lot of the pop culture references have already grown stale. A sequence where Charlie Sheen's character unmasks a ghost and find's Michael Jackson (complete with child molestation gags) now just comes off as sad and creepy. Another joke involving American Idol's Simon Cowell was hysterical during the show's height of popularity but now seems like a desperate ploy to try and make the film seem "now" and "relevant" (and we all know how poorly that worked in the Friedberg and Seltzer movies).
Complaints aside, I have to admit to laughing more than not while watching Scary Movie 3. I've found that you can't go wrong with the Zucker Brothers (as well as their long time writer Pat Proft). For truly zany comedy this is a great Saturday night rental.
Scary Movie 3 is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen in 1080p high definition. The image here is very good -- Lionsgate has produced a solid transfer that features a lot of bold colors and dark black levels. There are some moments where the image could be sharper (most notably the scenes set at night), but overall fans should be pleased with what this second sequel looks like. The soundtrack is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio in 5.1 Surround and is both expansive and amusing. A lot of the sound is done for comedic effect (I love the alien's voices) and it's wonderfully presented through all five surround speakers. Also included on this disc are English and Spanish subtitles.
The extra features on this disc are ported over from the original DVD release, including a commentary track by director David Zucker, producer Robert K. Weiss and writers Craig Mazin and Pat Proft, a few fluffy featurettes ("Making Scary Movie 3," "Making Scary Movie 3...For Real!," "Hulk vs. Aliens: Behind the Scenes of the Alternate Ending"), an alternate ending that includes a commentary by the director, a few deleted and extended scenes (with optional commentary), some outtakes and bloopers, and an extended cut of the film.
Scary Movie 3 is amusing for those who like to see their horror movie
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Theatrical Version
* Alternate Ending
* Deleted/Extended Scenes