|Scary Movie 3|
|Written by Mel Odom|
|Tuesday, 11 May 2004|
Following in the warped mold first created by the Wayans Brothers, “Scary Movie 3” delivers the kinds of twisted, perverse humor fans of the first two movies have come to anticipate and appreciate. The formula is simple: take a fistful of popular movies (they don’t necessarily have to be good, just popular) that have managed to become iconic to a degree (like the hip-hop rap of “8 Mile” or the phone calls of “The Ring” or the crop designs of “Signs”) and stretch the thinnest of plots between them to form a connecting anchor. Then sprinkle liberally with actors and actresses that can somehow deliver lines with straight faces that leave audiences howling with laughter. Granted, the result is not going to be a sterling display of thespian talents or even good social graces, but it will jar the funny bones of most viewers along the way.
Chapter 1 begins with a thunderous bang that lights up the subwoofer. Kate (Jenny McCarthy) and Becca (Pamela Anderson), almost dressed and playing at sleepover, watch television and chat. Becca tells Kate about the movie that promises any viewer who watches it will be dead in a week. Kate says she’s seen it, and the girls break into a pillow fight with impacts that fire up the subwoofer. Then the phone rings, sounding strident and harsh through the surround sound system. A raspy voice echoes over the phone and the women deal with it as if it were a prank phone call. From that moment on, pandemonium breaks out, a slick mixture of sex, ribald humor, and just a hint of honest horror in the music that brings back tense memories for audience members who viewed “The Ring.” The toaster and the parrot in the kitchen are awesome. The movie even takes time to point out the inconsistencies that sometimes occur in horror movies, allowing Becca to magically reacquire her shirt after she’s thrown it over the parrot cage.
In Chapter 2, the movie kicks into high gear, starting to pull together the various movie plotlines into a somewhat cohesive whole. The story shifts over to a bizarre riff on “Signs,” featuring two brothers, one a minister who lost his faith after his wife’s tragic death. Screaming erupts from the cornfield, waking George (Charlie Sheen) in a familiar slapstick comedy. While George is urinating, the screams don’t take place until the act begins again and again. The brothers meet outside and comment that the dogs are acting strangely, which triggers an immediate cut to the dogs doing farm chores with farm equipment and even playing poker. The creepy music and the shrill screams burst from the surround sound system, bringing an underlying air of horror to the visual humor and slapstick routines. The cornfield signs, especially with the arrow and the words “attack here” left standing are hysterical, given the context and the straight delivery of the actors.
The chapter continues on, introducing Cindy (Anna Faris), the heroine of the movie. She’s an on-air personality at a local television station who hopes to do more than the strip-club coverage she’s currently being assigned to. In Chapter 3, she struggles to convince her producer to allow her to follow up on the cornfield story. The twins segments kicks to life with slamming rock music that jars the subwoofer and echoes through the surround sound system. It just wouldn’t be a “Scary Movie” without hot women and panty shots. The action cuts back to the farm as Tom (Simon Rex) talks to the deputy, whose hat grows mysteriously with each take. George comes on later and ignites the “8 Mile” riff as George intends to win an upcoming rap battle.
Chapter 4 starts off with the familiar “Halloween” music riff written by John Carpenter. The theme music comes through the surround sound system crystal clear. Cindy meets with her friend, who teaches Cindy’s newly acquired nephew Cody (Drew Mikuska). George pops in to pick up his niece. Cody pulls in “The Sixth Sense” riff as a boy who sees the future and dead people. The flipbook Cody creates of the black-haired girl from “The Ring” is hilarious.
The rap battle featured in Chapter 5 lights up the subwoofer and pounds the surround sound system. George’s friends are introduced in scenes that emulate “8 Mile” perfectly and with gross-out humor. Simon Rex’s appearance is unexpected, then becomes a fantasy that will satisfy every would-be star that had endured the lash of his sharp tongue. George’s triumph over Fat Joe is short-lived.
In Chapter 6, Cindy and her teacher girlfriend, Brenda (Regina Hall), poke fun at the horror film industry as Brenda constantly fools Cindy. But the action turns serious as the black-haired girl from “The Ring” steps through the television. However, the girl fight that ensues is hilarious for a time. Tom’s back story with his wife’s horrible death is revealed later. The deputy’s visual representation of what has happened to Tom’s wife is funny as they keep using food models. Denise Richards’ portrayal as the dying wife is funny, as is Tom’s selective hearing as Annie tells him he’s not to have sex anymore.
Brenda’s wake in Chapter 8 is one of the strangest and funniest pieces in the film. From the horrified look of the body in the casket to George and his friend’s attempts to revive her, the scene goes completely over the top in all-out zaniness. The impacts of the fist punching and slapping hammers the subwoofer. The sound of breaking glass as George gets thrown through another window blasts through the surround sound.
In Chapter 9, Cindy watches the cursed film and gets a phone call telling her she will be dead in a week. The telephone explodes through the surround sound, jarring the viewer despite the foreshadowing. The argument over the seven days is hilarious. The story picks back up with George and the rap music bumps the subwoofer.
Queen Latifah shows up in Chapter 10, doing a riff from “The Matrix.” A fly shows up on television screen, buzzes around from left front to right front speakers, then lands on the television screen again. The fight between Queen Latifah and the black-haired girl will leave most audience members rolling in the floor. By the time Cindy returns home, she finds George knocked out. Unfortunately, Cody has watched the tape and now only has seven days to live as well. The movie progresses to the twisted and exciting ending, tying together all of the disparate movie plots in a way that is ultimately satisfying.
A large part of the success of the “Scary Movie” franchise relies on the familiarity of the audience with the movies that get spoofed, as well as their deft mixture of humor and horror. Even if a viewer hasn’t watched all of the movies, enough resource material is provided so that the viewer new to the films getting lampooned will be in on most of the in-jokes. The other part of the success of the movies comes from the over-the-top action in the scenes, as well as the deadpan delivery of the stars. Inane and unexplained things, such as the deputy’s growing hat in Chapter 3, take on a life of their own that wouldn’t fly in any other kind of movie.
The special features are enjoyable, but somehow just don’t seem to be enough. The movie clocks in only at 75 minutes, despite the claim on the back of the box. The commentary is welcome and does lend the DVD more interest, but the bloopers aren’t as numerous as a viewer might hope. The documentary on the making of the film is good, especially with the Hulk onboard.
“Scary Movie 3”, at PG-13, is a good rental for a Friday or Saturday night. The belly laughs are real and the humor is twisted and not obscene. Enjoyment by viewers doesn’t depend on having seen the movies that are spoofed, but a familiarity with them is helpful. All in all, even without the Wayans Brothers at the helm, the movie succeeds on the level that was intended.