Scary Movie 3
Directed by David Zucker. Starring Anna Faris, Charlie Sheen, Anthony Anderson, Pamela Anderson, Peter Boyle, George Carlin. (2003, PG-13, 90 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 31, 2003
Enough already. This third and, it is to be fervently hoped, last in the less-than-venerable horror-movie parody series fires the gags in such a bewildering fusillade of anything-for-a-laugh cheap shots that it's bound to leave viewers over the age of 15 with a headache 20 minutes in. It’s like beating a dead horse with a road-grader, and then running over it with a steamroller, and then building Levittown on top of it – too many jokes, and not enough funny ones by half. Thanks in part to Scary Movie 2’s limp critical reception two years ago, the producers have this time jettisoned the Wayans brothers and recruited in their stead the writing team of Craig Mazin and Pat Proft, late of the Airplane! and The Naked Gun series, to direct and write. Trouble is, even Zucker and company couldn’t push their own original creations past the initial sequel, and so in Scary Movie 3, although they struggle mightily to keep the comedy ball rolling, they fare only half as well as you might expect. Part of the problem lies with their choice of films to parody this time out, a heady and at times downright bizarre mix of Gore Verbinski’s fine remake The Ring, M. Night Shyamalan’s occasionally eerie Signs, and – wait for it – Eminem’s hip-hop rags-to-bitches tale 8 Mile. One of these things is not like the other, as the saying goes, but Zucker seems so intent on desperately wringing chuckles out of anything within spitting distance that he apparently didn’t notice the strangeness of including the decidedly nonhorror Eminem film in the mix, a sure sign someone is running out of ideas. (The film boasts a half-dozen writers, including somewhere in the mix Jersey boy Kevin Smith, although you’d be hard pressed to figure out his contributions.) Scary Movie 3’s Anna Faris returns as news anchor Cindy Campbell, aching for a real live scoop. It comes in the form of some mysterious crop circles that have turned up in the fields owned by former minister Charlie Sheen, who is aghast to find a huge "Attack Here" message plowed into the corn rows in front of his home one day. There are also the matters of a killer videotape that Campbell watches and has seven days to unravel before she dies, and her nephew, a precocious psychic with a bent for predicting doom for one and all. The film slogs along on jokes that even borschtbelt comics would have considered far too broad had they been asked to employ them. And why not have Jackie Mason pop up somewhere in this mess? Pointless cameos from Queen Latifah, Ja Rule, Macy Gray, Master P, and Eddie Griffin abound, and even George Carlin appears in a witless Matrix joke that only goes to show that, as in Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, observational stand-up comics should stick to standing and observing. There are a few gems amid the dross –– American Idol’s snarky Simon Callow appears as the judge of the faux-Eminem rap-off, a nifty gag involving The Others and a Michael Jackson impersonator that, unwisely, has already been seen in umpteen television ads – but on the whole, this third outing is 90% chaff, 10% wit, and pure Children of the Corny.