Scary Movie 3 tries frighteningly hard to scare up a laugh

Oct. 28, 2003, midnight | By Dan Greene | 17 years, 7 months ago

Maybe it's peer pressure, seeing as 2003 is certainly the year of the trilogy blockbusters, including The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings. Maybe horror movie spoof Scary Movie 3 was trying desperately to live up to its three-part brethren, both of which will no doubt be massively successful. Perhaps that's why minds behind Scary Movie 3 attempted to pump as much humor into the film as possible.

Make no mistake, you will laugh at Scary Movie 3, just not at every joke. Throwing out a gag a second does not translate to great comedy. In the end Scary Movie 3 tries to get laughs through sheer volume, not quality, of jokes.

Scary Movie 3 follows the story of Washington, D.C. TV reporter Cindy Campbell (Ana Faris), the heroine of the first two installments, as she investigates crop circles in a local farmer Tom Logan's (Charlie Sheen) field. At least that's where she starts. Best friend Brenda Meeks (Regina Hall) gets Cindy mixed up with a videotape that kills whoever watches it; and in her search for the truth our heroine runs into the Architect (George Carlin) and Orpheus (Eddie Griffin), who give her the task of saving the world from invading aliens.

Scary Movie 3 continues to parody horror movies like its predecessors—The Ring and Signs are the biggest targets here—but wisely expanded its field of fire to other genres. Spoofs of The Matrix: Reloaded and 8 Mile provide some of the film's best moments.

On top of its more wider selection of source material, Scary Movie 3 has brought in some new talent both in front of and behind the camera. Especially noticeable is the severe lack of Wayans brothers, who starred in and directed the first two Scary Movies.

You can tell it's directed by David Zucker (Airplane!, the Naked Gun trilogy) after the fourth time an alien kicks a human in the groin to say goodbye. Zucker can be clever, but he is rarely subtle. In one of the film's best moments, white amateur rapper George (Simon Rex) dons his white, peaked hood after a rap battle and then tries to calm the outraged crowd by extending his arm out with palm down.

The film briefly uses Griffin and Queen Latifah, parody the Oracle from Reloaded, and they are classic together. Queen Latifah's fight with the Ring-esque girl from the death tape is the only one out of about four fights with the evil child that is funny. Even better is Griffin's quiet counseling to his wife after the fight, as she grips a chunk of the zombie girl's hair: "It's alright baby, you won, you won."

Despite the normally hilarious Darrell Hammond of Saturday Night Live, using a Catholic minister as a babysitter just comes off as juvenile (yes, even more so than the rest of a movie franchise whose success is based on toilet humor and repeated beatings over the head) and drawn out. And you know that that no other comedy has used Catholic priest jokes in the past year.

There were repeated gags in Zucker's Naked Guns, like Leslie Nielsen accidentally abusing a hospitalized O.J. Simpson, but they never felt overused. Watching Campbell's adopted son getting repeatedly run over just does not work, just like the repeated gun battles between rap stars. It ends up becoming annoying.

Scary Movie 3 benefits from new blood and a wider focus for parody, but that does not save it from the irritating barrage of gags. You may laugh at a joke once, but not for the fourth time.

Scary Movie 3 is rated PG-13 for pervasive crude and sexual humor, language, comic violence and drug references.

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Dan Greene. Dan, alright fine, VJ, is proud to be a senior at Blair and a member of the best paper. Ever. He's really funny, trust him. As managing sports editor and ombudsman he enjoys sports and ombudsing. Dan also enjoys literature, soccer and crude humor. One … More »

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