THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


I remember seeing the original Scary Movie back in July of 2000. The horror spoof was so cheerfully vulgar (and so spot-on in its parodies of other films) that I couldn’t help but laugh. Exactly one year later, Scary Movie 2 hit theaters, but it was obviously a rush job. The jokes were lame and predictable, and most of the pictures spoofed were so out-of-date that they’d already been spoofed numerous times before. Scary Movie 3 arrives without the Wayans brothers, who were the driving force behind the first two, but it does have David Zucker directing. As part of the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker trio who created Airplane! and the Naked Gun movies, he basically invented this genre. Zucker’s first task was to tone down the grossness to a PG-13 level. He also benefited from the uncommonly strong number of recent horror movies and thrillers to make fun of.

Anna Faris returns as heroine Cindy Campbell, now a reporter on a local TV station. She is investigating a rumored videotape containing a series of weird, disturbing images. Supposedly, anyone who watches it dies exactly a week later. (If you guessed this was a spoof of The Ring then….well, nothing. That really wasn’t too hard to figure out.) Meanwhile Charlie Sheen plays a former preacher who has lost his faith. He awakens one day to find mysterious crop circles in the fields surrounding his farmhouse. (This one’s a little harder, but if you guessed it was a spoof of Signs then….well, who am I kidding? That one was pretty easy too.) The reporter and the minister eventually meet and discover that the tape and the aliens are somehow related.

In addition to the box office blockbusters mentioned above, Scary Movie 3 also spoofs such non-horror films such as The Matrix Reloaded and 8 Mile. There’s even a very subtle tip-of-the-hat to Airplane! near the end.

There have been so many spoofs over the years that it’s getting harder and harder to do them well. This one is typically hit-or-miss. The extended spoof of 8 Mile doesn’t really work at all. Simon Rex plays Sheen’s brother, who dreams of being a white gangsta rapper. The big joke of the scene, which is repeated several times, is that – get this - the guy is white! Somehow, I think there is a more cutting-edge satire of Eminem to be made. There’s also a funeral scene in which the corpse is mistakenly assumed by two dumb characters to be alive. The scene stretches to be farcical, but it just falls flat on its face. Additionally, I noticed a lot of bits being recycled. This became apparent after about the 4th time someone got kicked in the groin.

Despite being rather sketchy at times, I am giving Scary Movie 3 a mild recommendation for two reasons. The first reason is that, despite some real dead spots, there were a small handful of scenes that made me laugh pretty hard. Most of the scenes that spoof The Ring are good, including an ongoing bit about Cindy’s psychic nephew who walks around casually predicting everyone else’s future. (I love when he says to a pregnant woman: “It’s a boy, and he’s going to be an asshole.”) The movie’s parody of the videotape from The Ring is pretty hilarious too. There are also some amusing cameos from George Carlin, Queen Latifah, Jeremy Piven, and Eddie Griffin. Some things , while not exactly funny, are certainly attention-getting, such as watching Leslie Nielsen share the screen with rapper Ja Rule. What do you suppose those two talked about backstage?

The other reason I am recommending it is that I feel the film did its job. No, this is not a great comedy by any stretch of the imagination. But I happened to see Scary Movie 3 on a day when I was feeling very stressed out. It somehow lifted my spirits. With a few minutes, I had forgotten about everything else and I was involved in the film. I laughed a few times and felt a bit better. Really, that’s what a picture like this is for. No one goes to Scary Movie 3 expecting a work of genius. We go to be distracted for a while. It works on that level. Sometimes that is enough.

( out of four)

Scary Movie 3 is rated PG-13 for pervasive crude and sexual humor, language, comic violence and drug references. The running time is 1 hour and 24 minutes.

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