June 21, 2004

Scary Movie 3 -- Yahtzee!

The Others. Signs. 8 Mile. The Ring. The Matrix. The West Wing. All and more are up for skewering in this latest of the Scary Movie parodies started by the Wayans.

This time out, though, there’s a Zucker in the director’s seat and you can tell. They snuck in Leslie Nielsen and even an Airplane! reference in for good measure.

Scarie Movie 3 inherits the mantle of Airplane! and Police Squad. If you grew up watching those films, you’ll appreciate this one. One interesting tidbit, they’re practically parodying films before they hit the theatres. In one case, scenes were written and filmed a week after the parodied film premiered.

Anna Faris is back as the wide-eyed Cindy Campbell, dealing with various paranormal chunks of plots from other films. If you remember correctly, these films work if the main characters deliver their lines with either a deadpan flatness or a sort of gee-whiz vacuousness. Ms. Faris excells at the latter, and so switching to David Zucker has saved the Scary Movie franchise.

Charlie Sheen, a veteran of Hot Shots is also here in the Mel Gibson role from Signs, so he’s an old hand. New to the business is Simon Rex, playing the romantic lead for Faris, and he out-blondes even her, stepping in as the brother from “Signs” but also as Eminem from “8 mile.”

Gone are all the usual Airplane! genre jokes (_Surely you’re joking! I’m serious. And don’t call me Shirley._) but the sight gags, head bonks and good old bathroom humor are still in evidence. And, as usual, no cow is sacred. Mother Theresa is a bobblehead. Darrell Hammond shows up as a slightly shady babysitting priest, there’s a rap club contest, Native American jokes… this is not a P.C. film. But you get some of your best comedy value watching Simon Rex try to our-rap the rappers, coming so close to acceptance before a careless wardrobe malfunction nearly gets him killed.

The DVD offers quite a bit over the theatrical release. Of special interest was the alternate ending which features perhaps another 30 minutes of footage. This alternate ending (which is too far over the top and badly paced) shows that even after some very expensive production, a film sometimes just needs to be fixed. I found the alternate ending really funny—but it really isn’t up to the quality of the rest of the film. And listening to the commentary, you can hear the sort of deliberation the writers and director went through when they decided to axe it. This is almost as interesting as anything else in the film. Anyone can come up with a bunch of jokes… anyone can make fun of the summer blockbusters. But after viewing the outtakes, you can see how hard it is to stitch them together as a film.

If you haven’t kept up with seeing all the latest genre films, you might as well skip this parody. If you never got “Airplane!” this is probably no the film for you. But for those of us (and we know who we are) who love to watch these goofy scifi/horror movies, we sense their weaknesses and appreciate when someone skewers them. If you were turned off by either of the first two Scary Movie films, it’s probably time to take another look.

Posted by James at June 21, 2004 5:25 AM
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By the way - "Yahtzee!" refers to one of my favorite jokes in the film. Just a tiny little gag explaining why one of the characters is found unconscious, allowing the child to wander off and see the infamous "ring" tape.

Posted by: James at June 21, 2004 10:43 AM

Unfortunately, I haven't seen many horror films in the last few years. My wife is one of those ladies that gets scared really easily, even by cheesy horror movies, and can have nightmares for days afterwards.

So if I want to watch a horror flick I have to do it on my own time.

Posted by: David Grenier at June 21, 2004 1:04 PM

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