deathbed, the great actor Edmund Kean supposedly uttered,
"dying is easy. Comedy is hard." Comedy sequels are even harder.
Just ask Tabitha (Marny Eng), the killer ghost girl stalking
the frames of Scary Movie 3. If her long hair and shambling
crawl out of a television set looks familiar, well, it should.
We're not exactly in undiscovered country here.
concept of doing sequels to parodies always seems a little
dicey. Very few manage to find new life in a genre that the
first was meant to beat to death. Making matters worse for
Scary Movie 3, gone are the original masterminds, the
Wayans Brothers +1.
the vacuum, Dimension Films grabbed some of the true masters
of the form, even though their recent track records haven't
been that great. Then they added in a little Kevin Smith on
the script, and came up with something that feels different,
but somehow smarter in its dimbulb humor than ever before.
It's still not exactly high art, but it's funny.
ways, it can't help but be smarter, as the film parodies horror
movies that had higher aspirations than in the Wayans' efforts.
Combining The Ring and
Signs as the spine of the story, the real surprise
is how all five writers managed to still keep it coherent.
For a while, it even veers over into 8 Mile, a move
that works, but depends an awful lot on audiences knowing
exactly who the cameo-making rappers are.
too, is that this third film actually maintains loose ties
to the previous installments. Heroine Cindy Campbell (Anna
Faris) now works as an anchorwoman at a big city television
station devoted to sex, violence and weather. Though she's
dyed her hair blonde in order to better stand in for Naomi
Watts, Cindy is still the same earnest moron that survived
two scary movies.
still around is Brenda Meeks (Regina Hall), now an elementary
school teacher whose class includes Cindy's nephew. Though
even creepier than the kid in The Ring, he provides
one of the best running gags, combining psychic abilities
with the inability to maintain an interior monologue.
to the proceedings but no stranger to film parody, Charlie
Sheen takes the Mel Gibson role with his usual gravity. Stuck
on a farm being invaded by aliens, he battles his ne'er-do-well
brother George (Simon Rex), who has dreams of being a successful
proceedings are kinder and gentler than before. Where The
Wayans went for sex jokes, new director David Zucker would
rather go for a non sequitir, all the better to keep the movie
at a PG-13. But while it may not be as outrageous, it's still
funny, with a lot of little throwaway lines that could make
this a good home video favorite.
and his early partners really pioneered this stuff with Airplane!,
and Scary Movie 3 has a lot of that same energy and
verbal play. It also looks like it may close a chapter in
the book by being a farewell for Leslie Nielsen. Near the
end of the film, the veteran actor recreates a moment from
the movie that first showed his comedy chops, and if it's
a way of saying goodbye, it's pretty classy. Of course, if
he shows up in Scary Movie 4, forget this paragraph
you have to have seen the source movies? Zucker and company
skewer The Ring so well that it's hard to say. Gore
Verbinski's handling of the material provides more creeps
than Scary Movie 3 tackles, but putting Jenny McCarthy
and Pamela Anderson in the Catholic schoolgirl roles will
now forever dim The Ring's opening. At one point, too,
Cindy's TV station misuses the deadly tape in a way that you
just know would actually happen in a ratings-obsessed
what I've heard, Signs, too, deserves the slamming
this movie gives it. But most of the scenes do stand on their
own. If any jokes are too inside, it's really more because
you need to recognize the people, not the movies. (See the
rappers above - at least Fat Joe gets identified.)
the heck. It's pure junk, no defending it as anything else.
But as sheer entertainment, it works. And if you go with friends,
you'll have a lot of stuff to laugh over later on the drive