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Scary Movie 3
(Widescreen)

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For Language and Some Rough Sports Action)

Running Time: 84 minutes

Starring: Anna Faris, Anthony Anderson, Leslie Nielsen, Camryn Manheim, Simon Rex, George Carlin, D.L. Hughley, Queen Latifah, Eddie Griffin, Denise Richards with Regina Hall and Charlie Sheen

Written by: Craig Mazin and Pat Proft
Based on characters created by: Shawn Wayans & Marlon Wayans & Buddy Johnson & Phil Beauman and Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer

Directed by: David Zucker

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $29.95

Features: Audio Commentary with Director David Zucker, Producer Robert K. Weiss, Co-Writer Craig Mazin and Co-Writer Pat Proft, Deleted and Extended Scenes with Optional Commentary, Making Scary Movie 3, Making Scary Movie 3... For Real, Outtakes and Bloopers, Hulk Vs. Aliens - Behind The Scenes Of The Alternate Ending

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, French Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (18 Scenes)

Released: May 11th, 2004

 

 

I thought the original "Scary Movie" was a breath of fresh air when it debuted in July 2000. Sure, it wasn't the greatest comedy of all time or even the greatest parody film, but it was pretty fun and gave the overdone teen comedy and horror film genres a sharp poking. Given the film's giant (and surprise) success, a sequel was rushed intro production and debuted less than a year later. It still raked in a decent load of cash, but wasn't nearly as good. Okay, it was horrendous: it didn't make too much sense, it wasn't funny, it was dumb and incredibly sloppy. I hated "Scary Movie 2" with a passion, and I still consider it one of the worst films I've ever seen.

But money talks (doesn't it always?), and soon enough there were plans for a third entry in the franchise with the Wayans back on board yet again. While the original angle was to mock fantasy and science-fiction films, for who knows why, the Wayans were scrapped for the third go-around. Brought on board to helm was David Zucker, a man who helped invent the parody genre in the 80s with "The Naked Gun" films, "Top Secret!" and "Airplane!" Also helping out was frequent Zucker collaborater Pat Proft, who co-wrote the script. Surely their talents and knack for creating absurd laughs could reinvent the franchise, right?

Not that you go see a movie like "Scary Movie 3" for plot, but there actually is a pretty coherent story behind it (surprise! even it is mainly borrowed from "The Ring"): Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris) is now a television reporter, and becomes suspicious of a video tape that kills people who watch it. That, and mysterious crop circles appear on a farm which is a bit mysterious and may be linked to the video tape. Oh, and the aliens are invading as well! (Maybe it's not as coherent as I thought.)

One word describes nearly every aspect of "Scary Movie 3": disappointing. I really didn't think it was possible, but even with Zucker calling the shots, this second sequel is just as bad as the lopsided, Wayans-infused first sequel. I was really excited with the thought of Zucker directing, and if there was anyone who I thought could bring much needed life back into the series, it was him. But despite the film's promising trailer (aren't most trailers misleading anyway?), "Scary Movie 3" just falls flat. And it's a shame too, maybe even said, since Zucker used to be a brilliant comedic director who has lost his edge (how else can you explain "My Boss's Daughter"?).

I'm all for stupid fun, and I certainly love the parody genre, but this movie isn't funny at all and really sucks hard. I didn't laugh out loud at all, but to the filmmakers' credit, I did chuckle at a few scenes (also to their credit is only having two credited writers instead of six for "Scary Movie 2" - it proves you don't need a lot of writers to make a bad movie). There's nothing fresh in this film at all, as the gags are incredibly predictable and have been done before (and better). What should have been a very clever spoof is just mainstream trash (which sells, and is what nearly everyone wants).

What makes it all the more disappointing is that the films that are parodied, mainly supernatural thrillers, were actually ripe for the plucking but the executions of these mockings are incredibly off. And even if the plot is somewhat stable, a lot of random things do happen and don't exactly make any sense (I wouldn't have expected anything less, actually). I think Zucker, Proft and co-writer Craig Mazin bit off more than they can chew: instead of going for a "less is more" approach, they are constantly cramming jokes and parodies into the movie, struggling to make them fit and squeeze in (come on, not EVERY joke is going to bring to the house down). The result is a lot of misses and barely any hits, and it just becomes an annoyance as if on the spot they were figuring out how to tie one parody into the next. Do we really need another rip on "The Matrix"? (Didn't the first "Scary Movie" bend on that a little anyway?) And the "8 Mile" thing goes on for too long - the whole "white boy thinks he is black and ghetto" schtick got old quite a long time ago if you ask me. If you've seen the film's trailer, you've seen all the best bits (and some of which were excised from the movie - the whole "Matrix" parody was reshot). Where's David's brother Jerry when you need him?

The only real bright spot in the movie are the actors. Anna Faris returns as Cindy, as she's certainly up to task with a lot of energy and some fantastic comedic timing. She plays her role right - it's too bad the material isn't funnier. Regina Hall also returns, and the always fine Jeremy Piven gets in some of the movie's rare laughs. The film certainly does shine with a few of the cameos (some longer than others): George Carlin as The Architect, the fun Anthony Anderson, Darrell Hammond, Eddie Griffin as a Morpheus-like character, Simon Cowell, Queen Latifah and even Charlie Sheen puts in some nice deadpan work. I personally enjoyed Leslie Nielsen as the president - it's always good to see him, and it's a shame he doesn't have more screen time. I also liked the fact that none of the Wayans were in the movie - I realized their characters were pretty annoying in the first two movies. Oh, and it was nice that there's one marijuana joke in the movie compared to a thousand in each of the first two movies (I don't think I'm exactly exaggerating with that statistic).

I know there are those who really enjoyed this "comedy," so I must assume recycled jokes and obvious lowbrow gags are being cherished beyond belief in today's society. Still, given that this movie did rake over 100 million dollars at the domestic box office, audiences will obviously pay to see parody films (or re-welcome movie sagas they thought died out). Zucker and Proft are back on board for a fourth "Scary Movie," which was announced before this one was even released (it's currently due in 2005). Can it be worse than their first try at the franchise? We shall see. But be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

 

"Scary Movie 3" is being released in separate full screen and widescreen versions, but come on - we should all know widescreen is better (pardon my personal bias). In any case, the widescreen edition is presented in a strong 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer that looks pretty terrific. At times it is a little grainy, but the source print is pretty clean (I only noticed a speck and blemish here and there) and the overal image is rather sharp. The image has depth to it and does pop out, colors are nicely saturated and have good looks to them while detail and fleshtones are pretty stunning. There is no edge enhancement either, but I noticed some edge halos and a good deal of noise. Nonetheless, this is a pretty fine transfer that is pleasing to the eye. (Now only if the film was funnier...)

 

Comedies may not always be the best for 5.1 tracks, but "Scary Movie 3" is an exception to the rule. It's not reference quality, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix (available in English and French) is pretty robust. James L. Venable's musical score brings a lot of life to the channels (as do the rap music scenes), and the dialogue is firmly placed and sounds quite crisp. The subwoofer performs pretty well in the more action-packed scenes, as there is some good imaging with the surrounds. The surrounds pack fine punches: the film's finale comes to mind, but then there's background rain, Charlie Sheen getting hurt by crops of corn, some fight scenes, a bus hitting a child and shovels that sound like shotguns. Nothing groundbreaking, but pretty impressive work given the material. English closed captions as well as French, English and Spanish subtitles are included. Oh, and the movie still isn't funny even if it all sounds good.

 

Staring things off is an Audio Commentary with Director David Zucker, Producer Robert K. Weiss, Co-Writer Craig Mazin and Co-Writer Pat Proft. I certainly enjoyed the quartet's self-depricating humor, and I kept wondering: how could all these funny guys make a movie that was pretty humorless? I probably laughed more during this commentary than the feature itself, but they have a lot of zingers and one-liners that definitely amuse. Weiss is probably the most serious of the four and tries to keep focus and ask questions, and the filmmakers not only joke and offer compliments, but do talk about the process of creating the film as a whole, working with certain actors and a bit on the writing process. I'm sure a lot of the film's casual fans won't care for this, but if you're interested in how a film like this is put together, it's worth a listen - it seems like there were plenty of good times to be had on the set. I'm still scratching my head about the film not being too funny though...

There are several Deleted and Extended Scenes (in fully edited, decent-quality non-anamorphic widescreen) that last a bit over 27 minutes in total (most of that comes from the film's alternate ending lasting about sixteen) complete with Optional Commentary. The film definitely didn't need this stuff, and the commentary doesn't tend to explain why there were cuts but more or less laugh at what they filmed. The film's alternate ending is worth watching though and actually has quite a bit of laughs (yes, I really just said that!), as it pulls a "Sixth Sense"-like twist, features The Hulk and has a bunch more riffs on "The Matrix Reloaded." I guess the alternate ending is a lot more random though, but a lot more fun if you ask me. And while I am complimenting the film's funny moments, there are some pretty decent Outtakes and Bloopers on the DVD as well lasting four minutes.

Rounding things out are three featurettes. The first, Making Scary Movie 3 may seem like your typical making-of piece but it's actually a very good watch. In addition to film clips, we hear a lot from the crew (such as the producers and Zucker) and from most of the entire cast (even the cameo players). They pass around praise for the movie itself and each other, but this featurette really benefits from the massive behind-the-scenes footage. You see a lot of the action being filmed directly and see everybody in their moments and calloborating. Again, I'm dumbstruck in how much this movie disappointed me.

Making Scary Movie 3... For Real is a mock featurette lasting about five minutes. It plays it straight more or less, and yes - it's pretty funny and deadpan as it's more or less a series of mock interviews and fake behind-the-scenes footage (that, or the cast joking around - just check out Anthony Anderson). Hulk Vs. Aliens- Behind The Scenes Of The Alternate Ending also lasts a few minutes and looks at how the alternate ending was put together, from concept art, making The Hulk a reality to the look of the aliens. We hear from Zucker, producer Bob Weiss, special effects supervisor Stuart Robertson and some make up/SFK guys. This is the most dry thing on the DVD, but if you want some technical details or are interested in some of the film's more creative designs, here you go.

There are some Sneak Peeks you can check out on the main menu (mainly advertising "The Osbournes" DVD sets), but I am disappointed that the movie's excellent theatrical trailer is nowhere to be found.

 

"Scary Movie 3" was the worst film I saw in 2003 - but let's face it, my opinion doesn't matter when everybody goes to pay to see it anyway. But if you liked the movie and want to own it, there's not much to be disappointed by here: a great 5.1 mix, nice looking transfer and standard but pretty solid extras. Otherwise, I would suggest renting a movie you can actually laugh at: try watching some of Zucker's work from the 1980s.