Very scary movie

No. 3 in retread series is so dumb it’s frightening

IS THAT SALINE?<br>Pamela Anderson wonders where the water’s coming from in a scene spoofing <i>The Ring</i>

Pamela Anderson wonders where the water’s coming from in a scene spoofing The Ring

Scary Movie 3
Starring Anna Faris, Charlie Sheen, Pamela Anderson & Jenny McCarthy. Directed by David Zucker. Rated PG-13.
Rated 1.0

One almost has to appreciate the brazen hypocrisy of the Disney Corporation. The House of the Mouse was built by animating adaptations of public-domain children’s classics, yet a couple of years ago the company lined legislative pockets to extend the copyrights on “intellectual properties,” an effort geared primarily to keep Mickey Mouse from entering the public domain. I suppose Disney wanted to make sure that when it finally got around to thawing out good ol’ Uncle Walt, he’d still be able to enjoy the bennies garnered by his creation.

Now, while I’d be hesitant to use the word intellectual in the same breathe as the Scary Movie series, you still have to grant that the franchise is pretty much the intellectual property of the Wayans brothers. But for some reason they’re not on board for this one. Was it because Dimension—the exploitation outlet for Disney—demanded a PG-13 rating in order to score better box office, or did the brothers just want a better paycheck? Either way, this entry shouldn’t have been part of the series.

Essentially, the first Scary Movie was a deconstruction of the Scream franchise, taking the satire and rendering it down so that even stoners and frat boys would get the jokes. It wasn’t especially brilliant, but it was consistently amusing. The second entry wasn’t very good, but it still was definitely the work of the brothers: unapologetically raunchy and gleefully eager to send up the inherent idiocies of genre, while pandering to both the urban audience and the suburban wannabes.

For Scary Movie 3, all cred is lost. Replacing the brothers here is old hand David Zucker, one of the team that pretty much created the contemporary movie spoof with Airplane! Trouble is, he’s not exactly in touch with the target audience, so in the end Scary Movie 3 almost plays as a parody of itself. It doesn’t help that it’s a structural mess.

Taking the basic scenarios from The Ring, Signs, and 8 Mile (what the…?), we end up with series veteran Anna Faris as a news anchor who stumbles across a cursed tape that dooms anyone who watches it. Meanwhile, back at the farmhouse, farmer Charlie Sheen discovers that his property is the landing pad for an imminent alien invasion. His brother can’t be bothered because he has a big rap showdown to attend.

Littered among the wreckage of weak gags attending this set-up are references to The Others, The Matrix and other recent genre efforts. Unfortunately, many of these are left as references and not spoofed. Typical is a scene where Faris calls up a priest to baby-sit her young nephew. The priest arrives, and as Faris thanks him he pulls out a bottle of wine and begins to light romantic candles. Cut to recently vacated room where the boy had been up until the pedophile’s arrival. That’s it, that the joke. Funny, huh? Throw in a very tired-looking Leslie Neilson to bring the spoof cycle back full circle.

The most egregious choice here is the time spent spoofing 8 Mile. Easily 20 minutes of this 74-minute wretch is wasted essentially setting up a punch line that isn’t all that amusing. While admittedly I found myself chuckling frequently at Zucker’s keep-the-gags-coming-so-fast-something’s-gonna-be-funny shtick, the majority here just fell flat.

The problem is that the Wayans had pretty much exhausted anything that might have felt fresh, so Zucker is reduced to pandering to the 12-year-old boys in the audience with numerous scenes of men getting kicked in the balls (surefire comedy!), unfunny sexual innuendo, horses crapping and dogs humping. At one point he even recycles a gag from Airplane! If Zucker were honest enough to include a scene with Neilson flogging a dead horse, this might have worth the price of a matinee. Since he didn’t, I’d recommend waiting for the rental.