Does anyone really remember “Scary Movie 2?” Any images come to mind? It seems that the first two installments of the horror spoof series actually blend together, in retrospect. Whatever hilarious interludes the Wayans brothers brought to the screen are a distant memory. On the other hand, recycled sequels are always hot commodities (as the summer of 2003 has proven) with endless profits only a few script adjustments away. Fittingly, the Hollywood gods have acted accordingly and offered up “Scary Movie 3.”
Dimension Films nixed the Wayans brothers for spoof master David Zucker, the man behind such ’80s classics as “Airplane!” and “Naked Gun.” On paper, with Zucker at the helm and Charlie Sheen, Leslie Nielsen and a group of talented comedic actors on board, the film seemed a perfect escape from the onslaught of the tense Oscar season. Coupled with an early positive buzz, Artsweek hoped “Scary Movie 3” would be a send back to Zucker’s earlier days.
Following the same basic structure of the first two films, “Scary Movie 3” takes satirical pot shots at a string of recent films: everything from “The Ring” to “8 Mile” to “The Matrix” series. At the heart of the story again is Cindy (Anna Faris), now a news reporter attempting to reveal the complex connection between a mysterious killer videotape and suspicious crop signs. Let’s face it though, no one goes to these movies for any serious plot devices. Whatever happens, it better be random and have goofy people running into things and falling down. These moments are the benchmarks of the spoof film.
“Scary Movie 3” definitely has the random moments of absurdity, but the film never achieves a consistent pace, partially because every scene is overrun with massive amounts of cameos (from Jenny McCarthy to Queen Latifah) that outshine the lead cast. Specific scenes with Eddie Griffin and George Carlin scream out for more screen time, but Cindy and company quickly move on to the next cinematic reference. Exhausting and frustrating, “Scary Movie 3” warps itself in a stranglehold with a script that jumps around too fast for the characters to gain any foothold on a steady comedic rhythm.
Some bright moments do shine through the drudgery of the whole film. Leslie Nielsen looks right at home as the bumbling and paranoid President of the United States (anyone come to mind?). His facial expressions remind viewers why he and Zucker teamed up in the first place. In fact, Artsweek humbly suggests expanding his scenes into a full-length, rousing spoof/satire of the wheelin’ and dealin’ in the West Wing, a subject ripe with material these days.
Unfortunately for “Scary Movie 3,” Leslie Nielsen’s commander-in-chief arrives far too late to save the film from wallowing in comedic mediocrity. Not to say there aren’t laughs, but if you’ve seen the previews, you’ve seen them already. Instead of joining the countless other moviegoers who pay $8 to spend 90 minutes with “Scary Movie 3,” check out “Blazing Saddles” or “Top Secret!” for some guaranteed moments of spoof bliss.