Director: David Zucker
Cast: Anna Faris, Charlie Sheen, Simon Rex, Leslie Nielsen, Regina Hall, Anthony Anderson, Kevin Hart
Plot: Reporter Cindy Campbell (Faris) finds herself stuck between two terrifying cases: the hunt for a video tape that kills you seven days after watching it and rumours of an alien invasion.
Scary Movie 3 is a good example of succeeding through being the best of the worst. Put all five of the Scary Movies together (perhaps make it more ambitious and put all of the parody movies together), and this is likely the best of the bunch. More jokes actually land than ever before and the insightful jokes into the failings of other movies are… well… actually sometimes insightful this time around. It makes this sense of Scary Movie 3 being better than it actually is, a slightly larger fish in a tiny pond.
But what has worked so well since last time? Mainly, the cast has been fine-tuned. Hitting the third Scary Movie has its upsides. For better or worse, these movies do have a strong following and enough budget and interest has brought some heavy hitters to the table. Charlie Sheen is, easily, the greatest addition to the plot. Splitting lead duties with Anna Faris, he fits the Scary Movie vehicle like a glove. While other actors look embarrassed to be a part of the series, Sheen gives the camp style of Scary Movie a little bit more credibility (yes, when you need Charlie Sheen to give your movie credibility, you know you are a struggling franchise). His comic timing is strong and he bleeds charisma, even when the script isn’t helping him. The Scary Movie franchise needs constant jokes to hide the fact they aren’t really much good, so Charlie Sheen’s background posturing is precisely what is needed. The movie also surrounds itself with charming actors to keep the smaller scenes ticking over. Anthony Anderson and Kevin Hart fill the hero group up, basically being themselves, but that is better than having the writers of Scary Movie try to write an actual character (god forbid!) Leslie Nielsen, the master of the spoof film, also lends his helping hand, probably out of the frustration of watching them fumble around with the genre he put on the map, more than creativity. These faces make the world of difference here, making you pleased to see the characters, rather than praying the movie would end already. However, Anna Faris also deserves praise. She has finally broken through the dredge of the scripts. I am a huge fan of Faris, thinking that she is a lot better than the scripts she has been given. Watching her work against the current of Scary Movie 1 and 2 was not a pleasant experience, the poor actress trapped in bargain bin hell. Scary Movie 3 is the first time she feels like a comedian capable of moving onto bigger things – which she thankfully did. Here, there is space for her to add her own spark of talent, perhaps caused by her getting a more substantial role behind the scenes. It is her facial expressions to certain events, her gasps, her total commitment to the faux emotional monologues. She might be in movies way below her, but she doesn’t let that stop her from giving 100%.
All of these points make Scary Movie 3 seem like the turning point in the franchise. Yes, having Faris on top form and several new faces taking the script to a quality it hasn’t ever hit before, is, for a time, refreshing. But, at the end of the day, Scary Movie 3 is still singing from the same hymn sheet. While there are some witty jokes that do genuinely cause a laugh (a 24-hour news station plays a video tape that kills you if you watch it, live on-air is the kind of satirical news-station mocking Anchorman would have come out with), they are lost in the pure barrage of rubbish. Nude models Jenna McCarthy and Pamela Anderson do the usual dumb blonde shtick. Aliens urinate from their fingers. Nudity is used as a punchline, instead of actual comedy. This is still the kind of films that are working hard to please a certain type of fan (14 year old boys mainly), and everyone else find themselves looking in, simply confused at where the laughter is meant to be coming from.
Final Verdict: Scary Movie 3 sees the cast work harder than ever to make the franchise bag its first quality entry, but they still fall short of the mark. It begs the question why there were two more.