When the folks at Dimension Films decided to return to the silly-spoof well for a third chapter of their Scary Movie franchise, they opted to do so without the series creators: the Wayans brothers. Perhaps the personnel change was predicated by financial demands or creative differences -- but it seems pretty clear that head Dimensioneer Bob Weinstein wanted to take this series in a somewhat milder direction. The first two Scary movies were astronomically vulgar, while the third one's one slightly raunchy and, of course, handily brandishing that oh-so-coveted PG-13 rating. (And let's be honest; nothing found in the Wayans' Don't Be a Menace, Scary Movie 2, or White Chicks offers any indication that they're actual filmmakers.)
Few could claim that the switch in filmmakers was a bad move. The first entry was quite shockingly funny, but Part 2 was a pretty desperate and witless affair. For Part 3, the producers hired one-third of the team responsible for creating the whole "movie spoof" genre in the first place: David Zucker, he of the "ZAZ" team that gave us Airplane!, Top Secret!, and the Naked Gun series. To say that Part 3 was an improvement over Part 2 would be a massive understatement, and both the box office receipts and the general response seem to be in agreement with me there.
Scary Movie (2000) - $278 million, worldwide
Scary Movie 2 (2001) - $141 million
Scary Movie 3 (2003) - $220 million
And yes, there's a Scary Movie 4 on the way, and it'll feature the return of director Zucker and leading ladies Anna Faris and Regina Hall.
So basically, Scary Movie 3 is a patchwork quilt of broad, silly, and amazingly goofy movie-spoof material. The main targets here are M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, Curtis Hanson's 8 Mile, and Gore Verbinski's The Ring, but that doesn't stop the gang from poking fun at just about anything that strikes their fancy. Some of the material is surprisingly witty, much of it is thunderingly stupid, and most of it falls somewhere in between. The path to success on a spoof like this lies not always in the screenplay, but in the performances.
And that's where Scary Movie 3 succeeds. Back for a third go-round is the adorable Ana Faris, and the gal's really made a lot of improvements since the second entry. With her ever-widening baby blues and her blissfully clueless delivery of punch-lines, the gal's just a royal hoot. Regina Hall also proves to know her way around a broad and idiotic gag, and she and Faris work together to contribute some of the flick's best scenes. Veteran spoofer Charlie Sheen (quite hilarious in both Hot Shots! movies) delivers a smoothly amusing performance as he lampoons Mel Gibson's Signs character. Simon Rex also steals several early scenes as the amazingly stupid George.
Cameo appearances populate the whole of Scary Movie 3, some (Jeremy Piven, Kevin Hart, Denise Richards, Jenny McCarthy) quite amusing; others (Queen Latifah, Anthony Anderson, George Carlin) ... not so much. But Mr. Zucker was clever enough to enlist the one true god of modern-day spoofage, Mr. Leslie Nielsen, for a goofy extended bit as the U.S. President.
How much you enjoy Scary Movie 3 will depend on how well you remember the flicks that it's poking fun at -- and how funny you find the jokes. But adding Zucker to the equation was a smart move nonetheless. The Wayans boys did their thing just fine the first time around, but their second effort was pretty damn wretched. So why not go out and get a filmmaker who knows the spoof blueprint ... because he helped to create it! For all its broad and obvious material, the jokes are delivered at a rapid clip, the physical pratfalls are well-timed and effective, and the actors play their wall-eyed characters to the intermittently hilarious hilt. Fun, stupid stuff with no sense of a narrative arc or plot structure ... but hey, it made me laugh anyway.
Regarding the "unrated" version ... well, the flick runs about 76 minutes (not including the 8-minute end credits crawl), so I assume all that was added was a few "alternate" (i.e. more profane) takes and maybe one or two new scenes. You'd probably have to be a Scary Movie 3 expert to figure out what's new here, so fans should not go in expecting anything revolutionary. Fortunately, there's quite a bit of new material in the Extra Features department, but we'll get to that in a minute.
Video: The Widescreen (1.85:1) Anamorphic transfer is pretty clean, crisp, and colorful indeed. Picture quality is generally quite excellent, especially for cheap little movie like this.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English (which is quite effective) or 5.1 French (for if you're French) are the aural options here. Subtitles are available in English, Spanish, or French.
Lots goodies here, spooferinos, and we'll start off with the loose, laid-back, and quite amusing audio commentary between director David Zucker, producer Robert K. Weiss, and screenwriters Craig Mazin & Pat Proft. Not surprisingly, the quartet of comedic conspirators have a lot of fun looking at (and making fun of) their movie, and fans should chuckle right along with this yak-track.
You'll also find a healthy collection of 14 deleted scenes, six of which are all-new to this DVD release. Some of the gags here stink on ice; others are surprisingly funny, which means they follow pretty much the same pattern as the non-deleted scenes. The clips are called "Baby Oil Spill," "Cindy Meets Orpheus," "Office Chase," "Ferry," "Boarding Up the House," "Annie in the Kitchen," "Call From Orpheus," "Tractor Fix," "Rap Club Extended," "Weather Forecast," "George Burns Stuff," "George & Cindy Date," "Cindy Gets Fired," and "MJ Hits Cody." The 20-minute block of deleted & extended sequences can be viewed via an optional "play all" button, plus you can also opt for the filmmakers' commentary instead of the dialogue track.
Next up is a pair of featurettes: Making Scary Movie 3 (23:19) offers lots of on-set interviews and much mirth-making, but what's most interesting about this "behind the scenes" peek is that you get a look at several Matrix-y sets & costumes that never made it into the final film. (Ana Faris makes for one cute little Trinity, though.) Making Scary Movie 3 ... FOR REAL (4:52) is an even more tongue-in-cheek peek at the production process. Pretty much the same thing as before, only everyone's being a little extra silly.
Outtakes and Bloopers is precisely what you'd expect: 4 minutes of flubs and blunders, most of which are rather amusing. You'll also be able to check out a 15.5-minute alternate ending (with or without optional commentary), as well as a brief featurette entitled Hulk vs. Aliens: Behind the Scenes of the Alternate Ending that runs 4 minutes and focuses on lots of wasted budget and FX design. Closing out the DVD is a bunch of Sneak Peeks for Hellraiser: Deader & Hellraiser: Hellworld, The Crow: Wicked Prayer, Mindhunters, Dracula 3: Legacy, and the Prophecy series ... just so you'll always have a reminder of what Dimension Home Video was churning out during its last days of marriage with Disney.
Sloppy, stupid, silly, and (to its credit) surprisingly darn funny at times, Scary Movie 3 is no sort of classic of modern spoofdom, but it's got a game cast, a bunch of good zingers, and am enjoyably goofy disposition. What works in the flick works well because of folks like Faris, Sheen, and Nielsen, but let's hope the screenwriters tighten up their belts for the fourth chapter. Scary Movie 3 was (literally) written as production moved forward ... and it really does show in the final product.