Few things sadden my 13-year-old self like the decline of the spoof movie. Many Boy Scout camping trips were spent quoting Spaceballs and Robin Hood: Men in Tights, and when I went to see Airplane! at a special AMC showing this year, I discovered that I'd pretty much memorized it. By now everyone knows to blame Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (of Epic and Disaster Movie) for killing the genre and defiling the corpse, but even aside from them, the last decade of spoof movies has been pretty unbearable. My one exception -- and comedy is a subjective beast -- is Scary Movie 3. It's no Top Secret! (or even a Hot Shots!) by any means, but the majority of it is still funny, even eight years later and with its fair share of clunkers.
First and foremost, Scary Movie 3 remembers to be a parody of movies. Friedberg and Seltzer bend over backwards trying to pack in enough of-the-moment pop culture references to give "Family Guy" whiplash, but none of them really play off the audience's expectations. The story here has returning heroine Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris) investigating the link between mysterious crop circles and a killer videotape, and some of the funniest gags riff on specific moments from Signs and The Ring, like farmer Tom (Charlie Sheen) spinning (complete with sound effects) as he exits his house in a panic, or Cindy being startled by a boat horn used to transition between one scene and the next. Whole scenes are borrowed and mocked, like the flashback to the night Tom's wife died, or Cindy visiting "The Architect" (George Carlin).
At the same time, nearly a decade has gone by since Scary Movie 3 was in theaters or anyone cared about The Matrix Reloaded, so it's a testament to director David Zucker and writers Craig Mazin and Pat Proft that these scenes are funny whether the references still ring true or not. The flashback and "Architect" sequences are as much about the scenario ("Tom, I'll need a ride home.") or the characters as they are about the scenes being spoofed, not to mention they just have jokes of their own, like very funny nonsense in Sheen's scene with sub sandwiches and hot dogs, or Carlin's pot shots at Pootie Tang. Scary Movie 3 has a few big, "scenario-based" setpieces, like the one where Tom's brother George (Simon Rex) believes a corpse is alive and tries to rescusitate it, but the performance-based stuff is far better.
In terms of said performances, Anna Faris carries the movie with ease, brandishing any number of hilariously blank expressions and a perfect deadpan delivery ("I took you. Do you know why? I'd just lost my cat in a fire, and I needed something to pet and feed."). She's the glue that holds the whole movie together; it's no surprise a supporting part in the original has morphed into a starring role over two sequels. David Zucker wisely chooses to surround her (and fellow returning cast member Regina Hall) with more spoof veterans like Charlie Sheen and Leslie Nielsen, and excellent supporting players like Carlin, Anthony Anderson, Jeremy Piven (his local newscaster is the unsung hero of the movie), and Ajay Naidu (it wasn't until seeing this Blu-Ray that I noticed his character is named Sayaman).
For the most part, Zucker's direction is on-the-money; although he finds cartoony violence funnier than I do (the funeral scene, anything that happens to Cindy's son Cody), bits involving paint-throwing, vases, Yahtzee and pop-up ads are classic "ZAZ" material, not to mention the movie has one of the greatest callbacks of all time. Taken as a whole, Scary Movie 3 is probably a bronze medal at best, but in a world where Meet the Spartans passes for spoof comedy, you gotta take the one-liners with the crotch hits.
The Unrated Cut
A glance at the back cover of the DVD suggests that there's only one minute of difference between the PG-13 and unrated cuts of Scary Movie 3. The difference mostly involves more sexual references (like Regina Hall's thrusting), most of which occupy the void between the PG-13 and the R-rating (raunchy but not really filthy), and probably around half of them are funny. Still, it would've been preferable for Lionsgate to include both versions of the movie on this Blu-Ray, as an advantage over the separate DVD editions.
The Blu-Ray art is the same as the DVD art, except for some reason Lionsgate has placed "SCARY MOVIE 3.5" in parentheses underneath the title instead of just using the Scary Movie 3.5 logo. Weird. The disc comes in an eco-case, with a QR sticker on the front of the plastic that allows you to watch the trailer.
The Video and Audio
The Unrated cut arrived on DVD September 2005, at a time when studios were probably looking forward to high definition but not yet embracing it. As a result, this 1.85:1 MPEG-4 AVC 1080p transfer is probably an old master, presented faithfully. There's a nice healthy level of grain visible, and colors are strong, but overall the image looks a bit noisy and touch murky whenever the scenes are in any sort of darkness. A surprising amount of print damage is also visible from time to time (early example, when Charlie Sheen's character is in the bathroom, leaning back). All in all, the video is better than DVD, but still decidedly "average" or maybe slightly "above-average" at best compared to other Blu-Rays. English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is bright and crisp, with plenty of directionality, but as this is a silly comedy without much in the way of "atmosphere," the best workout the track is going to get is during the DTS logo animation before the feature starts. English and Spanish subtitles and English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing are also included.
Extras are all carried over from previous releases. After a slow start, an audio commentary with Zucker, Mazin and Proft, and producer Robert K. Weiss is both lightly amusing and like a time capsule -- praise for Charlie Sheen's wonderful personality, a quiet complaint about Democrats (years before Zucker would make An American Carol). 14 deleted and extended scenes (20:23) with optional commentary by Zucker, Weiss, Mazin and Proft are hit and miss (the best being an additional bit with Denise Richards). "The Making of Scary Movie 3" (23:21) is better than 2011-era EPKs, but it's still a bit dry (not to mention most of the B-roll footage is from the filming of the deleted ending. "Making of Scary Movie 3...For Real" (4:53) is worth a chuckle or two, and (weirdly), contains more participation from several cast members than the actual making of. Extras are rounded out by a gag reel (3:59), the extensive alternate ending (15:28) with more optional commentary by Zucker, Weiss, Mazin and Proft, and "Hulk vs. Aliens: Behind-the-Scenes of the Alternate Ending" (4:08).
Trailers for Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2, and the Scream trilogy, and a promo for Epix play before the main menu. No theatrical trailer for Scary Movie 3 has been included.
I like Scary Movie 3. Even if one person's knee-slapper is another person's eye-roller, I stand by the movie as one of the few bright spots in a sea of stinkers. The Blu-Ray edition isn't a revelation, and it would've been nice if Lionsgate had included both the theatrical and Unrated cuts via branching, but it's presented faithfully, and with all the extras. Recommended.