Too Ready To Rumble
I had high hopes for Scary Movie 3 -- even though I thought the first Scary Movie was pretty bad and had heard the second one, which I haven't seen, was worse. However, those two were works by the Wayans brothers (director Keenan Ivory, co-writers/stars Shawn and Marlon), whose humor has historically been hit-or-miss with me, but this third one was handed over to David Zucker, who, along with brother Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, formed one of the best comedy-directing teams of the '80s. So I had reason to be hopeful, in spite of Zucker's latest resume addition being the recent dud, My Boss's Daughter.
Alas, I've allowed myself to be disappointed again. Scary Movie 3, which continues the series tradition of spoofing current horror-movie hits (this time, specifically The Ring and Signs), definitely contains moments of comic ingenuity, but the way it lapsed into laziness surprised me. Almost every scene ends with people getting beat up. It's as if the writers put half-an-effort in trying to milk the gag potential from the scenes, and then when they ran out of ideas, they said, "OK, time to put in another fight, because fights are funny -- guaranteed laughter!" Well, yes, fights can be funny, given the proper timing, build-up, and contexts, but they become increasingly less funny when every scene ends in one.
You think I'm exaggerating? I wish that were more true. The fight trend starts out mild -- a few people get beat-up during the 8 Mile segment, but then it's no holds barred. Section parodying the end of The Ring? Ends in a fight. Scene at a wake? Ends in a fight. Scene with Queen Latifah and Eddie Griffin? Ends in a fight. Multiple scenes featuring the psychic kid? He gets beat up over and over. Scene that starts by parodying The Others? Fight. Scene featuring something about Mother Teresa awards? More people getting beat up. Stuff with aliens at the end? More people getting beat up!
I like my physical comedy as much as anyone, but, wow, did this ever feel like a creative dead-end. I think they're just running out of material. Why else would they decide to parody 8 Mile in the first place? That's not even a horror movie. OK, they can skewer anything they see fit, but the 8 Mile segment is long and only decently funny -- not enough to keep viewers from scratching their heads wondering how this belongs in a Scary Movie.
I was glad to see old spoof pros Charlie Sheen and Leslie Nielsen hanging around -- Sheen is involved in the funniest jokes, and Nielsen pulls out an Airplane! quote -- but their presence wasn't enough to yank the movie out of its rut. Still, this latest Scary Movie may be better than the last ones. The first in the series, as I recall, was rather obsessed with sex-related jokes. Scary Movie 3, with a PG-13 rating, no longer pre-occupies itself with those kinds of gags (the few included here are toned down), and that's welcome to me, but replacing excessive sexual humor with this weird tendency to stage rumbles makes no sense to me. Now I hear Scary Movie 4 is already in the planning stages. Should I get my hopes up again? Maybe. I know the filmmakers can do better than this!
(Released by Dimension Films and rated "PG-13" for pervasive crude and sexual humor, language, comic violence and drug references.)
Review also posted at www.windowtothemovies.com.