"Scary Movie 3" is, fortunately, a sequel in title only. The first entry was an amusing sendup of Dimension Films' "Scream" movies, but the second was a gross-out comedy that was more gross than funny. For this one, Dimension brought in spoof-master David Zucker ("Airplane!," etc.) to direct and his frequent collaborators Craig Mazin and Pat Proft to write the script. The result features lots of knockabout physical comedy in its wacky satire of such popular pictures as "The Ring," "Signs," "The Matrix Reloaded," "8 Mile," "The Others" and more. It is consistently entertaining and frequently hilarious, the violence of the slapstick so cartoonish that it does not spoil the fun.
The only star of the first two in the "Scary Movie" series retained for the third is Anna Faris, and what a smart move that was. Her pretty, blond Barbie-doll looks are perfect for playing (with zestful skill) a Washington, D.C., airhead TV reporter looking for a hard-news story to promote during sweeps — only to come up with a deluge of alien invaders, killer videotapes, mysterious crop circles and more, all imaginatively interconnected.
It's not necessary to have seen all the movies spoofed to enjoy "Scary Movie 3," but the more one has seen, the merrier the effect. For example, the outrageous way in which the filmmakers satirize "Signs" becomes a special treat as it recalls the ultra-serious incidents of the original film by way of absurd contrast. Charlie Sheen has the Mel Gibson role as the farmer whose cornfields — a convenient 20 miles outside D.C. — are suddenly afflicted by ominous crop circles. Sheen's real-life wife, Denise Richards, plays the farmer's wife, and Camryn Manheim is the local trooper whose sombrero-sized hat threatens to become a lethal weapon.
Most important, Simon Rex plays Sheen's brother, a wannabe rapper who, with the encouragement of irrepressible promoter Anthony Anderson, actually scores at a black D.C. club, only to court disaster. Rex's decidedly dim George becomes an ideal romantic foil to Faris' Cindy, who is raising her nephew Cody (Drew Mikuska), a child with eerie psychic powers.
The delightfully convoluted but fast-moving "Scary Movie 3" accommodates a large cast that includes Pamela Anderson, Jeffrey (Ja Rule) Atkins, George Carlin, the Coors Twins, Macy Gray, Eddie Griffin, Regina Hall (a "Scary Movie 2" survivor who plays Cindy's best friend and Cody's teacher), "Saturday Night Live" stalwart Darrell Hammond, Kevin Hart, D.L. Hughley, Queen Latifah (as a hard-to-faze oracle), Jenny McCarthy, Leslie Nielsen (as the numskull president of the U.S.) and Jeremy Piven (as Cindy's mindless fellow reporter).
"Scary Movie 3" is sharp and smart-looking, and Dimension's willingness to play freely with the series' format to keep it funny may well keep the franchise alive.
'Scary Movie 3'
MPAA rating: PG-13, for pervasive crude and sexual humor, language, comic violence and drug references
Times guidelines: Appropriate for older children.
Anna Faris ... Cindy Campbell
Anthony Anderson ... Mahalik
Leslie Nielsen ... President Harris
Camryn Manheim ... Trooper Champlin
George Carlin ... The Architect
Queen Latifah ... The Oracle
Charlie Sheen ... Tom
A Dimension Films presentation of a Brad Grey Pictures production. Director David Zucker. Producer Robert K. Weiss. Executive producers Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Andrew Rona, Brad Weston. Screenplay by Craig Mazin and Pat Proft; based on characters created by Shawn Wayans & Marlon Wayans & Buddy Johnson & Phil Beaumont and Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer. Cinematographer Mark Irwin. Editors Malcolm Campbell, Jon Poll. Music James L. Venable. Costumes Carol Ramsey. Production designer William Elliot. Visual effects supervisor Stuart Robinson. Art director William Heslup. Set decorator Rose Marie McSherry. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.
In general release.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times