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A mysterious killer video tape is circulating around. One look at this tape and you have seven days left to live. News Reporter Cindy Campbell (Faris) witnesses this video tape and tries to work out a way to prevent her death. But this is not the only mystery to appear. Crop circles have been appearing in the local farm of Tom (Sheen) and George (Rex). With help from Aunt Shaneequa (Latifah), Cindy suspects that the aliens may be linked with the killer tape and must now work out both mysteries before it's the end of the world. Written by
Scary Movie 3 is largely a spoof of five films, The Ring (2002), Signs (2002), 8 Mile (2002) and to a lesser extent, The Matrix (1999) and The Matrix Reloaded (2003). It begins with a spoof of the first scene from The Ring, then cuts to Tom's (Charlie Sheen) discovery of the crop circles on his farm ala Signs. As a bridge between the stories, Cindy Campbell (Anna Farris) is a television news reporter who is doing a story on the crop circles, and who is the guardian of a young psychic boy, Cody (Drew Mikuska), similar to Aidan of The Ring. The two stories turn out to be intimately connected. Tom's brother, George (Simon Rex) is a white rapper, ala Eminem in 8 Mile, and he strikes up a romance with Campbell. Meanwhile, President Harris (Leslie Nielsen) also becomes involved as the security of the country is threatened.
I used to make it a point to not read any other reviews before I wrote my own, but recently, I've become curious when I watch a film I really enjoy, like Scary Movie 3, that many other people seemed to dislike. I find it informative to read the negative reviews to try to figure out why people dislike the film.
The negative reviews for Scary Movie 3 weren't very helpful. The most popular complaints seem to be that the trailer ruined the film by "giving away the good parts" and that the film has fun at the expense of some people's sacred cows. Additionally, many people made a comment to the effect that you'd only enjoy the film if you're, say, 13 or under.
I never watch trailers before I see a film any longer. I have also had trailers ruin many films for me in the past, so I just stopped watching them; I recommend that you do the same. If you don't know already, think about commonalities in the films you tend to like. Get an idea for the genres, directors, actors and so on that you usually enjoy. That's the only guide you really need to determine if you should see a film. It's not a guarantee, but what is? I actually look away when trailers appear on screen before the feature when I'm watching a film in the theater, and I try to mentally block out the sound. It's pretty easy to do, as trailers tend to be heavier on sound effects than dialogue. If trailers appear on television, I quickly change the channel. At any rate, it doesn't make the film you're considering any worse just because you watched a trailer first. Scary Movie 3 isn't bad because the trailer ruined it for you.
Next, it's not a good idea to watch these kinds of comedies (we might call them "absurdist comedies", or "outrageous comedies") if you have any sacred cows--that is, anything that you feel one should not joke about, or that one could go too far in joking about. I don't see it as the film's fault if you haven't analyzed yourself and/or if you do not research the kinds of films you're considering viewing so that you don't expose yourself to something that you're going to consider offensive. If you're sensitive about certain things then you need to learn how to avoid them. If you're allergic to nuts or shellfish, you're going to be careful to not eat anything containing nuts or shellfish, right? It's not the chef's fault.
Finally, I'm definitely older than 13--I'm in my late 30s, and I loved Scary Movie 3. I came very close to giving it a 10 out of 10--it was at that score until the climax, which I felt unfortunately lost a bit of the comic momentum that preceded it, and which arrived a bit too soon for my tastes (I prefer longer films).
It helps to be familiar with the films being spoofed. Believe it or not a lot of the jokes are fairly subtle jabs at elements of the source material--for example, the pillow fight of the opening scene, which has connections to the almost lesbian subtext of the same scene in the original Japanese version of The Ring, Ringu (1998); or the character and camera "spins" when Tom first exits his farmhouse, which pokes fun at the stylistic cinematography of Signs. There are also many quicker references to other films. These will have far less payoff if you're not familiar with the source material. For example, during the climax of Scary Movie 3, there's not only a reference to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), but also the climax of Motel Hell (1980), which features an infamous chainsaw "duel".
There is a stylistic difference between the first two Scary Movies and this one, which is undoubtedly correlated to the change in directors. Rather than the Wayans Brothers, David Zucker directs here. Zucker is the exclamatory wiz who also helmed Airplane! (1980), Top Secret! (1984), and The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988). Scary Movie 3 is much more in the vein of Zucker's previous work than the other Scary Movies. I can't imagine why someone would like the one style and not the other, but if so, that might help you decide which Scary Movies to see, if any.
Finally, there were also some complaints over the plot of this film, especially the combination of such seemingly disparate plots from the source material. It's important to remember that this is absurdist comedy, with an emphasis on absurd. The crazy segues from one plot to the other, with them meeting in the middle thanks to Cindy, President Harris and a number of other crazy devices, was beautifully ridiculous. I want ridiculous when I watch a film like this. That's largely what attracts me to the genre. If you're at all a fan of absurdism, you should find much to enjoy here.
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