When I was a kid and I saw a movie that scared me more than I thought it would, I’d always try to take whatever scary characters, situations, etc. that were bothering me and come up with a funny context to put them into in my mind. You see, I’ve always had a bit of an overactive imagination, and if I could make something scary into something funny, it wouldn’t keep me up at night anymore. The Simpsons used to do a marvelous job of this in their Halloween specials. Remember their parody of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining? In one scene, Mr. Burns is leading the Simpson clan around the haunted hotel when an elevator door opens and suddenly everyone is knee-deep in blood. “That’s odd,” remarks Mr. Burns, “the blood usually gets off at the second floor.” Turning something that elicits one strong emotion (in this case, fear) into something that elicits another (laughter) is an excellent way to really up the impact of the latter.
Hoping to really cash in on this characteristic has been the Scary Movie series of films. While I thought the first Scary Movie went a bit too far into the realm of the gross at times--so much so that I passed on watching Scary Movie 2, thinking that it would only get worse (I was told it did)--Scary Movie 3 brings the humor back down to a more tolerable slapstick and wacky hijinks level. There are no geysers of semen in Scary Movie 3. Chalk it up to a change in management. The Wayans brothers, masterminds behind the first two films, left to work on White Girls and the reigns of Scary Movie 3 were handed over to David Zucker, one of the guys responsible for the parody-genre-establishing Airplane!, so it’s not too jarring to find the likes of Leslie Nielsen and Charlie Sheen popping up this time around.
My personal favorite film in the parody genre is Sheen’s Hot Shots: Part Deux, a gleefully wacky spoof on Rambo and war films in general, full of really funny gags and a battalion of cleverly integrated parodies. Put up against HS:PD, Scary Movie 3 stacks up rather short overall, but still offers up a good number of laugh-out-loud funny gags. The SM3 story feels very disjointed and kind of tossed together at times as it bounces back and forth between parodying The Ring and Signs. There are a few others, like The Others, parodied along the way, but none of the spoofs seem to flow into each other as nicely as in Hot Shots: Part Deux. The story seems to stop completely for a while when Scary Movie 3 veers off into a surprisingly long spoof of 8 Mile.