Zucker enlivens `Scary Movie 3'

Well-done spoof of familiar film scenes and cliches

October 24, 2003|By Gene Seymour | Gene Seymour,NEWSDAY

Films like Scary Movie 3 aren't movies so much as purging rituals for consumers gorged on pop cultural ephemera. You don't patronize such enterprises in search of refinement or sophisticated discourse on genre conventions. You go to wallow in the silliness.

This time, David Zucker, the veteran goofball behind Airplane! and the Naked Gun series, picks up where the Wayans brothers left off. For whatever reason, the change gives the franchise a noticeable spring to its step - though such things are relative when the corn is high and the comedy is low.

The corn, by the way, is in the back yard of a widowed minister-turned-farmer (Charlie Sheen), who finds some strange things happening to his crops.

The minister-farmer-widower's nitwit brother (Simon Rex) is oblivious to everything but his dream to become the greatest white rapper in history. He's distracted from his mission by intrepid TV newswoman Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris), who's following the crop circle story.

Cindy's already got her hands full with a creepy little nephew (Drew Mikusa), who can't stop prophesying in public, and a videotape that kills anyone who watches it - including her best friend (Regina Hall) and a couple of Catholic school girls (Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy). She takes the tape to the Oracle (Queen Latifah), who's so clairvoyant she keeps finishing Cindy's sentences and calling basketball scores hours before the games start.

At this point, is it really necessary to disclose in advance all the scattershot jokes at the expense of funerals, Catholic priests, family values, bodily functions and hip-hop gangsterism? And why are we not surprised - yet somehow reassured - when the president of these United States turns out to be Leslie Nielsen?

Newsday is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Scary Movie 3

Starring Anna Faris, Charlie Sheen, Leslie Nielsen

Directed by David Zucker

Rated PG-13 (language, drug references, racy humor, cartoon-style violence)

Released by Miramax

Time 90 minutes

Sun Score **1/2

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