Movie Review: Countdown to Scary Movie 5 – Scary Movies 3 & 4 (2003/2006)

 

Our weeklong salute to the Scary Movie series continues with Scary Movie 3 & 4.

The Wayans era of Scary Movies had come and gone and a new set of filmmakers had been selected to carry on the Scary torch. The new group were far from novices, having written and directed many of the most well-known spoofs of the 80s and 90s, including Airplane!, the Naked Gun trilogy, and Hot Shots! and Hot Shots! Part Deux.

Scary Movie 3

Scary Movie 3 continues the story of Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris) who is now blonde and a TV journalist. Her best friend Brenda (Regina Hall) is also back even though her character died in the previous two films (and why not, we’re not dealing in the normal logical world here anyway!).

The third installment boasts a pretty solid cast, including two spoof vets with Charlie Sheen and Leslie Nielsen as Tom Logan and President Baxter Harris, respectively. Sheen plays a farmer whose farm is targeted for an alien attack. His brother, George (Simon Rex) is determined to become a rapper and eventually falls in love with Cindy.

Anthony Anderson, Simon Rex, and Charlie Sheen in Scary Movie 3

Anthony Anderson and Kevin Hart deliver some great comic moments as George’s friends who want him to succeed as a rapper as well. Throw in Jeremy Piven, Jenny McCarthy, Pamela Anderson, George Carlin, Eddie Griffin, and Queen Latifah, and there’s plenty of comic talent to go around throughout this ridiculously silly movie.

 

I like Scary Movie 3. I think they chose a solid pairing of scary movies to spoof that include The Ring and Signs, with 8 Mile and The Matrix thrown in. This entry brought new life to the series by returning to the formula that made the original a success and the sequel seemed to abandon. It also marked the beginning of the PG-13 Scary Movies that would enable a wider audience to see them in theaters, which in turn boosted their take at the box office.

Anna Faris, Eddie Griffin, and Queen Latifah in Scary Movie 3

With David Zucker at the helm, the comedy is much more in the vein of Airplane! and Naked Gun with a lot of slapstick, one-liners, and sight gags in constant flux all while the story moves forward. I think that a lot of people look at these movies and say they have no logical plotline, but Scary Movie 3 does a decent job cleverly weaving Signs and The Ring into a coherent story that does make sense in the spoof universe.

By the numbers, Scary Movie 3 was the second highest-grossing of the franchise, with a domestic opening weekend of $48 million and taking in $220 million total worldwide. On the TomatoMeter, the film has a 36%.

Now, let’s talk about Scary Movie 4. The thing I find interesting about “The fourth and final chapter of the trilogy” is that it has the EXACT same plot as Scary Movie 3. Think about it: Cindy Campbell must race against time to find the key that will prevent an alien invasion. Yep, similar plot. Does it matter? Not really.

Scary Movie 4

Scary Movie 4 mashes together War of the Worlds, The Grudge, and Saw as its primary spoof targets, adding in a little Brokeback Mountain for the hell of it. This time Craig Bierko, Molly Shannon, Cloris Leachman, Michael Madsen, Dr. Phil, and Shaquille O’Neal join the insanity, and the result is a pretty strong entry into the franchise.

How did Dr. Phil and Shaq end up in this movie? I had the opportunity to ask director David Zucker that question during a talk-back following his film, An American Carol (not recommended, ugh). Zucker said that the Weinsteins called him and said that they had brought Dr. Phil and Shaq on board to be in the film and that they wanted them to have a scene together. And thus, the opening Saw parody was born.

Beau Mirchoff, Craig Bierko, Conchita Campbell, and Anna Faris in Scary Movie 4

I think Scary Movie 4 did an excellent job spoofing War of the Worlds and utilizing its storyline as a means to an end. Bierko does a great job in the Tom Cruise role, and his first interaction with Cindy Campbell is hilarious. I also have to mention that Bierko does a spot-on parody of Tom Cruise on the Oprah Winfrey Show that helps bring this entry to a laugh-out-loud conclusion.

Scary Movie 4 is the third highest-grossing movie in the series, opening with $40 million its opening weekend at the domestic box office and raking in a total of $178 million worldwide. The TomatoMeter percentage for the flick is 37%.

Regina Hall and Anna Faris in Scary Movie 4

I’d just like to note that there are a lot of people who hate Scary Movie 3 and 4 and prefer the Wayans take on the series. That’s perfectly fine. It’s a lot like people who prefer the early seasons of Family Guy to the later ones. It’s all a matter of preference. Aside from the second film, I think that this is a very funny and well-made series for what it is. It’s not high art. It’s not Oscar-worthy. It’s stupid and silly for the sake of being stupid and silly.

And while they are definitely stupid and silly, they are far better than the slew of spoof movies that came out around them. Even with abhorrent spoofs like Date Movie, Disaster Movie, and Epic Movie being released, Scary Movie 3 and 4 continued to dominate at the box office when it came to the spoof genre. I think this is mainly because of the series’ track record and the quality of talent behind the franchise.

On April 12, 2013, Scary Movie 5 opens in theaters nationwide. With a whole new cast and filmmakers behind it, will this fifth installment be better than the previous four or fare far worse? All of these films are pretty much critic-proof and the audience’s word-of-mouth is what gets people to go or wait for it to come out on Redbox or Netflix. We will see what happens this coming weekend.

Check back tomorrow for my review of Scary Movie 5!

Do you prefer the Wayans Brothers Scary Movies or the Zucker versions? What are your favorite moments from 3 or 4? Leave a comment and let us know!

Check out the rest of the retrospective below:

Movie Review: Countdown to Scary Movie 5 – Scary Movie

Movie Review: Countdown to Scary Movie 5 – Scary Movie 2

Movie Review: Countdown to Scary Movie 5 – Scary Movie 5