A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, as usual, the MPAA gives a PG-13 rating to material in a comedy that would get an R-rating in a drama. The movie is heavy on exaggerated cartoon violence (decapitations, knifings, comically brutal fights, zombies, and phony scares). The film's comic sensibilities rely on potty humor (pooping, peeing, farting, vomiting, snot), sexual innuendo and suggestive visuals (dogs copulating, large jiggling breasts, bare butts), and low-brow parody (racial stereotypes, a pedophile priest, people with disabilities). There are fewer obscenities than in the earlier films, but still plenty of "s--t," "ass," "bitch," and an occasional "f--k." Drinking, drug use, and smoking are occasional, intended as over-the-top humor.
What's the story?
In this third installment of the parody series, an alien invasion connected to a videotape and some crop circles open the door for a series of riffs on a couple of dozen movies, including Signs, The Ring, 8 Mile, and The Matrix. Some of the jokes come from juxtaposing two pop culture references, as when American Idol's Simon Cowell critiques an 8 Mile-inspired rap performance, and Pamela Anderson finds a videotape inspired by The Ring even scarier than the infamous video featuring her private moments with then-husband Tommy Lee. More of the humor comes from gross physical harm or from wildly inappropriate comments or behavior in front of children. One child is hit by a car, repeatedly beaten and injured, molested by a priest, and told about his mother's substance abuse during pregnancy. A dead body is subjected to violent attempts to bring it back to life, resulting in the severing of its limbs. The rest is that good old comedy staple -- stupidity -- as when a group of heavily armed gangstas show up to fight the aliens but then start arguing over who smudged whose sneakers and gun each other down instead.
Is it any good?
There are some very funny moments, and Queen Latifah lights up her scenes as a psychic, with the able assistance of Eddie Griffin as her husband. George Carlin is a pleasure in a Matrix-inspired role. Regina Hall brings some snap to the best-friend-destined-to-die-early-on role. But this is a movie that will primarily appeal to those who can get excited about seeing performers like Ja Rule, Ghostface Killah, and Method Man acting silly, especially those who are young enough to get a kick out of the inherent subversiveness of any satire aimed at popular media, without caring too much whether any of the targets are actually hit.
The first two Scary Movies, written and directed by the Wayans brothers, were R-rated, cheerfully raunchy, and cheekily politically incorrect parodies of popular movies, including Scream and its sequels. SCARY MOVIE 3 is rated PG-13 and the Wayanses have been replaced by David Zucker, director of both wildly funny comedy classics (Ruthless People and Airplane!) and painfully un-funny flops (My Boss's Daughter). This movie is somewhere in the middle, not as good as The Naked Gun series but better than Baseketball.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about parody and satire. Does this movie do a good job of lampooning its subjects?
The first two Scary Movie films were rated R, while this one is PG-13. Why do you think the moviemakers decided to make the material less graphic this time?
Who is the intended audience of this movie? Is it still relevant, or are the references too dated?
For kids who love real scares
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.