Sequel comes up short

Ridiculous situations and completely off-the-wall characters have become the trademark of the successful “Scary Movie” series. But “Scary Movie 3” veers from the formula slightly and delivers a strange concoction that may leave fans of the franchise with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Like the previous films in the series, “Scary Movie 3” puts Cindy Campbell, played by Anna Faris, in a life-or-death situation that provides fodder for spoofing. Cindy must fight to stay alive with the help of her best friend Brenda, played by Regina Hall, and a list of actors including Charlie Sheen, Simon Rex, Queen Latifah, Anthony Anderson, and a host of hip-hop stars.

This time there is a twist. Cindy must also save the world from an alien invasion and evil videotape, obvious swipes at “Signs” and “The Ring.”

“Scary Movie 3” goes on to make fun of barrage of other films including “The Others”, “The Sixth Sense”, “8 Mile” and the “The Matrix”.

To the credit of David Zucker, the director of Scary Movie 3 and a spoofing veteran (“Airplane!” and “Naked Gun”) he doesn’t tread any ground that has already been covered by the previous films in the franchise, thus keeping the quips fresh.

However, missing from Scary Movie 3 are the running jokes, the endless sight gags, and most notably, the Wayans brothers.

The writing team of Shawn and Marlon handled the first two films while their brother Keenan directed. The absence of this powerful comedic team is felt when many of the jokes of “the black acting white person” fall flat and many of the cultural jokes come across as forced, offensive, or just plain unfunny.

On the other hand, the writers of Scary Movie 3 take the gross out comedy to another level. If anyone thought Scary Movie 2 had exhausted the vomit bit, they’ll be nice and disgusted by what Scary Movie 3 has to offer. Also, there’s a scene with horse feces that’ll have audiences sick to the stomach with laughter and disgust.

Unlike the previous films, there won’t be many comedic lines that moviegoers will be tossing back and forth days after viewing the film. Most of the jokes have a limited shelf life similar to the current events and even the movies being spoofed. Sure, everyone will be able to recognize the origins of the jokes, but the fact remains that many are outdated and become their own tragic punch line.

The strength of the Scary Movie franchise has been its ability to be childish and funny and crude, but Scary Movie 3 makes the jokes a bit more subtle and nabs the PG-13 rating that its predecessors failed to.

Scary Movie 3 did the one thing that a movie franchise based on juvenile jokes shouldn’t do; it tried to cleanup its act and ultimately paid the price for that mistake.

Grade: D+