The "Scary Movie" series is back! David Zucker, one of the men responsible for "Airplane!," "Top Secret!" and the "Naked Gun!" series, is at the helm and he's brought everyone from Ja Rule to Queen Latifah, Fat Joe, Redman, Method Man and Pamela Anderson along for the ride, as well as a few familiar faces from his classic parodies. (Click for photos from "Scary Movie 3.")
The first two flicks — which were directed by the Wayans brothers — relied on gross-out gags and adult-themed humor while using various horror flicks as punching bags. Zucker's "Scary Movie 3" is more slapstick, while spoofing recent blockbusters like "The Matrix," "Signs" and "The Ring."
Advance-screening audiences have cheered the moment Leslie Nielsen, star of "Airplane!" and the "Naked Gun!" movies, comes onscreen.
"That's fantastic when that happens," Nielsen said recently. "I suppose the audience could be anywhere between 7 and 37. They are really responding to 'Airplane!' and three 'Naked Guns' when I say lines like, 'Thank you. Just wanted you to know we are all counting on you. Good luck.' They are responding to a movie that they couldn't have seen!
" 'Airplane!' would have been over and done with before they were born. So it's a DVD, or a tape [that they have seen]," he continued. "The [style of] humor endures."
Charlie Sheen worked with Zucker's "Airplane" pal Jim Abrahams on two "Hot Shots!" movies, and was happy to come aboard Zucker's "Scary Movie 3," though he was initially apprehensive about his role.
"I am doing Mel Gibson [in 'Signs']," he explained. "I saw the film a couple of times, which I really liked. And I wasn't [sure about] the 'spoof-ability' of 'Signs' until we started. But David was all over it, certain logistics of the film that he wanted to exploit. But I knew, once I put on that jacket and stood in that cornfield, that we were good to go."
As the only survivors from the first two films, Anna Farris and Regina Hall welcomed Zucker, Sheen and Nielsen into the "Scary Movie" fold with open arms. And they're happy to report that working with Ja, the Wu-Tang Clan, Joe (see "Fat Joe Slays A Farm Boy On The Set Of 'Scary Movie 3' "), Master P, Red and Meth (see "Master P Gets Serious With Meth And Red In 'Scary Movie 3' ") was a blast.
"All those guys were so nice," Farris said. "It was really thrilling to meet all of them. They were true gentlemen."
According to Macy Gray, whose scene is with the Wu members and P, the "gentlemen" bit is far from the case onscreen. "We [ride] up to this club [in the scene], get in an argument, and then we all shoot each other," she said. "I shoot everybody. I get those big cannons — [like] 'Grand Theft Auto.' "
Latifah's favorite thing about all of her fellow rappers in the movie is that all of them, like the Oscar-nominated Queen herself, are serious about acting.
"Ja Rule just finished a movie with [me] called 'The Cook Out,' " she said. "They [all] really see [acting] as another opportunity, another career, not just, 'Hey, let me see if I can do this and steal some other actor's job!' They really want to put in the work and to become better at it and I dig that."
The cast's acting aspirations, of course, is the only thing that's serious about "Scary Movie 3."
"It's ... funny as hell," Latifah said. "I think it will at least raise the franchise bar. Because when you do a franchise movie, it's always, 'Will it be as good as [the other ones]?' "
"I think the other two are so funny and so well-acted," Sheen said. "This one is a departure from the theme of those two. It's more accessible, more family-friendly ... It's out there, [but] in a good, decent way. I think that's what sets it apart."