Starring Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Craig Bierko, Simon Rex
Directed by David Zucker
You are having an excellent evening with good friends, but even the most perfect things must come to an end. You return home and slip into bed with a smile still plastered across your face, drifting off into a blissful sleep. Suddenly you are violently ripped out of your dream. You don’t know where you are or what’s going on. You can see what’s in front of you, but it doesn’t make any sense. People seem to be talking to each other, but it’s as if they speak some alien language. All you know is death may be your only escape. No, this isn’t a teaser for Saw 3. You are chained down in a movie theater this weekend as your friend has convinced you to go…and the torture device is called SCARY MOVIE 4!!
Seriously. Bad. There, I just saved you 9 dollars. Need more convincing? Scary Movie 4 contains two kinds of jokes. The first is like a wet fish they smack you across the face with over and over. Getting hit once is not pleasant. Having to endure it a number of times is just horrible. The second is just lame. They practically have balled themselves up in a corner, muttering about how they used to be funny. In truth, they never were. It’s just sad to watch.
Okay, all jokes aside, Scary Movie 4 has a story! Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko) is a divorced man’s man, struggling to communicate with children he’s lost touch with. This is your War of the Worlds spoof, played so on-script at times that you’ll give yourself a headache trying to find the funny. At the same time and coincidentally next door, Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris) has moved in to care for a catatonic old woman (played by a mumbling Cloris Leachman) in a house haunted by a creepy little Asian boy. Of course, this is the Grudge take-off, providing very disjointed scenes, mostly involving the filmmaker trying to convince you that the Asian culture is funny all by itself. As quickly as the hero and heroine meet, they are torn apart as aliens begin their invasion. Tom continues on to beat War of the Worlds to death with a shovel while Cindy meets up with Brenda (Regina Hall) and sets off to find out why the creepy little boy is so…damn…creepy. Actually I suppose she’s trying to figure out why he’s dead, but there are so many jokes shoved in and the audience is trying so hard to figure out what’s funny that it’s not clear what the hell she’s doing until much later when she spells it out all slow like as if she’s mouthing commands at a puppy.
Tied into the film are heavy-handed spoofs of Saw, The Village, Brokeback Mountain, and Million Dollar Baby. Really there’s barely enough in this film to warrant a review by Dread Central…not that there’s horror involved beyond the abysmally bad writing, but you get the idea. Jokes come fast and furious, and by that I mean like Vin Diesel reciting a monologue from any work of Shakespeare. Let’s rephrase that and say the jokes come often, mostly in the form of people falling down or being smacked in either the head or the package. The slapstick is severely badly paced with not one genuinely surprising moment. It’s not like I was looking for a work of genius here, but it honestly felt like they hired the cast one day and filmed the next with giant cue cards all around the set. Gross-out moments are not in short supply as the director tests the limits of your taste with pee, sounds of poo-ing, some snot, and one very naked old man. You’ll also see old favorites like Michael Jackson: Kid Toucher and Mike Tyson: Ear Biter that play like Wham! opening for Insane Clown Posse.
The film’s few shining moments included Chris Elliot’s spastic character in The Village segment, not because it was funny…it’s just Chris Elliot! Another noteworthy appearance comes with Leslie Nielsen as the President who, when told aliens are attacking, is dead set on finding out what happened to the little duck a small girl is reading about, smacking of our own, sad president who sat slack-jawed as a certain building in NYC burned. Sort of a risky thing to make fun of, but I suppose you can’t really have Leslie Nielsen killed without someone screaming foul. He’s an American institution after all. Bill Pullman and Michael Madsen also make appearances, creating a buzz among the movie watchers around me as they asked out loud, “Why they hell are they in this movie??!!” Neither has a memorable moment.
What struck me the most about Scary Movie 4 was the production quality, sets, and costumes. Someone spent a whooooole lot of cash on this film. The expenditure reminds me of the Southern saying ”It’s like putting a big red bow on a big ol’ pig.” Upon surveying friends after the film ended, we came up with maybe two moments where we laughed out loud. That’s two moments among probably hundreds of jokes. Whatever you saw in the commercials for this film would have made up the rest of them. Hell, the entire opening sequence was in the commercials, making that a complete wash. Imagine if we DIDN’T know that was Shaq and Dr. Phil trapped in the room until they were revealed?? That might have been damn funny! Unfortunately, we are robbed of that joke and half a dozen others wrapped into the movie’s trailer and various commercials.
Seriously, folks, this is a film that managed to create teaser posters that are funnier than the film itself. Save yourself the cash or risk your sanity. Run while you can from the horror that is Scary Movie 4…soon to be the number one comedy in America while Slither quietly disappears from theatres. ~groan~ Remember, people loved Van Helsing too. ‘Nuff said.
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