The Scary Movie franchise seems well on its way to becoming as indestructible as Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger, periodically resurfacing to rake in cash by sloppily spoofing the past few years’ worth of Hollywood horror and sci-fi hits. Not straying from its trademark formula, the fourth installment once again follows Anna Faris’s Cindy as she stumbles and bumbles her way through a parade of mashed-together parodies, the main points of reference this time around being War of the Worlds, The Grudge, Saw, Million Dollar Baby, The Village, and Brokeback Mountain. Yet as with the series’s last entry, director David Zucker (working with longtime writing partner Jim Abrahams, as well as Craig Mazin) never comes close to creating an atmosphere of inspired lunacy, his loosely connected scenes deriving humor not by inventively deconstructing their marquee targets, but rather by having random B-grade celebrities (Dr. Phil, Carmen Electra, Mike Tyson) goof off in familiar movie or pop-culture scenarios. Its nominal story about an invasion of extraterrestrial triPods (i.e. killer iPods modeled after Steven Spielberg’s WotW invaders), Scary Movie 4 finds both Faris and Craig Bierko—doing a bonkers Tom Cruise impression that climaxes with some Oprah couch-jumping—acquitting themselves decently amid a surfeit of crude cinematic allusions and bowel movement/fart jokes. Faring less successfully, however, are Zucker favorite Leslie Nielsen (as a Dubya-dumb commander-in-chief), Chris Elliott (as a snot-twirling idiot), and the always excruciating Bill Pullman (as a village chief), all of whom wind up stuck with material that’s at least a year past its expiration date. Of course, the madcap action’s visual and structural shoddiness could be disregarded were it actually funny. But even more than its predecessors, the slipshod Scary Movie 4 feels composed of barely formed ideas, as if its makers believed that fashioning well thought-out comedy was unnecessary when the entire film could be predicated on turgid slapstick bits that simply congratulate viewers for having seen a handful of recent studio blockbusters.
- David Zucker
- Craig Mazin, Jim Abrahams
- Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Craig Bierko, Simon Rex, Anthony Anderson, Chris Elliott, Kevin Hart, Michael Madsen, Carmen Electra, Molly Shannon, Leslie Nielsen
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