Scary Movie 4 (2006) / Comedy-Horror
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for crude humor, sexual humor, violence and language
Running Time: 83 min.
Cast: Anna Faris, Craig Bierko, Regina Hall, Leslie Nielsen, Anthony Anderson, Kevin Hart, Beau Mirchoff, Conchita Campbell, Bill Pullman, Charlie Sheen, Chris Elliott, Michael Madsen, Simon Rex, Garrett Masuda, Molly Shannon, Cloris Leachman, Carmen Electra, Dane Cook, Henry Mah, Debra Wilson, Dr. Phil, Shaquille O'Neal, Chingy (cameo)
Director: Davis Zucker
Screenplay: Craig Mazin, Jim Abrahams
Scary Movie 4 isn't the worst of the Scary Movie series (Scary Movie 2 can arguably claim that no-prize), but it may be the most boring. While it benefits from higher production values and a better ensemble of actors than previous efforts, it is also the least engaging when it some to actual clever moments and solid laughs.
Perhaps the problem is that it is limited to spoofs about recent movies that hardly merit spoofing. Spielberg's War of the Worlds might normally merit a scene or so, but as the backbone of this film, there really isn't much in terms of comedic gold to be mined from it. The same can be said about popular (but not wildly so) second-tier movies like Saw and The Grudge, while cramming in bits and pieces from The Village, Brokeback Mountain and even Million Dollar Baby for good measure. What it boils down to is that there just wasn't a good enough crop of really good movies to spoof, and try as the team of David Zucker (Scary Movie 3, My Boss's Daughter), Jim Abrahams (Top Secret!, The Kentucky Fried Movie) and Craig Mazin (Senseless, Rocketman) might, the jokes here fizzle aplenty for long stretches, which is inexcusable for a joke-a-second comedy.
I won't bore you with details as to the plot, because it's all over the place -- whatever will get laughs is the way to go. Perhaps the funniest moments aren't even spoofs of movies at all, lampooning such topical things as President Bush's infamous "My Pet Goat" book reading and Tom Cruise losing his marbles on the Oprah Winfrey show. While these moments are unquestionably funny, they are also the primary clips used in the trailers and television spots, leading us to believe there would be many more such funny gags to be found of a similar nature. Alas, there are not many, if any, that remotely come close, and while a few funny sight gags elicit a solid chuckle here and there, for the most part, the miss rate is much higher than the hit this time around.
Perhaps there are just enough funny moments for some to have a reasonably good time and a few laughs, but my recommendation is to wait for video, where you will be able to pause the film (or stop it altogether) when your attention span starts to wane. Even at just a little over 80 minutes, the momentum wears down mighty fast, leaving the last half hour relatively laugh-free, as Zucker spends more time recreating famous scenes in the aforementioned movies than in injecting good jokes or quips.
Despite my tepid reaction to this entry, as someone that enjoys the series modestly, I won't say that I'm not looking forward to the possibility of a Scary Movie 5. I just hope that they wait a bit longer for a better crop of movies to spoof before the cameras start to roll.
©2006 Vince Leo