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There is nothing like a good spoof. When it comes to comedy, spoofs are my absolute favorite flavor. From "Airplane!" to "Hot Shots!" to "The Silence of the Hams", spoofs have been around for years, and just when you think they're done for, out comes another one to revitalize the sub-genre for another few years. Mel Brooks really invented the genre, for the most part, with films like "Young Frankenstein" and "Blazing Saddles" - he is the King of the Spoof. But, if Brooks is The King, then David Zucker is The Prince. David Zucker, alongwith partners Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, is responsible for some of the most beloved spoofs in cinematic history, from the groundbreaking "Airplane!" to the immensely popular "The Naked Gun" series. So, when it was announced that he was taking over the reigns of the "Scary Movie" franchise from the Wayans Brothers, I was more than excited - I was ecstatic. The Wayans Brothers relied too heavily on grossout humor, and not enough on the basic formulas and foundations required to make a successful spoof successful throughout. Zucker possesses this knowledge - hell, he pretty much wrote the book on most of it. "Scary Movie 3" was, by far, the best in the series because it reverted back to the days when all someone had to do was say, "Stop calling me Shirley" to get a laugh. "Scary Movie 4" continues that same tradition, though Zucker has strayed somewhat into former Wayans territory. But, with Leslie Nielsen and Charlie Sheen on board, he gets a little more patience than they did.
The latest edition of the franchise finds Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris) going to work in a spooky old house right next door to the handsome Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko). Their romance begins to bud as aliens invade and threaten to destroy all of humanity. The creepy little kid in the house tells Cindy to go and find a hidden 'village', where one man can show them the way to destroy the aliens before all mankind is destroyed. Regina Hall returns from the dead as Brenda Meeks, with Leslie Nielsen reprising his role as the President of the United States, and Anthony Anderson returning as Mahalik. Spoof veterans Cloris Leachman and Charlie Sheen also make brief appearances. The opening of the film features a send-off of the horror film "Saw", with Shaquille O' Neal and Dr. Phil McGraw waking up in the dingy bathroom to discover that their lives are on the line. And, wouldn't you know it, Shaq has to make free-throws in order to help save them. The ending of the film, however, leaves a little to be desired - it doesn't really end so much as gives up, as if Zucker & Co. simply ran out of gags and had to call it quits. That is also the same thing I didn't like about the third film is that it felt as if everyone was just ending the film because it had nowhere else to do. "Scary Movie 4" pokes fun at "The Grudge", "The Village", "War of the Worlds", "Brokeback Mountain" and more, even taking a stab at Tom Cruise's "Oprah" fiasco and George Bush's 9/11 hesitation.
What works about "Scary Movie 4" is the same thing that worked about "Scary Movie 3" - the pacing of the humor and the jokes themselves. The recent disaster "Date Movie" was the perfect example of how to destroy a spoof, while "Scary Movie 4" is, basically, a step-by-step example of how to make one work, for the most part. The duplicated scenes from "War of the Worlds" are pretty identical to the original film, but of course, have some 'slight' differences. I loved how Brenda just popped up, alive and well, with no explanation as to her death in the previous film. I loved how the "Million Dollar Baby" send-up turned into one of the greatest spoof sequences ever captured on film. I loved how the guy running out and screaming, "My bowels have stopped moving?! Why?!" made me laugh for thirty minutes solid. "Scary Movie 4" was funny. It was funny in a way that most other films are not. David Zucker knows how to draw laughs from his audience with some of the simplest and most mundane jokes. However, "Scary Movie 4" walks a thin line between typical Zucker comedy and the rampant grossout humor that we saw in films like "Date Movie" and the first two "Scary Movie" films. I think he got a little too carried away.
Mind you - he does not cross the line - he merely walks it. There is one scene where Cindy is giving her elderly keep a sponge bath - with something other than water. There is also another sequence where Charlie Sheen accidentally takes the wrong pills in order to commit suicide. These are not too much for the audience to handle, but they are certainly more than we are use to seeing from David Zucker. Maybe he just felt as if an audience in 2006 was not going to respond to the same kind of humor that made "Hot Shots!" and "Top Secret!" to successful - maybe he thought the film needed some extra 'umph' to make it appeal to everyone. Alas, that is what I loved about "Scary Movie 3" was that it straight for the smart laughs - the ones you might have to think about for a second, or pay very close attention to catch. In "Scary Movie 4", for example, we see the duplication of the scene from "War of the Worlds" where none of the vehicles are working. In this version, we see a little girl trying desperately to get her bike to roll, a skateboard going nowhere, and various other vehicular problems. If you don't look closely and are focused solely on the Craig Bierko characters, you could easily miss it. That's the point - if half the people see it and half the people don't, that's exactly what spoofs like this are all about. That's what I love so much about them.
In summation, "Scary Movie 4" has its high notes and its weak spots. It is a fine addition to its sub-genre, but does not compare to the great spoofs of old. I would not say it is better or worse than "Scary Movie 3" - I would say they are pretty much equal, with different ups and downs. The opening sequence is amazing, the "Million Dollar Baby" send-off is hilarious, and I loved seeing Charlie Sheen and Regina Hall return to their roles. "Scary Movie 4" is not going to make you walk out of the theatre a changed person. It is not going to take film in a new direction or anything like that. What it might do is make you laugh very loudly for ninety minutes and hopefully make you realize why films like "Date Movie" don't belong in the same genre. David Zucker is the master of the spoof. "Scary Movie 4" is not his crowning achievement - merely one more cherry atop his Chocolate Sundae of Comedic Achievement. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
- added 04/22/2006, 03:18 AM
The part where Cindy and the little Grudge kid
were talking to each other in "Japanese" was
absolutely hilarious. i was rolling on the floor
in laughter from that sequence, and had a tough
time breathing right for the next half hour at
least. that part alone makes this movie worth
- added 05/01/2006, 05:59 PM
I also liked the part at the boxing match where
everyone is breaking their necks and "Mike Tyson"
is biting everyones ears off.
- added 05/07/2006, 05:47 PM
Dude, this movie was absolutely horrible from
start to finish. I am a huge fan of
Abrahams/Zucker movies, as well as Leslie Neilson
movies, even though they're the exact same thing.
The funniest parts about this entire movie are
surmised in two instances: one Myspace comment and
Leslie Neilson buck naked. You can imagine that
for free and get the same entertainment. I hate
to play the parody elitist, but really, Scary
Movie 3 wasn't all that funny, especially in
contrast to incredible films like Hot Shots! and
Hot Shots: Part Deux. It just seems like the
creative parody well has run dry.
- added 05/17/2006, 02:22 AM
If a parody film like "Scary Movie 4" can provide
me with at least three genuine belly laughs, then
I consider it a good film, because that is still
more than around 75% of the other worthless
comedies released can offer. I will agree --
spoofs are on the downslide. There has not been
an amazing spoof in a while -- I consider
"National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1" and
"Wrongfully Accused" to be amazing. "Scary Movie
4" was nowhere near as funny as the films you
mentioned, but I still thought it offered enough
laughs to entertain the masses. If it comes down
to recommending this film or a piece of shit like
"The Man", then "Scary Movie 4" is "Lawrence of
Arabia". But, I do agree with you.
- added 08/25/2006, 03:24 AM
I got quite a few good laughs out of this one.
Good review, agreed on most all accounts - 8/10.
- added 08/20/2010, 06:32 PM
Craig Bierko did a good job playing the creepy
Tom Cruise 6/10