'Scary Movie 4'
Anna Faris and Regina Hall return for scary laughs, but not big ones
Disaster-prone dimwit Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris) is back. Grieving the death of several loved ones in a "Million Dollar Baby"-based tragedy (involving Mike Tyson in drag), Cindy takes up a job in home healthcare looking after an old lady (Cloris Leachman). Soon, she discovers that the house is haunted "Grudge"-style by a creepy little Japanese boy. She's probably be worried, except that in the house directly next door, Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko) is trying to reconnect with his alienated children just as "War of the Worlds"-esque invasion is beginning. The whole thing is connected to the Jigsaw-inspired killer who tortured Shaquille O'Neal and Dr. Phil in the pre-credit sequence and it's all linked in some way to mysterious village where the elders keep residents in line by dressing up as forest monsters to freak them out.
Yes, "Scary Movie 4" dedicates a good chunk of its running time to parodying "The Village," which represents at least one of the film's biggest failings. Mocking old movies is one thing -- and by genre standards "The Village" is ancient -- but it helps to mock movies that viewers have affection for. Precious few people feel much warmth toward M. Night Shyamalan's last piece of banal "gotcha" cinema and it's no surprise that the scenes that might light of "The Village" turn out to be every bit as dull as the original movie.
If a parody is supposed to make your sides hurt from laughter, it's also a failing if the major conversations exiting the theater involve special effects and art direction. I'm not sure I giggled very much at how cleverly Zucker and screenwriter Craig Mazin lampooned "War of the Worlds," but I was very impressed with the work done by cinematographer Thomas Ackerman and the rest of the technical team to reproduce visuals that probably cost Steven Spielberg and his crew four or five times as much to create in the first place.
But most viewers won't be going to "Scary Movie 4" to watch a loving copy of previous movies. They're going to watch Carmen Electra do unspeakable things as a blind villagers. They're going to watch a little Dakota Fanning-inspired child actor take the kind of beating they'd like to see inflicted on the real moppet. They're going to see Anna Faris and Regina Hall show, once again, that they're much much much funnier than the material requires them to be. They're going to see the latest in an endless string of Michael Jackson pedophile jokes. They're going to see Leslie Nielsen get naked as the mindless president and Anthony Anderson and Kevin Hart in butt-less chaps in the first of what will doubtlessly be endless big screen parodies of "Brokeback Mountain."
"Scary Movie 4" isn't really a very good movie, but at least it delivers on all of those counts.