Scary Movie 4

It's now pretty obvious that the Scary Movie franchise is here to stay.  Whether or not that is a good thing is debatable.  Because of a steady stream of horror films, the franchise has a near endless supply of fodder to mock.  The quality of the various parodies could use a bit more work.  Again, it's all about throwing out as many jokes and gags as possible, and hoping that more of them connect than not.  This is David Zucker's (Scary Movie 3, My Boss' Daughter) second outing as director, and he's managed to improve since his last time.  Zucker has a long history with these kinds of movies.  He was one of the people responsible for the classic Airplane! and the Naked Gun movies.  But Scary Movie 4 still suffers because it is hampered with a PG-13 rating, which bars the movie from doing anything truly outrageous.

The primary targets this time are War of the Worlds and The Grudge.  Along the way, Zucker and co-writers Jim Abrahams (Jane Austin's Mafia!, Naked Gun 33 1/3) and Craig Mazin (Scary Movie 3, Senseless) take potshots at Saw, Brokeback Mountain, The Village, Million Dollar Baby, and other assorted pop culture references.  If the viewer has seen the source films, then some of the jokes will be amusing.  Most of the time, the humor feels a forced, like the opening Saw spoof with Shaquille O'Neal and Dr. Phil McGraw.  There is also more of a Family Guy-feel to many of the parodies in that they are brought very randomly, and with little to no connection to the overall story.

That doesn't really matter given that the overall story is flimsy.  Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris, Just Friends, Brokeback Mountain) is working as a caretaker when she discovers something strange happening at the house she works in.  Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko, Cinderella Man, Dickie Roberts) finds himself in the middle of an invasion.  The former is based on The Grudge, the latter on War of the Worlds.  There's even a Morgan Freeman-like narrator at the beginning.  Otherwise, Zucker flips from one story to another, trying hard to make people laugh, and sometimes succeeding.  The issue is that he does nothing that people will remember after watching the movie, and like many comedies, the best parts are in the trailer and previews.

And that's the main issue.  There's nothing memorable in Scary Movie 4.  The most inspired bit is the inclusion of Regina Hall (The Honeymooners, King's Ransom), who seems to die in every installment, only to come back for no reason.  Otherwise, the parade of toilet humor, sight gags, and puns continue.  The inclusion of Leslie Nielsen (Scary Movie 3, Men with Brooms) was also a bad idea.  Nielsen has been doing the same thing for years.  Instead of bringing in a sense of continuity, it just reminds viewers how bad he has gotten in recent efforts like this.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 23 minutes, Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor throughout, some comic violence and language.

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