Scary Movie 4

by Alan Rapp on April 14, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

Okay, I went to see the first Scary Movie back in 2000 and I laughed, groaned, and winced my way through.  In the end I had a fine time but didn’t feel the need to see the next two sequels.  In watching the fourth film of the “trilogy,” which hits theaters today, I experienced a very strong deja vu reaction.  The parts that work still work and the parts that don’t…. well, still don’t.  Even with it’s flaws, the film does have just enough to offer for me to recommend it.  What, you ask?  Well…

Scary Movie 4
3 Stars

This year’s edition plays on the same Airplane style type of comedy (enhanced with the addition of Leslie Neilsen in a supporting role) with the body fluid and homosexuality jokes scaled back though we do get the obligatory Brokeback Mountain parody.  The star of this series remains the set designer for the level of detail recaptured in the different spoofs; I just wish the acting and writing was as consistent.

The plot of the film is basically a thin structure that houses the various parodies of the film and loosely links them together.  The main story follows the plot lines of War of the Worlds, The Grudge, and Saw, spliced together with many other films such as The Village, Million Dollar Baby, and humorous and odd real life incidents like Tom Cruise‘s total meltdown on Oprah.

Anna Faris returns as Cindy Cambpell who takes a job as a nurse for an older woman (Cloirs Leachaman)  in a house haunted by the spirit a little boy (Garrett Masuda).  Next door to her lives Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko), a lifetime screwup whose ex-wife drops off his two kids (Conchita Campbell and (Beau Mirchoff) to stay with him.  Tom has just enough time to make his kids hate him more and start a relationship with Cindy before the aliens attack.  The evil tri-pods trap humans into small rooms forcing them play out sadistic games with life and death stakes.

Cindy learns that the secret to defeating the aliens means finding the father of the dead boy (Bill Pullman) and with her friend Brenda (Regina Hall) goes off to the 17th century village where he lives with his blind daughter (Carmen Electra).  Meanwhile Tom tries to take his kids to safety and encounters more aliens and a scary survivalist (Michael Madsen).  Also the President of the United States (Leslie Neilsen), who is more concerned with the outcome of a children’s book than fighting off the aliens, is called on to lead the counter-attack.

My main praise is the same I gave the first film.  The level of detail in creating the sets, costumes, and effects from the various films it parodies is the strongest aspect of the film.  Check out the cellar where Tom and his daughter hide, or the house that’s haunted by the spirit of the young boy, or the deftly recreated village.  Big kudos here for production designer Holger Gross, art director William Heslup, and costume designer Carol Ramsey.  Without their immense contributions the film would be easily forgettable and far less interesting to watch.

As for the writing and acting it’s rather hit and miss.  Anna Faris is fine in this type of role which she’s done in countless movies now and I hope she gets the chance to breakout into something a little more challenging soon.  Neilsen is a good edition and his inclusion actually raises the level of the film a notch or two.  The other actors were cast mainly for their looks and ability to mimic the mannerisms of the people they are parodying.  Bierko comes off best here with a pretty good Cruise impersonation and Garrett Masuda as the ghost child and Michael Madsen as the survivalist were some great casting calls.

I went into the film fully prepared to hate it, but the truth it’s so moronically funny it’s hard not to laugh and enjoy yourself at least a little.  Yeah it’s lowbrow and crude and for every joke that works there’s one that will make you groan, but enough do work to make it entertaining and watchable.  It does a good job in parodying the various films and poking fun at some of the problems with those films as well (especially The Village and War of the Worlds).  It is what it is and, though not for everyone, for what it is it’s not too bad.

Previous post:

Next post: