“Scary Movie 4” spoofs an easy target
When walking into the movie theater, I passed a group of teenagers who were exiting “Scary Movie 4.” For the benefit of all within earshot, they proudly, in loud warning tones, yelled “What a stupid movie!” and “Don’t waste your money!”
I was encouraged.
Could it be that this fourth installment was too high-brow or witty for the younger generation? Though I respect the comic sensibilities of the Wayans Brothers’ “In Living Color” TV series, their films, (which include the first two “Scary Movie” pictures), are often profane and unapologetically graphic– easily earning their R ratings. This latest installment is toned down significantly to a PG-13 level, and is directed and co-written by David Zucker, who made his mark years ago with the similarly constructed “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun” movies.
There is really no way to defend this kind of humor, except to say that sometimes you need a dumb laugh. “Scary Movie 4” keeps the jokes coming and achieves what it sets out to do: Parody a variety of popular movies somewhat connected by a serviceable if not substantial plot.
The film impressively recreates scenes and characters from “Saw,” “War of the Worlds,” “The Grudge,” “The Village,” and “Million Dollar Baby,” among others. While the spoofs rarely feel more than obvious (“Brokeback Mountain” is just too easy), or overdone (Michael Jackson jokes), enough of the gags work to sustain the film’s thankfully breezy 80 minutes.
Occasionally crass but not as much as you’d might expect, Zucker’s strategy is firmly entrenched in the 80s. “Scary Movie 4,” (despite one f-bomb) both creatively and intellectually covers the same territory as golden era “Saturday Night Live” parodies. Lead actors Craig Bierko and Anna Faris as the dewy love interest have the right blend of comic timing and melodramatic naivete.
It’s not worthy of repeated viewings, but “Scary Movie 4” has enough good laughs to assure that only those who haven’t been warned, or those expecting too much will leave the theater angry. Besides, the bloated ego factory that is Hollywood needs and deserves this kind of lampooning on a regular basis.
Rated PG-13, for crude and sexual humor throughout, and some comic violence and language.