Scary Movie 4
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir David Zucker
scr Craig Mazin, Jim Abrahams, Pat Proft
with Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Craig Bierko, Leslie Nielsen, Bill Pullman, Molly Shannon, Carmen Electra, Anthony Anderson, Charlie Sheen, Michael Madsen, Chris Elliot, Cloris Leachman, Dr Phil, Shaquille O'Neal, James Earl Jones, Mike Tyson
release UK 13.Apr.06, US 14.Apr.06
06/US Dimension 1h23

They who shall not be spoken of: Faris and Hall (above); Bierko (below)

nielsen pullman electra

See also: SCARY MOVIE (2000)
SCARY MOVIE 2 (2001)
SCARY MOVIE 3 (2003)

Scary Movie 4 Zucker-Abrahams carry on as they did in Scary Movie 3 with another relentless assault of parody and silliness. Compared to most of these send-up movies, this is a masterpiece.

This time Cindy Campbell (Faris) is sent to watch a creepy old lady (Leachman) in a house haunted by a sinister Japanese boy, who might hold the key to an imminent alien invasion. Cindy teams up with her sex-crazed pal Brenda (Hall) and dopey neighbour Tom (Bierko) to flee the vicious attack. She and Brenda get waylaid in a mysterious village while looking for clues. And with President Harris (Nielsen) in charge, it's doubtful humanity will survive.

The key reference points are clear: War of the Worlds, The Village, The Grudge and Saw, with sideroads through Million Dollar Baby and Brokeback Mountain. The spoof scenes are expertly filmed, but what's funny is the way they're played dead straight, drawing humour from more topical political and societal issues. It's not particularly clever, but it's consistently hilarious, gleefully vulgar and absolutely merciless.

Zucker keeps things flowing smoothly, as the various plot threads flow together in an oddly smooth way (although the final explanation is ridiculous). Jokes fly off the screen nonstop--mostly of the juvenile Airplane! variety, but with a few pointed jabs as well. The cast dive in fearlessly to the goofiness, anchored brilliantly by the deadpan Faris and Nielsen, while everyone around them is allowed to mug shamelessly.

Cameos are thick and fast as well, from the hysterical opening scene with Shaq and Dr Phil to a jaw-dropping turn by Mike Tyson. Meanwhile, Bierko has the thankless job of sending up Tom Cruise (although he gets to really cut loose in his final scene), and Electra revels in her blind bimbo role.

This certainly isn't in the league of Zucker-Abrahams classics like Airplane! or The Naked Gun, but it's close enough. It's easily the best Scary Movie, although that's not saying much. And by keeping the parody and humour so tightly focussed, they've generated more laughter than any other filmmaker this year.

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo, vulgarity 4.Apr.06

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2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall