THE SCARY Movies definitely aren’t made with critics in mind. Since first emerging in the year 2000, the franchise has gone on to gross more than the Scream films it initially spoofed, because the moviemakers understand exactly what their target audience likes.
Like its predecessors, Scary Movie 4 is dumb, lazy and pointless, but some of the gags are quite funny. Anna Faris, who has made a career of this franchise, returns as the stupid, luckless Cindy Campbell. This time around she takes a job at a haunted house alongside Tom Ryan (Bierko), a dockworker whose troubled relationship with his children gets resolved during an alien invasion.
They travel through an episodic litany of film parodies, the laughs involve lame puns, repetitive slapstick and childish sexual humour, but the rat-a-tat delivery of gags (matched with a gee-this-is-fun gusto) becomes shamelessly addictive. Bierko does his best Tom Cruise impersonation, mimicking the film star’s over-the-top public persona and it is here, with the parodies of films such as War of The Worlds, the Saw films, The Village, Million Dollar Baby and Brokeback Mountain, where the movie achieves its chief successes. However, if you haven’t seen these films, have a night in front of the video or DVD player before heading to the cinema to take in Scary Movie 4.
The film relentlessly lampoons Spielberg’s 2005 science-fiction epic, War of the Worlds, the film’s lead character and the actor who played him, Tom Cruise. As well as highlighting the utter irony of the clean-cut, scarily Scientological Cruise, playing a blue collar bad dad, it even goes so far as to do a pretty extensive sketch on Cruise’s notorious Oprah appearance.
In a similar vein, the film also sends up George W Bush, the American President, with Leslie Nielsen in the role, taking repeated stabs at the intelligence of the US premier. In one sequence, while visiting a grammar school, the President is informed that the country is being attacked by aliens. Instead of addressing the crisis at hand, he demands to hear what is going to happen to the duck in the children’s story that he has been listening too.
There is no discernible plot, instead there are a ton of jokes in rapid succession, but if you enjoyed any of the previous Scary Movies, this one will likely appeal to you too. It follows in the long tradition of spoof with its minor references to horror films past and present, as well as several pop culture events and real-world occurrences.
This is the sort of movie you like in spite of yourself. Scary Movie 4 possesses such a giddy, good-hearted spirit, that even its terrible jokes get by on something resembling charm.