Scary Movie 4
Scary Movie 3 again! Albeit not as good.
If there is kept, somewhere, a list of things that the world really needs, it would have come as something of a surprise to see "another entry in the surmisably lucrative but quality deficient Scary Movie franchise" listed amongst them. Nonetheless, another entry is what we've got, following on in much the same vein as Scary Movie 3, meaning a loosely linked series of parodies and fart jokes.
In the firing line this time steps The Grudge, Saw, The Village, War of the Worlds and for some reason Million Dollar Baby, so a working knowledge of these flicks would be advisable. These are poked fun at with varying degrees of success, these degrees ranging from 'complete failure' to 'mildly gigglesome'.
There are pitfalls in this line of film-making, of course. This first two entrants in the series proved the point handily by asking us to care about it's characters despite being damn foolish affairs all round, and the tangentially related disaster Date Movie proved another by being a million times less funny than that it seeks to parody. When Scary Movie 4 works, and it does have it's moments, it's often because it's targets are well chosen. The Village was a loathsome, risible film and seeing other people treat it with the same contempt as I think it deserves gives me a warm glow in my liver, although that might just be cirrhosis.
Undisputably the best addition to Ver. 3 was Leslie Nielsen, a true colossus of silly modern comedy and one of my favourite comic actors. While he's still present and still President of the U.S.A, his role is vastly trimmed and largely underwritten. Indeed, the only good lines he's been granted are those you've already seen in the trailer commenting on Prez. Bush the Younger's handling of being informed of the 9/11 attacks. Actually, anyone having seen this film's surprisingly lengthy theatrical trailer has seen all of the best jokes already and would be best advised to make this the limit of all contact with the film.
If there's one reason over any other I want to like this outing, it's the delicate approach it takes to horrible Scientology dwarf Tom Cruise. I believe 'merciless' is the best word. Honestly, given some of the bilge that has spouted from that man in recent years my only criticism of it's approach is that it didn't actually lock Cruise in a room full of starving jaguars and then launch the jaguars directly into the sun, just to be sure of his removal from this world. Tom Cruise, man, what an arsehole.
All of which is skirting rather neatly around the issue of this being any good at all, which is probably what you were looking for in the first place. The answer is, nah, not really. It's gags miss more than they hit, and there's more of a reliance on bodily function references that just plain stopped being funny after hitting puberty. The performances from Craig Bierko and Anna Faris are reasonable, the failures stemming from the lack of good material rather than their delivery of it.
Despite the above, we have to point out that not only does this sub-par outing become the second funniest in he series, it's also substantially better than the last two supposed comedies I've been forced to suffer through, The Pink Panther and Date Movie. If you really must get to the cinema to watch something advertising itself as a comedy this is sadly your best bet at the minute, but you'd really be better advise to dig out your copy of The Naked Gun and give that another bash instead.
Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 2/5 TippyMarks.
Anna Faris (Cindy Campbell)
Regina Hall (Brenda)
Leslie Nielsen (President Harris)