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Scary Movie 4 (Frank's Take)

01/05/2006. Contributed by Frank Ochieng

Buy Scary Movie 4 in the USA - or Buy Scary Movie 4 in the UK

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Yeah, muses Franks, we know the deal in terms of the predictable reactions that most movie reviewers and moviegoers will respond differently regarding the stale comedic crassness of yet another Scary Movie entry. See how the mean-spirited critics tear down the spoofing outrageousness of yet another tiring movie franchise that has all the durability of a stick of butter on a scorching Arizona concrete sidewalk.

Scary Movie 4 (2006)

Better yet, see how some clueless movie-going sheep flock together to muster the same old accusations toward treacherous movie critics.

You know, how this breed has no sense of humour whatsoever and that they need to be butchered to death more so than another misguided wacky instalment of a tedious knee-slapping edition of a force-fed Scary Movie retread?

Well folks, it's a stalemate when it comes to disapproving movie critics scoffing at the same recycled yucks while movie audiences wanting to blindly embrace the indigestible charm of a lazy and numbing nutty narrative such as Scary Movie 4. Basically, the infuriating knock on director David Zucker's monotonous mockery is that this film drips out the laboured and lame laughs in the comparable creative fashion of a clogged-up kitchen sink faucet. There's nothing remotely new or challenging in making the same obvious assessments about the insipid Scary Movie film franchise that hasn't been stated before.

Apparently, Zucker is comfortable with the "reliable formula" that persists in his barnyard of belly laughs: cheesy slapstick, juvenile jokes and silly-minded sight gags, lampooning recent movies that don't necessarily need the treatment, re-enactments of pointless jocular segments by the movie's regular cohorts and random celebrity cameos, etc. In a nutshell, Scary Movie 4 is a cockeyed collection of watered-down, lowbrow parodies that have all the revered spark of a joy buzzer jolting an arthritic patient during a spontaneous handshake.

During his heyday when Zucker's nostalgic collaboration with his brother Jerry and Jim Abrahams were instrumental as they oversaw their fair share of gag-infested goofiness, there was a revitalized energy about the way that they were manhandling the spoof flick genre that was quite refreshing in its clever insubordinate feistiness. However, Zucker somehow doesn't have any distinctive or infectious glow that sarcastically captures the so-called instantaneous hilarity that ensues in Scary Movie 4. Instead of swinging confidently at the heavy-handed humour with a convincing cynicism that resonates, Zucker merely jabs at his meagre punchlines with all the skill of a disabled kangaroo wearing loose-fitting boxing gloves.

Although Zucker helmed the last Scary Movie venture (yes, that one being number "3"), the twisted chuckles were received with much indifference. But now Zucker demonstrates his desperation here because his comedic timing is not only off cue but harshly served with an inexplicable dosage of violent abusiveness and gross-out gimmickry. Much like the recently released Date Movie, Scary Movie 4 has the knack for revisiting funny-minded fodder from yesteryear. Thus, the movie is rendered inconsequential in that it resorts to mining some all-too-familiar snickering about material that already ran its comical course before hand.

For instance, the movie doesn't miss its mark in beating up on the sophomoric Brokeback Mountain references. (Listen, did we really need this flick to convey another humorous pot-shot at this highly praised, same sex carnal-loving cowboy romancer?) How about when the movie dares to make naughty fun out of an awkwardly jubilant Tom Cruise jumping on furniture like some berserk bonehead gone wild on "The Oprah Winfrey Show"? Sadly, this often-played ridiculed bit seemed like yesterday's meatloaf dish once Zucker and his team had their satirical bite out of this disturbing old hat laughable episode from a while back.

The problem with Scary Movie 4 is that it plays it safe, as the lagging comedy merits no consideration thanks to the childish antics of the by-the-numbers foolishness it methodically embellishes. It feels so robotic in its ridiculousness to screw over such ditties from the aforementioned Brokeback Mountain to incoherently sticking its tongue out at sci-fi/horror offerings such as Saw, The Grudge, The Village and War of the Worlds. Granted that some of the movie's isolated riotous shtick will have you in stitches.

As they say, even a blind squirrel can find a nut every now and then. Still, this is not saying much for a mindless movie that throws in whatever miscellaneous element it feels it is rabidly chastising only to expect the audience to lose their lunch. In hindsight, Scary Movie 4 amounts to be the comical equivalent of a horn-dog high school boy peeking into the naked girls' volleyball team locker room.

The participants in Scary Movie 4 are not up to the deadpan high jinks that require some juice to inspire the loony listlessness of the proceedings. "Scary" stalwarts Anna Faris, Regina Hall and returnees Chris Elliot and Carmen Electra are just invisible ingredients in a zany stew that's prepared as undercooked. Craig Bierko steps in where Charlie Sheen once assumed the spotlight of madness and is about as relevant as a burrowing mole with dirty fingernails. And to appear somewhat hip and happening, the movie incorporates such featured appearances by hulking NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal as well as rappers Fabolous and Chingy.

Huh? And to remind us all of our enjoyable reminiscences with nonsensical spoof-ridden royalty, the aging King of Kookiness Leslie Nielsen is on board to bedazzle us with his well-known albeit exhausting brand of self-deprecating dim-witted shenanigans that he has relied on so faithfully during his post Airplane/Naked Gun big screen career.

Occasionally amusing but as notoriously taxing as an out-of-date comic book, Scary Movie 4 doesn't have the proper bones to make outlandish skeletal mincemeat out of the pop cultural landscape it skewers so routinely. Also, we've probably seen better executed and robust guffaws from late night variety sketch comedies than what is offered at Scary Movie 4's box office.

Until frolicking filmmakers such as Zucker come to the realization that sculpturing leftover laughs from the blueprint of others is a futile exercise in entertaining forethought, the sooner movies like Scary Movie 4 can die a dignified death.

When the Wayan Brothers stopped milking the comedy cow that was Scary Movie 1 & 2, Zucker and company should have taken the hint and concentrated their feverish funny bone on something that needed welcomed bashing as a tarnished target not yet explored. Hmmm, is it too late to besmirch the staying power of reality television?

Frank Ochieng

Frank Ochieng 2006

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