Scary Movie 4
A harmless and mindless slaughtering of less than an hour-and-a-half, Scary Movie 4 is more miss than hit. In fact, it's possible you'll be grinning more than laughing, in reaction to what almost made you laugh.
Tom Cruise has been pop culture for the better part of two years now--save for the Pitt-Aniston-Jolie triangle--inviting both positive (War of the Worlds' success) and negative (tracking mud on Oprah's couch) press. It's no surprise, then, that Cruise's work and leisure activity are most ridiculed in Scary Movie 4. Following a Saw gag and Charlie Sheen cameo (finishing off his Scary Movie 3 role), the film stumbles upon a plot that's a cross between War of the Worlds, The Grudge and The Village: deadbeat dad Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko) watches his kids for the weekend when aliens attack; in the neighboring haunted house, Cindy (Anna Faris) is a caretaker who travels to a remote village in search of answers. Tom and Cindy fall for each other, but after they're respective crises set in they'll have to weave through a spoof obstacle course before they can reunite.
Faris got her feet wet with this franchise, but she may have finally outgrown the recurring role, as these roles are meant to either launch or restore careers. Nonetheless Faris, one of the most talented comedic actresses, handles it with true professionalism, bringing her A-game of faux naïveté and star-quality beauty. Bierko tries his hand at comedy after his underappreciated turn in Cinderella Man. The result is a great Cruise send-up that boldly tackles the couch-jumping as seen on Oprah. Regina Hall, reprising her role as Cindy's randy friend, Brenda, is given the worst role and acts accordingly. Likewise, Leslie Nielsen--back as President Harris from SM3--provides little beyond a brief parody of George W. The rest of the cast--Bill Pullman, Carmen Electra, Chris Elliott, Anthony Anderson and Michael Madsen, et al--would fall in the aforementioned career-restoration category.
After rescuing the Scary Movie franchise from a sub-$100 million gross with SM3, director David Zucker is given another go. And much like his Naked Gun--with old chum Nielsen--felt toward the end of its run, this series is exhausted. Zucker--along with writers Craig Mazin and (frequent collaborator) Jim Abrahams--sets the audience up so many times for at least decent laughs before dropping the ball, bailing out with physical pratfalls that bring to mind a cartoon. The disappointments are endless considering the director has deadpan masters at the ready and enough ammo for an abundance of celeb and/or movie gags, although his jabs at Brokeback Mountain are so pre-Oscars. Of course, he doesn't totally fail to deliver, but it's only when he ceases relying on the Three Stooges bits that anything truly funny happens.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.