It has been 26 years since 1980's Airplane!, which unleashed a brand of comedy that is still embraced to this day. That film took parody and slapstick to a new level in motion pictures.
Now one of the creative forces behind that landmark film, director David Zucker, returns to silver screen. He single-handly turned around the Scary Movie franchise with the third installment in 2003, which not only paid slight homage to Airplane! but also reunited him with Leslie Neilsen, who he directed in Airplane!, The Naked Gun, and The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear.
Scary Movie 3 was the funniest of the series and was a welcomed return of David Zucker. Sadly, his follow-up isn't as funny and just feels like the creative talents involved were just plain lazy.
The film's plot, if you can call it that, finds Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris), the heroine from all the films in the franchise, taking a job as a nursemaid for a catatonic woman (Cloris Leachman) who seems to be petrified by the ghost of a boy who haunts her house. Cindy's next door neighbor is Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko), a dock worker who is having problems with his kids after a divorce and watches as the world is attacked by alien-tripods. The ghost in Cindy's house seems to have the key to defeating the aliens, if she can just find the ghost's father.
The film pokes fun at Saw, War of the Worlds, The Village, The Grudge, and many others. Some of these scenes work while others are disastrous.
The biggest problem I had with the film is that I felt it lacked focus and seemed to fall back on so many other films like it. It is littered with lazy toilet humor and really bad cameos featuring unfunny and disastrous gags by the likes of Charlie Sheen and Carmen Electra. How many times do we need to see the Viagra and misplaced bathroom joke?
I have to hand it to Anna Faris for sticking it out through the best and worst of this series. She is such a great comedic find. If last year's Just Friends was any sign, I know she has a long and hilarious career in front of her.
Scary Movie 4 isn't the worst in the series or worst than say, Date Movie, but it is just a huge disappointment. Please studio executives, put a fork in the Scary Movie franchise because she is done.
David Zucker and his team's next focus will be to parody the ever-growing superhero genre with 2007's Superhero!. Let's hope he can once again excel in the genre he basically created. (2 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.