Saturday, August 20, 2011

An Utter, Unredeemable Waste Of Time And Celluloid: Scary Movie 4 (Movies Not Worth Reviewing Vol. 1)

The Good: Decent preview
The Bad: Terrible acting, Categorically not funny, Not clever, Pretty much everything
The Basics: Terrible, flat out terrible. Everything else I write about this is overstating that simple fact.

A friend of mine is a huge fan of horror films. She has been having a rough time at work lately and so I had the idea to surprise her with a night of decompressing where we would have a nice dinner, talk and watch a stupid movie. I had recently seen a preview - on another DVD - that I found amusing wherein War Of The Worlds was being parodied by the invasion of the iPods. The preview featured Craig Bierko, who I recognized from the third season of Boston Legal (reviewed here!), mocking Tom Cruise and I found myself amused. I was surprised to find the preview was for Scary Movie 4 and I decided this would be appropriate for an evening of friendly decompressing and simply not being stressed with a friend.

Scary Movie 4 failed to live up to even my lowest expectations.

Parodying The Grudge, Spielberg's War Of The Worlds, Saw, and The Village, with winks to Brokeback Mountain and Fahrenheit 9/11 (or reality, I suppose), Scary Movie 4 finds Cindy Campbell - whom I presume is the recurring character from the previous three incarnations - moving to Tom Ryan's neighborhood where she is taking care of the catatonic Mrs. Norris. Tom Ryan - a parody of Tom Cruise's character from War Of the Worlds - begins to express interest in Cindy as Cindy is tormented by an undead boy. Tom and Cindy end up on the run from the Tr-iPods that have arrived at Earth blowing things up.

The bottom-line here is simple: watch the preview, if you enjoy it, don't watch this movie. It's all downhill from the preview. The funniest jokes are in the preview. I thought, for example, Robbie, Tom's son, asking, "What's going on?" to have Tom say, "There's no time to explain!" when a stranger knocks on the door and screams, "It's an alien invasion!" and Tom admitting, "That pretty much explains it." Was funny. It's also in the preview. In all honesty, outside what appears in the preview, the humor in Scary Movie 4 is dumb, not clever, and, well, not funny.

Kevin Smith, director of Clerks and Dogma, has said of his movies that he's just a guy who loves putting dick and fart jokes in movies and he's been fairly successful with telling the same story over and over again with his clever repackaging. Sadly, Smith's genius to keep crude humor flowing and disguised by intelligent dialogue and clever plot-lines or genuine character, is absent from Scary Movie 4. So, what the viewer is left with is approximately eighty-eight minutes of butt and urine jokes that could only appeal to the most dense preteens, who I suppose this movie is marketed to. The movie is just fixated on butts and homophobic jokes that are just plain dumb.

And, to reiterate, they aren't funny.

Scary Movie 4 is not funny. It's supposed to be, but it constantly falls short. Way short. Seeing Dr. Phil as a parody of himself in the opening moments of the movie was cool, but I'm not a fan of Dr. Phil. Then again, his part is in the preview as well.

Craig Bierko, who I honestly am not a fan of on Boston Legal, plays the parody of Tom Cruise well enough. When he is being over-the-top funny, he works, but too often, he is playing earnest and it does not work. Bierko's best moments, like most of the movie, appear in the preview trailer.

Cindy Campbell is played by Anna Faris and her look is of Sarah Michelle Gellar from The Grudge. Faris plays clueless throughout the movie and she lacks screen presence or charisma to keep us watching her.

The tragedy of actors here takes the form of young Conchita Campbell, who plays Tom Ryan's daughter Rachel. Conchita Campbell portrays Maia, the creepy clairvoyant girl on The 4400 and she is an amazing talent for an actress so young. Scary Movie 4 is a waste of her considerable talents and is a disservice to the budding career of someone with such potential.

When one sits down to watch a movie like Scary Movie 4, they are not anticipating great filmmaking. What they want is to be entertained. The audience does not even get that out of this movie. There are ways to parody that illustrate a clever insight, a keen wit and/or showcase foibles and plotholes of the works they parody. Scary Movie 4 does no such thing.

As a broader commentary on Scary Movie 4, because there is so little to write about a movie as utterly, unredeemably bad as this, I would like to suggest that this type of garbage, which grosses millions of dollars by appealing to the lowest common denominator, is why terrorists hate America. Seriously. If you check out the credits for this movie, you'll see how many people were involved in putting together this piece of trash. Millions of dollars were spent, thousands of people were put to work and American audiences gave millions of dollars to watch or own this. All of those resources could have been better spent feeding our poor, striving for world peace or educating our citizens. It's decadent. Now, I realize that the same organizations that educate, feed and work for peace are not the ones who make movies like Scary Movie 4, but this type of waste is indicative of our culture and that a populous would glorify this and spend money on it while objecting to paying slightly more in taxes to feed the poor - for example - is offensive to artists, the hungry and other cultures looking in on our decadence. This is the arrogance of those who rule the world, yet live in a cultural wasteland.

The only thing that is worthwhile about Scary Movie 4 is that it is making me angry enough to write my Representative to ask him to increase the NEA's budget.

If you value whatever time you have in this life to experience all that humanity can achieve, read this review, if you have occasion, watch the preview for Scary Movie 4, but don't waste your precious life and time sitting through this. You'll regret it. Begging our unresponsive government for more money for art is a better use of our time than watching this . . . I've run out of euphemisms for "garbage" that don't resort to the level of this movie.

For other works with Molly Shannon, please visit my reviews of:
Bad Teacher
Glee - Season 1
30 Rock - Season 1
How The Grinch Stole Christmas


For other movie reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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