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david zucker

There’s no easy way to review Scary Movie 4. On one hand it’s a disjointed, plot-lacking film held together with a series of jokes that may or may not be funny depending on your sense of humor. On the other, the jokes are usually pretty damn funny and the spoofs they gravitate towards may not be comedy gems in the eyes of most professional critics, but lose looking for a laugh on a Saturday afternoon, Scary Movie 4 fits the bill.

Returning for her fourth outing is Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris) who once again has to deal with a set of unusual circumstances involving an alien plot to invade the earth. Joining her is a cast of many including cameos and holdovers from Scary Movie 3. In fact, the fourth installment in the series does an adequate job of bridging the gap between the two films by showing us where characters are only a few years later.

The main movie being spoofed here is The War of the Worlds in which Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko) takes on the role played by Tom Cruise in Steven Spielberg’s underwhelming original. Complete with kids that hate him, Ryan must save his family from an alien attack after a ‘TriPod’ erupts from the street and begins to vaporize the curious human beings. There really isn’t any need for spoiler warnings, but the puppet from Saw and the dead kid from The Grudge play an important part in moving the story along.

This is really a love-it or hate-it movie, but comedy veterans David Zucker and Jim Abrahams have put together a film that is funny consistently through with enough jokes and gross out moments to keep you chuckling all the way though. Although the belly laughs aren’t as constant as you would imagine, re-watching Scary Movie 3 on cable proved that the series can remain consistently funny even years after their release.

In an auspicious bit of cameo casting Charlie Sheen reprises his role from Scary Movie 3 only to be a tormented man sleeping with three women and wanting to end his life. How he chooses to do this is one of the most awkwardly funny suicides in movie history. We also get a cameo from Carmen Electra in a bowel-moving episode guaranteed to make you vomit a little bit in your mouth. Finally, Leslie Nielson returning as the President is a welcome addition to the cast and his speech to the United Nations is priceless once his clothes are zapped off.

The series still has its edge, even though the fourth installment does show a little bit of aging. Still, with so many movies released every year, there’s plenty of material abound for the creators to pull more material for the series guaranteed fifth installment. With such worthy candidates as The Da Vinci Code, Mission: Impossible III, and X-Men: The Last Stand all opening this summer, the next Scary Movie is one sequel I can’t wait to see.

If there ever was a review proof genre, the spoof would take number one prize for simply being what it is. As American’s we like to see things be dramatic and compelling, then we like to see some sick, funny guy come back through and do a, “What if,” with the script. Like, “What if Morpheus was a cow,” or “What if I make the aliens kick you in the nuts?” All of these questions, well at least some of them, can be answered in a well written, cleverly composed spoof, and it doesn’t matter what the critics think, the American people will wonder to these films like candy.

Enter Scary Movie 3, the third film in the horror/spoof franchise developed by the Wayans brothers. Scary Movie set new records for distributor Miramax (something Scary Movie 3 topped in its first weekend) and showed that the spoof comedy-sub-genre was still alive and kicking after being beaten to death during the 1980’s, in part by David Zucker, SC3‘s directory. After the Wayans decided not to pursue the third (and possible fourth) installments of the series, Miramax turned to comedy veteran Zucker (Airplane, The Naked Gun) and a cast of new and returning characters to ream such high profile movies as Signs and The Ring.

Scary Movie 3‘s choice to go after such films seems to be a better choice than the tongue-in-cheek Scream (Scary Movie 1) and the disappointingly lackluster House on Haunted Hill (Scary Movie 2). The story boils down to two seemingly incompatible storylines that begin to intertwine and shed the light on why aliens may be readying an attack on earth, and what key a mysterious tape holds.

Breaking away from the R-rating helped Scary Movie 3 more than it hurt it. The film is now much more accessible to the common teenager and it prevented then from going crazy with penises again (something the Wayans brothers had a particular fascination for). Don’t count out the gross out jokes though. The film still features its fair share of going over the top in both visuals and taste. There are more than a few scenes that should get a few people’s panties in a bunch, but it is all in good fun.

The ensemble cast includes Charlie Sheen, Anna Faris, Anthony Anderson, Simon Rex, and Leslie Nielson with cameos by Jenny McCarthy, Eddie Griffin, Queen Latifah, and Pamela Anderson. There are other cameos throughout but half the fun is finding them for yourself, especially a dead-on interpretation of what we all heard during a certain, confusing sequence of The Matrix Reloaded.

Like I said, this film is review proof simply from the fact that it throws so many jokes at the wall and gets you to laugh at the ones that stick, or at least appear to. There are times when gags fall immediately flat, but then you are treated to some true crown jewels that will stand out in comedy history for ever. Charlie Sheen stands out as a spoof of Mel Gibson’s character in Signs and literally steals the entire movie when he finds out his wife (Denise Richards) has been pinned to a tree by a car.

Regardless of my qualms and quips with the movie, you aren’t going to cinematic glory in it’s finest for, you are going to see the man responsible for some of the funniest spoofs ever craft the Scary Movie franchise into a new form and makes Scary Movie 3 the best film in the franchise to date. We can only hope Scary Movie 4 will become a reality, sooner than later.