Scary Movie 4 (2006)

(In theaters, April 2006) Roughly similar in tone to the previous Scary Movie 3, this one is a comedy grab-bag that chiefly goes after (in decreasing order of importance) War Of The Worlds, The Grudge and The Village, with other assorted pokes and tweaks at other films (Saw, Million Dollar Baby and Brokeback Mountain) and pop-culture icons. Scary Movie 4‘s biggest problem is that it’s quite happy to pastiche other films, but seldom goes for the jugular: Movie critics had funnier jabs at War Of The Worlds during the summer of 2005 than the parody ever manages to put together. (The constantly-screaming little girl shtick isn’t even mocked.) Scary Movie 4, alas, is almost completely bloodless in its parodies: it recreates the original with some goofiness but seldom more. (This being said, the production values are often impressive, especially considering the short shooting schedule) Even the rare political gags only make us wish for much more. It’s no surprise, then, if some of the film’s cleverest moments stand completely apart from previous films. As for the actors, well Anna Faris is still cute in an increasingly irritating clueless shtick, while Craig Bierko does well with the thankless task of parodying Tom Cruise. Still, it’s Regina Hall who steals the show as the insatiable Brenda: her arrival in the movie kicks it up another notch (plus, doesn’t she look unbelievably cute in founder’s-era clothing?) Yes, Scary Movie 4 will make you laugh. Dumb, cheap, easy laughs but still; consider it your reward for slogging through endless mainstream horror films.

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