March 20, 2006

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Scary Movie 4 (PG-13)
reviewed by Amy Diaz

Anna Faris stumbles through another patchwork of scenes from recent horror and action films in Scary Movie 4, the second film in the unnecessary series to be directed by Airplane!ís David Zucker.

Like a quilt made of the ugliest clothes at a Salvation Army, Scary Movie 4 pulls out the stained and frayed elements of Saw, The Grudge, War of the Worlds, The Village, Brokeback Mountain and Million Dollar Baby and staples them into something that follows Anna Faris and Craig Bierko through a story that is loosely about a haunted house and an alien invasion and how Dr. Phil eventually meets his bloody end.

Scary Movie is less a film with a story and characters and more like an amusement park ride, like Itís a Small World but with D-list actors instead of mechanical dolls and settings from horror films instead of the countries of the world. Much like the Itís a Small World ride, Scary Movie 4 takes only a small portion of your actual day and yet the time, while you are on this ride, feels infinite. ďOh look,Ē you say, ďItís SpainĒ or, in the case of Scary Movie 4, ďitís The Village.Ē And then for 15 minutes that seem to take longer than the entirety of your childhood, the movie progresses very slowly through The Village segment, with set pieces from the film here and actors in Village dress over there and a few moments with Chris Elliot as the Adrian Brody touched-in-the-head character capering around. And then itís over and the ride inches along its track and into a scene from War of the Worlds. Each and every one of these scenes moves at a glacial pace repeating the central ďjokeĒ (an example of the jokes: that Carmen Electra is pooping loudly; that Regina Hallís character is really slutty; that Leslie Nielsenís president is an imbecile) until it takes all your willpower not to scream.

Itís not the toilet-based humor of Scary Movie 4 that I object to (Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle has plenty of poop jokes and it is brilliant, not to mention wet-your-pants funny). Itís the repetitive nature of these jokes and the way that each gag seems to go on forever without one laugh, like a Saturday Night Live sketch in the last third of the show. The recent Larry the Cable Guy movie was all farting and boobies as well, but it didnít dwell on each punch line. With workmanlike efficiency, Larry and his doody-humor kept the movie going and, should you not like this joke about Moonpies, the next joke about underwear was just a few beats away. In Scary Movie 4, we dwell, we stew, we are frozen ó like an anxiety sufferer mid-attack ó in the horrible moment for an epoch. Any movie that holds us hostage for such an eternity needs to treat us better than this. F


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