Once again, I find myself with one movie in a franchise but it is not the first one. Now the Scary Movie franchise kind of started the new generation of parody movies to come out in the 21st century. I never saw any of these movies in the theater but I would usually rent them when they came out on video and always enjoyed them. As to why I find myself with the 4th movie in the series, that was mainly due to some boredom at Blockbuster as they were going out of business and just buying it on a lark but the other movies in the series were already gone. Well, lets see just how funny Scary Movie 4 really is.
The plot: Shaquille O’Neal and Dr. Phil wake up to find themselves chained to the walls in a dingy bathroom. A TV suddenly turns on and a clown doll begins speaking, saying they have 2 minutes to escape the room before they are killed by the poison gas seeping in. Seeing a pair of hacksaws connected to a metal arm underneath a basketball net, Shaq attempts to make a free throw to trigger the arm and after missing several times, and injuring Dr. Phil as a result, he finally makes the basket. The two try sawing through the chains but Dr. Phil realizes they are meant to saw off their foot and, after being goaded by Shaq, he cuts off his own foot only for Shaq to point out he sawed off the wrong one, and Dr. Phil collapses to the floor. Meanwhile, Cindy Campbell goes to see her brother-in-law Tom and as she thanks him for recommending her for a job as a home health care worker, Tom tries to commit suicide by taking a bottle of sleeping pills but ends up taking Viagra by mistake, causing his penis to swell up and as he tries to get it to go down, he ends up falling off the balcony and dying. Elsewhere, Tom Ryan is a crane operator at the docks but after causing an accident due to his working 16 hours, he decides to quit his job. He heads to a bar, where he runs into Mahalik and CJ, two friends of his that were also friends of Cindy’s late husband George, and they tell him about a fishing spot they had found when he suddenly leaves. Tom pulls up to his house to find his ex-wife waiting there with their kids, Robbie and Rachel, who are their for a visit. Cindy heads to the office and is greeted by her new boss, who quickly takes her to the home of Mrs. Norris, the old woman she is to care for, but as he tells Cindy her duties and shows her the house, he tries to hide the evidence of the house being haunted. Mrs. Norris’s house happens to be next door to Tom’s, and Cindy ends up meeting and talking with him after he accidentally hits her with a baseball. After Cindy encounters the ghost boy Toshio during the night, she tells Tom about it, as well as how George died. The two realize their attraction and start to kiss when a sudden lightning storm occurs, forcing Tom, Cindy, and Rachel to take shelter. When the storm passes, Tom goes looking for Robbie, noticing that all of the vehicles have stopped moving, and when he gets downtown, he witnesses a giant IPod emerge from the ground and start playing music before changing into a triPod and start killing people. Meanwhile, Cindy encounters Toshio again and while she attempts to communicate in bad Japanese, Toshio tells her that the secret to defeating the aliens lies with his father’s heart, then shows her a map to where he lives. Tom returns home and tells Robbie and Rachel they are leaving. As they make their way to a auto shop, Tom sees Cindy and she tells him she has to find the man that can stop this and asks Tom to come with her but he tells her he has to look after his kids and she makes him promise to look for her when this is over. As Cindy follows the map, she finds the wreckage of a plane crash and is surprised to see her friend Brenda had survived it and after they steal a working car, they continue on Cindy’s journey. They eventually reach a secluded village and Cindy recognizes the town’s leader, Henry Hale, as Toshio’s father. The two are captured and put on trial by the village elders, where they decide that they are to remain in the village and never leave. Meanwhile, Tom, Robbie, and Rachel find a working car but after encountering some survivors, the car gets stolen. They continue walking towards Tom’s ex-wife’s house but when they see the military attacking the triPods, Robbie runs off to try and help while Tom and Rachel take shelter in a nearby cellar. Elsewhere, President Baxter Harris has been told of the alien attack, though he is more concerned with finding out what happens in “My Pet Duck”, and as he attends a meeting at the UN. Baxter tells the assembled leaders about their capturing an alien weapon and their attempts to use it as a shield but the weapons ends up disintegrating everyone’s clothes. Tom tries to comfort Rachel but when an alien tendril enters the cellar, they try to hide but end up being captured. Meanwhile, Cindy and Brenda are forced to hide when monsters from the woods approach the village but the soon discover the monsters are actually the village elders in disguise. The discover that Henry had been stabbed by Ezekiel, the village idiot, and he tells Cindy that he loved Toshio but he was killed at a boxing match, the same one that George died at. As Cindy ad Brenda go to leave, they end up being captured by a triPod, the same one that had captured Tom and Rachel. Cindy, Tom, and Rachel are grabbed by another tendril and taken inside the ship and when Cindy comes too, she finds herself trapped in the bathroom at the beginning of the movie, along with Brenda and Tom. The TV turns on and the doll, which is really an alien, tells her that they have 60 seconds to live but Cindy is able to disarm the trap. The alien then shows them a captive Rachel and Robbie and threatens to kill them but Tom sacrifices himself to save their lives. Cindy sees a heart on one of the toilets and when she looks in the bowl, she finds pictures showing that the alien was actually Toshio’s father. The alien says that he wants revenge on humanity for the death of his son but after witnessing Tom willing to give up his own life for his kids, he decides to forgive them and end the war. The group all leave while the alien’s all end up dying due to one of the aliens catching something when he sleeps with Brenda. Tom delivers Rachel and Robbie back to his ex’s house, where he meets her elderly husband, while Brenda ends up giving birth to an alien baby. One month later, Tom is on Oprah and goes crazy while professing his love for Cindy, throwing Cindy across the stage while breaking Oprah’s wrists.
Scary Movie 4 met with negative reviews from the critics, holding a 37% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is, “Sure to inspire a few chuckles, but not enough to compensate for the recycled material from its predecessors.” The bathroom set used to parody Saw was so exact in it’s duplication, that the producers of Saw asked if they could use it for Saw III. The movie was a box office hit, earning $178.3 million off of a $40 million budget.
I don’t know if I just became somewhat jaded over the years but while this is good for some laughs, I found it a little disappointing. The acting was ok, with Anna Faris (Cindy), Regina Hall (Brenda), and Craig Bierko (Tom) doing pretty good jobs in their roles. The plot was honestly pretty weak, relying mainly on the parody elements to try and carry the movie. As for the parodies, the main movies parodied were War Of The Worlds (2005), The Grudge, and Saw, but other movies parodied were The Village, Million Dollar Baby, and Brokeback Mountain among others. Aside from the parody aspect, the comedy was mostly slapstick with some innuendo thrown in. One running gag that did make me laugh, as bad as it sounds, was all of the times that Rachel was inadvertently injured or had something done to her. This can make you laugh but there are better parodies within the series itself, let alone other movies.
Rating: 3 out of 5