Sunday, April 16, 2006

"Scary Movie 4"

Bill Pullman: I'm not long for this world
Regina Hall: Pussy

One of the hardest things in writing movie reviews, at least to me, is how much of the story to reveal.

Thankfully, with Scary Movie 4, there's nothing to worry about because there is no story at all.

Director David Zucker and writer Jim Abrahams (with Craig Mazin), who have made a living on spoofs, just throw jokes around faster than Jackson Pollock splattering paint, just to see how many will stick.

So, does it work? Almost half the time, in my opinion, a better ratio than I would have expected going in.

The spoofs here center on five movies: Two I had seen and mostly enjoyed War of the Worlds and Million Dollar Baby) one I simply detested (The Village), and two I skipped (The Grudge and Saw.)

The War of the Worlds stuff, an easy target thanks to Tom Cruise, is very funny. The Saw and Village jokes not so much. I'd say my favorite joke had to be the ipod/tripod one. Stupid? Maybe, but I try not to let thinking get in the way of the fun at movies like this.

The real plus here is Baltimore's own Anna Faris, who plays such a convincing dingbat you think she really must be one until you remember she's stuck it out through four rounds of gamely delivering lines like "It's OK, I've taken balls to the face before" and surely cashing a bigger paycheck with each movie. She and Regina Hall are clearly having fun, and I mostly did to.

However, can we, please, bring to an end to the Brokeback Mountain jokes? The mashups were pretty funny at first, but it's getting old very fast. And besides - a word of warning - Anthony Anderson and the guy who used to play Bud on the Cosby Show in assless chaps is just something I never needed to see.

And seeing Leslie Nielsen as the president - complete with a fairly funny sendup of Bush's reaction to hearing the news about 9/11 in that classroom, if you can stomach that - just made me long for the days of Naked Gun or, even better, Airplane. Those Zucker/Abrahams movies were funnier than this, and at least bothered to have a plot. Scary Movie 4 is like watching a series of "SNL" skits, though it's often much funnier than that dreck.

But critizing Zucker movies is the definition of an exercise in futility: You can't stop him (Scary Movie 3 made $110 million in domestic box office alone, I believe), and I don't think we should.

The Hardest Part of Hope

On a different subject entirely, I'd highly recommend this article "as told to" Telegraph writer Joe Kovac Jr. It's a first-person account from Linda Tillery about her battle with ovarian cancer, dutifully transcribed and reconstructed well by Kovac, and it's truly compelling reading. The first of three installments is on the Telegraph's site here, and look for the rest of the story Monday and Tuesday. I know I will.

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