Scary Movie 4 DVD Review
Written by Sham
DVD released by Dimension Films
Directed by David Zucker
Written by Craig Mazin, Jim Abrahams, and Pat Proft
2006, Region 1 (NTSC), 91 minutes, Unrated
DVD released on August 15th, 2006
Anna Faris as Cindy Campbell
Craig Bierko as Tom Ryan
Regina Hall as Brenda
Leslie Neilson as President Harris
Bill Pullman as Henry Hale
Carmen Electra as Holly
Anthony Anderson as Mahalik
Kevin Hart as CJ
Chris Elliot as Ezikiel
Dr. Phil as Himself
Shaq as Himself
Molly Shannon as Marilyn
Henry Mah as Mr. Koji
Conchita Campbell as Rachel
Beau Mirchoff as Robbie
The Scary Movie franchise, a paradoxical series of films initially targeted at the horror genre, began in the summer of 2000 with the hard R-rated, simply titled, Scary Movie. The film itself, released on July 7 from Miramax and starring Shawn and Marlon Wayans, was a parody of teen slasher movies, a booming subgenre all on its own. The movie poked fun at then-recent splatter flicks like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, and it pushed the boundaries in terms of how far a film of its ilk can go. It displayed full frontal male nudity not once, but three times, as well as a sequence involving a geyser of semen mimicking Johnny Depp’s famous death in A Nightmare on Elm Street. The movie not only went on to become one of the most successful films of the year, but it garnered a well-earned place as the 16th highest grossing R-rated picture in the history of movies.
It didn’t take long for producers to start thinking of sequels and, sure enough, Scary Movie 2 hit theaters on Independence Day in 2001, spoofing haunted house flicks like The Haunting remake, The Changeling, and even Poltergeist. The film, once again starring the Wayans brothers, was a success just like the original, but it lacked the zestful boundary push the first film endeavored and achieved.
Two years passed before another sequel and, by that time, David Zucker, director of Airplane! and two of the Naked Gun movies, had signed on. Shawn and Marlon Wayans dropped out and Anna Faris, returning from the first two movies, was in the spotlight. The heavy R-rating had been reduced dramatically to an audience-friendly PG-13, and a wider variety of movies were covered, from the action flick The Matrix to the low-key 8 Mile. Scary Movie 3, a fresh take on the old material, jump started a craze of movie parodies and set the record as having the biggest October opening weekend ever.
Now, three years later, the team behind Scary Movie 3 returns for this fourth film of the series, and fans of the previous movies have all the reasons to rejoice. Scary Movie 4 is arguably the best one yet and, at a short 83 minutes, the only negative aspect to the production is it ends even before the laughs stop. This is exactly what a spoof should be.
Anna Faris once again plays Cindy Campbell, an unlucky blonde with a big heart and small brains. When Cindy begins taking care of an elderly woman as her new job, strange things start to happen. She begins seeing ghostly apparitions of a pale Asian boy, and an awkward incident in the shower leaves her very concerned. Things look up for Cindy when she meets equally inauspicious crane-worker Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko). Unfortunately, as the two develop an idealistic relationship, all hell breaks loose when an alien tripod rises from the ground and zaps people into oblivion, leaving behind only the victim’s clothing. There’s a great scene where a woman admires another victim’s outfit while running for safety, just before pushing the lady into the tripod’s death rays and taking off with her clothes.
Cindy eventually splits up with Tom and finds her old friend, Brenda (series veteran Regina Hall), while salvaging a crashed airliner. Through complex clues, the two determine they are to find a historical village that may be the home of someone who knows how to stop the attack. This eventually leads to a climactic showdown in the inside of a tripod reminiscent of the bathroom setting in Saw. Let the spoof games begin.
Scary Movie 4 is crude and fun, and it doesn’t let up on the laughs for a second — that is, once it gets going. Unlike the first three movies in the franchise which featured fantastic opening scenes, Scary Movie 4’s prologue involving Shaq and Dr. Phil chained up in a dilapidated bathroom is extremely weak. It’s a rushed segment that doesn’t serve a purpose, and it’s instantly forgettable. However, once the movie enters Grudge territory, the laughs are piled on like Aunt Jemima pancakes. This is great stuff.
Anna Faris and Regina Hall are the returning stars of the original movies, and they each have learned a great deal in terms of funny dialect and physical comedy. Newcomer Craig Bierko is rightly awkward in a gawky role. Even small supporting actors like Bill Pullman, as Henry Hale, and Henry Mah, as Mr. Koji, hold their own.
The movie’s pacing is mostly smooth, and the interweaving stories are blended with aptness. The characters are amusingly over-the-top, and all of the actors make them even more embellished. An extended sequence where Tom Ryan freaks out on the Oprah show is hilariously exaggerated, while a scene where Cindy and the ghost boy speak Japanese name-brands with completely different subtitles is amusingly clever.
This fourth film is a smarter and funnier installment than the last two and on par with the raunchiness of the original. Another sequel is in the works for 2008 and, if the quality of this film testifies anything, it’s that the future of the franchise is entering bigger and better territory.
Video and Audio:
Dimension’s Scary Movie 4 is a colorful presentation. The 1:85:1 aspect ratio is suitably bright and clear, and even the darker scenes retain the clarity presented throughout the daytime sequences. There’s no noticeable grain, and the colors never bleed. Overall, a more-than-acceptable picture.
Like the picture, Scary Movie 4 sounds good. The bass isn’t incredible, but the sound cues don’t supersede the dialogue either, which is what really matters for this type of film. Often is the case with comedies that the dialogue and score don’t mesh well, meaning one usually overrides the other. That’s not the instance here. The alien tripod sequences utilize the back speakers the most, but they’re nothing too dynamic compared to the Steven Spielberg movie that inspired it.
- Cast and Crew Commentary
- Deleted & Extended Scenes with Optional Commentary
- The Man Behind the Laugh (Director – David Zucker)
- Interviewer’s Worst Nightmare
- The Visual Effects of Scary Movie 4
- The Youngbloodz
- Rappers and Actors
- Theatrical Trailer
- Zany Spoof Humor – Zucker Style
For a film as successful as Scary Movie 4, I’m amazed this is all of the bonus material they could come up with. That list might look long, but when you average each one to about three minutes in length, you quickly run out of features. The material on the disc is good, but, like the movie, they’re just too damn short.
The commentary by director David Zucker, producer Robert K. Weiss and writer/producer Craig Mazin is good, particularly in the segments involving The Grudge and Saw movies. The rest is relatively standard.
Deleted and extended scenes are good, too, and they’re — for the most part — necessary cuts. However, I am a little disappointed that some of the scenes in this unrated version were not shown in the theatrical release, particularly two Village spoofs that are absolutely hilarious.
Bloopers are up next, and they’re fun. They’re not as funny as the movie, but it’s still amusing to hear actors stumble over their lines, forget the dialogue, or just goof around on set.
“The Man Behind the Laugh” is a featurette on David Zucker and his contagious laugh. It’s fairly pointless, but it passes the time.
Following that are two near-identical segments called “The Youngbloodz” and “Rappers and Actors.” Both involve the numerous cameo appearances of several rap and hiphop stars, ranging from Chingy to Fabolous. The segment is a waste of time. It’s like sitting around listening to a bunch of people talk about their 5-second roles for nearly 5 minutes at a time. It gets pretty tedious.
“Interview’s Worst Nightmare” is interesting. It talks about how the actors were asked not to reveal anything about the movie during interviews, and the interviewer was asked to squeeze any information out of the actors. Anthony Anderson steals the show here.
Finally, there’s “The Visual Effects of Scary Movie 4,” the best feature on the DVD. It’s a nine minute behind-the-scenes look of the digital effects used in the film, the best also being the shortest: a butt-shaped cloud shooting out lightning bolts.
|Movie:||– To my surprise, 4 is a rioting good time.|
|Video:||– Excellent. Clear and colorful.|
|Audio:||– Nothing to get excited or depressed about.|
|Features:||– For a box office hit, I was somewhat disappointed that there weren’t more features.|
|Overall:||– Scary Movie 4 is unadulterated fun, and this unrated version is the one you need to see.|
Often with successful movie franchises, the third sequel doesn’t hold up. You can imagine my surprise that I not only enjoyed Scary Movie 4, but found it to be about as good as the 2000 original.
This DVD is a decent purchase for fans of the film and the series in general, although I’d wait for a while to see if a 2-disc special edition comes up. Even if one doesn’t, you can certainly look forward to the reduced price tag of this set by then.
(Tools of the Trade: Sony KF-60WE610 60" Grand Wega TV, Harman/Kardon AVR 330 receiver with Bose speakers and an Emerson DVD player.)
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