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WEINSTEIN COMPANY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
David Zucker
Cast:
Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Bill Pullman, Anthony Anderson, Craig Bierko, Chingy, Phil McGraw, Carmen Electra, Chris Elliott, Michael Madsen, Bill Pullman, Cloris Leachman
Writing Credits:
Craig Mazin, Jim Abrahams, Pat Proft, Shawn Wayans (characters), Marlon Wayans (characters), Buddy Johnson (characters), Phil Beauman (characters), Jason Friedberg (characters), Aaron Seltzer (characters)

Tagline:
They're coming. We need your support.

Synopsis:
Sending up blockbusters such as Saw, Million Dollar Baby, War of the Worlds, The Village and The Grudge, the fourth installment of the spoof franchise finds dimwitted Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris) joined by the cute and clueless Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko) in a fight to save the world from an alien invasion.

Box Office:
Budget
$50 million.
Opening Weekend
$40.222 million on 3602 screens.
Domestic Gross
$90.672 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $29.95
Release Date: 8/15/2006

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary With Director David Zucker, Producer Robert K. Weiss, and Writer/Producer Craig Mazin
• Extended and Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Bloopers
• “The Man Behind the Laugh (Director David Zucker)” Featurette
• “Zany Spoof Humor – Zucker Style” Featurette
• “An Interviewer’s Worst Nightmare” Featurette
• “The Visual Effects of Scary Movie 4” Featurette
• “Youngbloodz” Featurette
• “Rappers… Actors” Featurette
• Theatrical Trailer
• Sneak Peeks


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Scary Movie 4: Unrated And Uncensored (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 7, 2006)

Anyone else remember the tagline that accompanied 2000’s Scary Movie? It claimed the film would produce no sequel. That idea turned into a bigger joke than anything in the flick – or its three successors. 2006 brings us Scary Movie 4, with a fifth iteration likely to emerge in a couple of years. These flicks continue to make pretty good money, so I can see why the studios continue to produce them.

I can’t quite figure out the public’s fascination with the series, though. Scary Movie 3 brought in a new creative team and was a little funnier than the first two flicks, but not much. That same group – headed by director David Zucker – remains intact for Scary 4, so the results are awfully similar.

Scary 4 briefly reintroduces us to Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris), the protagonist of the first three flicks. The story then moves off to have us meet Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko), a divorced crane operator who takes his kids for the weekend. When we head back to Cindy, she gets a home health care job where she looks after catatonic Mrs. Norris (Cloris Leachman).

By coincidence, the house where Cindy works sits right next to Tom’s place. They get to know each other and fall in love. However, external events cause complications. Mrs. Norris’ house has a young spirit who terrifies Cindy, and then aliens attack the area. The film follows those threads, their interrelation, and many other attempts at comedy.

“Attempts” being the operative term. The temptation to simply cut and paste my review of Scary 3 became immense here, as both movies worked in extremely similar ways. While Scary 3 mostly spoofed Signs and The Ring, Scary 4 mainly concentrated on War of the Worlds and The Grudge. Both throw out jabs at plenty of other flicks, and The Village also gets a fair amount of play, but those two form the basis of the flicks’ main threads.

If you saw Scary 3 and the movies that largely inspire Scary 4, you’ll know exactly what to expect here. Zucker established his comedy MO a long time ago. He uses a lot of cartoon violence and body function humor. In no way does he stretch himself here. Scary 4 looks and feels exactly like its immediate precessor; only the references change.

That means the humor is equally as hit or (usually) miss as Scary 3. Actually, the flick’s funniest moments appear in its prologue. This features Shaquille O’Neal and Dr. Phil in a spoof inspired by Saw. It features many of the standard Warner Bros. cartoon-influenced slapstick that Zucker loves and that permeates the rest of the film, but the (non)actors liberally poke fun at themselves and make this an amusing segment.

After that, the flick almost immediately goes in the toilet. And I mean that pretty literally, as potty jokes abound. Zucker seems even more attached to violence than usual, though, as those moments pervade the flick. Any potential mirth these might inspire vanishes rapidly due to repetition. The viewer can see the gag coming from a mile away, so the predictable nature of the comedy ruins it. I don’t know if these gags would have worked anyway, but their incessant repetition kills them.

The same goes for most aspects of Scary 4. There’s very little cleverness or inspiration on display, as Zucker just pulls out “Form A”, inserts references to various recent flicks, and zooms away on autopilot. Couldn’t they come up with a more inspired name for the Tom Cruise-based character than “Tom”? Geez, they didn’t even bother to change the names of the kids from War of the Worlds at all – talk about lazy writing!

Zucker also clearly doesn’t know when to quit. Even at a brief 89 minutes, Scary 4 feels very padded. This is one of those movies that ends well before the screen goes dark. In addition to a phenomenally long credit roll – all done slooooowly to expand the running time – the flick tacks on a “Tom Cruise on Oprah” epitaph. This isn’t remotely funny, largely because it’s impossible to parody something that was already as insane as Cruise’s antics on the show. In addition, Zucker drags out the sequence to add precious minutes. He repeats the same gags and just won’t end things to put us out of our misery.

All of this is why Scary 4 doesn’t work. It uses the same kinds of gags over and over, and extends each bit to painful dimensions. For instance, look at the inevitable lame Brokeback parody. (Parody Rule #1 for 2006-2007: every spoof must include a Brokeback reference.) Any potential humor it might produce evaporates because it runs on and on past the point of sensibility. Crude and unfunny is bad enough; crude, unfunny and excessively long is the kiss of death.

Zucker doesn’t even know how to bring creativity and freshness to the project. Does anyone actually still laugh at references to Michael Jackson’s fondness for children or Mike Tyson’s ear-biting? Haven’t these topics been mocked to death? There’s nothing original on display here. It’s just the same old song.

Again, Scary Movie 4 produces the occasional laugh. For example, I was amused by the new name stuck on time after his divorce. Unfortunately, the minor chuckles come too few and far between to allow the movie to prosper. This stinker is too long, too lame, and too pointless.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Scary Movie 4 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only a couple minor problems emerged in this generally strong transfer.

Sharpness was mostly very good. Some shots came across as a little loose, but much of the movie seemed pretty distinctive and accurate. I saw no problems with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement remained very minor. A speck or two appeared, but otherwise the image lacked print flaws.

The colors worked fine. They lacked any runniness or bleeding and seemed positive across the board. The various hues were tight and bold. Black levels appeared nicely dense and deep, while low-light shots offered good clarity and definition. Ultimately, Scary 3 presented a very good image that barely fell below “A”-level standards.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Scary Movie 4’s worked well. The soundfield opened up nicely at times. Most of those came from the War of the Worlds related segments. They didn’t compete with the material from that source, but they were still pretty lively and active. The rest of the movie was more subdued, but the track managed to give us a good sense of place and space through the film.

Audio quality seemed strong. Dialogue always sounded natural and distinctive, and I noticed no issues connected to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded accurate and life-like. Music fared quite well. These elements seemed vivid and lively, with clear highs and nice bass. Across the board, low-end response was firm and rich. All of this was good enough for another “B+”.

As we head to the DVD’s extras, we start with an audio commentary from director David Zucker, producer Robert K. Weiss, and writer/producer Craig Mazin. All three men sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. If you heard their track for Scary 3, you’ll know what to expect here: information mixed with comedy.

In the first area, we get notes about the movies that inspired Scary 4’s sequences, cast and performances, locations and sets, changes made to the unrated cut and the development of some gags, and the use of pick-up shots to ensure some really current spoofs. Though they occasionally praise the film’s bits, the guys show a surprising ability to criticize the parts they don’t think work.

Most of the failures they perceive come from the pieces added for the unrated version, a fact that makes it clear no one them worked on the longer cut. Indeed, they’re constantly surprised to see what’s in the extended Scary 4, which seems odd. Who put together this thing? Wouldn’t it make sense for those people to at least consult the filmmakers? Obviously Zucker and the others don’t disown the unrated cut or else they wouldn’t do commentary for it, but it remains bizarre that the folks who assembled it left them so completely in the dark.

While the guys offer a decent amount of information about the movie, the commentary works best when they joke around about various things. The track goes off onto bizarre tangents at times such as elements of Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet and Zucker’s continued confusion over one part of the film Midway. We also hear an extended discussion of how their work fits into the realm of parody or satire, and also an odd chat about how no one can prove that The Simpsons is funny. Some may become annoyed by these digressions, but I think they bring life and humor to the piece. The commentary’s vastly funnier than the movie itself.

15 Deleted & Extended Scenes fill a total of 13 minutes, 44 seconds. As you can tell based on that running time, we get a lot of short pieces. If almost nothing funny appears in the final flick, that means it becomes unlikely we’ll get any amusement from the parts that didn’t make it. We get a succession of lame gags and don’t find anything worthwhile from these excised segments.

We can watch the clips with or without commentary from Zucker, Weiss and Mazin. They crack wise about the clips but don’t tell us a ton. They don’t always relate why the segments were left out of the final flick – beyond their view of them as crummy - but at least they make it fairly interesting.

A collection of Bloopers runs seven minutes. These feature the expected mix of goof-ups and wacky bits, and they’re pretty tiresome. They also include too many shots of a shirtless Anthony Anderson and too much of “Lil Jon”, arguably the most annoying man in popular music.

After this we find a series of featurettes. The Man Behind the Laugh (Director David Zucker) goes for three minutes and 43 seconds. We get remarks from Zucker and actors Craig Bierko, Leslie Nielsen, Anna Faris, Michael Madsen, Molly Shannon, and Charlie Sheen. They talk about Zucker’s directing methods and his omnipresent giggle. Some of the footage from the set is mildly interesting, but this is mostly a love letter to the director.

In the two-minute and 58-second Zany Spoof Humor – Zucker Style, we hear from Zucker, Mazin, Nielsen, Bierko, and actor Simon Rex. The piece looks at Zucker’s style of spoof humor. We find brief tidbits of substance like a note about Zucker’s comedy rules, but as with “Laugh”, this one largely acts as a puff piece to celebrate the director’s alleged genius.

An Interviewer’s Worst Nightmare lasts four minutes, 58 seconds. Essentially this presents a collection of interview outtakes, as the various subjects act obnoxious and try to be funny. They don’t succeed.

Next comes The Visual Effects of Scary Movie 4. It fills eight minutes, 31 seconds, and features visual effects producer Alison O’Brien, entityfx president Mat Beck, entityfx senior visual effects producer Kymber Lim, entityfx visual effects producer Tricia Hefferman, entityfx lead 3D animator David Alexander, and CafeFX digital effects supervisor David Ebner. They discuss how Zucker wants effects to fit into his films, budgetary concerns, and details of some specific shots. Unlike its predecessors, “Effects” gives us some pretty solid information. It delves into a few of the flick’s elements with a reasonable level of depth. It turns into a nice little show.

During the three-minute and 25-second Youngbloodz, we find remarks from actors/rappers Sean Paul and J-Bo as they tell us about their cameo. We watch parts of the shoot and hear them give us a few observations. It doesn’t add up to much.

Finally, Rappers… Actors goes for two-minute and 39-seconds. It presents notes from Weiss, Zucker, Lil Jon, Chingy, Sean Paul, J-Bo, and Fabolous. They talk about how great their experiences were and that’s about it.

The disc opens with trailers for The Protector, Lucky Number Slevin, Clerks II and Pulse. We also find the theatrical trailer for Scary 4.

If you liked Scary Movie 3, will you enjoy Scary Movie 4? Probably, since they’re really the same film. Scary 4 adjusts its references but in no other way bothers to update the formula. That makes it even less amusing than its already tedious predecessor. The DVD gives us pretty good picture and audio, though, and some occasionally interesting extras. This is a fairly positive DVD for a terrible movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.72 Stars Number of Votes: 25
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main