Movie Review: Scary Movie 5
What We Liked
What We Didn't Like
There is a point where even the staunchest defender can be tested. Put bluntly, I actually like the Scary Movie series, to the point where I enjoy the later entries over the earlier ones. Whether it is simply the abject silliness and pointlessness of them, or the warm and welcome presence of both David Zucker (of Airplane! fame) as writer/producer, or the late Leslie Nielsen as a befuddled President, I cannot help but enjoy the random goofiness onscreen. That said, what can be said when so much changes at once? Zucker writes but no longer directs, replaced by Malcolm D. Lee of Undercover Brother fame? Anna Faris and Regina Hall gone, replaced by Ashley Tisdale and Erica Ash? To be honest, Scary Movie 5 could’ve been worse. But that doesn’t mean it’s worth the theater ticket price.
As far as plot is concerned (and little of it there is), the film follows Jody (Tisdale) and Dan (Simon Rex, one of the few returning veterans of the franchise) as they adopt the three lost children of Charlie Sheen (playing himself) into their home. From there, scenes parodying Paranormal Activity, Mama, Black Swan, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (yes, I am dead serious about this), and even Evil Dead ensue (a feat remarkable in its accuracy to a film released a week before Scary Movie 5 debuted), all to varying degrees of hit and miss. Celebrity cameos come and go (including Jerry O’Connell and Mike Tyson in a hastily edited parody of 50 Shades of Grey), characters get flung into walls at high speed, crotches get banged with pots and pans, and very little of it makes much sense if you think about it for too long.
Trouble is, a lot of these gags are all recycled from the previous entries, and it truly is amazing how quickly people flying through the air from the slightest of injuries makes it look less like a cartoon and more like Zucker is phoning it in at this point. A lot of the movie relies far too heavily on crude sex humor for laughs, which would be fine if they actually turned out funny. But the trouble lies far too much in its PG-13 rating…this movie flirts with an R-rating more than the previous PG-13 entries in the series, and really, that is what this movie should have striven for if that is what they wanted to do. Trying to get more butts in seats, especially teenagers, only serves to make the raunchier stuff too tame to push the boundaries that Zucker seems bound and determined to break, and only highlights that the best gags in the movie rely on nothing disgusting at all. Compare the endless parade of bodily functions that come from the housekeeper Maria (Lidia Porto) to the simple, bizarre moment involving a radio controlled car in a gag reminiscent of a similar bit in Wayne’s World 2, or Molly Shannon’s over-the-top performance as the aging former star of Swan Lake as she stumbles around the room with a drink and a cigarette in her hands (or, later, her angry rant as she tries to enter a bathroom stall). There are moments of bizarre genius in Scary Movie 5, but most of them are buried in bits that make you long for Anna Faris to show up and bring her ditziest A-game to the proceedings.
Still, it is not enough for me to blindly hate Scary Movie 5. There is enough in here that made me chuckle, almost despite myself, but even I will admit this is definitely the weakest entry in the series. It has not reached the depths of the Aaron Seltzer/Jason Friedberg travesty that was Disaster Movie (though to be fair, since then even they have not made anything as bad), but like the disparate movies it tries to string together in the barest coherence of a plot, this time around the elements just do not congeal the way that they used to.
If you are not a fan of the series, or have never seen one, Scary Movie 5 will not make you a convert. If you are a fan, there is stuff here to like, but you may still be better off waiting for the inevitable unrated edition to hit the home video market. The PG-13 rating hurts the film way too much this time to make this clearly toned down edition as much fun as it should be. When the bloopers at the end of the film are providing bigger laughs than the bulk of the movie that is a troubling sign indeed.