APRIL 12, 2013
If you loved the gag in the Scary Movie 5 trailer where Charlie Sheen got his balls rammed into the door over and over, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is, that bit, along with a few others in the trailer, was excised from the final cut. The good news is there are about a dozen others just like it; Simon Rex in particular seems to take a hit to the groin, gut, or face every 30 seconds or so, and I'm pretty sure everyone in the movie would have been killed from physical trauma by the end (though, I don't think anyone actually dies in the entire thing except for Charlie - remember when these movies were rated R?). However, I myself hate that kind of humor and always have, so the movie was seriously trying my patience during the extended bits of Rex being hit in the face over and over, or an ape being hit in the face over and over, or Terry Crews being hit in the face over and over... you get the gist.
See, I love a good physical comedian - Chevy Chase was (OK, is) my hero and he certainly has made us laugh by falling down as Gerald Ford or knocking over priceless items (Foul Play, Caddyshack II, European Vacation... probably more). But there's a difference between that and getting hit in the face or balls - ANYONE can take (or deliver) said hit, but you need to actually have a gift to pull off the sort of physical humor I actually find funny. Molly Shannon is one such performer, and has a great bit where she is covered in casts and braces (after yet another "getting physically injured = funny" sight gag) and trying to get inside of a bathroom stall - THAT is funny to me (and to star Ashley Tisdale, apparently - the obligatory blooper reel has her cracking up several times at Shannon's exaggerated (and hilarious) movements as she tries to get inside the door). So it's a shame that for every one gag in that vein there's about 20 that involves nothing more than someone being hit in their groin and making a pained face.
In between all that intolerable shit (seriously, any scene with Simon Rex is just a black hole of comedy), there are a surprising number of good gags, and I'm shocked (saddened?) to admit I laughed at least 20 times, which is 20 more times than I did at its trailer - it's important to note that my expectations were very, very low. But if you're keeping score, that's still about 5x as many as laughs as A Haunted House, the last horror spoof deemed worthy of theatrical release (there were more that went DTV. I believe this is the 5th time I've seen a full length parody primarily based around Paranormal Activity). It's interesting to note the jump in quality; while neither of them are even worthy of being in the same section of the video store as Airplane or even Hot Shots Part Deux, the Scary Movie franchise DID begin with Marlon Wayans, who has long since abandoned it. So David Zucker and Pat Proft along with director Malcolm Lee have effectively beat him at his own game this year - not only spoofing the same movie he did, but doing a better job of it - and in the series he started! It's more interesting than anything on screen, at any rate.
Actually I take that back - I was pretty fascinated by the fact that Mama was parodied just as much as Paranormal Activity, given that it just came out less than three months ago and the jokes aren't just copied from whatever they might have learned from the trailer. No, some of them are actually really specific to the movie, like Tisdale (standing in for Jessica Chastain) playing her bass, or the fact that one of them needed glasses. Hell the entire finale is a shot for shot copy of the cliff sequence (and I had to chuckle, as this cheapo Halloween store witch looks scarier than that movie's abhorrent digital thing), so if you haven't seen Mama yet some of the gags might not land as well, which is unusual for a parody as they tend to stick with what people know from the trailers (i.e. when spoofing Ghost, you do the pottery wheel, not, I dunno, Sam kicking the sculpture to get it through the window). Likewise, there's a lengthy bit involving sentient pool cleaners that probably only works if you've seen Paranormal Activity 2.
As with Scary Movie 4 (I can't recall a damn thing about 3 anymore), it's not just horror that gets mocked, though it's not as bad as that one's parodies of Brokeback Mountain and Fahrenheit 9/11. The excursions are at least in the sci-fi/fantasy genre (Inception, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and they stick to Paranormal, Mama, and Black Swan for the most part. There's also a lengthy Evil Dead gag, which has to be a first for a parody - you can go next door and see the WEEK-OLD movie they're spoofing! Curiously, that and (again) the Mama gags are fleshed out and seem to prove that the screenwriters actually saw those films, whereas the Sinister and Insidious spoofs - films that are months/years old - are quick and wholly extraneous, as if they were thrown in at the last minute to keep the film fresh. Even for this woefully flimsy narrative, the Sinister one in particular just doesn't make a lick of sense, and comes/goes out of nowhere, like it was something they shot just for the trailer and accidentally edited it into the film. Why are the newer films more fleshed out than the ones that have been around for a while?
But hey, I can't just list the things that made me laugh like last time, so that's a good thing. I particularly loved the extended sight gag where Darren Aronofsky's penchant of filming someone walking down a street with lots of jerky camera movements is spoofed to a ridiculous degree - it will probably go completely over the heads of the target audience, but I appreciated the effort, same as I did for adding "Gort" back into the obligatory "Klaatu barada nikto" for the Evil Dead parody. And even if the joke was swiped from Spice World (!) the bit where a toy car is shown driving to a locale when they couldn't afford to show it for real was pretty cute. I also found myself laughing more often than not at the fake Morgan Freeman voice that narrated the movie (he even made a fart joke land, that's impressive), and while Tisdale is certainly no Anna Faris, she at least puts the effort in and can make some of the gags work, which is more than I expected from a High School Musical alumni. I couldn't help but wonder if she was supposed to be Cindy, however - especially when she finds herself saddled with a sassy black friend not unlike (read: exactly like) the Brenda character played by Regina Hall in the previous entries.
On that note, they seem to be going out of their way to toss out any existing "continuity" from the older entries - while I understood Charlie Sheen was playing himself and not his character from the others, I was baffled that Rex ALSO seemed to be playing a different guy - yet he's still the brother to Sheen's character, rendering it needlessly confusing for anyone who would give a shit (hopefully not many). But why cast Rex, who can't land a single joke in the movie, if he's not even playing the same guy? Literally any other actor in the world would have made more sense, including Sheen again since it's a Mama spoof (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau played both brothers in that one). With Haunted House so recently spoofing the same thing (it's amazing how many jokes are the same - including a noise from a closet that turns out to be someone in a very tiny bathroom), I can't see anyone but die hard Scary Movie fans (I'm sure some exist; the average gross for a Scary Movie is more than most of the stuff its parodying) turning out for this thing, and even they are likely to be scared away by Dimension's awesome new tactic of hiding the movie from the now-traditional Thursday late shows. Advanced press screenings were out of the question, but when they won't even let the possibility of real critic reviews (meaning: not guys like me) show up until Friday afternoon, they're obviously embarrassed and/or worried. Sadly, it seems they didn't have to be - it's just as "eh, fine" as the others, despite the lack of Faris (who can make anything watchable), which alone is something of a victory.
And if you DO see it, make sure its at a matinee to get your money's worth. The end credits run for a whopping 14+ of its 85 minutes - meaning just under 20% of the movie is not the actual movie, though each full-screen credit is interrupted by a (usually unfunny) blooper, some of which center around gags that were cut, softening the blow some. If you make it all the way to the end you can see an extra scene that (spoiler, but seriously?) reveals the entire movie was a dream Sheen had, which I like to think is their way of leaving the potential for Faris and the others to come back and just writing this one out entirely. As if it would matter.
What say you?