“SCARY MOVIE V” (Movie Review)
First there were SCARY MOVIE and SCARY MOVIE 2, in which a few good laughs got mired in endless crudity and bodily-function gags. Then there were SCARY MOVIE 3 and SCARY MOVIE 4, in which things improved under the stewardship of AIRPLANE/NAKED GUN vet David Zucker. Now comes the latest installment, which feels very much like parts of SCARY MOVIE 5 and SCARY MOVIE 6 were slapped together into one movie.
Opening at least two years after Dimension promised it, SCARY MOVIE V derives its basic premise from PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2, with young couple Jody (Ashley Tisdale) and Dan (Simon Rex) moving into a well-appointed house, experiencing weird phenomena and setting up surveillance cameras while their maid Maria (Lidia Porto) tries to dispel the evil via religion. Their jobs also reference genre fare from a couple of years back: Jody wins a role in a ballet production amidst a BLACK SWAN milieu, while Dan’s work in primate research occasions a parody of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. There’s also a sequence in which Jody tries dream therapy to solve their paranormal problems and ends up in a spoof of INCEPTION.
The setup and a good deal of the film, however, takes off on the three-month-old MAMA as Jody and Dan take his feral nieces Kathy (Gracie Whitton) and Lily (Ava Kolker) into their home. When Jody and her fellow ballerina Kendra (Erica Ash) return to the cabin where the girls were discovered, they blunder into a situation right out of the new EVIL DEAD (with Sarah Hyland as the Jane Levy stand-in), which just opened last week. You’ve gotta give these folks credit for acting fast, if not for integrating all the old and new footage in any way that makes sense.
Of course, sense is not what you look for in a SCARY MOVIE, but you can’t credit this entry’s creators for coming up with much in the way of decent humor either. Against the odds, the funniest part of V is the opening with Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan as themselves, having a bedroom romp that becomes increasingly outrageous and zips by in fast-motion à la THE BENNY HILL SHOW, complete with imitation “Yakety Sax” on the soundtrack. It’s an easy way to get laughs, but it succeeds, and every so often as the film goes on, director Malcolm D. Lee milks a few chuckles out of speeding up slapstick via those security cams.
Much of the rest, though, is depressingly lame and desperate. It’s surprising to see Zucker and longtime collaborator Pat Proft credited with the script, given that so many of the jokes fall flat, they don’t even feel like jokes, and they often seem to be just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks (an approach that becomes unfortunately literal with a running gag about what apes do with their poop). SCARY MOVIE V is rife with adolescent filthiness that even adolescents might rightly consider beneath them, cheap shots that miss their targets and business that probably sounded funnier on a conceptual level than it plays on screen, like the pool-cleaning device having a pool party with lots of other pool-cleaning devices. The utterly slapdash way in which the old and new scenes have been thrown together (with occasional narration by a Morgan Freeman soundalike) prevents SCARY MOVIE V from building any sort of comic momentum, and instead gets you thinking about all the cut footage that must by lying around somewhere. In fact, some of it can be found in two somewheres: the trailer, at least half of which doesn’t appear in the film itself, to the point where it seems to be advertising a different flick, and copious outtakes intercut with the end credits that extend the 71 minutes of actual movie to 86.
Tisdale is no Anna Faris (the charmingly silly heroine of the other SCARY MOVIEs), Rex overdoes everything and a cavalcade of talented supporting players and stunt-cast guest stars—Darrell Hammond, Molly Shannon, Jerry O’Connell, Heather Locklear, Usher, Mike Tyson, etc.—are trotted out to no avail. Under the circumstances, the best impressions are made by young Whitton and Kolker, who demonstrate comic chops beyond their years even as a few of their gags go too far beyond the pale—though it’s Porto as Maria who gets stuck with the most offensive, degrading bits. There’s nothing wrong with pushing boundaries in an over-the-top comedy, but SCARY MOVIE V is the kind of film that gives bad taste a bad name. It’s not surprising that the staff of the theater where I caught this, apparently aware of the laugh deficiency, added a joke of their own by billing the film as SCARY MOVIE 5-D.