Movie Review: Scary Movie V- A Humorless Abomination of Rushed Satire that Falls as Flat as the Poorly Delivered Verbal Jokes

scary-movie-5-01The art of parody has been diminishing from the limelight of the cinematic comedy for decades now and it’s no surprise considering the awful abominations that are created in its name, such as the painful experiences in so called comedies like Epic Movie or Date Movie. One of the longest running spoof series is the Scary Movie franchise that has experienced highs and lows depending on the particular film’s strengths and weaknesses. Though the franchise switched creative hands around Scary Movie 3 (arguably the best of the series despite stretching the term of best) the series has never really become a gem of comedic minds or inventive witticism perhaps due to the fact that comedy has devolved at a drastic rate in the last decade with partial blame going towards the original Scary Movie. The past three of the series have tried desperately to re-ignite the silliness of the Zucker inspired parodies of yore with the self-referential style of Naked Gun and the overtly ridiculous delivery of Hot Shots with David Zucker himself writing and producing each of the films. Unfortunately it’s either the Zuckers are losing their touch or this particular style of comedy is becoming incredibly dated because Scary Movie 5 is a humorless bore that is filled with lazy satires and blatantly uninspired regurgitated gags. This unnecessary fifth installment of a laboriously unfunny comedy series is so devoid of wit and style that any attempt at revitalizing a nostalgic comedic delivery is completely lost. With modernized satires coming from the minds of Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and Scott Sanders (Black Dynamite) there can’t be a dependency on lazy writing, gross out gags, and overt silliness when wit, coordination, and cleverness are needed for good comedy. While it isn’t a surprise that director Malcolm D. Lee was helming this unforgivable waste of time it’s truly surprising and disappointing that David Zucker—one of the minds behind Kentucky Fried Movie and Airplane—has Scary Movie 4 and 5 tainting his filmography. It shows an immense amount of laziness when the formula Scary Movie hasn’t changed in a comedic culture that demands more inspiring risks.

Mocking current culture requires expediency and all too often film is too dependent on time commitment to allow credible or relevant parody. The internet age has erupted with amateurs and aspiring entertainers to create on a moment’s notice and have a spoof of some film, television series, commercial, or event ready within days or sometimes even hours. Scary Movie 5 doesn’t just suffer from what could be deemed as dated satire but that stale satire is constructed in a plot so thin that it seems practically non-existent. While previous parodies have constructed themselves around one particular film the last few in the Scary Movie series have been unquestionably scatterbrained. Airplane mocked in full the melodramatic film Zero Hour and Hot Shots mimicked Top Gun in full satirical flavor but Scary Movie 5 sporadically leaps from Paranormal Activity to Mama to the remake of Evil Dead to the odd addition of Black Swan with little to no coherence with each loose addition to this unfunny thread. When the most humorous aspect of your comedy is a desperate scene featuring Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan you know your comedy has already jumped off the cliff. Though there is this nostalgic attempt at keeping alive a comedic formula that seems to be dying out it is handled with little care and ruined by the chaotic desire to rush every single joke and reference. Comedy can’t really deliver its intended laughs without some regard for placement or build up and it seems writers David Zucker and legendary satirist Pat Proft were only concerned with how much material they could forcefully jam into an hour and fifteen minutes. One of the positive comments that can be made about Scary Movie 5 is that each film in the series seems to get drastically shorter which makes for a less excruciating experience as time is concerned. Scary Movie 5 is a good test case for why the satirical formula has died off and why cultural parody isn’t necessarily appropriate for the cinematic medium when the internet and impromptu creativity can do it on a much quicker and far cleverer basis.

Scary Movie 5

Comedy also needs tactful direction because the pacing of jokes and of the material at large needs a delicate touch but choosing the director of Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins and Undercover Brother means you’re heading in the wrong direction. Malcolm D. Lee followed David Zucker and Pat Proft’s disjointed script to the letter and the result is a muddled mess with tasteless jokes (a black person ape reference), lame sight gags (a pizza on a turntable), and repetitive physical comedy (too many to mention). The self-referential nature of the comedy doesn’t have an ounce of cleverness as it had in The Naked Gun or Airplane so all of the facial gimmickry and self-mockery lands as flat as the punchlines in all of the intended verbal jokes. Though the formula might be dated (an argument worth testing with more credible creators) it’s really the delivery that feels the most dated and can be attributed to Lee’s lack of comedic perception. In all of these Scary Movie installments there seems to be a potential for cleverness but each film tries to pack more and more into the presentation that it weakens the effects of whatever laughs that are trying to get out. The two creative teams of the Scary Movie franchise split ironically enough ended up competing on comedic grounds this year with Haunted House created by one of the Scary Movie originators Marlon Waynes. Unfortunately for Malcolm D. Lee Scary Movie 5 is so inept in its comedic delivery that Waynes’ film appears far funnier than it actually is (it should be noted that it isn’t funny at all). Even good material can be ruined with poor joke pacing and though there is always a potential for hilarious satire in these shaky Scary Movie comedies that potential is always lost by the shoddy delivery from directors like Malcolm D. Lee.

When the material is lacking in quality there is usually some hope from the comedic chops of the actors to charm the audience or be convincing enough to be funny, however, Scary Movie 5 is filled with a cast that seems far from ideal in executing pristine comedy. Not to be intentionally insulting but the entire cast from Ashley Tisdale to Terry Crews to Snoop Dogg to Heather Locklear to Molly Shannon all seem as though they were hired based on a low pay requirement. The laws of supply and demand dictate that if your demand is low then your price inevitably has to drop in order to find any type of buyer. Scary Movie veteran Simon Rex returns again with his penchant for wide eyed ridiculousness and while his charm worked in the third film (as much as could be expected) it has definitely worn off here. Material is everything when it comes to comedy and it can only get better or worse with the kind of comedic caliber you have available and judging from Scary Movie 5 the material and the caliber of performers were at desperate levels. None of the performances are worth noting with any positive feedback because absolutely no one stood out in any positive way, including Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan in their self-parody sequence. Quality material, even comedic material, will always attract solid entertainers to your project but it seems this poor material from David Zucker and Pat Proft attracted anyone who was willing to either lower themselves to that quality of material or were already there in the beginning. A combination of an unfunny script with a poor director and a cast that doesn’t excite you at all is a joke in itself but a rather sad commentary joke on the state of comedy today.

scarymovie

While Scary Movie has always been intended to parody cultural events and films it has become a sad testament showcasing its own stale cultural standing as something that should be mocked for its lazy and dated formula. David Zucker was once a pioneer of inventive satirical comedy but his particular style has been modernized by more thought provoking filmmakers, including Edgar Wright and Scott Sanders, putting a question on the lifespan of the Zucker style. As a creator of The Naked Gun, Airplane, and Kentucky Fried Movie it would seem David Zucker should leave the comedy to more modern minds especially when he spews out material as bad as Scary Movie 5. This humorless comedy filled with tasteless observations, forceful satire, and repeated physical gags never inspires even the most minimal of positive reactions but rather ignites horrific grimaces. Comedy is probably the most difficult form of entertainment to pull off successfully so when you see a formula of laziness and a cast of minimally talented performers you know it isn’t going to amount to anything worth experiencing. Even for those few who enjoyed the lesser of quality Scary Movie installments (Numbers two and four come to mind) Scary Movie 5 would still be a chore to sit through. Perhaps if audiences sued these film distributors and studios for false advertising a comedy that just isn’t funny then we might make headway on eliminating these lazy forms of thoughtless and humorless “entertainment.” But considering this isn’t the only lazy form of comedy coming out this year it’s difficult to foresee when the tides will turn in a better direction.

Grade: D-

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