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HD-DVD Review: Scary Movie 4

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At best, the Scary Movie franchise can be labeled “weak.” Originally directed by the Wayans brothers, the series has shifted into the arms of spoof master David Zucker (Airplane!). This is hardly his finest moment.

As a parody, this fourth entry is enjoyable. Focusing on War of the Worlds, The Grudge, The Village, and finally Saw, the top sci-fi/horror films of the past few years are covered. The jokes work when you’re familiar with the source material as in any spoof, though if not, little here will appeal to you.

Scary Movie 4 heads downhill when it runs into overbearing slapstick that feels the same each time it’s tried and bathroom humor that also fails. It’s like watching a film reaching out to the audience during test marketing to see what’s actually funny. The problem is those test shots remain integral to the film.

Trailers pushed Dr. Phil and Shaq, and yet they never appear in the finished product. King Kong is plastered on the DVD cover, and there’s no Kong parody to be found either. Deleted scenes reveal nothing of the sort either leading to some belief that intentional (and odd) misleading marketing was intentional.

The cast is fine, perfectly in sync with star Craig Bierko. Leslie Nielsen is wasted as the president however. His screen time is far too brief. Everyone here “gets it” as they camp it up in their attempt to gain an audience.

Hollywood needs the spoof genre. Some films are tailor made to be shredded at the hands of a parody master. That should have happened here with Zucker and equally funny Jim Abrahams at the writing helm. Sadly, fans will need to wait for the already announced fifth entry for that to happen.

The first film in the franchise shot in HD, it’s a perfect fit for the new format. Colorful and vibrant, the movie looks stunning. Very slight noise works its way into the backgrounds at times, and minor compression shows up in bright reds. Facial detail in close-ups is phenomenal, and nearly unmatched by any other disc in the still young format.

Audio brings with it an extra layer of immersion compared to the SD-DVD version. Motion is captured better and the subtle use of the surrounds is wonderful. The LFE channel has a few moments to work, especially during the far too brief alien attack sequences.

Extras are crammed onto this disc. A feature commentary with Zucker, Abrahams, and others is filled with laughs. Not for the audience, but the commentators. They laugh over each other, over their stories, and make it impossible to decipher a lot of what they’re saying. The Scary Truth is a 35-minute talking head interview with the same problem.

Thirteen minutes of deleted scenes offer little of value, though the optional commentary does make them slightly more bearable. It’s fully explained why these scenes fail the humor test leading to their deletion. Outtakes running seven minutes follow.

Zucker has two short pieces that focus on him almost exclusively, one on his style of humor and another on spoofs in general. Youngbloodz is a brief look at the rapper cameos from their point of view, Craig Bierko gets focused on as some deleted improvisations make their mark, and Interviews Gone Awry shows some on-set footage from when, well, interviews go awry.

Visual effects have a brief look, including CG effects and green screen. The overall cast is praised in typical mundane fashion, and some trailers finally bring an end to this robust set of extras.

The same crew is set to go for the fifth entry in the series. After pulling in $250 million in theatrical box office (not even including home video sales) for the entire franchise combined, it’s hardly a surprise to see the studio pushing for more. Expect the next set of parodies in 2008.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for His current passion project is the technically minded You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.