Director: Malcolm D. Lee
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Film Pulse Score: 2/10
At its peak, the late ‘70s into the ‘80s, the film parody was ruled by team ZAZ. Yes, even more so than by comedy legend Mel Brooks himself. David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker brought us the golden trio of Airplane, The Naked Gun:From the Files of Police Squad and Top Secret. Their films were filled with memorable sight gags and one-liners that they have become etched into the memories of all who have seen them. “Have you ever seen a grown man naked?” Their comedy was smart and had the virtue of having never been tried before at that level. As time passed, a new generation and even some of the old have tried their hand at the parody to mixed results. Mike Myers with the Austin Powers franchise, Keenan Ivory Wayans with I’m Gonna Git You Sucka succeeded whereas the likes of Mel Brooks with Dracula: Dead and Loving It or the team of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer have failed miserably. The latter team were behind the parody travesties Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie.
So what’s the difference between the good and the bad? Well a good parody respects its audience, earns the laughs and doesn’t show its cards. A bad parody doesn’t respect its audience by just throwing anything out there hoping for a laugh and adds insult to injury by explaining the joke which more than likely already get, ie in Date Movie Allison Hannigan visits Tony Cox, a relationship therapist who says something to the affect of “who do you think I am Hitch?” As a viewer you may already know they are spoofing Will Smith’s Hitch they didn’t need to say that. Team Friedberg and Seltzer did that throughout all of the films. Earlier this year A Haunted House turned out to be an unexpected surprise. It certainly wasn’t a laugh out loud parody but it worked because it respected the audience and earned the laughs. It parodied the Paranormal Activity franchise by being Paranormal Activity but played like a straight up comedy. It had some laughs. Which brings up Scary Movie V.
The latest entry in the franchise structurally is a parody of the film Mama with references to numerous other films and franchises like Paranormal Activity, Inception and Black Swan. Scary Movie V is a hybrid of old school ZAZ, minus Jerry Zucker, and Friedberg Seltzer. Which means they throw out a barrage of sight gags that simply are not funny. As a result it’s the worst film in the franchise, one of the worst parodies in some time and the end result is positively shocking considering the pedigree behind it. The film was written by David Zucker and Pat Proft who worked on the last two films in the series which were actually quite good. Zucker directed 3 & 4 and Proft co-wrote 3. Proft was also involved in writing such comedy classics like Police Academy, Hot Shots!, Real Genius and The Star Wars Holiday Special. Hey, nobody’s perfect. The film was directed by Malcolm D. Lee who directed the very funny Undercover Brother. What could have gone wrong? It all comes down to the script.
The film suffers from been there done that thanks to A Haunted House. They did the Paranormal parody already. The jokes are uninspired and it felt like no one took the time to ask if any of it was funny or even relevant. It also doesn’t when the one constant in the series, Anna Faris, didn’t even bother to come back for this one. We are left with two flat leads, Ashley Tisdale and Simon Rex and numerous “oozing-of-desperation” cameos by the likes of Mike Tyson, Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, Jerry O’Connell and, yes, even Usher. Even some of the films they parody are nearly three years old, Inception, Black Swan and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. They some how manage to insert bits spoofing the recently released Evil Dead remake that despite its freshness the jokes fall with a thud.
The sight gags come fast and furious and none of them make sense or even manage to elicit even a chuckle. A celebration in a ballet theatre ends in a Lambeau leap and out from out of nowhere Cheese-heads appear. A pool party thrown by automated pool cleaners is just plain childish. The giant joint sight gag that has been done to death makes an appearance. There’s a “Cabin in the Woods” joke that goes excruciatingly on for far too long. This is just a small sample of the duds that permeate the latest and hopefully last entry in the series. However the most egregious moment of wanting to throw something at the screen is where they use the title of the movie they are parodying in a line of dialogue. It’s the only time they do it in the entire movie but for this viewer that act is one of the reasons why Friedberg and Seltzer should have been banned from making further parodies.
Considering who wrote and directed this one it is surprising how bad it was. It’s as though they weren’t even trying. While it doesn’t put a nail in the coffin in the parody genre it just adds to the imbalance of there being more bad parodies then good ones. Skip this one and just watch Black Dynamite or Not Another Teen Movie instead.