Scary Movie 5 must be an experimental comedy in which laughs are considered taboo. How else to explain the miserable nothingness that is Malcolm D. Lee’s film? Written by David Zucker and his longtime writing partner Pat Proft (The Naked Gun trilogy), the latest installment in the once-successful spoof series takes aim at a handful of recent films, some of the horror or suspense variety and some not, and completely misses the mark.
Trouble begins early with a bland opening in which Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan fail to milk their sordid personal lives for an ounce of humor. Taking unsurprising shots at the Paranormal Activity films (four of which have improbably been released since 2006’s Scary Movie 4), the tired use of surveillance cameras carries over to the central narrative where the video source is somehow immune to parody. Instead, in a blatant grasp at relevancy, the film’s core target is January’s Mama, a film that doesn’t exactly lend itself to grand lampooning. Poorly carrying the load, High School Musical’s Ashley Tisdale takes on the Jessica Chastain character (renamed Jody) while series mainstay Simon Rex pointlessly runs into things as her husband Dan.
Things get weird once the couple bring their raised-by-phantasm nieces and an unexplained baby brother home, but they never get funny. Other objects of ridicule include a fairly heavy dose of Black Swan with sides of Evil Dead (apparently we’re to be impressed by Zucker squeezing this one in a week after its wide release) and Rise of the Planet of the Apes (huh?) plus a dash of the Fifty Shades of Grey book thrown in. Minus a borderline clever stab at Black Swan’s extended walking sequences, none of these references are executed with a hint of inspiration and regularly fall back on dick-and-fart jokes. In the process, random celebrities are trotted out and underutilized, namely Molly Shannon, Darrell Hammond, Heather Locklear, Snoop Dogg, Jerry O’Connell, and Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland, while scores of C-and-D-listers plead for spots on Dancing With the Stars.
If the above warnings aren’t eerie enough, Scary Movie 5 also takes an unfortunate cue from A Haunted House with the family’s Hispanic housekeeper Maria (Linda Porto) as the go-to punching bag for all things tasteless, including romantic tendencies with various cleaning appliances. Since machines are apparently the cornerstone of comedies, there’s also a dreadfully long sequence in which the family’s robotic pool cleaner unplugs itself and has a wild party with its identical friends. Comprised of nothing but similarly depressing scenes, the film dares its audience to bust a gut, but when not even the end credit bloopers are remotely funny, smiles are simply not possible.
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language, some drug material, partial nudity, comic violence and gore.
Scary Movie 5 is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.