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Scary Movie 5 (2013)
Movie Reviews

Scary Movie 5 (2013)

To say Scary Movie 5 is better than A Haunted House would be about the same as saying that a broken arm is better than a broken neck.

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The only silver lining is that Scary Movie 5 will be released later this year, and it too will parody the found footage genre. Maybe this time, it will be done right. I can only hope.” So ended my review of A Haunted House, a film I thoroughly despised. Now that Scary Movie 5 has finally been released, it seems I will have to wait even longer for the found footage genre to be parodied correctly – and by that, I mean in a way that’s actually funny. To say that this movie is better than A Haunted House would be about the same as saying that a broken arm is better than a broken neck. Not only is this movie not even remotely funny, it’s a little like an Ed Wood movie in the way it cobbles together send-ups with only the blind hope that the end result would appear coherent. This movie meanders so wildly that it’s liable to induce carsickness.

In the old days, films were typically allowed to marinate a bit before being roasted. The public would have the chance to take them in, remember them, and then laugh as they watched them being playfully mocked several years later. That isn’t so much the case anymore; movies are now parodied so instantaneously that audiences might have trouble recalling them. Consider the fact that the main send-up is Mama, which, if you recall, was released this past January. Probably the most jarring send-up is Evil Dead, which was released only last week. I haven’t even begun to shake off the bad feelings that movie evoked, and yet I’m already seeing it get made fun of? More to the point, I’m seeing it get made fun of badly? In matters of humor, I think even more of an effort has to be made. One cannot simply act goofy and automatically expect a laugh.

When the filmmakers do rely on films that have marinated a bit, it will immediately be noticed that most of them don’t belong to the horror genre, and therefore have no place in something with the word “scary” in the title. We will see parodies of Black Swan, Inception, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and the Madea film of your choice. There will even be references to Fifty Shades of Grey, which has not yet made the transition from page to screen, and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. There are, of course, more than a few nods to the Paranormal Activity films, as evidenced by the stereotypical hyper-religious Hispanic maid, the fact that everything from actual toddlers to inanimate objects are holding camcorders, and the scene in which swimming pool vacuum cleaners come to life and have a wild party in the backyard.

The plot … but why finish that sentence? Why even use the word “plot”? Both the opening scene and a post-credit sequence star Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan, the joke obviously being that two actors well-known for their recent legal troubles are appearing together in a bedroom. They’re both really good sports, Lohan especially, although I believe they will someday look back on this experience and say to themselves, “I wanted to appear in this?” The same can be said for Snoop Dogg, Katt Williams, Heather Locklear, Jerry O’Connell, Terry Crews, Bow Wow, Molly Shannon, Darrell Hammond, and yes, even Mike Tyson. There’s also a continuous narration provided an actor who’s either the most gifted Morgan Freeman sound-alike there ever was or is actually Freeman himself. If it’s the latter, and I pray to God that it isn’t, he would do well to keep that secret to himself.

The stars of the film are Ashley Tisdale, who should have considered a compelling human drama if she truly wanted to shed herself of her Disney Channel image, and Simon Rex, whose career hasn’t been distinguished by appearances in Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4. They play a married couple, the former an aspiring ballerina, the latter a scientist working with genetically modified apes. Their characters are granted custody of Charlie Sheen’s missing three kids, who are found alive but feral in an abandoned cabin in the woods by Snoop Dogg and Mac Miller, who argue about the name of a movie they just saw about a cabin in the woods. As Tisdale’s character gradually learns to love the kids, she realizes that a demon lives in the house with them, which one of the girls calls Mama. It will take Rex’s character much longer to figure out what’s going on, but so it goes in movies like this.

I’m aware that parodies are intended to push the envelope with their sense of humor, but select visual gags in Scary Movie 5 are so thoroughly tasteless that one wonders if director Malcolm D. Lee and screenwriters Pat Proft and David Zucker have forgotten the concept of decency. There’s a flashback scene, for example, in which Locklear’s character performs in Swan Lake while pregnant; as she’s lifted up by her scene partner, she suddenly gives birth, and her partner gets a gush of amniotic fluid in his face before the fetus slides on the floor and gets lodged in a horn down in the orchestra pit. There are other scenes of children getting harmed, like when Tisdale bangs a baby’s head against a door frame, or when she sets its hair on fire by lifting it up into an outdoor propane heater. And please, don’t get me started on the moment when one of the rescued girls uses her doll to reenact the waterboarding technique.

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About the Author: Chris Pandolfi