Tasked to take care of an old mute woman, Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris) finds there's a little ghostly kid haunting the house, leaving mysterious clues behind. Living next door is Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko), a shipyard crane operator who is stuck taking care of his kids for the weekend -- the very same weekend aliens viciously attack Earth. Teaming up to find the source of this madness, Cindy and Tom encounter grudges, villages, million dollar babies, and a couple of gay cowboys as they trek across the countryside.
Ever since director David Zucker ("Airplane!") took over the "Scary Movie" franchise from the Wayans Brothers, the features have been improved greatly. While these films aren't exactly rocket science, they have a simplistic formula that defies true criticism and drills into the primal need to chortle over someone getting conked on the head with a random object. Like the third installment, Zucker is barely concerned with such cinema staples as consistency and restraint; "Scary 4" is another bullet train to laughs, and it succeeds more than it fails, which is about as good as it gets in the parody genre.
If "Scary 3" was showing signs of fatigue hunting for spoofs of horror films, this latest installment calls off the search entirely. "The Grudge" is basically the only scary movie to be thoroughly raked over the coals, with "Saw" coming in a distant second -- come to think of it, aren't these goofy horror pictures already parodying their genre? Zucker and his team of screenwriters simply want to slap these movies around: pitting Dr. Phil and Shaq against each other in a familiar bathroom set, watching scribbled blood-soaked clues on a wall form a helpful Yahoo map for Cindy, observing Charlie Sheen trying to commit apartment high-rise suicide after spending the night with three playmates, and having Cindy's friend Brenda (Regina Hall) make out with the iconic tricycle-riding puppet from "Saw."
The other half of the movie is devoted to a lengthy "War of the Worlds" recreation, and this is the material that scores the most chuckles. Escaping the towering tri-pods (that erupt from the ground in a huge iPod case), Bierko does a mighty fine Tom Cruise impression (even covering the actor's wild Oprah appearance for the finale), and "Worlds" hands Zucker more opportunities to locate scenes to make fun of, including an amusing running gag that emphasizes just how bad a father Tom truly is.
The random grab bag of jokes eventually spills over to "Brokeback Mountain," "The Village," and, most curiously, "Million Dollar Baby. Remember when Hilary Swank broke her neck? Imagine the whole arena having the same accident.
Truthfully, there's nothing really satiric about the humor or the targets; they're just bookmarks that allow Zucker to work in ways for his cast to endure more cranial trauma or, in the case of Carmen Electra, complete bowel humiliation. Between these lowbrow, easy lay sequences are some truly funny parodies (Zucker gets good mileage out of "The Village") and throwaway gags, almost always belonging to Faris. This is her fourth "Scary" outing, and she's been the consistent highlight of the franchise. Without her bubble gum attitude and complete conviction with all this nonsense, these films would be lost.
The MPEG-2 encoded image (1.85:1 aspect ratio) presentation does an admirable job with the limited visual scope of the film. Clarity is generally pleasing, with a good read of details in the frame -- a useful HD muscle for a film that likes to cram as many jokes as it can into a single frame. Facial response is moderately textured, while costuming retains its intentional outlandishness. Skintones are accurate, looking natural when the clothes start coming off. Color is commendable, displaying a comfortable range of hues to help push the energetic nature of the spoofs, with everything pleasingly separated. The comedy is gracefully sustained on the BD, though shadow detail is a bit soft at times, clotting up evening adventures.
The 5.1 PCM audio mix brings the cartoon nature of the movie to life with a buoyant listening experience, capturing the insanity with superb fullness. Dialogue is well preserved, offered a pleasing frontal life to accurately sustain what passes for narrative here, while directionals take over for the broader comedy, creating an energetic circular event. Antics are crisp and clean, making a pleasing noise around the mix, with sound effects well cared for, blended well into the action. Scoring is surprisingly big, but useful, underlining the visuals with a rowdy musical presence. Low-end is active, urging the chaos along with a steady rumble, while soundtrack cuts bring some thump to the track. English, French, Dutch, and Spanish mixes are also included.
English SDH subtitles are included.
"Deleted and Extended Scenes" (13:43) are various scraps of jokes and ideas, collected here to reveal the comedic testing process. Lots of duds to suffer through, including an iPod earbud attack and further fart jokes, but it's interesting to see what the filmmakers actually said no to. The scenes can be viewed with or without useless commentary from director David Zucker, producer Robert K. Weiss, and writer/producer Craig Mazin. The gang keeps referring to their feature commentary, which is not included on the BD.
"The Scary Truth: A Conversation with the Filmmakers" (35:10) is a joke fiesta with Zucker, Weiss, and Mazin, who attempt to communicate their working relationship while endlessly cracking wise, creating a weird mix of the useful and the annoying. Hearing about the film's nine-month-long gestation process and the parody perspective is enjoyable, but the endless monkey business is difficult to endure.
"Bloopers" (6:59) is a healthy routine of giggles and blown lines, with the cast clearly enjoying themselves as they fumble their way through silly business.
"The Man Behind the Laugh: David Zucker" (3:44) spotlights the efforts of the director, whose booming laugh offered a clear indicator to the actors that the scene was working.
"Zany Spoof Humor: Zucker Style" (2:53) underlines the rules and history of the famous filmmaker's wacky business, dating back to the 1970s.
"The Visual Effects of 'Scary Movie 4'" (8:30) offers a welcomingly technical perspective to the picture, chatting up the VFX crew for their feelings on humor and the sheer speed of the "Scary Movie" process. Various screen examples are served up, including the nuances of an ass-shaped cloud that farts lightning.
"Youngbloodz" (3:26) is a featurette highlighting a pair of rappers who cameo in the film as red weed smokers.
"Rappers...Actors" (2:38) interviews all the hip-hop stars involved with the production.
"The Cast" (16:01) chats up the ensemble (interviews are conducted on-set), who offer their thoughts on the parody process and the mood of the set.
"Improvisation of Craig Bierko" (7:09) celebrates the work of the lead actor on the set of the fake "Oprah" show.
A Theatrical Trailer has not been included.