Talk about fast turnaround: Movies as recent as “Mama” and this month’s “Evil Dead” remake find themselves sent up in “Scary Movie 5,” the numbingly inane if cheerfully up-to-the-minute new entry in a franchise thought to have breathed its last seven years ago. One scene inspired by “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” features a roomful of chimps hurling their feces at the wall, providing a perhaps unintended metaphor for the writing process behind this unwelcome resurrection. Still, insofar as past installments have proved frighteningly lucrative (more than $800 million worldwide), there may yet be some commercial life in this pop-culture barf bag.
A recent wave of horror hits – including but not limited to the “Paranormal Activity” franchise, “Sinister” and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” – is the slender justification offered up for the existence of this sequel scripted by David Zucker (who helmed the previous two “Scary” movies) and Pat Proft. But the gleefully parodic Zucker sensibility that long ago produced the likes of “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun” seems to be choking on fumes from the opening scene, featuring Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan in a sort of self-mocking celebrity-train-wreck duet that also represents the first of many tired spoofs of “Paranormal’s” sped-up surveillance-footage gimmick.
But the bulk of “Scary Movie 5” is devoted to an extended riff on “Mama,” which, having scared up a sizable audience since its January release, may well be fresh in some viewers’ minds. Relevance, however, isn’t enough to breathe comedic life into the tired proceedings, as Jody (Ashley Tisdale) and Dan (Simon Rex) become adoptive parents to a trio of feral youngsters found in the wild. Soon their house is being haunted by a maternal monster with a J-horror-style sewer-rat coiffure, all of it captured on videocameras helpfully set up in every room.
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There’s something admittedly shrewd about merging elements from “Mama” and the “Paranormal” pics, though the fact that these family-in-danger movies themselves tended toward the tediously repetitive ensures a similar effect in comedic terms. More random, and all the more welcome for it, are the many shoehorned-in references to “Inception” and especially “Black Swan,” as Jody’s sudden decision to revive her once-promising ballet career, accompanied by much back-of-the-head wobblecam, supplies the sole instance of visual wit displayed by director Malcolm D. Lee (“Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins,” “Undercover Brother”).
Audiences not inclined to laugh at the sight of a baby’s head catching fire are encouraged to at least chuckle at the various gags made at the expense of Jody and Dan’s housekeeper (a game Lidia Porto), who satisfies many of the pic’s comedic-target prerequisites by being plus-sized, hysterically religious and Latina. Elsewhere in the cast, Mike Tyson appears briefly in a scene whose purpose is so vague as to suggest a plug for “The Hangover Part III”; Snoop Dogg briefly amuses as a stoner who stumbles upon a cabin in the woods; and Molly Shannon makes a hilariously boozy ballerina. Still, you’ll miss the Wayans brothers.
Scary Movie 5
Reviewed at AMC Santa Anita 16, Arcadia, Calif., April 12, 2013. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 86 MIN.
A Dimension Films release and presentation of a DZE/Brad Grey Pictures production. Produced by David Zucker, Phil Dornfeld. Executive producers, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Matthew Signer, Brian Bell. Co-producer, Mike Wagstaffe.
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee. Screenplay, David Zucker, Pat Proft, based on characters created by Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Buddy Johnson, Phil Beauman, Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer. Camera (Technicolor), Steven Douglas Smith; editor, Sam Seig; music, James Venable; music supervisor, Richard Glasser; production designer, Clark Hunter; art director, Timmy O’Brien; set decorator, Traci Kirshbaum; costume designer, Keith Lewis; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS), Jim Thorton; supervising sound designers, Chris Diebold, Chris Terhune; re-recording mixers, Myron Nettinga, Richard Kitting, Jason Brennan; special effects supervisor, Bob Shelley; visual effects supervisors, Andrew Karr, Ralph Maiers, Jamison Goei; visual effects producers, Monette Dubin, Terry Hutcheson, Keith Kolder, Lauren Weidel; visual effects, Atmosphere Visual Effects, Solid MTL, Laurence Berkani, Zoic Studios, Rez-Illusion; stunt coordinators, Steven Ritzi, Charlie Croughwell; assistant directors, Douglas C. Metzger, Steve Battaglia; second unit director, Phil Dornfeld; second unit camera, Paul Varrieur; casting, Juel Bestrop.
Cast: Ashley Tisdale, Simon Rex, Erica Ash, Katrina Bowden, Terry Crews, Jasmine Guy, Darrell Hammond, Ava Kolker, Heather Locklear, J.P. Manoux, Mac Miller, Shad Moss, Jerry O’Connell, Lidia Porto, Tyler Posey, Molly Shannon, Snoop Dogg, Mike Tyson, Usher, Kate Walsh, Katt Williams, Gracie Whitton, Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan.