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Scary Movie 4: Unrated Edition

The parody movie has hit critical mass. Sure, there are some things that probably need to be satirized — for instance, the increasingly pretentious works of M. Night Shyamalan are ready for more than a simple quoting of "I see dead people." But the genre offers less satire, and more moments of "oh yeah, that happened in that movie." With 2006's Date Movie and Scary Movie 4, the films have become less biting than the Mad magazine cartoons the filmmakers grew up on. Even so, there is an audience hungry for these films: Scary Movie 4 opened with a front-loaded $40 million weekend (it only grossed $90 million overall), and Scary Movie 5 already has a green light. Perhaps the appeal of these movies is their weightlessness — few films leave less of an impression. With Scary Movie 4 (an in-name-and-a-couple-actors-only sequel), four films are expressly targeted for parody. Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko) is the Tom Cruise stand-in from War of the Worlds, whose family lives next door to a creepy house (a la The Grudge) that Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris) is supposed to take care of. As in WotW, there's an alien invasion, but the ghosts in Campbell's house tell her that the secret to beating the invaders may lie with the ghost's father. The father (Bill Pullman) lives in The Village with his blind daughter (Carmen Electra), and can think of little that might help them, but it turns out that the aliens look exactly like the bad-guy puppets from Saw, and they have a riddle for Cindy to figure out. The closest Scary Movie 4 comes to real satire is parodying Tom Cruise's ridiculous behavior on Oprah Winfrey show, but by the time of the film's release the event in question was nearly a year old and mocked to death. Modern filmmakers have also become much smarter about leaving themselves open for parody, so when the film spends a five-minute interlude having performers Anthony Anderson and Kevin Hart staying on Brokeback Mountain, the only joke the filmmakers come up with is having the men sing Lionel Richie's "Hello" to each other (it should also be noted that the song was used to much better effect in The 40-Year-Old Virgin). When the Zucker brothers Jerry and David and Jim Abrahams made Airplane! in 1980 (the film that really kicked this genre off), they really did take disaster films down a peg. Sadly, Scary Movie 4 was directed by David Zucker, and whatever great gifts he had for comedy seem to have withered up and died. The performances are mostly one-noted, and Bierko shows little gift for the genre, while the comic ringers, like Regina Hall and Anderson, have little to work with. The Weinstein Company's DVD release presents the film in an unrated version (which adds six minutes to the theatrical length, though the additions are negligible) in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include a commentary by Zucker, producer Robert K. Weiss, and writer/producer Craig Mazin, 15 deleted scenes (14 min.) with optional commentary, bloopers (7 min.), the featurettes "The Man Behind the Laugh (director David Zucker)" (4 min.), "Zany Spoof Humor — Zucker Style" (3 min.), "An Interviewer's Worst Nightmare" (5 min.), "The Visual Effects of Scary Movie 4" (9 min.), "Youngbloodz" (3 min.), "Rappers… Actors" (3 min.), the theatrical trailer, and bonus trailers. Keep-case with paperboard slipcover.

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