By the time you get to see the fourth incarnation of any movie franchise, you should be pretty sure what you’re in for – and this one is true to its brand. It’s corny, mischievous and more than a tad tacky in places. Like all send-up films, the fun comes as much from playing spot-the-scene, as it does from the one-liners, and Scary Movie 4 plays mercilessly with some of the biggest films of the past couple of years. The humour ranges from the toilet variety, through good old Buster Keaton-style slapstick, to picking on soft targets like President Bush and Michael Jackson.
Although essentially a series of small spoofs, a story of sorts holds the action together. Once again it’s the blonde and single Cindy (Anna Faris) in the lead. She takes a job in a haunted house where she falls for her irresponsible and divorced neighbour Tom (Craig Bierko), just as the world is invaded by aliens. They are forced to separate, Tom trying to parent his children to safety (got the reference yet?) and Cindy following a trail of clues that will help save the world. Whether from the aliens or the US President – wonderfully played by Leslie Nielsen – is not altogether clear.
If the jokes are too banal and the film references too obvious, you can also play spot the cameo performance. It is great to see Leslie Nielsen at work as the bumbling President. He has the best lines and seems to have made a career out of this genre: it’s 26 years since he appeared in the far superior Flying High – which was also directed by David Zucker. So you should know by now if this is your kind of film. If it is, you’ll get a few good laughs out of this one.