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Dustin Putman

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Scary Movie 5  (2013)
1 Star
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee.
Cast: Ashley Tisdale, Simon Rex, Erica Ash, Gracie Whitton, Ava Kolker, Lidia Porto, Molly Shannon, Terry Crews, Heather Locklear, J.P. Manoux, Mac Miller, Snoop Dogg, Katt Williams, Jerry O'Connell, Kate Walsh, Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Sarah Hyland, Katrina Bowden, Jasmine Guy, Tyler Posey, Ben Cornish, Darrell Hammond, Usher, Bow Wow, Mike Tyson, Josh Robert Thompson.
2013 – 85 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for crude and sexual content throughout, language, some drug material, partial nudity, comic violence and gore).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, April 12, 2013.
From 2000 to 2006, the slapstick-heavy "Scary Movie" franchise was mighty lucrative for Dimension Films and Bob & Harvey Weinstein, tapping into a youth-targeted zeitgeist that appreciated the comic skewering of some of the most popular recent films (the majority of them in the horror genre). Seven years have passed since the weak-sauce "Scary Movie 4" was unleashed, and in that time director David Zucker has been replaced by Malcolm D. Lee (2008's "Soul Men"), with Zucker (2008's "An American Carol") and Pat Proft (2006's "Scary Movie 4") picking up the writing slack of patchworking together a scattershot plot referencing everything from "Paranormal Activity" to "Black Swan" to "Mama" to "Inception" to "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" to "Insidious" to "Evil Dead." More noticeably, "Scary Movie 5" is the first entry without the participation of invaluable lead Anna Faris as the upbeat, eternally put-upon Cindy Campbell and Regina Hall as tell-it-like-it-is best friend Brenda Meeks. Without them, should the project even carry the "Scary Movie" moniker? Faris and Hall are missed, to be sure, but it's just as well that they sat this one out. A bullet, as they say, was most definitely dodged.

When Charlie (Charlie Sheen) is killed by a demon-possessed Lindsay Lohan (playing herself), his three kids are left all alone. Found residing in a cabin in the woods and taken care of by an invisible force they call Mama, the feral children are adopted by Charlie's brother, Dan (Simon Rex), and his wannabe rocker girlfriend Jody (Ashley Tisdale). It doesn't take long for Jody to suspect that a supernatural force is residing in the house with them—one that is mighty jealous of new parents taking the matriarchal spirit's place. It should be said that Dan works for the Genetic Primate Research Center, having invented a serum that could potentially increase the intelligence level of the lab apes, while Jody wins the lead in "Swan Lake," much to the chagrin of older, replaced prima ballerina Heather Darcy (Molly Shannon).

"Scary Movie 5" has only one thing going for it: by the very fact that the horrifically bad "A Haunted House" came out in January, this is not the worst spoof of the year. Now, that's not to say that this poor-man's excuse for a legitimate "Scary Movie" sequel shouldn't be ashamed of itself, but, if a person were forced to choose between, say, explosive diarrhea and a nasty case of constipation, one would have to be preferable over the other. By the length of a nose hair, "Scary Movie 5" wins out, mostly because it's the one that features Molly Shannon (2012's "Case de mi Padre") in the movie's only consistently funny performance playing the Winona Ryder part from 2010's "Black Swan." The character is misused before vanishing altogether, but Shannon makes the most of her scenes, turning an attempt to enter a restroom stall while wearing a full-body brace into a chortle-inducing comedic ballet all her own.

The rest of the picture carries a hit-to-miss laugh ratio of about 1-to-50, the lame jokes and vaguest of lucid narratives crashing to the floor like thrown china. The bombardment of manic onscreen action quickly becomes just plain annoying, director Malcolm D. Lee displaying none of the sharp timing and satiric edge of his 2002 comedy "Undercover Brother." Every once in a while, there's a surprise hit where it's least expected—an appearance of the intentionally silly-looking Mama scurrying past in the background of a shot, or a drop-down, drag-out fight between Dan and fired superstitious Mexican housekeeper Maria (Lidia Porto) in the front yard of his house—but those are lucky exceptions to an overall wasteland that gives classic spoofs which still hold up, like 1980's "Airplane!," 1988's "The Naked Gun," and even 2000's original "Scary Movie," a bad name.

One would think that a sex scene between Charlie Sheen (2010's "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps") and Lindsay Lohan (2010's "Machete") scored to the "Benny Hill" theme would be a bull's-eye, but somehow, some way, director Malcolm D. Lee botches the results. It doesn't help that Sheen and Lohan are so clearly phoning it in. There isn't a worthwhile moment between them in their opening-scene cameos. Used as a substitute for Anna Faris, Ashley Tisdale (2009's "Aliens in the Attic") is the game leading lady as Jody, throwing herself into plenty of embarrassing situations, but unable to overcome the hopeless material she has to work with.

Late in "Scary Movie 5," Jody and her dance pal Kendra (Erica Ash) find themselves dropping by a woodsy cabin populated by four partying friends in hopes of stopping the malevolent entity. What ensues is a parody of the "Evil Dead" remake (which opened one week prior to this film) so accurate and descriptive that either a really good psychic was on the production or they had "Evil Dead" insiders feeding them information. The similarities really are uncanny, and it is this tidbit the viewer will be pondering because they certainly won't be busy busting a gut. Stretched to the breaking point at only 70 minutes sans 15 minutes of credits (the end titles include a literal collection of outtakes in between each actor credit that pops onto the screen), the inexcusably desperate "Scary Movie 5" is this once-prosperous series' death rattle.
© 2013 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman