Jim Abrahams and his hetero life-partner David Zucker team up with Craig Mazin, the esteemed writer of the Harland Williams vehicle Rocket Man, and have a second go at the Scary Movie franchise. This time, War of the Worlds runs counter-plotwise to The Grudge, with a brief interlude in The Village. Saw/Saw II serve as an overarching theme for the film, tying up the awful prologue with Dr. Phil and Shaq (didn't his episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" prove he shouldn't do comedy?) with an awful ending.
To elaborate on what this really means, tripods are destroying civilization while our uber-series heroine, Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris), tries to uncover the curse of the creepy little Grudge kid by finding its father at an 18th century-esque village haunted by monsters. As with all recent parodies (the other Scary Movies, Date Movie) the plot serves as nothing but a platform for throwaway gags and jabs at pop-culture, so it' best to pretty much ignore it and focus on the incidental celebrity pop-ups and occasionally successful side-jokes.
It' always good to see Bill Pullman getting some work. Ever since SpaceBalls he hasn't received enough credit for his dry comedic delivery. Speaking of Mel Brooks, his queen of horror parodies, the incomparable Cloris Leachman, has a small cameo as a catatonic woman. Dave Attell proves he really will do anything by helping out with one of the better gags, a Mexican standoff gone wrong. Michael Madsen has a few lines as the creepy-guy-who-may-or-may-not-murder-you-for-no-apparent-reason, the role he' built a career around. Chris Elliott plays the retarded best friend of the blind Carmen Electra, whose big gag is taking a large dump during a town hall meeting. Also, Molly Shannon kisses an octogenarian, Chingy plays himself, and (apparently; I missed him) Dane Cook makes an appearance. Hopefully for all these actors, Scary Movie 4 will quickly fade out of the public memory.
The stars actually perform adequately. Anna Faris is competent enough to hold her end of the plot together. Regina Hall gives her fourth performance as Brenda Meeks with what felt like strained energy. Craig Bierko (The Thirteenth Floor, Cinderella Man) pulls off a rather good straight man, playing someone between young Leslie Nielsen and Bruce Campbell. Leslie Nielsen, by the way, has a short but demanding role as the President of the United States, thus fulfilling he and Charlie Sheen' (who also makes a "pop-up" appearance) mutually binding contractual obligations to appear in every Abrahams/Zucker production.
To understand just how far the Abrahams and Zucker team have fallen, consider a comparison between two Brokeback Mountain parodies: the short aside in SM4 and the Internet sensation "Brokeback to the Future." In the Internet short, the addition of the schmaltzy Brokeback guitar music with re-cut portions of the already pseudo-homoerotic relationship between Doc Brown and Marty pokes fun at the idea that Hollywood romances are less about the writing than music and stylish editing. The SM4 parody has two men in the mountains getting lubed up, which pokes fun at nothing but homosexual sex in itself. That' right, the internet parody is actually smarter than the Hollywood version. Scary indeed.