"Scary Movie 4" has about as many laughs as the two previous "Scary Movies" combined. Faint praise, of course, as those films had maybe four or five laughs between them.
As with even the best of director David Zucker's movies (the original "Airplane!" the "Naked Gun" films), his approach of throwing as many jokes at the screen as possible, just to see what sticks, gets a little tiresome.
Also tiresome are the many movie parodies, many of them out of the realm of scary movies.
This time around, there are jokes about the "Saw" movies, the American remake of "The Grudge," Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds," "Brokeback Mountain," "Million Dollar Baby" and "The Village," among others.
Anna Faris reprises her role as the clumsy and socially inept Cindy Campbell, who this time encounters a spooky house and an extraterrestrial invasion. She also tries to make time for a romance with the equally hapless Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko).
Judging by their preponderance of crass sexual humor and cheap toilet gags, Zucker and screenwriter Craig Mazin apparently ran out of cinematic inspiration before the film was finished. It's especially unfortunate to see Zucker's old pal Leslie Nielsen and Cloris Leachman serving as the butts of extremely lazy jokes.
But then, everyone is better than the material here, including Faris, who has demonstrated some real comic chops in other films, such as "Lost and Translation" and last year's "Just Friends."
"Scary Movie 4" is rated PG13 for crude humor and references to sexual and other bodily functions, comic violence, occasional use of strong profanity (including one usage of the so-called "R-rated" curse word), some brief sexual contact, brief drug content (including a Viagra joke), brief male nudity and use of a few ethnic slurs and racial epithets. Running time: 83 minutes.