Back in 1977, in the first episode of the fifth season of “Happy Days”, there was a gratuitous scene where The Fonz performed a water-ski jump over a shark for…some reason. It gave rise to the phrase “jump the shark”, meaning the point at which something has run out of ideas, resorting to gimmicky stunts and desperate grabs for attention or has drifted so far from the original premise that it has lost the fundamental qualities that initially defined its success. *
With “Scary MoVie”, the franchise has not just jumped the shark; it’s jumped the shark, dragged it into a dark alley, stolen its wallet, beaten it with a baseball bat, harvested its kidneys and left it for dead.
This is a ponderous, humourless travesty of a film that everyone involved in should be ashamed of. The original “Scary Movie” was a pretty spot-on parody of the “Scream” films while the second and third films were uneven but good-natured spoofs of an ever-widening array of recent movies. By the time the fourth film rolled around, the series was badly running out of steam and was relying almost solely on the sunny charm of Anna Faris and the sassy brashness of Regina Hall.
Initially, I was encouraged by a remarkably self-aware Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen sending up “Paranormal Activity” and their own lurid tabloid reputations in the pre-credit sequence but from there it was all downhill. And by downhill, I mean off the edge of a cliff.
Clearly Faris’ and Hall’s agents earned their money here because there’s no sign of them and instead we’re stuck with bargain basement substitutes. Ashley Tisdale (of “High School Musical” ‘fame’) destroys any hope she might have had of a proper movie career outside of Disney by appearing in this. She has the thankless task of taking over for Faris but lacks even one tenth of her charm, charisma and comic timing and Erica Ash is left to pick up the scraps left by Regina Hall’s absence.
The jokes are thin on the ground. The temptation to even smile slightly is quickly banished by anything even remotely amusing being flogged to death by a puerile and amateurish script and a forgettable cast. Of course, it wouldn’t be a “Scary Movie” without celebrity cameos and slumming it in this are Mike Tyson, Jerry O’Connell, Heather Locklear and Snoop Dogg. At least Snoop Dogg probably has a readymade excuse for signing up to this rubbish.
We’re a world away from the comic genius of “Airplane!”, “The Naked Gun” or “Spaceballs”. It’s time to put a stop to the “Scary Movie” franchise. Surely I can’t be serious? I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.
* – Just for the record, “Happy Days” carried on for seven years after the shark jumping episode and, at the time, it was amazingly popular with over 30m viewers.