There are other theories too, like he's stuck in a cameo role in the fifth of a series that was only funny once. Sadly, we don't live in a post-Fast and Furious world where the fifth, and eventually sixth, films in a franchise have any chance of being good. Those are the exceptions and Scary Movie 5 is the norm for any series that makes money this long. Eventually, the magic just runs out.
If you're new to the series, SM5 is the latest in a spoof franchise that started back in 2000. The first film still holds a special place in my heart because my dad went to go see it with me and we laughed ourselves silly. That experience certainly was not replicated a year later when the rapid fire jokes of the first film pushed aside for scenes of a ghost raping a girl. If things didn't get funnier, they've at least gotten less offensively terrible since that horrible misstep.
David Zucker, who started the spoof genre with Kentucky Fried Movie took over with the third installment and returns as a coscreenwriter here, leaving Malcolm D. Lee with direction duties. Lee has made some pretty good films before (Roll Bounce) and one that's hilarious (Undercover Brother). But the kind of humor required for a spoof film like this to work requires a willingness to go full-throttle, and Lee is just too cautious to do that.
I haven't discussed the plot so far because it doesn't matter at all. The problem with SM5, and each one of its ilk in the last thirteen years, is that the humor is Madlibs with whatever popular films, books, or songs recently. The screenplay construction is "Do you know Movie W? How about we take Movie W, and instead of Character X doing Y, they do Z instead!"
Case in point, one thread has Jody (Ashley Tisdale) trying out for a ballet recital like Black Swan. Only instead of a gratuitous sex scene with Mila Kunis, she instead has a gratuitous sex scene with poison ivy. It's not as bad as those Seltzer / Friedberg abominations, but the effort is so minimal that a smile feels like overpraising the attempt.
But as flat as this moment lands, I have to admire its willingness to push forward until it's almost interestingly weird. The various implements Jody attempts to use for pleasure change her appearance gradually until the shot cuts back and a chair is having sex with a microwave. Of all the things I was expecting to be reminded by with SM5, lawn chair 69 was not one of them. The weirdness forms the basis of other scenes, like when pool cleaning supplies get together to throw a drunken party seemingly because of the prayers of Jody's housekeeper. Again, I didn't laugh, but I was a bit impressed Lee and company were trying to do something interesting.
Unfortunately, the problems aren't just at the conception level for the jokes. As much as the movies Madlibs formula bores me, Tisdale and her costar Simon Rex have agonizingly stiff deliveries for their jokes. If they were dead serious then some of the scenes might have worked by playing a contrast with the background action, but instead they are just lifeless. This problem extends to the guest stars too, and while I expect resignation from Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen, a tired Terry Crews is just depressing.
Should you watch and make it through the film, there is a solid 8 minutes of behind the scenes bloopers. Rest assured, watching Darrell Hammond sleepily attempt to close blinds the first time isn't funny. By the fourth time you'll be as ready for nap as I was.
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee.
Screenplay written by Pat Proft and David Zucker.
Starring Ashley Tisdale, Simon Rex, Terry Crews, and Molly Shannon.