Isn't it amazing to see just how low some people will stoop if you pay them enough?
This is no big revelation to those who watch Jerry Springer on a regular basis. If you don't, you may be surprised to spot Bill Pullman, Dr. Phil and Shaquille O'Neal among the many formerly respectable celebrities making like orangutans in service of the almighty paycheck.
The occasion is "Scary Movie 4," the latest in the low-flying movie parody franchise spawned by the Wayans brothers, who wisely bailed out after the second sequel.
Shaq and Dr. Phil show up for the pre-opening-titles blackout sketch, a spoof of "Saw" in which the hoops star can't make a basket and the king of self-help TV disses his whining fan base. This turns out to be one of the sophisticated notions of this fourth installment, which has romantic leads Anna Faris and Craig Bierko lost in some Twilight Zone-ish crossroads of Spielberg's "War of the Worlds," Shyamalan's "The Village" and the Japanese horror flick "Ju-on," remade Hollywood-style as "The Grudge."
You needn't have seen any of these movies to get the jokes, which depend on your funny bone's sensitivity to blind women relieving themselves in public, men kissing and old people displaying their naked bodies. That last sight gag comes courtesy of Leslie Nielsen, who has gone above and beyond the call of duty for director David Zucker.
In addition to the 487th unfunny send-up of "Brokeback Mountain," screenwriter Craig Mazin saves potshots for other targets that may have otherwise gone unnoticed, such as Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey and President Bush.
The wellspring of movies and celebrity is such that the writer of any subsequent "Scary Movie" should not have trouble finding material. The only problem, it would seem, is how to market your product when pitching to an audience not accustomed to counting past three.
'Scary Movie 4'
MPAA rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor throughout, some comic violence and language
A Miramax/Dimension Films release. Director David Zucker. Screenplay Zucker, Craig Mazin, Jim Abrahams, based on characters created by Shawn Wayans & Marlon Wayans & Buddy Johnson & Phil Beauman and Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer. Director of photography Thomas Ackerman. Editors Craig Herring, Tom Louis Lewis.
Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes.
In general release.