'Scary Movie 5' Review: Why Does Hollywood Keep Making Spoofs?

BySamuel Brounstein

People wonder out loud why "they" make parody movies. I’ve heard the speculations: the spoofs turn a quick profit. People talk about Epic Movie and Scary Movie and like they are from the same entity, that always earns a fat margin. They are not and they often do not. The truth is, the Scary Movie franchise, and the other “____ Movies” are far flung from the original surprise success conceptualized by three of the 87 Wayans Brothers. They are heterogeneous and disconnected business ventures, with producers ranging from the Twi-hards at Lionsgate, to the incorrigible David Zucker of Airplane! and The Naked Gun. Not all of them turn a profit.

Moreover, with the release of Scary Movie 5 this weekend comes the departure of Anna Farris, the perennial lead and in-house muse of the spoof series. The franchise we know and don’t really love is a perpetual parody machine without any of its former reoccurring veins, and therefore has a sense of history that only extends to yesteryear’s most overexposed head-ache inducing trends. Why keep up the old circus? The spoof movie is as obsolete as the Simpsons, another beloved pleasure of mine that has past its prime. Both The Simpsons and The Scary Movies take too long to cook up to be current like TV poke-funners such as NBC’s stalwart Saturday Night Live, and so they shellac stale subject matter, and in doing so, the creators come off like hacks. In this most recent Scary Movie, there is prominent mockery of Inception, which came out three years ago! In parody time, this is an ancient generation dug up. Just in that epoch, Jon Stewart went from being the deadpan guy on Cable news comedy, to being one of the most trusted people in interview journalism. South Park went from being a show about poop jokes, to being America’s most biting satire, then it had an existential crisis, and then went back to doing poop jokes. The jesters of comedy central are now stars on Broadway and faux politicians.

Ultimately, I think the existential angst runs deep in a slap-sticky, shameless effort to mock pop culture, and I like that. Too many movies attempt to make the viewer confront the "ills" of society, and of all those ills, the one least mentioned is the fact that there are too many movies, and too many hastags, and too many d-list celebrities, and too many objects in pop-culture. I still retain the sick joy that is an abundant experience in any given Scary Movie, in any situation. On DVD, it is ironic joy worthy of a few friends and a night of jeering. On network television, a scary movie is the perfect thing to flip on for about thirty seconds before switching to other programming. Even the trailers are a good time, especially the trailers. I watch a montage of farcical bathroom humor masquerading as fairly recent horror plots, and I hear the undead. Soul-wanting shrieks from society’s echo chamber crescendo in an awesome wave: tell me that isn’t scary.