As usual, the way to conduct spoofs and satires these days is to base them around familiar material and deliver reliable jokes that anyone could really write. Most comedy is based around the formula and the “Scary Movie” series has made money off of familiarity. “Paranormal Activity” is popular, so that’s up for grabs. Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan are headlines so they have to be included. Snoop Dogg is still notable, so why not throw him in there? Ashley Tisdale is still a very popular star, so she’s a natural replacement for Anna Faris. And hey, people still kind of, sort of remember “Black Swan” and “Inception” so why not throw those in there for filler?
You know a movie completely fails when you’re marveling at how shockingly identical actor Ben Cornish is to Leonardo DiCaprio when the writers are trying their best to spoof a movie that’s already been satirized a thousand times over since 2010. Everyone from College Humor to “South Park” has had their jabs at Christopher Nolan’s film, so the gags here are too little, too late, and very unfunny. Simon Rex who was probably one of the few funny performers in the last few films, returns once again to co-star with Ashley Tisdale as a couple who have to adopt his long lost nieces when they’re discovered in a cabin in the woods. Spoofing 2013’s “Mama,” Tisdale is a woman who will do anything to prevent adopting the little girls, while Rex is the inept uncle who is prone to bad accidents. For good measure, there are jokes about hauntings thrown in, some found footage sight gags, and they even go whole hog in spoofing the Latin maid in “Paranormal Activity 2.” Those wacky insane latinos and their voodoo!
All the while Rex’s character is breeding a new kind of ape, that promises to rise up if he isn’t careful. And Terry Crews shows up as a business man so Rex can compare him to an ape a la a racist joke. It’s all just a lot of comedy that will be incredibly outdated by the end of 2014. While “Black Swan” and “Inception” were huge in 2010, the audience’s attention span lasts only a year, and I doubt anyone will understand the references in a few years unless they’re willing to re-watch those films again. The writers are on auto pilot once more, relying on the “It’s familiar, so it must be funny” routine that shows like “Family Guy” have been banking on for years. To give Tisdale something to do on her own, she becomes the focal point of the “Black Swan” sub-plot, where she struggles to become a top ballerina, and competes with the psychotic Molly Shannon who is an ex-ballerina stalking her.
Molly Shannon playing a mentally unbalanced character? I’ve never seen that before. And to make up for the lack of Regina King, Tisdale is given her own loud minority friend in the form of Erica Ash, who is very attractive and seems way above the material here. It’s a shame too, since Tisdale is a very good comedic actress, and can really spark some laughs when she’s used correctly. But alas, she’s just a mugging cartoon character who does nothing but offer double takes and collects an easy paycheck. Oh, and did I mention Madea makes a cameo for some unknown reason? Because Madea is popular. Get it? She shouldn’t be in a movie like this! Get it? She’s out of her element! Get it?! Are you laughing yet?! While “Scary Movie 5” is nowhere near as awful as 2013’s “Movie 43,” or “A Haunted House,” I won’t be re-watching this installment of the woefully painful “Scary Movie” series anytime soon.