LOS ANGELES - You have to at least give "Scary Movie 5" points for timeliness. This latest installment of the horror movie spoof franchise manages to deliver parodies of movies as recent as last week's "Evil Dead" remake, not to mention one that hasn't even been made yet ("Fifty Shades of Gray"). But those points are immediately subtracted by the fact that this Wayans-less installment doesn't manage to wrest a single laugh from any one of them.
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee and co-written and produced by the venerable David Zucker ("Airplane," "The Naked Gun"), it demonstrates that the latter has definitely lost his comic mojo. The film, which opened without being press-screened, unspooled to an opening day audience that produced a deafening silence.
If you've seen the trailer, you've already seen the most notorious segment, in which Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan enthusiastically - if sadly - make fun of their naughty personas in a clownish opening sex sequence riffing on the "Paranormal Activity" series. It's pretty much all downhill from there.
The filmmakers' desperation is evident from the fact that a good chunk of the running time is devoted to spoofing the recent Jessica Chastain-starrer "Mama." While that film was indeed a sleeper hit, it hardly seems memorable enough to warrant such sustained treatment, and indeed the comic pay-offs are nil.
Otherwise, it's mostly a jumbled-together collection of sketches riffing on a disparate group of films including "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," "Inception," "Cabin in the Woods," "Paranormal Activity" and its sequels and even "Black Swan." Resembling the sort of lame bits relegated to the closing minutes of "Saturday Night Live" when airtime must be filled and featuring narration by a Morgan Freeman sound-alike, their collective lameness is numbing.
Ashley Tisdale and Simon Rex anchor the film's loose plotline mashing together parodies of "Mama" and "Black Swan," and while both performers are certainly game, neither possesses the comic chops necessary to keep the proceedings afloat. The rest of the cast consists largely of major and minor celebrities popping in for silly cameos, including Heather Locklear, Terry Crews, Mike Tyson, Snoop Dogg, Katt Williams, Jerry O'Connell, Usher and others too numerous to mention. Only Molly Shannon - playing a demented, accident-prone ballerina - manages to impress with her sheer determination to be funny, even if she never quite succeeds.
Director Lee periodically speeds up the film to produce a comic effect, although sadly not enough to reduce its seemingly interminable 85-minute running time. The inevitable outtakes during the closing credits indicate that the performers, at least, managed to get some laughs out of the experience.
"Scary Movie 5," a Dimension release, is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language, some drug material, partial nudity, comic violence and gore. Running time: 85 minutes.