I saw a sneak preview of Scary Movie 4. I never saw the first two, but enjoyed the spoofs of Signs and 8 Mile in the third installment. This one? Incredibly lazy and bad, replacing rampant child abuse jokes with rampant elder abuse jokes. It gets tiresome.
Aside from this brief interlude in The Village, this film sticks to parodying the Saw franchise, The Grudge, and War of the Worlds. At random, with scenes thrown together for no good reason. But it'll make a ton of money, and as long as studios keep churning out horror films every week, there's an endless supply of material to spoof. Now that's scary.
Much better is Inside Man, Spike Lee's heist movie for people who are tired of heist movies, especially ones with bank robberies. The key is to ensure that the criminals' motivations and plans make sense by the end, and here they do.
What's startling about the film is its relative lack of tension. All of the characters -- criminals, hostages, detectives, interveners, and bystanders -- seem equally flawed and cut from the same cloth. You approach the film calmly and cerebrally, concerned with solving the puzzle rather than how the situation is resolved. (And you might form theories as to what the title actually means.)
It's not a great film. It relies heavily on the rack focus, as used on Clive Owen (the main robber) and Christopher Plummer (the bank chairman), plus one for Denzel Washington (the negotiator) where he's on a moving platform hurtling forward -- the director's visual trademark. But it's a notable addition to the genre, with a fierce cast that goes about 30 deep.