The director of the spoof talks Anna Faris, Brokeback Mountain, a Scary Movie 5, and Superhero!
When you watch a serious horror movie, do you ever wonder what that scene would look like in a comedy? Well, thanks to Demension Films and Bob and Harvey Weinstein, we have the Scary Movie franchise.
Their latest spoof is Scary Movie 4; it brings back Anna Faris as Cindy Campbell as she attempts to find love again after the death of George (Simon Rex). Craig Bierko joins this round as Tom Ryan (making fun of Tom Cruise).
I had the chance to sit down with director, David Zucker to talk about the film and what it's like to work on a movie like this. He also gave up some details about the new film he's working on with the writer of this film, Craig Mazin. That's going to be called Superhero! and it'll spoof superheroes and comic book heroes.
Check out what David had to say:
The scene where Anna and the little boy are saying the Japanese words is so funny; I could not stop laughing.
David Zucker: That's so surprising because none of us thought that would be as big a laugh as it was. It was just like, 'we're doing it and people are smiling,' but that thing people get such a big reaction. And the other thing is the 'My Space,' when he says 'My Space' - (making crowd noise) 'oohhh!'
The crowds were laughing so hard at some points, you couldn't hear the next joke.
David Zucker: Wow, that's a good problem to have. The Shaq and Dr. Phil scene gets it off to a right note. We actually had to widen out, and add footage to that because people weren't hearing the gags.
How did you get them to do this, and make fun of themselves?
David Zucker: Well, easier than you might think. There was no convincing process; we just called them up and asked and they said 'yes.' Shaq wants to appear in movies, and he said to me, 'If you do another one, I'd love to do it.' Dr. Phil, the was a new experience for him, acting in a movie; he was totally game, and both of them were fine with making fun of themselves. And it was Shaq's idea for the 'Kobe line;' it was totally adlibbed.
Speaking of adlib, how much of it is the script and how much is changed once you get on set?
David Zucker: Oh, no. I guard every word; we write and edit the script, each line is a rhythm. You don't want to use too much set up, there's just enough set up for what we need to get the joke. So the movie just uses that set up; there's the set up, the joke and the punch line to get the laugh. Then, you set up the next thing and you have the story. And we try to stay pretty economical that way. But there is a certain amount of improv that we do allow, and I can tell you the two instances. The first one is all about Craig Bierko; the first time is the door lock scene - that was all improv. Craig Mazin wrote that scene and it was probably a page long; Craig Bierko and DeRay Davis improvised most of that. And there was a lot more that we'll put on the DVD. The Oprah thing, again Craig Mazin wrote a page and Bierko just went off of it. He just did all that stuff; and I added some of it, too. I added the acrobat and the rope swinging across.
How late into production do you go, especially with the success of Brokeback Mountain?
David Zucker: Here's the thing about that; the main body of the shoot is about 10 weeks. Then we come back for pick-up photography to get more. While we were on the set for the re-shoots, Brokeback balled up into the consciousness; and our only trepidation about doing it was had it been over done. Had it been done enough by Leno and Letterman; it turns out our angle was fresh and no one had done that angle on it. Plus we had Anthony and Kevin who were really funny; the audience has accepted these are our characters and they root for these characters for our stock company. It was even fun having Charlie Sheen back and everyone who was in this movie, and even Simon Rex. So everyone who is in this movie can be guaranteed a spot in the next one to be killed.
How far can you go to make fun of a movie without getting in trouble with another studio?
David Zucker: We can go as far as we want; we use the same monsters they used in The Village, the costumes, all The Grudge house; we stay as close as we can without copying plot, which I think would go against the rules.
What's it like having Anna on set? Is she now part of the creative team?
David Zucker: She's absolutely part of the team. There was never other than a great and easy relationship. And of course, she's extremely talented; there's no complications for directing because she has a grasp on what's going on. I can really concentrate on the other actors; she knows not to push it and not to be funny, so she just does this 'g-whiz' sincerity and naivety to play the dim-witted Cindy Campbell. Regina Hall is such a foil for that, because Regina is the smart one, street savvy, and the just make such great foils for each other.
What would you say is your favorite parody of this one and of Scary Movie 3?
David Zucker: Brokeback Mountain has to be at the top of that list. For Scary Movie 3, I'd have to say The Ring stuff was among my favorites. Anytime you do M. Night Shyamalan; we just met downstairs and I shook his hand. I told him 'Thank you,' because he's so crazy; his movies are just so wonderful and for us. He did confide in me that when we make his movies, he wonders what we're going to do to them. Can you imagine that!
I think that's the ultimate compliment!
David Zucker: It is, cause I was asked if you would be afraid to run into Tom Cruise or M. Night. And I said 'No, the only one I'd be afraid to run into would be O.J. (Simpson).
Well, I think Tom has fun with it.
David Zucker: I'm sure he has a sense of humor; I have spent time with him in the past and he seemed like a nice guy, a very nice guy. Look, Tom Cruise was the one who put himself out there and did that outrageous stuff, so he's got to have a sense of humor.
Superhero! is coming out next year; is it cast yet?
David Zucker: No, no, not yet; we're just gathering ideas.
So is there a script yet?
David Zucker: Yeah, Craig Mazin has written a script and we're using that as a base. But I imagine once we get involved it's going to change and really get into these movies. It's been a while since I've seen Superman or Batman or Spider-Man, but there are a lot of characteristics that ae common to all the superhero movies and we're going to try to exploit that.
Are you a fan of the comic heroes and comic books?
What about the fantasy genre like Lord of the Rings and Narnia?
David Zucker: I don't know if that's spoofable; the first script for Scary Movie 3 was called Lord of the Brooms. I don't know, that fantasy stuff is not grounded in reality so it's hard to spoof something that's not fully grounded in reality. That will be the trick of Superhero, because they are grounded in the world of reality, they're about people who walk around as real people; that is the spoofable part. The budget will go as far as spoofing their powers.
Do you have to wait to see how much this movie does, or are you already working on Scary Movie 5?
David Zucker: No, we have to wait because there are horror movies coming out in the coming year that we'll stock pile those. Who knows when we'll start to work on that.
Have you talked about it?
David Zucker: Yeah, we've talked about it, but you can't do anything of the actual script of it; you need to wait at least two years between the Scary Movies because there aren't enough movies coming out. I think they could make any limit of Scary Movie sequels because it's a genre where they're still making them; they're still living.
Do you ever talk to Bob and Harvey Weinstein about certain ideas they want in there?
David Zucker: Not Harvey, but Bob is intimately involved in every word in the script. This has been a different experience from working with other studios; they are really involved; Harvey is at every preview, and is Bob is, too. Harvey is a great audience because he just sits there and laughs the whole way through, so much. But Bob is right there, he ok's every casting decision, he gives his input on every joke - we don't have to listen to him every time, but he does give us the budget for it. Now, there are certain things we can absolutely insist on and convince him, so there is a pretty good give and take. But, fortunately in comedy, it's not very subjective; if the audience laugh, both Bob and I obey the audience - the audience is our boss.
Do you think that's a good thing?
David Zucker: Yeah, because we make these movies to entertain an audience, not for our own merit or to stock pile more movies. They're in a business, and the audience is like a cast member; they are a component of these movies.
Do you think there's ever going to be a Jewish spoof movie?
David Zucker: The audience is too small, and we don't do those ethnic jokes about Jews because you have to remember, most of the audience doesn't live in LA or New York and it's not even two percent of the population. Although we live in the midst of a lot of Jewish culture, both here and in New York, it's just not that audience out there. So we have to catch ourselves; sometimes in the writing room, we come up with a joke like that and we censor ourselves cause we know Weinstein's going to say 'absolutely not.'
Was there one thing Bob said 'definitely yes' and 'definitely no?'
David Zucker: Yeah, he said 'definitely no' to a certain joke we wanted to do and he said 'definitely not' and we convinced him to let us leave it in. He said 'ok;' we left it in and it was really funny. I say that because there was another joke that he said 'why are you doing this joke, it's not funny.' We did it, and sure enough, it wasn't funny; that's why we take input from anyone - ok, not anyone, but no one knows everything, and no one is right 100% of the time and I know this. And it goes with casting, too; sometimes, the studio is very insistent on some things, and I'll listen to them. But sometimes, the studio would say 'absolutely not' for a certain actor and if I think they're wrong, that's the call I'll make to them. I'll say, 'You're wrong on this, you have to go with my instincts.' And they'll listen; but when I make the call, they know that I really mean it, so they'll listen. And that's what they want to know, is the director absolutely right about this. Once, I said to Bob Weinstein, 'Bob, if I'm wrong about this, I will roll a nickel in front of Hudson Street in front of your office.' And he laughed.
David Zucker: Oh, I like the slapstick stuff, the silly stuff; when somebody falls or slips, all those jokes - those are me. We try to limit it, because I could have added a lot more; and the audience limits it, too. If you put too much of something in, it gets tiring. Like in Scary Movie 3, the opening scene Charlie Sheen wakes up and hits his head on the lamp and the we do it again, and it worked.
Why do you think monkeys are funny?
David Zucker: I don't know, monkeys are just funny; all those monkeys are running around and we just ignore it. I don't know why, that happens at work all the time.
Scary Movie 4 is hilarious - go see it! It opens in theaters April 14th; rated PG-13.