While the SCARY MOVIE franchise began with the inspired comedy of the Wayans brothers, its appeal expanded to an even larger audience when writer and director David Zucker signed on for SCARY MOVIE 3. "Airplane!" alumnus Leslie Nielsen best describes Zucker’s practically patented brand of humor as “credible insanity.” Zucker brings a depth and breadth of jokes to the screen that virtually guarantees a laugh-a-second experience for moviegoers of all ages.
For the self-described “oldest living working comedy director,” the decision to come back to direct and co-write SCARY MOVIE 4 was based on having another good time. David Zucker says “SCARY MOVIE 3 was a big success and it was a lot of fun, and so we wanted to work with the same team, to work with Bob Weiss again, and (writer/producer) Craig Mazin, and the actors too -- Anna Faris and Regina Hall.”
For Bob Weiss, it was the “size of the success of SCARY MOVIE 3” that confirmed the decision to do a sequel. “We were confident in it as a good and funny movie. But to have it be the movie that had the largest October opening in movie history was beyond our expectations. Of course, when you have a movie that big, there’s bound to be a sequel.”
With big success come even bigger audience expectations. The long-time comedic team of Weiss – with whom Zucker worked on “Kentucky Fried Movie” in 1977 – and relatively new addition, Craig Mazin, were inspired to review their number one rule of movie-making. “When it came time to do SCARY MOVIE 4, the first principal really was to work harder,” summarizes Weiss. “A lot of times with sequels in Hollywood, people phone it in a little bit and don’t work as hard, and we have the opposite philosophy. We work harder. We work harder on the material, we work harder on the production, we work harder to make it more appealing perhaps even to a bigger audience.”
Weiss, Zucker and the team took up the challenge and began by committing to an extremely fast turn around between the release of the real movies and the ones being spoofed. Weiss explains, “These are movies that our audience really should have just seen.”
They also diversified their repertoire of spoof material. “In SCARY MOVIE 3, we expanded on the horror theme,” says Zucker, “but in FOUR we even go beyond that.” “[Including] science fiction” Weiss elaborates, “and being able to parody the media, or politics, or other things that are ever present in the minds of the audience, that’s great fun for us, and it really enriches the movie.”
Zucker also called up an old friend. After a twenty-five year break, he reunited with writer Jim Abrahams. Of Abrahams, Zucker says, “He made some wonderful contributions, and everybody loved having him around, including Craig Mazin, who had never really worked with Jim before.” While Jim added some great laughs, Zucker is quick to point out that “Craig wrote probably ninety percent of what’s in the movie, and everybody else fills it in between. But you know, I write more than his ninety percent. So together that’s a hundred and eighty percent. So just put me even with Mazin. Everybody else, I guess, has that last twenty percent.”
Crazy math aside, for his part, all writer Craig Mazin cared about was getting a joke right, even if it meant writing the script in the middle of shooting a scene: “David and I, the nice thing is we act as a check and balance on each other. We riff off of each other and we come up with something really great right there in the moment. And then, why not put it in?”
That kind of fearless, working-without-a-net writing and directing is a part of the reason so many actors walk over other movie scripts to work with David Zucker. Leslie Nielsen calls Zucker “incredibly astute and funny.” Bill Pullman muses that Zucker is “beautifully un-ego-oriented – he’s in charge, and yet he allows a lot of input.” Regina Hall loves that, “David’s jokes are set up to have a clever reveal. It’s not just about the punch-line.”
The other great draw for actors is that while David Zucker may be the ultimate professional, he’s also the ultimate fan. Probably no one laughs as hard as the director himself when things are going right on the set. Anna Faris chuckles, “He can be very childlike sometimes when he is giggling. One of the days, I had to wear a fake eye. It was very weird and creepy and he couldn’t stop laughing. We could barely get the take because I thought he was going to pee his pants, he was laughing so hard.” Michael Madsen agrees: “We were laughing so hard one afternoon that his gum flew out of his mouth. That was a great moment.