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Scary Movie
2000 - R - 88 Mins.
Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans
Written By: Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans
Starring: Anna Faris, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Jon Abrahams, Shannon Elizabeth, Cheri Oteri, Dave Sheridan, Carmen Electra
Review by: John Ulmer
   

The three Wayans brothers. Oh, wait...never mind.
It's no "Airplane!", but it works.

Scary movies were destined to get their comeuppance sooner or later. After a reign of bad slasher flicks since John Carpenter's "Halloween" came out in 1978, they've all been the same: homicidal maniac chases virginal teenagers. The thing is, "Scream" knew this, and was self-aware; it wasn't a typical slasher flick. It was tongue-in-cheek, and the Jamie Kennedy character--the movie geek who's memorized all the clichés--was proof that the movie was having a bit of fun with itself and all the other really bad horror films.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise that "Scary Movie's" primary target is, in fact, "Scream," when the film itself was a half-spoof in the first place. "National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1" came under heat when it was released in 1993 because it poked fun at a series ("Lethal Weapon") that was already a bit of a spoof. But I liked "Loaded Weapon 1," and although "Scary Movie" is definitely not on the same level as "Airplane!" or "Naked Gun," it works because it has fun with a lot of the clichés of other films. And one of my least favorite horror films of all time, "I Know What You Did Last Summer," finally gets poked fun at. It's about time.

"Scary Movie" comes out of the mind of the Wayans Brothers, who approach their film with a ZAZ style of silly comedy. (Ironic, since Jerry Zucker, one of the two Zucker brothers behind so many spoofs of the 80s, just directed "Scary Movie 3" with Leslie Nielsen and Charlie Sheen.)

"Scary Movie" has gags every second, only all the gags in "Scary Movie" are cruder and grosser than anything that Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker would ever have come up with. And they're also, quite often, a whole lot weaker in terms of quality and originality. But hey, I laughed a lot at some scenes--such as when a killer hides behind the virgin's sofa and thinks no one can see him. She points him out over the phone and he then tries to hide somewhere else. You probably saw this scene on the ads for the movie when it came out a while ago. That's because it's one of the funniest.

The movie is certainly not a soft R--there is an abundance of sexual gags, mostly male innuendo such as rubber testicles and puppet penises. It's disgusting, and the film tries too hard to make a name for itself by being "the crudest mainstream horror spoof of all time." I can't believe that mothers took their 11 and 12-year-olds to see this in the theaters when it came out. I never would have been allowed to see something half as crude as "Scary Movie" at that age.

Basically, the plot is this: Cindy (cute Anna Faris) is being hunted by an obsessed serial killer with some sort of personal vendetta. That's all. The rest is filled in with a horde of jokes, some funny and.some not.

It helps to be a regular filmgoer before you decide to watch this, since the majority of almost every single joke is targeted at films. You don't need to know the classics--this is a film spoofing the last decade of horror films. So you may want to make sure you've seen the "Scream" movies, in particular, before you see "Scary Movie."

It's hard to write about a spoof, since you always resort to giving away good jokes. I won't do that, but I will give away some of the films I noticed being spoofed: "Scream," "Scream 2," "Scream 3," "I Know What You Did Last Summer," "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer," "The Sixth Sense," "The Matrix," and "The Usual Suspects." Even "Shakespeare in Love" gets picked on. (Or is it the African-American film audiences that get picked on by the Wayans Bros.? I'm not sure. But I found the entire scene that takes place within the movie theater very funny, since I often encounter loud people with cell phones ringing during movies, apparently oblivious to the big warning PLEASE TURN OFF CELL PHONES that appears on screen prior to the film's beginning.)

The film is certainly at its best when it's having a silly, good old-fashioned time. Unlike, say, "Naked Gun," the film's gags are mostly pretty lame. But a lot of them are funny, such as when the killer has a rap showdown with one of the Wayans brothers and scares all his friends away by rapping what he's going to do to them.

I also enjoyed the character of Doofy (played by a David Arquette look-a-like), who (spoiler ahead) is revealed as the killer at the end of the film in the classic "Usual Suspects" style. (A coffee mug shatters on the floor of the police station and we see that the company that manufactures the ceramic mugs is called Doofy Ceramics. Doofy is then revealed to not be Doofy at all, which doesn't really make sense, since he grew up in the town all his life and even had a sister. But that's why this film is just so stupid. In a funny way, of course.)

Molly Shannon's character, a rip-off of the Sarah Michelle Gellar character from "I Know What You Did Last Summer," is named Buffy, by the way, which is no coincidence. And if you don't understand that joke, then you probably shouldn't get anywhere near "Scary Movie."
 
Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

 
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