Gross-Out Emphasis Spoils Horror Flick
Once upon a time, making fun of teen horror flicks seemed a good idea for a film comedy. Now, after the Scream trilogy and its many imitations, that particular theme doesnít work so well. Scary Movie, the latest attempt at teen scarefare, delivers plenty of raunchy dialogue and objectionable sight gags, but it falls short in terms of humor and frightening moments. Hitting new lows in depiction of gross-out behavior, this misguided parody is painful to sit through.
Mean-spirited treatment of race, sexual organs, gays, abstinence, teachers, parents, policemen, senior citizens, and the mentally handicapped pops up all over the place in Scary Movie. A young girl gets massive police assistance by sending an emergency message stating, "White woman in trouble;" a boyfriend insists refusal of sex is grounds for murder; a teacher smokes in class while flirting outrageously with her students; a parent compliments his daughter for helping with his illegal drug dealings; and so forth. (Other incidents are too gross to describe in mixed company.)
Still, there are glimmers of comic brilliance here by Keenen Ivory Wayans (Iím Gonna Get You Sucka!), the man who directed and co-wrote this generally disappointing effort. One such flash peeks through in a clever scene showing a compulsive movie-talker (Regina Hall from The Best Man) getting her hilarious comeuppance. When the entire audience rose up to silence her so Shakespeare in Love could be watched in peace, I wanted to cheer. Why didnít Wayans feature more entertaining sequences like this? But, hey, it doesnít take much creativity or planning to emphasize juvenile potty humor, such as a grown man defecating in his pants. Itís the easy way out --- and a sure-fire formula for box office success these days.
No need to say much about the plot. Itís the usual one involving teen-agers and an unknown psychopath who knows they killed someone, then got rid of the body. Most of the actors do their best in ridiculous, cartoonish roles. Gorgeous Carmen Electra (Good Burger) starts things out right as the filmís first unlucky victim. Making her movie debut as a Neve Campbell-like heroine, Anna Faris displays a considerable flair for comedy. By playing it straight, she manages to be quite amusing in a few scenes, especially during her Matrixy fight with the Scream-masked villain. Shannon Elizabeth follows her success as the sexy foreign exchange student in American Pie with another "glamour gal" performance, but this time she literally goes to pieces. (Well, what do you expect? This is a slasher film.)
Jon Abrahams (Outside Providence) plays Farisí sex-starved boyfriend with an appropriate tongue-in-cheek manner. (One of his scenes gives new meaning to the term "tongue-tied.") As the high schoolís toughest football player, Lochlyn Munro (Dead Man on Campus) wins the filmís Mr. Testosterone Award, in spite of his characterís slight sexual deformity. Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans (both from In Living Color), who served as co-writers with brother Keenen, also appear in the movie. Shawn is a hunky football player who denies his true sexual preference, while Marlon does his quirky version of a pothead who "sees dead people." In two glaring examples of miscasting, Cheri Oteri (Saturday Night Live) and Dave Sheridan (MTVís Buzzkill) chew the scenery shamelessly as an ambitious t.v. newswoman and a bumbling sheriffís deputy.
Running throughout the film are pointless barbs at previous movies including The Blair Witch Project , The Sixth Sense, The Matrix, Scream, and I Know What You Did Last Summer. When one character identified Kazaam as her favorite "horror film," it gave me a warm, nostalgic feeling. I couldnít help wishing I were watching that obscure little childrenís fantasy instead. As I recall, itís a lot funnier and more frightening than Scary Movie.
(Released by Dimension Films and rated "R" for strong, crude humor, language, drug use, sexual situations, and violence.)