Scary Movie 2



USA 2001
director : Keenen Ivory Wayans
script : Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Alyson Fouse, Greg Grabiansky, Dave Polsky, Michael Anthony Snowden, Craig Wayans
producers include : Bob & Harvey Weinstein, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans
cinematography : Steven Bernstein
editing : Peter Teschner, Tom Nordberg, Richard Pearson
music : Randy Spendlove
lead actors : Anna Faris, Marlon Wayans, Chris Masterson, James Woods
82 minutes

Scary Movie 2 is aimed squarely at a specific target audience – so it’s unfortunate that censors on both sides of the Atlantic have ensured said target audience (boys aged 12-17) won’t be able to see it in the cinemas without resorting to ingenious sharp practice between ticket booth and auditorium: R in the States, 18 in the UK. If you’re not a male teenager, it’s easy to be snobby about this kind of breezily opportunistic nonsense, and while we’re nowhere near the level of Dude, Where’s My Car – the Citizen Kane of teenage-lad movies – Scary Movie 2 isn’t anywhere near a painful a cinematic experience as many may fear.

Admittedly, about half the jokes fall depressingly flat, while half of the remainder merely pass the time. But that still leaves 25% of material capable of producing at least a chuckle. There’s a neat little sight gag about Big Daddy Kane, and I also liked the ‘haunting’ voice that eventually loses patience with our dim heroine, and snaps “Check the f***king music room!” And there’s one sequence, involving a “cat-fight” between our heroine Sindy (Faris) and a stoppy feline that I, for one, found tear-inducingly hilarious. I’m not exactly sure why, but I suspect it’s something to do with the gloriously fake nature of the animal in most of the shots – it looks like it was made by the same people who created Dude’s the amusingly unconvincing ‘stoner’ dog. The cat is obviously a reference to all those creepy pussies in horror movies down the years – but can it possibly be meant to parody Cats and Dogs, a movie which came out in the US after this one?

Then again, the Cats and Dogs trailer had been playing in US cinemas for ages before the picture actually came out, so most of the Scary Movie audience would have been familiar with the basic idea. That’s what this sequel is all about – it’s like a compendium of nearly all the films, horror or otherwise, that teens (and post-teens) will have seen since the first Scary Movie came out, and most of them are little bits that were included in the sources’ trailers: like the already-legendary ‘tattoo’ scene from Dude. The fact that the equivalent sequence here isn’t especially inventive or funny is kind of beside the point – it’s just rather nice that they thought of it at all. Even nicer was the decision to use James DeBello for the gag, as it’s always a pleasure to see – even briefly – the performer whose work in the absurdly under-exposed Crime + Punishment in Suburbia strongly suggested he may be the best young American actor you’ve never heard of.

I’ve seen most of the pictures SM2 rips off, but even I was stumped by a bizarre basketball sequence – American Beauty? Love and Basketball? And can the pretend ‘moon-walking’ gag possibly be referring to obscure indie sleeper Judy Berlin? There’s no doubting the nods to Final Destination and Save The Last Dance, both of which are carried off surprisingly well – though neither comes close to the spot-on Exorcist opening, in which a piano-playing priest leads a party crowd in a jolly singalong which suddenly segues into a raunchy rap number. This self-contained skit also features Woods (who took over from Marlon Brando) and genre veteran Veronica Cartwright (The Birds, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1978) and Alien) – typical of a picture that’s sensible enough to hire Tim Curry, who barely breaks sweat but still provides a fine turn as a lascivious professor.

And that’s what Scary Movie 2 is : a collection of turns and skits. There’s no real plot, as such, and what there is comes straight from Jan De Bont’s The Haunting. It’s more like a TV sketch show stretched to something approaching feature length, though don’t be taken in by that running time. The movie runs for about 75 or so minutes, with copious end credits. As well as eight writers (very telly), there are no less than three editors and twelve producers – the latter representing the industry maximum these days. But, again, it’s hard to be too dismissive, as even the end titles aren’t devoid of interest. It’s always great to see full ‘picture’ credits, so we can identify all the good actors (Kathleen Robertson suggests she’s capable of rather more than this kind of buxom pouting) and the duff ones: Chris Elliott, who stops the picture dead every time he appears as the deformed butler. But it’s not just the ‘usual’ picture credits either, instead Wayans provides a “making-of” scrapbook of the film’s production, the sort of thing that is usually relegated to the ‘special features’ section of a DVD. A welcome surprise – innovation springing up in the very last place you’d expect.

4th September, 2001
(seen Sep-4-01, Odeon, Newcastle)

now check these out (not-too-serious frightpics)
1 Jeepers Creepers
2 Shadow of the Vampire
3 The Exorcist

by Neil Young
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