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Scary Movie 2

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The "Scary Movie 2" cast waits for a fleeting pop culture event they can make fun of.

© 2001 Dimension Films
All Rights Reserved

The original "Scary Movie" grossed $277 million worldwide on a budget of only $19 million, thus making it one of the most profitable films of last year. Now, approximately 51 weeks later, the sequel has arrived, though the tagline for "Scary Movie" promised no continuation. Most of the same cast and crew have returned to make the follow-up, not to champion artistic integrity with a bold new step in widening character dynamics and storylines, but to simply cash in on a what was only a brief phenomenon with a quickie production that will have the shelf life of a gallon of milk. The shocking side to all of this? This sequel—as disorganized as it is—is a much needed improvement on the middling original film.

Whereas the first movie focused on the teen slasher genre with lampoons of "Scream" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer," "Scary Movie 2" (IMDb listing) takes on the supernatural genre with digs on films like "The Haunting," "Poltergeist," and in an exceptionally unfunny opening, "The Exorcist."

It has been a year since the events in "Scary Movie," and Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris) is settling into life at college. When a professor (Tim Curry) decides to conduct an experiment to take seven students and have them live in a haunted house for one evening, Cindy and the group (Shawn and Marlon Wayans, Christopher Masterson, Tori Spelling, Kathleen Robertson, and Regina Hall) move in and immediately begin to see strange things happening around them. Armed with improv skills and a hastily written script credited to—no joke—seven writers, Cindy and the team must survive the night from killer clown toys, giant marijuana monsters, and a klutzy ghost. Can they do it? Does it matter? You will find out!

"Scary Movie" was a carefully written, diminutive production that took some outrageous gags and an excellent marketing strategy to stratospheric box office heights. "Scary Movie 2" looks like it was cobbled together over a weekend and shot during spring break. Eager to acquire the same level of coin as "Scary Movie," director Keenen Ivory Wayans takes no new chances with "Scary Movie 2," and the end result is a picture that, unlike its predecessor, has no time to second guess itself. A brief movie in both running time (75 minutes) and story, "Scary Movie 2" is more scattershot with its parodies and jokes. Desperate to find anything to make fun of—thus taking the weight off the troupe of writers to evoke up something new—"Scary Movie 2" veers off the supernatural track to give us jabs at "Save The Last Dance," Nike commercials, "Dude, Where's My Car?," and even the already self-aware "Charlie's Angels." The effect of seeing such up-to-date targets is fresh and funny, and a film like "Save The Last Dance" desperately needs some poking, yet this grabby attitude to the sequel helps to date the film faster than I think most people are expecting. Do people really think someone saying "You are the weakest link!" is funny anymore? The Wayans brothers do. And their film is just beginning its run in theaters.

Thankfully, the movie has been cast sharply. As a physically challenged technician and his digitally deformed manservant nemesis, both David Cross ("Mr. Show") and Chris Elliot ("There's Something About Mary") raise the bar of quality laughs in "Scary Movie 2." The old pros of the film, both Cross and Elliot seem to be having the most fun out of everybody, and they are knowledgeable enough to know just how to milk their scenes for every last drop of laughter.

Though not a comedian per say, actress Anna Faris deserves a lot of credit for her performance as she returns from the first film for more punishment. Not too many actresses are willing to make complete fools of themselves on camera in quite the way Faris does, and she pulls it off with a marvelous determination unequaled by the rest of the cast.

Extraordinarily, the bigger-budgeted "Scary Movie 2" looks cheaper than the first film. I couldn't believe in this day and age when everything is an elaborate effect that when a skeleton attacks Cindy, it's actually a plastic skeleton and not some cumbersome computer graphic. Also, the birth of the weed monster is achieved through honest-to-god stop motion animation! Whether they were trying to save a few bucks, or sharing my hate for all things computer generated, the Wayans instill a rare—for these days—do it yourself approach to "Scary Movie 2" that deserves a round of applause.

Something that I wasn't aware of before stepping into "Scary Movie 2" was an expectation from fellow audience members for the new film to out gross-out the original. I always just assumed that "Scary Movie" did so well because people enjoyed the satire. I guess I was wrong. The genital and bodily fluid humor was king in the first installment, and "Scary Movie 2" won't go down without a fight. The Wayans have come back with all new penis-inspired gags to rock this Fourth Of July!

Yay?

The potty humor is a crutch that hurts "Scary Movie 2" in the end due to the expectations. The picture grows comedic rhythm organically, and it's genuinely funny in appearance and taste at times. Then, without warning, "Scary Movie 2" sabotages the laughs with flatulence, urine, or any fluid or bodily function you can think of. I can imagine this will please some people out there to no end, but the final result reeks of desperation. In the quest to one-up its forefather, "Scary Movie 2" has got it all wrong. The laughs should come from planning and execution, not the rear end.

Filmfodder Grade: C+



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