2000, R, 88 min. Directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans. Starring Keenan Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Cheri Oteri, Regina Hall, Kurt Fuller, Jon Abrahams, Anna Farris, Carmen Electra, Shannon Elizabeth.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., July 7, 2000
Andrew McCarthy, you're off the hook. A word of explanation: Seven years ago, I tagged that actor's gracelessly unfunny performance in Robert Klane's stultifying Weekend at Bernie's II as, hands down, the worst I'd ever seen. Not even the Jon Lovitz/Teri Garr horror show Mom and Dad Save the World could top Bernie redux for sheer, perplexing asininity. In the ensuing years we've all sat through a lot of dreck, yes, but this spoof of the Kevin Williamson-helmed Scream series takes bad filmmaking to a whole new level. Rarely am I tempted to abandon all hope and exit midway through a film, no matter how mind-deadening it may be. There's always been some tiny glimmer of possibility that's kept me rooted in my seat, squirming like a fresh lepidopterist's specimen, yes, but seated nonetheless. Scary Movie, however, takes the proverbial cake and jams it down your throat with enough semen and fart jokes to gag a maggot. What's more, Scary Movie has enough just plain lousy examples of the craft of comedy to kill off memories of past satirical triumphs such as Airplane!, The Naked Gun, and even Wayans' own I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka. Scary Movie is terrifically unfunny on every level imaginable, rife with inexplicably weak jokes that go nowhere, a whoppingly lazy screenplay that lifts whole passages of dialogue from the films it's allegedly satirizing, and performances that revel in “wink, wink, aren't we clever?” sub-sitcom wisecracking that wouldn't have made it past the Fly Girls' opening of In Living Color. All things considered, I'd rather have a testicular nail-gun mishap than sit through this migraine-inducing train wreck of a film one more time. Of course, the wisdom of parodying Williamson's Scream series -- itself an intelligent and multileveled parody of the teen slasher genre -- seems suspect to begin with. When we find ourselves mired in a swamp of post-something irony as cloyingly deep as this, with comedy satirizing comedy ad infinitum, well, you're going to want Jonathan Swift (or at the very least Mel Brooks) to come in for a quick script polish, bucko, and sorry, Swift's been dead for 255 years already. (Brooks is still with us, but only just, judging from his output of the last few years.) Scary Movie strikes me as a film about a specific genre by people who have neither love for nor knowledge of that genre. Wayans, whose 1988 film I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka successfully parodied the whole Seventies blaxploitation genre (and did it years before Quentin Tarantino single-handedly managed to bring the black badasses of his youth back into vogue), has created a complete cinematic misfire here: Not only is Scary Movie not funny, it's also decidedly dull. It is, at its core, a very lazy film. On the plus side for Wayans, the audience I saw the film with seemed to find it pretty funny. I'm not about to go into what that might mean in regard to the current tastes of the American moviegoing public, but I can vociferously state for the record that this reviewer is a huge fan of both horror movies and lowbrow satirical yuk-fests. Scary Movie, in its misguided attempts to sate both ends of the spectrum, manages to shoot itself in both feet and then goes on to disembowel itself with all the ungainly finesse of Michael Myers on crack. Ah, the horror, the horror. …