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A Nightmare on Spoof Street

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 7, 2000


    'Scary Movie' Shannon Elizabeth, Shawn Wayans, Lochlyn Munro, Anna Faris and Jon Abrahams in "Scary Movie." (Dimension Films)
Here, in alphabetical order, is a partial litany of the cultural flotsam that is mocked by "Scary Movie," the latest in a long and increasingly unfunny line of scattershot parodies of genre movies (in this case the teen slasher flick):

"American Pie," "Amistad," "Baywatch," "The Blair Witch Project," breast implants, the Budweiser "Whasssuuup?" commercial, "Dawson's Creek," gay men, "Halloween 1 through Halloween H20," "I Know/Still Know What You Did Last Summer," large penises, "Laverne and Shirley," lesbians, "The Matrix," oral sex, people who talk in movie theaters, pubic hair, Riverdance, "Screams 1 through 3," "Shakespeare in Love," "The Sixth Sense," small penises, testicles, "Titanic," tongue kissing, "The Usual Suspects," vaginal freshness and "The Wayans Bros." TV show.

According to director Keenen Ivory Wayans, whose brothers Shawn and Marlon (along with Four Other Guys You Never Heard Of) wrote the script about a group of sex-crazed teenagers being picked off by a masked serial killer, "Scary Movie" is more than a parody of one type of entertainment; it's all sorts of comedies rolled into one."

What is this, a movie or a Gordita?

What we have here is a classic case of too many cooks – or in this instance, too many jokes – spoiling the broth. What aspect of the slasher exactly, or the teen comedy for that matter, are the Wayanses supposed to be spoofing by casting full-time has-been David L. Lander (remember TV's Squiggy?) as the high school principal. And, guys, guess what? The Riverdance joke smelled stale when it popped up in 1998's "Mafia!" too. "Amistad?" Sorry, I can't even begin to guess what you were thinking there. "Scary Movie" stars (also in alphabetical order because I'm trying to be fair) Jon Abrahams, Carmen Electra, Shannon Elizabeth, Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Lochlyn Munro and Shawn and Marlon Wayans as the unlucky corpses-to-be. As the movie grinds along, the clique is slowly winnowed down by a pot-smoking, hook-wielding psychopath who may or may not be the guy they ran over last Halloween. While a couple of horror movie conventions are well lampooned (the nubile quarry fleeing in her underwear, the camera zooming precipitously into the victim's horrified face), most of the satire, such as it is, consists of infantile gags about flatulence, homosexuality and – how shall I put this? – the ever-popular groin region.

When in doubt, the witty Wayans always know how to save a scene by penning such snappy zingers as "Shut the #%*@ up, @#&"!"

Gratuitous? You ain't heard nothin' yet.

Did I laugh? Yeah, I did, half a dozen times (most genuinely during the riotous "Blair Witch" parody in which mucus runs profusely from the nose of Cheri Oteri, playing a hard-boiled TV newscaster talking to her video camera). Not a great percentage for a film with something close to 300 quote-unquote jokes.

Shawn, Marlon and Keenen Ivory Wayans would have been far better served if they had just picked one thing they wanted to make fun of instead of aiming at everything under the sun that irritates them. The formulaic slasher flick and the overheated teen comedy were both ripe for plucking. They still are.

SCARY MOVIE (R, 85 minutes) – Contains all manner of objectionable material including (but not limited to) obscenity, drug use, violence, nudity and sex.


© Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company

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