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Dustin Putman

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Scary Movie 2 (2001)
2 Stars

Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans
Cast: Anna Faris, Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Regina Hall, Christopher Kennedy Masterson, Chris Elliott, Tim Curry, David Cross, Kathleen Robertson, Tori Spelling, James Woods, Natasha Lyonne, Andy Richter, Veronica Cartwright, Richard Moll.
2001 – 82 minutes
Rated: Rated R (profanity, violence, sexual situations, and nudity).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, July 4, 2001.

Literally three days away from a whole year since the release of Keenen Ivory Wayan's mega-grossing horror spoof, "Scary Movie," "Scary Movie 2" comes with the same director, many of the same writers (there are seven screenwriters listed in the credits!), and several cast member returnees. What has, unfortunately, not returned in "Scary Movie 2" is its predecessor's rapid-fire energy, shockingly raunchy humor, or even its joke-to-laughter ratio. What was once a novel idea just last summer has since grown rather stale, and it shows. "Scary Movie 2," while occasionally uproarious (but not occasionally enough), is a wasted opportunity that comes off less as a major motion picture, and more as an endless parade of comedic skits strung together by the thinnest of stories, with no purpose other than to make the studio heads mucho dinero.

Bypassing the lampooning of slasher films, "Scary Movie 2" takes direct aim at the supernatural genre, and loosely follows the plotting of 1999's "The Haunting," which was a very bad movie in and of itself. Sweet-faced heroine Cindy (Anna Faris) and her college friends, including pothead Shorty (Marlon Wayans), repressed homosexual Ray (Shawn Wayans), and sassy Brenda (Regina Hall), are chosen by a college professor (Tim Curry) to participate in a study taking place at the infamously haunted Hell House. Once the setup is finished, there isn't much in the way of a cohesive narrative, with Cindy and her college pals getting stalked by a bunch of ghost, one of which is drawn to Cindy because she bears a striking resemblance to his beloved mistress.

The first thirty minutes of "Scary Movie 2" are its best. Getting off to a side-splitting start with a spoof of "The Exorcist" (with James Woods and Andy Richter playing priests out to exorcise the possessed Natasha Lyonne), the film remains fast-paced and snappily written until, following a disgustingly funny dinner scene, it completely falls apart, jumping inconsistently from one scene to the next without any sort of coherence. It is as if the opening half-hour was fully written and planned, and then director Keenen Ivory Wayans and his ragtag team of "writers" just began randomly pulling stuff out of their head to shoot on any given day.

Direct movie spoofs make up the majority of the picture's running time, whether it be "Poltergeist," "The Haunting," "Hollow Man," "Charlie's Angels," "Hannibal," "Dude, Where's My Car?," or "Save the Last Dance." While some are certainly amusing, most feel merely desperate, tired, and predictable. It's one thing to turn a film's memorable moments on their head, and quite another to simply remake the scene without any skewering. This is basically what Wayans has done here, and it is lazy filmmaking.

Whereas the original developed characters with distinct, yet appropriately silly, personalities, the sequel wastes its cast terribly, with only one person making a notable impression. Chris Elliott (1998's "There's Something About Mary") is an absolute showstopper as the mansion's weirdo caretaker, Hanson, who has a deliriously deformed left hand that is the subject of many tear-inducing laughs. Whenever Elliott is onscreen, the movie jump-starts to life just as it has begun wading through an abyss of unfunny material. Anna Faris, as good-girl Cindy, doesn't get as much to do as she did in "Scary Movie" #1, despite remaining the central character. Faris is a promising actress, and could very well hold her own in a more down-to-earth kind of movie. The only other actor worth positively mentioning is Regina Hall, who has resurrected her spicy role of Brenda, and brightens up her scenes.

The movie's new additions don't fare nearly as well. Every single one has next to nothing to do but stand around and recite myriad lines of dialogue that are supposed to be funnier than they actually are. Tim Curry (2000's "Charlie's Angels"), so talented, is so transparent as to not even seem, in retrospect, like he was even in the film. The same goes for Tori Spelling (1999's "Trick"), as Alex, a supposed innocent who begins a lurid affair with a ghost; Kathleen Robertson (2000's "Beautiful"), as the voluptuous Theo; and Christopher Kennedy Masterson (TV's "Malcolm in the Middle"), as Cindy's token horny love interest.

Filled with gags involving sex, semen, urine, puke, and farting, "Scary Movie 2," nonetheless, feels tame in comparison to the original, perhaps because the jokes are shameless rehashes of scenes that were already done last year. "Scary Movie" was shocking in what it could get away with, and what it was willing to show; this follow-up, on the other hand, is predictable and doesn't even attempt to outdo its competitor.

"Scary Movie 2" does have some big laughs, as expected. The "Exorcist" prologue, as already mentioned, is deliciously zany, as is an ongoing gag involving a foul-mouthed, trash-talking parrot, and the unforgettable role of Chris Elliott. Even still, long stretches are vacuous of successful humor, and at 82 minutes, the whole thing plays like little more than an afterthought that seems to have taken about five days to shoot. Choppily edited and obviously rushed to theaters to quickly make a tidy profit, "Scary Movie 2" reinforces the age-old adage that sequels really do usually suck.

©2001 by Dustin Putman

Dustin Putman