Think of Scary Movie as a ripe, red cherry sitting atop the Scream film series. It's an all-out parody, a send-up of the Screams, I Know What You Did Last Summer and every/any other teen sex comedy. It's raunchy, dripping with bad taste and very funny.
Like American Pie and Road Trip, Scary Movie is a film that you desperately try not to laugh at. But like someone cornered into listening to a dirty joke, you eventually break down and guffaw.
Good girl Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans (TV's In Living Color) and penned by a gaggle (six) of writers, including Wayans brothers Shawn and Marlon, the film focuses on a group of high-school teenagers whose friends are being sliced and diced by a masked killer. Good girl Cindy (Anna Faris) thinks the murderer is someone who saw the gang run over and dump a man in the ocean last Halloween.
For the most part, Scary Movie follows the plot line of the original Scream, except that almost every scene is turned upside down by some fucked-up sexual gag or innuendo. Black football star Greg (Shawn Wayans) is a screaming homo, special officer Doofy (Dave Sheridan) likes to masturbate with a vacuum cleaner, and the women's phys ed teacher carries an extra set of balls wherever she goes.
It's surprising that this gets laughs when you consider that the movies the Wayans are parodying come close to being parodies themselves. The Scream films are successful comedy/horror hybrids that continually wink at the audience, actually reciting the rules of the horror genre onscreen and still managing to scare us even when we know what's coming.
Today's teen comedies elevate the classic horny boy to the status of Olympic sperm god, whose ability to cum is Herculean. The films are ridiculous, over-the-top studies of pubescent male sexuality.
So Scary Movie has a pre-sold audience lined up. All it has to do is pass the gag plate around and collect the laughs.
The question is, will Scary Movie be funny in 10 years?
Certain parodies stand the test of time. My favourite, Young Frankenstein, just celebrated its 25th anniversary and holds up brilliantly. Mel Brooks's take on the 30s monster movie works because of the loving care he took to recreate the period feel, right down to using some of the sets from the original Frankenstein film, and the superior comedic cast he assembled to enact his sight gags.
But Scary Movie is sending up films that in a few years' time will be in the remainder pile at your local video store. Will we remember the plot of Scream, let alone appreciate the ways Wayans plays with it?
Hilarious commercials And then there's the send-up of the "Whassup" beer commercials. It's hilarious, but what's its shelf life? I guess if you thought the commercial was funny the first time you saw it, you'll laugh when you see it done in the movie.
But moviemakers have to be careful with their references. I remember thinking Robin Williams made a mistake as the genie in 1992's Aladdin -- he was too current, too hip. He did an impression of the then hottest TV talk-show host, Arsenio Hall. Now, most people have forgotten Arsenio, forgotten the fact that he had a TV show and ruled the roost for a short time.
But that's the nature of the animal. Check out the old Warner Brothers cartoons and spot the send-ups of Eddie Cantor and George Jessel. The faces may look familiar, but the point of the parodies has long since faded away.
SCARY MOVIE, directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans, written by Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Buddy Johnson, Phil Beauman, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, produced by Eric L. Gold and Lee R. Mayes, with Anna Faris, Jon Abrahams, Dave Sheridan, Shawn Wayans and Regina Hall. An Alliance Atlantis release. 85 minutes. Opens Friday (July 7). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 78. Rating: NNN