Los Angeles Times

Scary Movie


Friday July 7, 2000

     When Dimension Films stated firmly that "Scream 3" would be the last in the series, that didn't mean it couldn't be spoofed. "Scary Movie" not only sends up the "Scream" franchise but also the whole Dimension horror catalog and beyond--including even "The Blair Witch Project." There's not a real fright in sight in "Scary Movie," but no problem: Its blatantly clear intent is to stir up as much raunchy, gross-out humor as an R rating can withstand.
     The result, while undeniably silly and violent in a cartoon-like manner, is by and large a hilarious skewering of the cliches of teen pix.
     Director Keenen Ivory Wayans has kept everything fast and light; even a momentary slackening of pace or heaviness of touch could have proved disastrous in handling all the outrageous shenanigans dreamed up by a raft of writers headed by Wayans' brothers Shawn and Marlon. In any event, a lively, lowdown laff riot is always welcome amid a plethora of summer blockbusters.
     Basically, the plot pretty much crosses the original "Scream" with "I Know What You Did Last Summer." A small-town high school is terrorized by a hooded killer with a mask inspired by the tormented visage of Edvard Munch's famous "Scream" painting. The film focuses on three couples, principally Cindy (Anna Faris), whose comfortable suburban home is supported by her dad's drug dealing, and Bobby (Jon Abrahams), intent on persuading her to go all the way.
     Cindy and Bobby are archetypal teens, whereas Shannon Elizabeth's beautiful Buffy and Lochlyn Monroe's hunky Greg supply the glamour. Much of the humor comes from Shawn Wayans' Ray, a handsome football star of amusingly ambiguous sexual orientation, and from his girlfriend Brenda (Regina Hall), who has an unfortunate tendency to talk out loud at the movies.
     Brenda's brother Shorty (Marlon Wayans) is the film's chronic stoner; Dave Sheridan's Doofy, a seriously slow-witted cop (who is also Buffy's brother) and Cheri Oteri's Gail Hailstorm, a ruthless TV reporter, are sendups of David Arquette and Courteney Cox Arquette's characters in the "Scream" series. Kurt Fuller is the local sheriff, more preoccupied with scoring than with crime-solving. Carmen Electra, gorgeous and a world-class good sport, appears in the opening sequence as the unknown killer's first victim.
     The story gets underway when the three couples start getting notes reminding them that someone knows what they did last summer, keying a flashback of inspired knockabout comedy.
     "Scary Movie's" R is a real envelope-pusher, and much of what happens to accomplish this, while very funny, defies description in a family newspaper. The film is not afraid to be politically incorrect yet remains essentially good-natured in spirit.
     As with other Dimension movies, "Scary Movie" is a good showcase for a talented, youthful cast, and the film is carried with aplomb by newcomer Faris, a fearless comedian and an appealing ingenue.

Scary Movie, 2000. R, for strong, crude sexual humor, language, drug use and violence. A Dimension Films presentation of a Wayans Bros. Entertainment/Gold-Miller/Brad Grey Pictures production. Director Keenen Ivory Wayans. Producers Eric L. Gold, Lee R. Mayes. Executive producers Brad Grey, Peter Safran, Bo Zenga, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Cary Granat, Peter Schwerin. Screenplay by Shawn Wayans & Marlon Wayans & Buddy Johnson & Phil Beauman and Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer. Cinematographer Francis Kenny. Visual effects supervisor Brian Jennings. Editor Mark Helfrich. Music David Kitay. Costumes Darryle Johnson. Production designer-associate producer Robb Wilson King. Art director Lawrence F. Pevec. Set decorator Louise Roper. Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes. Anna Faris as Cindy. Jon Abrahams as Bobby. Shannon Elizabeth as Buffy. Lochlyn Munro as Greg. Shawn Wayans as Ray. Regina Hall as Brenda. Dave Sheridan as Doofy. Cheri Oteri as Gail Hailstorm. Marlon Wayans as Shorty. Kurt Fuller as Sheriff.

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