Scary Movie 2 (United States, 2001)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

Uninspired. Pointless. Lifeless. Obligatory. Those are a few of the adjectives that can be used to describe Keenen Ivory Wayans' Scary Movie 2, the profit-driven sequel to the surprise 2000 hit, Scary Movie. Like far too many follow-up motion pictures, Scary Movie 2 exists only because its predecessor made a lot of money. Miramax/Dimension, seeing $$$$, decided that there was no better way to plunder the market than to dump another Scary Movie into theaters, and hope that the name alone would attract enough of an audience for the quickie production to break into the black. In fact, name recognition is about the only thing Scary Movie 2 has going for it - aside from a few genuinely funny gags, this motion picture represents an 80-minute exercise into tedium that does little more than re-hash the first outing.

The original Scary Movie was a lively, outrageous spoof of horror flicks in general and Scream in particular. If it ran out of momentum in the last half hour, that was a reasonable price to pay for such an entertaining skewering of a genre. Scary Movie 2 tries, with minimal success, to mine the same territory, but the vein has long since been tapped out. So, instead of getting something fresh and funny, we are saddled with a turkey whose leaden desperation in trying to get us to laugh is obvious. Gone are the energy and the edgy flamboyance. Scary Movie 2 is just as crude and lewd as its predecessor, but, this time around, the "shocking" sexual and scatological humor seems prefabricated rather than spontaneous. Nearly every gross moment is too easily predicted, and predictability is the death of rapid-fire, shock comedy.

Having hacked Scream to death, Wayans (with help from seven credited screenwriters, including his brothers) sets his sights on The Haunting. This choice presents an immediate problem, since it's infinitely more difficult to lampoon a bad movie than it is a good one. The Haunting is in many ways a self-parody, making Scary Movie 2 redundant. Nevertheless, Wayans soldiers on directing the workmanlike script. The surviving characters from the first movie - pretty Cindy (Anna Faris), sexually ambivalent jock Ray (Shawn Wayans), perpetually stoned Shorty (Marlon Wayans), and perky Brenda (Regina Hall), along with a few newcomers, are brought to a haunted house for sleep deprivation experiments conducted by an unbalanced college professor (Tim Curry, who has made a career out of playing demented characters). Of course, the horny sprits inhabiting the mansion get out of control and end up chasing after Cindy, who looks just like the long-lost true love of the head honcho ghost.

To Wayans' credit, the movie isn't a complete bust. In fact, it starts out strongly with a devilishly funny parody of The Exorcist. (It really has nothing to do with the rest of the film, but who cares?) James Woods, filling in for Marlon Brando (who was unable to play the role due to illness), deadpans the part of the exorcist, who has a unique solution to the problem of a girl who is possessed. Aside from The Exorcist spoof, there are other successful bits and pieces - a cat fight (I wish the animals in Cats and Dogs showed this kind of tenacity), a scene in which the tables are turned on a bogeyman under a bed, and a brief Charlie's Angels take-off. Far less effective are other satirical vignettes, such as the lampooning of the latest round of Nike basketball commercials or the references to Hollow Man, What Lies Beneath, and other recent horror films.

Scary Movie 2 was put together in a very short time, with Dimension unwilling to delay the release date, and this may have contributed to the film's rushed, sloppy feel. The number of cameos is surprisingly lean. James Woods is one of the few recognizable faces to grace the screen, and he wasn't Wayans' first choice for the role. (I kept imagining how Brando would have played some of the scenes.)

Unfortunately, the elements of Scary Movie 2 that work are dwarfed by those that fail. The picture is characterized by long laugh-less stretches - death to a film virtually devoid of plot and characterization. As was true of Airplane and The Naked Gun, Scary Movie was a one-shot deal. It can not effectively be reconstituted or appended to. Like Blair Witch 2, this sequel bears the obvious stench of crass commercialism ungilded by pious mouthings of a "creative vision." Once the well is dry, further attempts to bring up water yield only mud. One needs look no further than Scary Movie 2 to see the truth of that statement.

Scary Movie 2 (United States, 2001)

Run Time: 1:20
U.S. Release Date: 2001-07-04
MPAA Rating: "R" (Profanity, Sexual Situations, Violence)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1