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Scary Movie

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Scary Movie

Starring: Shannon Elizabeth, Cheri Oteri
Director: Keenan Ivory Wayans
Rated: R
RunTime: 88 Minutes
Release Date: July 2000
Genres: Comedy, Horror

*Also starring: Anna Faris, Dave Sheridan, Lil' Kim, Jonathan Abrahams, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Carmen Electra

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

What's the story on this movie? Is this the sort of film that requires the mentality of an immature 12-year-old or by pushing the envelope on vulgarity has crossover appeal and the makings of a breakout smash? The first, if you go along with AP critic Christie Lemire, who's apparently afraid of being considered a prude. The latter if you're at one with Joe Leydon of "Variety," whose mind is keen and way, way open for the likes of the Wayans brothers.

To get the answer simply add those reviews and divide by two and you get a movie which, when it's funny, it's very funny; when it's vulgar, it's very very vulgar; and as for immature and repetitious and bordering on tedium, it's that too.

If you took your Aunt Sherry from Sioux Falls to see this and if the last movie she saw fell under the Hollywood code, "If a couple are in bed, each must have at least one foot on the floor," she'd disinherit you. She wouldn't believe her eyes. If you introduced the movie to your open-minded intellectual friend Herbie and Herbie never saw Scream 1, 2 or 3, he wouldn't have the foggiest about what's going on. But if you've been brought up on the likes of "Friday the 13th," the "Scream" Trilogy, "The Blair Witch Project," "Amistad," "The Sixth Sense" and others and at the same time appreciate some darn good smut and offensiveness (think "Clerks" or anything by the Farrelly Brothers), you are the targeted audience whether you're 18 or 80.

The no-holds-barred script is by committee and it shows. "Scary Movie" does not have a tight narrative. In fact you could not be faulted for wondering whether the plot serves only as Krazy Glue for a succession of one-liners, sit- comish wisecracks and practical jokes, the best coming during the opening half hour when the unwavering, swift pace hits you with the first gag within 30 seconds. The movie is so up-to-the-minute, citing even a quickie from "Big Momma's House," that you'd think it was made fresh for the audience of the day only to be recycled for the next day's crowd with the addition of something to rib the producers of whatever came out last Friday. Keenan Ivory Wayans is best known to the movie crowd for his take-off of the 1970s blaxploitation films with his "I'm Gonna Get You, Sucka" (with Wayans in the role of Jack Spade out to avenge the death of his brother who died of an o.g., or overdose of gold chains). Wayans has not changed his style in the dozen years since that one hit the market, still playing it loose and good-natured, making clear at every point that we're watching actors who are self-consciously watching the cameraman. The performers playing high- school kids are all in their twenties and thirties, co-opting those who would find fault with that sort of casting by cracking a joke about that very shortcoming.

Some plot points: Having run over a pedestrian on the highway whom they thought dead and dumping him into the river, the kids have made a pact to tell no-one about their actions that night. But when a knife-wielding creature with a scream mask begins drawing blood on the campus of B.A. Corpse High School, they naturally assume that the brute is the hapless pedestrian out for revenge. The first juicy killing brings in reporter Gail Hailstorm (Cheri Oteri), who will do anything to get a story--and she means anything--thereby leading to a line of smutty jokes that pop up here and there in this freewheeling story. We are soon introduced to the characteristics of each player, including the virginal Cindy (Anna Faris) and her horny boy friend Bobby (Jon Abrahams); a goofy cop named Doofy (Dave Sheridan) who is modeled on the slow-thinking Dewey of the Scream series; a sheriff with an eye for the young 'uns (Kurt Fuller); a pot-smoking doofus and bmoc football player (Marlon and Shawn Wayans); and a number of others, each with a sharply individual personality.

At time these individuals take themselves so seriously-- steering clear of winking to the audience in a way that could ruin the effect of the satire--that feminists in the audience might actually take offense at the beatings that only the women seem to be getting at the hands of the men. If the great English satirist Jonathan Swift were alive today, he'd think his "A Modest Proposal" was too modest indeed.

Copyright 2000 Harvey Karten

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