[Written for Seattle Post-Intelligencer]
If the baddest of the Farrelly brothers bad taste gags has you in stitches, then this is the movie for you. For almost ninety minutes director Keenen Ivory Wayans tries to meld the pop-culture parodies of Airplane! and its ilk with jokes so crude and outrageously raunchy that even Jim Carrey would think twice. At a recent preview screening a pocket of college boys were not just laughing but actually hooting their appreciation.
I find Scary Movie neither scary nor funny, merely an aggressively rude gallery of raunchy sex gags so extreme they at times defy its R rating. Male frontal nudity, an erection turned into an offensive weapon, a forest of pubic hair, and a firehose force of spewing semen are all major components of this teen horror movie spoof.
From its pre-credits lampoon of the opening scene of Scream with Carmen Elektra playing Drew Barrymore’s doomed role (in case we don’t get it, she’s named “Drew”), the film stripmines the Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer franchises. Cindy (Anna Faris), the professional virgin in a group of hot-to-trot teens, is taunted by phone calls and threatening notes while her friends are carved up around her.
That’s a dubious starting place, for the Scream films are already savvy parodies of the genre. To its benefit the picture opens up its scattershot targets to include everything from The Sixth Sense and The Blair Witch Project to The Matrix, The Usual Suspects, and even Amistad, but the gags are more miss than hit. The herky-jerky film, apparently the melding of two different parodies into a single script (credited to six writers, including Wayans’s brothers and co-stars Shawn and Marlon), appears to have been hacked and bent into its current form.
More troublesome is the angry tone the violence takes. In one scene a pissed-off movie audience turns on an obnoxiously loud patron, snatches the knife from the killer, and takes turns stabbing and kicking the girl to a round of cheers. Wayans plays it so sadistically it’s hard to find any humor in the malicious spectacle.
There are a number of funny and unexpected moments, but they are ultimately swamped in the mean-spirited tone and increasingly over-the-top raunch and drug humor. Wayans’s target audience may find that he pushes the envelope of bad taste enough to mine laughs from sheer outrageousness, but I still like to see a little wit in my pop culture parodies.