Hairy Movie

Scary Movie is now playing in theaters nationwide.

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In 1996, Kevin Williamson came across the perfect trick for reviving the teen horror genre with the first installment of his Scream trilogy. He realized that the "jump out of the closet and kill someone" tactic that horror films had survived on since Halloween still worked, regardless if they had gotten overused by the time Halloween II had rolled into theaters.

Relying on this cheapness as a good starting point, Williamson simply tacked on a whole bunch of extra genres to the flick to expand the range of his target audience. He made the film a self-parody in early Mel Brooks tradition, spent a little extra to make sure his cast was super attractive, and got shock-horror master Wes Craven to direct. Suddenly he had a film that was funny to some, horrifying to others and eye candy to everybody else. Best of all, it made fun of the movies your parents watched in terror.

The youth of the time responded by seeing all three Screams in droves, spawning a whole genre that has died down only recently but has created film after film that followed the same sort of model save for the element of self-parody. A pity, since the self-parody was the only part of Scream that made the film worth watching.

So now that the movie market has been deluged with an overabundance of awful teen screamers, moviegoers are finally presented with a parody of a self-parody, Scary Movie.

In the vein of the hilarious I'm Gonna Git You Sucka and the not-so-funny Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, we have a film that could have lived up to the legacy of Airplane! and The Naked Gun. It doesn't, but regardless it's probably the best parody since The Naked Gun, which does say a hell of a lot.

While the aforementioned comedy classics stick roughly to the genres they parody but broadly (if basely) mock them, Scary Movie does best when it adheres to the movies it parodies as if actors had copies of the scripts in front of them, which they may well have had. Most of the best scenes in Scary Movie are line-for-line copies of Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Titanic, or several other movies that came out in the last twenty years.

Seeing some of these movies replayed almost bit by bit, except for some necessary line changes, is often hilarious, as the script is frequently clever and the actors do their bits pretty well. This is exemplified in the first scene, which parodies the initial scene of Scream with a few changes, most notable being the replacement of Drew Barrymoore's character with Carmen Electra playing a character named Drew. The few script changes somehow end up hauntingly familiar, but when the knife goes in, out comes -- surprise! -- breast implants, and there is an eerie homage to "Baywatch" along with it. Sadly, it's a good start that isn't kept up.

Luckily for viewers, all the good scenes are spread out over this somewhat lengthy film. A cross between The Exorcist and a Scream scene where Sidney (in this film Cindy played by Anna Faris) loses her virginity is horrifying. And the film's parody of the "Wazzup!" commercials and a hilarious scene at the end where the killer gets high and freestyles with Shorty (Marlon Wayans) steal the show.

Unfortunately, when Scary Movie slows down, it slows grinds to a noticeable halt. How many of the gags are funny to you depends on how many of the movies you've seen (they hit up a lot of them), and a fair number of the jokes are often just stupid or unnecessary. For example, they parody The Matrix, something Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo already performed in superior fashion. Additionally, Scary Movie's cast is not particularly good outside of performing the gags and doesn't captivate well when actors aren't acting stupid (Shannon Elizabeth, who plays the ditsy but busty Buffy, aside).

Scary Movie's biggest problem is the script, which has no direction. This is not surprising, considering two different films were developed to parody this genre and were eventually merged to create this film.

Yet despite its shortcomings, the film still floats, if barely, and provides entertainment to the masses, similar to the intent of Scream. Ironically, Scary Movie creates its best parody unintentionally, when at the end viewers' interest is piqued as to who the killer is, even though it hardly matters. Like Scream, there is actually no way to determine who did it till the mask is removed, and the tension during it is same. Funny, no?


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