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Slasher and Burn: Marlon Wayans and Cheri Oteri lay waste to the slice-and-dice genre in 'Scary Movie.'

I See Dead Movies

'Scary Movie' is a witless, coarse parody of a parodistic genre

By Richard von Busack

THE FILM Scream was, among other things, the perfect young filmgoers' entertainment: the onscreen analysis of the genre saved their dignity, allowing the kids to pretend to be detached from situations that scared them. Wes Craven, who directed Scream, had worked so long in the slasher-pic business that he was careful to connect the scenes and make the audience care about the characters.

Scary Movie, the new parody of Scream and its sequels, is god-awful on a number of levels, but, fatally, it's not a knowing satire. Keenen Ivory Wayans must have been more anxious to leap on a trend than to share his fascination with a group of films--as he did in his far superior satire of blaxploitation, I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. That's why Scary Movie is a bored lampoon of an already exhausted genre, pumped hard and drained dry in record time. Wayans is mostly interested in the really coarse sex jokes, and since there isn't really any sex to speak of in the PG-rated slashers, the scenes don't add anything to the satire. (Though the children who went to see the movie got food for thought; I could hear one asking his mommy what was going on.) Maybe Scary Movie should have been a half-hour-long parody during the course of a sketch movie, a la Amazon Women of the Moon, but I can't imagine improving this movie short of burning it, which would be improvement indeed.

Scary Movie's idea of wit is to arm the ghoul-masked slasher from the Scream franchise with the baling hook the killer wielded in I Know What You Did Last Summer. In a copy of the pretitle scene from Scream, Carmen Electra (as "Drew") is dispatched; cut to the pristine bedroom of Cindy (Anna Faris), an amalgam of Neve Campbell and the actress referred to here as "Jennifer Love Hewge-tits." Her friends are being picked off one by one because of a hit-and-run accident that they covered up last Halloween ("Road Victim" is played by Craig Brunanski).

The rest of the gang: Doofy (Dave Sheridan, doing a really very bad imitation of David Arquette from the first Scream as a drooling imbecile who hasn't been toilet-trained); a closeted gay character (Shawn Wayans), the last one to know that he likes guys; and Marlon Wayans as a shrill pothead who replays the Budweiser "Whassup!" commercial. (What's that commercial got to do with horror?--except the existential horror bad TV commercials induce?) In this ugly film, only one actor survives the ugly jokes, and that's the debuting Faris; while she can't save the movie, the innocent-looking actress has a drunk party scene wearing a Viking helmet, and that's as close to style as Scary Movie gets.

Scary Movie (R; 88 min.), directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans, written by Shawn and Marlon Wayans, Buddy Johnson, Phil Beauman, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, photographed by Francis Kenny and starring Marlon Wayans, Cheri Oteri and Anna Faris, plays at selected theaters countywide.

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From the July 12-19, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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