Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 23 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Strong Sexual and Gross Humor, Graphic Language and some Drug Content
Directed by: Keenen Ivory Wayans
Written by: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Alyson Fouse, Greg Grabianski, Dave Polsky, Michael Anthony Snowden & Craig Wayans
Starring: Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Chris Masterson, Kathleen Robertson, David Cross, James Woods, Tim Curry, Tori Spelling & Chris Elliot
2000’s SCARY MOVIE was such a hit at the box office that the studio immediately greenlit a sequel. Usually when something like this happens in the Hollywood scene, one can expect a shameless cash-in on the first film with significantly less effort put into it. This is especially true of spoof films. As enjoyable as the later entries were, THE NAKED GUN had a significant drop off in quality after the first film. However, the Wayans brothers pulled off a seemingly impossible task in their second SCARY outing. SCARY MOVIE 2 is actually well-rounded, more focused, and far funnier than its predecessor. Part of this might come from mainly lampooning a legitimately bad horror flick this time around (1999’s THE HAUNTING remake), but this sequel also seems to be more creative in its ridiculous laughs.
Cindy Campbell and most of her friends somehow survived the massacre from the first film, even though some of them clearly died. Their troubles are far from over as a shady college professor tricks them into participating in a questionable experiment at a decrepit mansion. Aside from the college kids and their professor, the population of this mansion also includes a creepy butler, the professor’s idiotic assistant, and a few pissed off ghosts. If Cindy and her friends wish to survive the night, they must find a way to beat all of the supernatural threats that this haunted mansion throws at them. As you might expect, crazy and crude shenanigans ensue.
One quality that immediately sticks out about SCARY MOVIE 2 is the level of talent from the supporting cast members. Most notably, Tim Curry appears in a rather thankless role as the college professor. Though he gets a couple of chuckles, the Wayans brothers should be ashamed for not fully utilizing Curry’s comedic chops. However, the rest of the big names make up for that mistake. David Cross is hilarious as the professor’s assistant. Confined to a wheelchair, Cross’s running gag is that he can “do it himself!” with every little task. Chris Elliot might be the funniest damn thing in this whole film as the butler. Sporting a particularly nasty-looking prosthetic hand, he milks what might have been a tired gag for everything that it’s worth. Each new bit of Elliot’s pay-off is funnier than the last and one scene had me cracking up. On an arguably better level than Elliot’s butler is James Woods’s priest who’s sadly only seen in the first 10 minutes (which mercilessly spoofs THE EXORCIST). His straight-faced delivery of such over-the-top material provided some of the funniest moments for me. Nearly everyone from the first film returns, including Anna Faris, Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans, and they all pull their weight as well.
Much like the first film, SCARY MOVIE 2 jumps from set-piece to set-piece. The key difference is that there’s actual consistency and an even flow in this sequel. Instead of including scenes purely for the hell of it, almost everything ties back into the plot. Speaking of which, aside from one oddly placed CHARLIE’S ANGELS moment, this second film sticks to parodying horror films without too many pop culture references thrown in the mix. Everything from more modern fare at the time (including WHAT LIES BENEATH, HOLLOW MAN, and HANNIBAL) to old-school classics (THE EXORCIST, POLTERGEIST, AMITYVILLE HORROR and THE CHANGELING) are comedic targets. The humor somehow gets even crasser than the first film (with more bodily fluids, sex jokes, and frequent profanity), but works far better this time around. While the first film felt like it was trying too hard to gross you out, SCARY MOVIE 2 does everything purely for ridiculous laughs. A couple of stand-out moments include a clown doll that goes from predator to victim in 30 seconds and a cussing parrot. Again, this is all juvenile and immature, but also very funny….at least, to me.
SCARY MOVIE 2 relies on a lot of stupid humor. The basic plotline mainly serves as an excuse for haunting hijinks and crude over-the-top gags. It’s far from a perfect horror-comedy or the best spoof out there. That being said, it’s definitely enjoyable all the same and serves as a light-hearted romp that’s perfect for the October season. For my money, this is by far the best SCARY MOVIE in the franchise!