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"Scary Movie"

Directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans.
Written by Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Buddy Johnson, Phil Beauman, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer.
Starring Anna Faris, Shawn Wayans and Shannon Elizabeth. 
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  7/9/00


First, an important announcement.  From a couple of comments I have received in the last three days from devoted family and friends, I have made an admittedly painful decision to not use profanity in future Bellviews...with the notable exception of movies that I rate Hard Vice, which I will preface with a warning before going into those particular reviews.  With profanity, some people love it, some people don't.  But, in order to possibly go mainstream at some point and sell out, I had to admit to myself that some of my tirades will have to be toned down.

Now, onto the movie.  You know what is funny?  I went to a barbecue, out with a bunch of different people dancing and what not, and spoke on the phone with a few friends over the course of the weekend, and when I mentioned that I went to see "Scary Movie" Saturday afternoon with Terry "Free Passat" McDonnell and Gordon "The Professional" Stokes, almost every single person had the exact same reaction:

"Really?  Was that any good?  Cause, it didn't look that good in the previews."

I thought this was odd, because I thought the preview was pretty funny.  The other common response I got was that people thought all of the good jokes were in the previews.

Well, I am a big fan of Keenan Ivory Wayans, the director of "Scary Movie" and the creator/director of two of the funniest works of the last 20 years, to be sure:  the "In Living Color" TV series on Fox, and "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka!", one of the single funniest movies ever made (but, naturally, not on the AFI list of 100 funniest movies because it is a blaxploitation comedy).

I can't really get into the specifics of why, but "Scary Movie" works, and I gave it an $8.25 for a couple of reasons.  One, this movie really rewards the person that has seen any or all of the following movies:  "The Blair Witch Project", "Scream" (both one and two), "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (and its sequel), "The Sixth Sense", the "Whassup!" Budweiser commercials, "The Matrix", "The Usual Suspects", "Amistad", "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka!" (Wayans rips off his own movie during a beauty pageant sequence--listen for the lyrics), and a few others movies.  Things are just funnier with spoof movies when you know what the director is spoofing!

But, more importantly, there are three or four scenes that will absolutely make you fall out of your chair...but, hopefully, in laughter, not total disgust.  You see, Terry had read an article about how a couple of the scenes in "Scary Movie" were going to warrant an NC-17 rating for this film, but somehow or another the filmmakers got around that.  Now, how that is possible is a little surprising to me, because there is stuff in this movie that really makes you shake your head, like in the "who in the world possibly wrote this scene?" kind of way.  I mean, sick stuff...but, like the hair gel scene in "There's Something About Mary" (tame in comparison to the end of the sex scene in "Scary Movie"), it is stuff that you can't really tell friends about at your cubicle because of how dirty it is...and it is unbelievably hilarious.  I mean, laughing for 60 seconds-type of funny.  Just don't see this with the family, you know?

The plot is structured around the second "Scream" and the first "...Summer" movies, and the characters are played by people I have never seen before (with the exception of Shawn Wayans, or SW1 from "In Living Color" fame!) and I won't even bother you with their real names.  But, all of the six main characters are pretty good and fill every spoofed role perfectly.  Keenan shows up in a brief cameo, but other than that, it is a bunch of Dimension Studios actors (i.e., cheap talent).  From the get-go, it mimics the Zucker Brothers' style of movie cinema ("Airplane!", "The Naked Gun") of off-the-wall humor, sex gags, toilet jokes and lots of little scene jokes that are relegated to the backgrounds of shots with characters walking around the campus of the school where the movie is set.

Some of the 1000-or-so jokes don't work, most notably the ripping off of "The Matrix", which was just done by "Deuce Bigalow:  Male Gigolo" much better than is done here.  Also, there are so many sex jokes that they became pedestrian after a while, and a scene where the killer is trying to "hide" out of sight from the lead character (naturally, the killer is so dumb that he is in plain view of the heroine) goes on far too long to be funny.  Plus, fart jokes do have an audience...just not me!

Not going to set the world on fire, but for a good laugh, this is a great afternoon viewing...especially with a crowded theater, because the laughs are that much better when you are with friends.  And, watch out for Ms. Mann!

Rating:  $8.25 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09