The idea to parody the Scream series never made much sense. Those films, after all, were defined by a self-awareness that ought to have acted as a sort of Teflon to outside spoofery. But, after a while, the abundance of Scream-inspired teen horror films made parody almost a mathematical inevitability, if never a good idea. When that parody arrived in the form of Scary Movie, it played like a bad idea taken to an even worse conclusion. Starring Marlon and Shawn Wayans and directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans, the film practiced the sort of reference-as-punchline humor favored by obnoxious party guests everywhere, offering little more than visual quotes from recent horror films combined with the stray bodily-fluid gag or pot joke. It became a huge hit, paving the way for the inevitable sequel. Scary Movie 2 is more of the same, but also less of the same, featuring far fewer gags than its predecessor. Paradoxically, its laziness makes it slightly more bearable. Fewer bad jokes and rote parodies, and less self-conscious offensiveness, means less annoying shtick, although anyone who actually enjoyed the first film will probably come away disappointed. Scary Movie 2 opens with an Exorcist parody (included, presumably, due to The Exorcist's well-attended recent re-release) that bears little relation to the rest of the film, but establishes two important facts from the start: 1) The sequel's cultural memory doesn't trace back much further than the original Scary Movie, and 2) nothing about it will make the slightest sense. Characters arrive without introduction, only to be whisked through spoofs of Hannibal, What Lies Beneath, Mission Impossible 2, and The Haunting, with tips of the hat to the 2000 election and The Weakest Link. Despite the inclusion of comedic talents like Chris Elliott and David Cross, Scary Movie 2 stays hopelessly devoted to humor's lowest common denominator, contributing substantially to 2001's count of ass/fart/shit jokes in what's shaping up to be a banner year for the field. It doesn't help that the film looks like it was thrown together from whatever usable footage existed at deadline. Mad scientist Tim Curry simply walks out of the movie about halfway through, and despite a prominently featured volleyball, the parody of Cast Away suggested by its presence (and the film's poster) never materializes. Maybe next time, but hopefully not.
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