The credits for “Scary Movie 2” show seven different screenwriters, which means an average of 1.3 good jokes per writer. But hey, if you thought that this movie would have witty repartee, you never saw the first one.
Though a slight improvement over the original, “Scary Movie 2” is the same hour and a half of easy, dumb humor: insults, pop culture references, political incorrectness, and bodily fluids, gallons and gallons and gallons of bodily fluids.
I’d like to point out for what I am sure will not be the last time that it is not enough to simply insult someone or make a politically incorrect comment or drown someone in excretions. That’s the easy part. The tricky part, and the worthwhile part, is to make those things funny, and this movie misses so often that its hits seem almost inadvertent. So what we have is a lot of fake and lazy attempts at humor. They may have the rhythm and cadence of jokes, but there is nothing really funny inside. On the other hand, the movie is so cheerfully unassuming about being in the worst possible taste that it is hard to be bothered by it.
What passes for a plot begins with a brief parody of “The Exorcist,” with James Woods in the Max von Sydow role as the title character. This is the highlight of the movie, especially when Veronica Cartwright, in the Ellen Burstyn role, segues from singing “Hello Dolly” with her friends to a rousing chorus of “Shake Ya Azz.” But it ends with tragedy, and we skip ahead to a year later, when a professor (Tim Curry) and his wheelchair-bound assistant take some students to the mansion where it took place, for some paranormal experiments. The rest of the movie is just an avalanche of parodies of everything and anything, from Monica Lewinsky’s dress to “The Weakest Link,” and violations of every possible standard of good taste. Not one but two handicapped characters are played for laughs (with extended comic use of a withered hand), and, as was once said about the infinitely better movie, “The Loved One,” there is something to offend everyone. Woods and Tori Spelling(!) should get good sport Oscars, but the other cast members are mostly forgettable.
Parents should know that this movie is filled with explicit, graphic and offensive humor about every possible kind of sexual act, and that it contains material that would easily get an NC-17 rating in a drama. Peril is mostly comic, but at least two characters are killed and there are some jump-out-at-you surprises. As one would expect in a movie written, produced, and directed by black performers, there are some pointed and valid references to the stereotypical portrayal of black characters in Hollywood films, and the female characters are (in a comic context) brave and capable. However, the movie can be seen as sexist and homophobic, while at the same time parodying sexism and homophobia.
Families who see this movie should talk about the process and role of parody and satire in helping us to see what we take for granted in a new way. How does this movie affect the audience’s ability to enjoy standard thrillers? If they break their promise again and come out with another sequel, what will that one find to make fun of?