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In the toilet

Review: 'Scary Movie 2' frighteningly bad

Scary Movie 2
"Scary Movie 2" includes scenes that spoof the supernatural and college life -- both poorly  

By Paul Clinton
CNN Reviewer

(CNN) -- Last year's surprise summer hit was "Scary Movie." It was an idiotic, mindless spoof of teen-age slasher movies like "Friday The 13th" (1980) or "Nightmare On Elm Street" (1984) -- movies which themselves were inherently idiotic, mindless spoofs of actual scary movies such as "Psycho" (1960) and "Carrie" (1976).

Nevertheless, this parody of a parody made $157 million at the box office. Therefore, before you could scream "Don't go into that dark house alone, you crazy fool!", a sequel, "Scary Movie 2," has been made.

All of which, once again, proves that P.T. Barnum knew what he was talking about when he said, "A sucker is born every minute."

Writer/director Keenen Ivory Wayans shows he's still the high priest of low- brow humor with "Scary 2." Along with his acting/writing/producing brothers Shawn and Marlon, Wayans wades back into the land of toilet humor, this time via the route of spoofing another very broad film genre: the world of the supernatural.

Movie trailer for 'Scary Movie 2'

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(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)

The muck of stupidity

Amazingly, the film starts off fairly well with a very funny take-off on "The Exorcist" (1973). James Woods is hilarious as a priest reluctantly dragged kicking and screaming into the ice-cold bedroom of a young girl possessed by the devil. Natasha Lyonne has a great time playing the pea soup spitting, head-twisting, vile-mouthed character portrayed by Linda Blair in the classic original, and comedian Andy Richter does a nice turn as the assistant to the priest.

Still, watch out for that toilet humor: If MTV decides to establish a "Best Performance with Urine" category for its yearly awards show, then Lyonne is a shoo-in as the winner.

Shawn Wayans
Shawn Wayans stars in the film  

Unfortunately, after this well-done opening things slide into the muck of stupidity with alarming speed. The bare-bones premise is taken from the film "The House On Haunted Hill" (1958, remade in 1999), in which a group of strangers are offered money if they can spend the night in a haunted house with a bloody past. Shawn and Marlon Wayans -- along with Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Tori Spelling, Kathleen Robertson, and Chris Masterson (best known as the older brother in the TV sitcom, "Malcolm In The Middle") -- play the houseguests. Tim Curry (as a mad professor), Chris Elliott (playing Hanson the groundskeeper), and David Cross (playing Curry's assistant) are their creepy hosts.

Once everyone is in place, the gags -- some of which will make you gag -- begin.

Sticky mess

It must be said that the Wayans brothers are equal-opportunity offenders. They gleefully take broad stabs at thrillers ranging from "Poltergeist" (1982) to "What Lies Beneath" (2000) to "Hannibal" (2001), while at the same time making references to action films such as "Mission Impossible 2" (2000), "Charlie's Angels" (2000), and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000), just to mention a few. Pop culture, TV commercials, and sociopolitical commentary -- via a blue dress with a prominent white stain -- are also fair game. Just about everything is thrown up against the comedic wall to see, what, if anything, sticks.

Some of it works. Much of it doesn't.

That's partly because this isn't a movie -- it's a vaudeville sketch aimed at the lowest common denominator. Not that there's anything wrong with that; just know what you're getting for your nine bucks.

And also know that if you've seen the trailer, you've seen many of the best gags -- barring the countless yuks involving bodily fluids.

If ever a movie were made for video, "Scary Movie 2" is it. That said, it will make millions, but not as much as the original. You can fool some of the people for some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people, all of the time. Even P.T. Barnum's suckers could figure that out.

"Scary Movie 2" was never made available for an official press screening by the studio -- almost always a sure sign of disaster. It is rated R and runs a blessedly short 82 minutes.

• 'Scary Movie 2' - official site

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