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Wednesday, July 12, 2000

Scary Movie

Posted By on Wed, Jul 12, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Carmen Electra runs from a ghost-masked slasher. Tree branches, strategically placed, snag her clothes which rip away, stripping her to a moving parody of her Playboy playmate lingerie shots. Cue the lawn sprinklers and slow the motion: It’s an instant lampoon of the actress-model’s "Baywatch" days. The writers, Shawn and Marlon Wayans of WB Television Network’s "The Wayans Bros.," even give Electra dialogue that spoofs her brief marriage to notorious basketball superstar Dennis Rodman. This opening sequence is Scary Movie at its satirical best. Unfortunately, it’s a long, downhill trip from there.

The recipe for Scary Movie? Dice and splice the characters and the plots of recent popular teen slasher flicks – the Scream trilogy, I Know What You Did Last Summer – and "Laverne & Shirley." Drop in moments from The Blair Witch Project and The Matrix. Smash and grab a plot twist from The Usual Suspects. Rip off the entire Budweiser "Wassup!" commercial. Lace it all with a running gay gag and misogynistic slasher slapstick. Pepper with penises. Top with body fluids. Scary Movie assumes a steady diet of pop media. If you’re not at least aware of the ingredients, then you won’t get the jokes.

Scary Movie has laughs, but many leave a bitter aftertaste. As expected and even required, popular characters of the genre are caricatured as well as the actors who play them, but the satire often goes off track. The send-up of David Arquette’s "Deputy Dewey" character from the Scream trilogy deteriorates into a running "retard" gag. Slapstick loses its humor betraying the horror the movie attempts to spoof when the sight and sound of breaking bones become too disturbingly real. The humor is often tinged with high-school cruelty.

Some jokes fall disastrously flat. In one scene, a stereotypically black high-school girl is slaughtered in a movie theater, Murder on the Orient Express-style, stabbed by members of the audience before the slasher can do his job. Her crime? Talking on her cell phone during Shakespeare in Love. Scary Movie is at its worst when comedy falls apart, leaving behind the tragedy it attempts to mock.

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