Scary Movie (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
|In the years of writing my capsule
summaries of films, and researching how the reviewers
feel about various films, I have been able to establish
There may be a third valid principle, I'm not sure. It's still in the hypothesis stage, but it says that the personal characteristics which impel one to become a movie critic tend to exclude possession of a rich and encompassing sense of humor. I like to think that I can be moved by "Un Bel Di", and be awed by Finnegan's Wake, without having to abandon my equal appreciation for the lowbrow humor of Mel Brooks or the Wayans Brothers. Film critics in general seem to think that appreciating and applauding lowbrow or middlebrow humor somehow invalidates their credentials to review Titus Andronicus. Oh, poppycock. And what's more, only about five critics in the world understood enough or did enough homework to write an intelligent overview of Titus, anyway, so what credibility do they have to lose?
Scary Movie is not the kind of movie that will please stuffy critics. It is intelligent in many ways, but it is also dumb. Not to mention sophomoric, vulgar, and gross. Did I mention funny? Ah, there's the rub for the critics. It's a comedy and it's actually funny, therefore disqualifying it from Oscar consideration. Let's see. Laugh out loud at this movie a hundred times, never laugh out loud at Fargo. Yup, ipso facto, Fargo must be a better comedy, and therefore eligible for some major awards.
Nothing against Fargo, mind you, which is a wickedly brilliant film. Just making the point that actual laughter should be one of the more important criteria used to evaluate comedy, and I'm here to tell you that Scary Movie was one of the funniest movies of the year, and is one of the two best genre parodies in recent memory. (The other being Austin Powers). It does for 90's era teen slasher films what Airplane did for disaster movies and what Blazing Saddles did for Westerns. It is superficially a wicked retelling of "Scream", but also much more than that.
|I think the
most valuable thing I can tell you is this. I saw this
movie some months ago in the theaters, and I still needed
to rent the DVD. Oh, not because of the deleted scenes,
although I loved 'em, but the main reason was that in the
theater people were laughing so hard that I missed a
bunch of subsequent jokes. I think that's not a bad
recommendation. Even when I watched the DVD, my daughter
snuck in to watch with me, and she was laughing so hard
that I had to rewind a couple times. Then she asked me to
buy her the DVD for Christmas.
Sure the Wayans brothers may not always hit the mark - nobody does - but they are the closest thing we have now to a national comedy heirloom, and they are a bunch of guys with their ears always on the railroad track of popular culture.
scenes in this film have more laughs than the stuff they
leave in most comedies. Two examples:
The Wayans have made very funny genre parodies before, but fundamentally they have sent up black filmmaking with " ... South Central ... " and " .. get ya sucka ", and some of the references were obscure for mainstream moviegoers. And frankly those movies, although scintillating in spots, are uneven.
|This time they've
extended a welcoming hand to mainstream viewers,
essentially saying, "we can do more than
in-jokes". Scary Movie is far above the level of
those earlier films, and also targets a much more
recognizable genre, and the entire broad spectrum of
American Culture. Their approach is kind of like an
energetic, youthful, hipper version of the Simpsons. (In
fact, Rick Ducommun establishes a very strong case to
play Homer Simpson if they ever make a live Simpsons
They spare nobody, including themselves. They are politically incorrect, and they are funny guys.
May they make many more films, and may they continue to seek new dimensions in their humor. And may they leave the lowbrow, edgy, sexy, and offensive stuff in side-by-side with the subtleties, and may they thumb their noses at the critics in the interest of doing what they think is funny.
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