Scary Movie 2 (2001) – Directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans – Starring Anna Faris, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Regina Hall, Chris Masterson, Kathleen Robertson, David Cross, James Woods, Tim Curry, Chris Elliott, Tori Spelling, Richard Moll, and Andy Richter.
Generally, I’m not a big fan of parodies like the SCARY MOVIE franchise that exist solely to bang on something else – especially when what they’re banging on is largely contemporary material. It makes me feel like I’m eating reheated fast food; it’s a second-generation meal and not remotely good for you but it can, on occasion, be vaguely satisfying. And on rarer occasions still, it can actually hit the spot.
That’s SCARY MOVIE 2, a movie that I still find consistently funny even a decade after its release, when a bunch of the parodied references have faded from memory. It works because SM2 does what a good parody should do – it’s funny on its own, even without knowing what other films it’s riffing on. Sure, it adds a bit to know that the opening scene is a riff on The Exorcist, or that Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris) is a riff on Scream’s Sidney Prescott (played by Neve Campbell) but unless you want to know all the references, you don’t need to know them because SM2 is funny just being itself.
In SM2, Professor Oldman (Tim Curry) rounds up a bunch of his students to take to a haunted house in the hopes of studying paranormal activity. And to get laid. Curry is very good as the dirty “old man” prof looking to bag one of his students, or at least spy on them from command central, where he’s got cameras set up in everyone’s room for “research purposes.”
Look, before I go any further, let me be clear that I’m not arguing that SCARY MOVIE 2 is a film on the level of, say, Blazing Saddles, but whenever I put the movie on I end up getting drawn in and being consistently amused for the entire run-time. Rewatchability is an underrated category of appreciation among far too many film fans
A lot of the humor is of the “shock and chuckle” variety, where you’re supposed to be amused by Father McFeely (James Woods) talking about sticking a finger up his butt, or when Buddy (Chris Masterson) ejaculates so hard it blasts Cindy across the room and against the opposite wall, coating her and the wall in white goo. This kind of humor doesn’t do a lot for me, but thankfully SM2 takes a shotgun approach to humor, throwing everything at the screen in a constant attempt to keep you amused, and there are far more hits than misses.
Insults are a huge part of the humor, and no two characters go at it more than Professor Oldman’s assistant Dwight (David Cross) and the house’s caretaker, Hanson (Chris Elliott). Dwight is a paraplegic with a really bad comb-over and Hanson has a malformed hand and a horrific complexion. Dwight bags on Hanson’s hand and Hanson bags on Dwight’s legs and while it’s an obvious angle, Cross and Elliott make it work by acknowledging it’s an obvious angle of attack as they blast through the best insults they can come up with about the others ailment:
First, there’s this exchange, as Hanson is serving dinner:
Hanson: All right, who’s ready for a wing?
Dwight: Yours or the turkeys?
Hanson: (pauses) I know what you’d like, how ’bout a leg?
And then at the end of the meal:
Dwight: Okay, thanks, “Handyman”.
Hanson: I’m actually the caretaker. Oh, aren’t those cool new skates? Now you be careful with those, you don’t want to fall and break something.
Dwight: Oh, that’s funny, that’s real funny. Um, let me give you a “hand.” (starts clapping)
Hanson: Why, that’s awful kind of you. Why don’t you give me a “standing” ovation?
Dwight: Why don’t you lift me up?
Hanson: Ha, okay, I see where you’re going with this one. You look familiar to me. Were you in “STOMP”?
Dwight: Hey, you can kiss my grits!
Hanson: I think I’ll be the bigger man, now, and walk away. Walk away.
What makes SM2 really work for me, though, are the little bits that almost pass you by because they get lost in the bigger moments. In the opening, Exorcist sequence, for instance, Father’s McFeely and Father Harris (Andy Richter) are performing an exorcism on a possessed young girl and when McFeely first looks in the room and sees Megan’s head spinning around, his response is to say, “F*ck this,” and try to leave. Or when Cindy tells Buddy that she just wants to be friends and he takes her literally, treating her like a dude, punching her in the chest and yelling, “Open chest! Gotta be faster than that, A cup!”
And the best scene of the movie is when Theo (Kathleen Robertson) arrives late to dinner like she’s going out clubbing on Friday night and sexily leans against the door, asking, “Well, are you boys gonna sit there with your mouths open, or is someone gonna offer me a seat?” and we see a bunch of the table’s wooden chairs slide into the camera shot, followed by Dwight’s wheelchair. “I warmed it up for you,” he flirts. “It’s the best seat in the house.”
As he says this, he’s sitting on Ray’s (Marlon Wayans) lap, who runs a finger through Dwight’s comb-over and says, “Second best.”
For all of the funny bits (Ray turning the tables on the clown that attacks him, the foul-mouthed parrot, Dwight splitting up the group along racial lines, Vitamin C yelling at Cindy from out of the radio to stop singing along), SCARY MOVIE 2 derives a good deal of amusement from the relationship between the characters. It’s not like they’re best pals, but the film does hit on the dynamics of people are more acquaintances than friends, who are stuck together because they’re living on the same floor of a dorm room, or working at the same crummy job. Keenan Ivory Wayans does an excellent job keeping this movie moving, rotating through his characters and cramming each skit with plenty of chances to make you laugh.
SCARY MOVIE 2 isn’t one of the funniest movies ever made, but it is consistently enjoyable.