Keenan Ivory Wayans never really hit that high that he did with “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka!”, but it’s interesting to see that “Scary Movie” comes shockingly close to the same comedy gold that the aforementioned film did, many times. Brandishing the original title for Wes Craven’s “Scream,” Wayans and co. never quite hit the timelessness of “Airplane!” mainly because you didn’t have to see the original movies from “Airplane!” to understand its humor. With “Scary Movie,” however, you have to have an education in late nineties horror.
That said, fifteen years after watching it, “Scary Movie” holds up well, and is still the best in its shockingly long running franchise. Its primary source of humor comes from the original “Scream,” but it takes time out to lampoon most teen based horror, and themes from the latter portion of the decade. In particular, the movie doesn’t mind tackling the inherent homoerotic undertones in the finale of “Scream.” Shawn Wayans is hilarious as a sexually ambiguous football player who delights in gay roleplaying, but is hesitant to admit his sexuality in the climax. Wayans and Jon Abrahams have a blast as the pair of “obvious” killers of the film who riff on the interplay between Matthew Lillard and Skeet Ulrich, while delivering hilarious impressions of the pair.
“Scary Movie” unfolds much like “Scream” where local teen Drew (Carmen Elektra) is murdered mysteriously by a masked assailant. The murder bears a mysterious link to local teen Cindy Campbell’s past with her mother. From there, Wayans and his two brothers Shawn and Marlon (both of whom write) are generally on point with mocking the sillier aspects of “Scream” right down to casting a beloved sitcom star as the school principal. Most of the cast do a bang up job garnering laughs, including Cheri Oteri as eager reporter Gale Hailstorm, and Dave Sheridan whose imitation of a mentally disabled David Arquette derives much of the film’s laughs. Anna Faris is also very funny as the inept heroine of the film, who manages to evade the killer, and look for the identity of the murderer all the while the mayhem unfolds around her.
“Scary Movie” often tumbles with flat gags and one-liners, though, losing its momentum with drawn out jokes. The whole nod to “The Matrix” didn’t work then and works even less, now. Plus, Shannon Elizabeth’s death is overlong and forced. Elizabeth doesn’t quite work as a comedic actress here, and is a weak link in a generally entertaining spoof. There’s also the climax which completely falls apart at the seams, indicating the Wayans had no idea how to end the actual movie. That said, “Scary Movie” works well for the first half if you have a keen memory for nineties horror. The Wayans mock horror tropes like the thirty something cast playing high schoolers, Cindy’s sex starved boyfriend who resorts to drastic measures to get her to have sex with him, and “Scream’s” infamous garage scene with Rose McGowan. “Scary Movie” might not be a classic, but it’s a solid satire of contemporary slasher films that I had a good time with.