Lionsgate // 2001 // 82 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // September 16th, 2011
The Movie That Dares You To Come
The parody film is a difficult beast to tame. It seems increasingly difficult in the era of Epic Movie and their ilk, which seem to be nothing more than a collection of nods to other movies. They forget the central rule of the parody film: no matter how or where the jokes fall, the parody film must stand on its own as a film. It must have a plot (however conventional) and must build to some kind of satisfying narrative conclusion. The humor in good parody films comes from taking the stock characteristics of the parodied genre and making them new. This is where the impetus for the "throw everything at the wall" style of Epic Movie fails, because they lack sufficient plot. Scary Movie 2 is an interesting case for parody films. It lacks the tight focus and decent plot of the first Scary Movie, but has a slightly more coherent structure than its sequels Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4. As such, it stands as an interesting example of a second-tier parody film, better than some but far from a classic. Sadly, Scary Movie 2 (Blu-ray) mirrors the so-so quality of the film, which won't make for a tempting upgrade option except for diehard fans.
Much of the cast from the first scary movie returns, but now they're in college. Cindy (Anna Faris), Shorty (Marlon Wayans), Ray (Damon Wayans), and Brenda (Regina Hall) join newcomer Buddy (Christopher Masterson, American History X) in a haunted house where the Professor (Tim Curry, Legend) is hoping to capture evidence of paranormal phenomena (and get laid). The house is, of course, actually haunted, and shenanigans ensue.
Scary Movie 2 is pure junk cinema; we expect a lowbrow comedy, and the film delivers. The basic idea -- taking the generic moments in pop culture (especially horror films) and putting them in a new context -- is still sound. Pretty much all the humor of the film comes from either taking a particular horror scene to the extreme (as when everybody vomits on each other during a parody of The Exorcist) or making some inappropriate scatological/sexual joke.
However, like junk food, Scary Movie 2 provides no lasting sustenance. It's funny enough while it's happening, but after the credits roll I'm hard-pressed to remember any scene as particularly funny, and there's little (if any) of the kind of wit that makes classics like Airplane! quotable to this day by legions of fans. That's not to say that Scary Movie 2 is bad; rather, its charms are particular and aimed at a select audience capable of both appreciating scatological humor and possessed of a wide knowledge of movies and pop culture.
Scary Movie 2's Blu-ray debut is so-so, much like the film. The print used here is surprisingly damaged for a film of this age. It's not major damage -- mostly some speckling and a bit of dirt -- but this is not an old film. Blacks, too, suffer with this AVC encoded transfer. Darker scenes are muddy, and shadow detail is iffy. The bright scenes fare better, with strong detail and color saturation, but overall this is a mixed effort. The DTS-HD soundtrack is quite a bit better, offering solid separation during the sometimes-chaotic moments of sound. Dialogue is crisp, clear, and well-balanced with the numerous comedic effects and score.
Extras include a couple of featurettes that cover the making of the film, its effects, and the sweet robotic cat that crops up in an extended fight scene with Cindy. The centerpiece of the extras, however, is the inclusion of twenty-two deleted scenes (including three alternate endings). There is some genuinely funny material sprinkled throughout these scenes, but it's no surprise that most were excised from the feature.
I've been tremendously generous with Scary Movie 2. It's a stupid, juvenile attempt to cash in on other, better films. The humor is often tepid, the acting hamfisted, and the direction listless. Although there might be a few moments of genuine wit, a collection of fast-flying jokes about sex and bodily fluids does not make a comedy. If any of the above sounds offensive, then Scary Movie 2 should be avoided at all costs.
I shudder at the possibility that some future, perhaps post-apocalyptic anthropologist will discover Scary Movie 2 as the only remnant of late twentieth/early twenty-first century American film and take it seriously. It's a wacky, juvenile take on recent popular culture, but has no lasting impact once the ending comes. This Blu-ray is a mixed bag, with good sound but lackluster video and the same extras as the original DVD. It's probably not worth an upgrade for those who own the DVD, but it's a fine way to see the film for the first time.
Scary Movie 2 is not guilty, but the court will not look so kindly on later parts of the franchise.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes