When the "Scream" parody "Scary Movie" was unleashed in theaters last year, the tagline boasted "No mercy. No shame. No sequel." Unfortunately, that was before the Wayans Brothers so-called 'comedy' brought in $260 million at the box office. Sensing more money to be made, the studio heads at Miramax greenlit the sequel, which was rushed through production and barely finished in time for this week's release. Unfortunately, in addition to being an unnecessary sequel, "Scary Movie 2" ends up being a stupid movie too, even more so than the first.
Returning to the fray from the first film are the virginal Cindy (Anna Faris), the sexually-ambiguous Ray (Shawn Wayans), Ray's girlfriend (Regina Hall), and reefer-mad Shorty (Marlon Wayans), who are now in college. They are selected to spend the weekend in a haunted estate known as 'Hell House' as part of a sleep deprivation study overseen by a sinister professor (Tim Curry of "Charlie's Angels") and his wheelchair-bound assistant Dwight (David Cross of "Small Soldiers"). Joining them on this haunted house excursion are Cindy's new buddy Buddy (Chris Masterson of TV's "Malcolm in the Middle"), a knockout named Jamie (Kathleen Robertson of "Runaway Bride"), and a co-dependent named Alex (Tori Spelling, seen in "Scream 2").
It doesn't take long for these youngsters to realize that something strange is afoot in Hell House. In addition to the disgusting antics of the estate's deformed caretaker Mr. Hanson (Chris Elliott of "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps"), they must contend with some nasty poltergeist activity perpetrated by the estate's former owner, Mr. Kane (Richard Moll, seen recently in "Evolution"). Before you can say "The Haunting", it's up to Cindy to vanquish the apparition and save the day.
Having drained the comic possibilities out of the "Scream" movie franchise, the Wayans brothers (and seven screenwriters) set their sights on every other horror film and piece of pop culture they can lay their hands on, resulting in an even more incoherent clothesline of failed gags than the first film. It is sad to say that "Scary Movie", as much as I hated it, was actually more 'enjoyable' than this unnecessary follow-up, which manages to be even more tasteless, humorless, and pointless.
Mind you, there are some mildly amusing bits, such as a satire on the Nike basketball ads, a wheelchair chase that mocks "Mission: Impossible 2", a fight sequence à la "Charlie's Angels", and a great reaction by James Woods in the film's "Exorcist"-inspired opening. Some of the scattershot gags are surprisingly recent, such as references to "Save the Last Dance", TV's "Weakest Link", and "Hannibal". But overall, there is a sense of desperation permeating the entire production, as a high percentage of the gags either end up being gross without being funny or implode upon impact. It seems the Wayans will do anything for a laugh... and they do.
When it is said that you can never get too much of a good thing, then the reverse must be equally true: you can get way too much of a bad thing, as "Scary Movie 2" ably demonstrates, which manages to be even worse than its predecessor. However, if audiences use their better judgement and stay away this time, we just may be able to avoid having to put up with "Scary Movie 3" next summer.