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The Baltimore Sun

'Scary Movie 2'

Times Staff Writer

There's been a lot of talk recently about how gross-out comedies are on the wane, but Keenen Ivory Wayans clearly has paid no attention. His "Scary Movie 2" opens with a send-up of "The Exorcist" featuring James Woods that sets the tone for the film with bathroom humor that in its exuberant vulgarity may well be unprecedented in a mainstream movie. (There's some blunt sex as well, to be sure.) The whole prologue is actually a pretty funny example of low--low-down humor.

Once you get past the credits, "Scary Movie 2" turns out to be yet another spoof of haunted house movies, with some topical jokes thrown in, and more, way more, gross-to-the-max humor involving sex, violence and all manner of disgusting behavior. A decidedly insinuating and sleazy professor (Tim Curry, no less) and one of his students, a brilliant weirdo (David Cross), have organized a weekend at a haunted Tudor-style mansion, where a group of students is to engage in some supposedly scientific parapsychological research. Greeting them is the mansion's caretaker (Chris Elliott), who carries on with such inspired and unflagging repulsiveness that you can't help but laugh out loud. The problem is that Wayans and his raft of writers, including his brothers Marlon and Shawn, who are also among the film's stars, begin on such an extreme, in-your-face note that they have no place to go; repetition starts creeping into the comic routines that refer to a slew of movies and TV shows. All-out burlesque rather than spoof from the outset, the film becomes less and less amusing. Wayans has a wild zaniness that can be hilarious, but how many bodily function jokes, ultra-crude sexual innuendoes and quite a lot of men and women simply punching each other out can one movie endure?

Certainly, the members of Wayans' ensemble cast, which includes, besides Marlon and Shawn, Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Chris Masterson, Kathleen Robertson and Tori Spelling, hurl themselves into their roles. But free-and-easy filmmaking has a way of sliding into the merely slapdash, and that's what seems to have happened here, although youthful audiences may not care. The ads for "Scary Movie 2" proclaim, "More merciless. More shameless." Maybe so, but it's not as funny as last summer's original "Scary Movie," in which Wayans had lots of fun poking fun at Dimension Films' "Scream" series.

* MPAA-rated: R, for strong sexual and gross humor, graphic language and some drug content. Times guidelines: Language, humor and sexual innuendo are exceptionally strong.

'Scary Movie 2'

Shawn Wayans: Ray

Marlon Wayans: Shorty

Anna Faris: Cindy

James Woods: Father McFeely

A Dimension Films presentation of a Wayans Bros. Entertainment production in association with Gold-Miller, Brad Grey Pictures. Director Keenen Ivory Wayans. Producer Eric L. Gold. Executive producers Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Brad Weston, Peter Schwerin. Screenplay by Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Alyson Fouse, Greg Grabianski, Dave Polsky, Michael Anthony Snowden & Craig Wayans. Cinematographer Steven Bernstein. Editors Peter Teschner, Richard Pearson. Music supervisor Randy Spendlove. Production designer Cynthia Charette. Art director Cat Smith. Set decorator Robert Kensinger. Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes.

In general release.

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