Summer Sale! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.
Movies
Entertainment Movies

'A Haunted House' wears out its only joke ★

Marlon Wayans wrings every last down-and-dirty giggle out of a single joke in "A Haunted House," his return to "Scary Movie" territory, in truth if not by contract.

He's no longer involved in that series, so he limited himself to making fun not of every modern "scary" movie, but just the "Paranormal Activity" series. And for 85 rude and raunchy minutes, he does his best to drive a comical stake through the heart of horror's hottest franchise and the "found footage" genre.

It's a "what if ghosts visited a randy black couple in the suburbs" take on "Paranormal," covering much of the same territory as the movies that inspired it - consulting a Ouija board and a gay psychic, wiring the tract house with cameras to catch images of the things that go bump in the night, and the couple (Wayans and Essence Atkins) who go bump in the bedroom.

And the "flava"? That's when Malcolm (Wayans) calls in his thug cousin and company to deal with the "demon" that moved in at the same time Kisha (Atkins) did.

Naturally, the thug's name is "Ray-Ray" (Affion Crockett, funny). Naturally, he's overmatched.

"Cuz, where's your FURNITURE?" Ray-Ray wants to know, before it all tumbles from the ceiling on him and his homies. Yeah, you saw that in the TV commercials and trailers.

Cedric the Entertainer is a foul-mouthed priest who figures it would be easier to find a new girlfriend than to exorcise Kisha. Nick Swardson has "psychic powers, all over my body," and is more interested in Malcolm's body than chasing demons.

Wayans probably hasn't matured beyond snickering every time he said director Michael Tiddes' name aloud on the set. He's aged out of his manic years, but he hurls himself at the nudity, the simulated sex and what not. The night Kisha moves in, Malcolm vigorously practices, on camera, every sexual thing he wants to do with her with his collection of teddy bears. But Wayans hasn't given himself much that's new to play around with, protesting that "checking out" that noise downstairs "is what WHITE people do," insisting that people of his race "RUN" (and shout instructions to the character about to "check out that noise" on the screen).

Yeah, that joke is played. Taking flatulence gags to new levels and euphemisms for both characters being sexually violated by the ghost - "Touched by an Angel" and "Altar Boyed" - have an amusing shock value. The ghost's inability to spell "Ghost" on the Ouija Board prompts a run of dyslexia riffs.

"I'll bet he spells 'BOO' 'O-O-B.'"

The funniest bit is Kisha's all-night sleepwalking dance routine (sped up as the scan through the video). The rest of "A Haunted House" you've pretty much seen if you watched the TV ads.

'A Haunted House'
MPAA rating:
R for crude and sexual content, language and some drug use
Running time: 1:25
Opens: Friday

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Best movies of 2012

    Best movies of 2012

    Tribune movie critic Michael Phillips picks the top 10 movies of the year.

  • Worst movies of 2012

    Worst movies of 2012

    Tribune movie critic Michael Phillips picks the worst movies of the year.

  • 'A Walk in the Woods' review: Mild men Redford, Nolte take a hike

    'A Walk in the Woods' review: Mild men Redford, Nolte take a hike

    In the wake of "Wild," in which Reese Witherspoon's version of Cheryl Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and reckoned with her demons, we now have "Mild," better known as "A Walk in the Woods." It stars Robert Redford and Nick Nolte as travel writer Bill Bryson and his buddy, fictionalized by...

  • 'We Are Your Friends' review: A familiar tune

    'We Are Your Friends' review: A familiar tune

    "Are we ever gonna be better than this?" Cole Carter (Zac Efron) entreats his hyped, pulsating crowd. "We Are Your Friends," directed by Max Joseph, isn't quite sure of the answer to that question. But, as an audience, you wish that this promising, but generic film were better than this. "We Are...

  • 'Mistress America' review: An engaging New York story

    'Mistress America' review: An engaging New York story

    It's a 90-year-old song lyric, but Lorenz Hart's description of Manhattan (from the song "Manhattan") as a "wondrous toy" holds newfound allure for the bright young things — 21st century moderns — populating Noah Baumbach's latest chamber-screwball outing, "Mistress America."

  • 'No Escape' review: Melodrama and misguided politics

    'No Escape' review: Melodrama and misguided politics

    If what you're seeking in the doldrums of August is stomach-churning, eye-watering suspense, "No Escape" delivers just that, but it falls short with a tone-deaf story and extremely xenophobic worldview.

Comments
Loading
79°