Scary Movie 2 (2001)

Scary Movie was a fun enough time while watching a film. It fired jokes at a rapid rate, and even though many of them didn’t work, the sheer amount that it contained ensured that even if 1/3 of them did, it would still be relatively funny. Its main spoof of slasher movies provided a good enough foundation around which to base the plot, and … yeah, that’s about it. It was funny, and therefore I liked it. Comedies, and particular spoof comedies, are like that.

The sequel chooses haunted house movies as the main target for parody, and in particular The Haunting. It opens with a spoof on The Exorcist, and then moves on to basically be a retelling of The Haunting. To my surprise, the film actually feels like it has a plot rather than a loosely connected series of skits. Don’t think that’s praise, though, because a more focused movie doesn’t work in its favor. Scary Movie 2 is far less funnier than the original, and I think its attempt to stick to the script, so to speak, is one of the main reasons why.

See, if this is the direction the film is going to take, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room. You have to stay within the plot guidelines and tone of the central story. The first film felt like it could throw anything at us, which kept it from getting predictable. Scary Movie 2, conversely, comes across as dull because the points for spoof are obvious and it rarely throws anything fresh at us. You can come up with funnier things in your mind, and if you can do that, the movie isn’t doing its job.

The film focuses primarily on the characters from the previous film. Yes, almost all of them died, but that’s something that (1) apparently doesn’t matter and (2) isn’t something that the film needs to mention. I mean, one of the returning characters wound up being kind of evil, but that’s been forgotten about. But note that not all of the cast members returned, presumably because they had the intelligence to read the script. The returning and new members must have skimmed it or let their agents make the decision for them. Or maybe the paycheck was too good to pass up.

The teenagers, now in college, join a class taught by an odd professor (Tim Curry) and his paraplegic assistant (David Cross). They have to go to an odd mansion under the guise that their sleep patterns will be monitored. The real plan is that the two adults hope to use the teenagers to study paranormal activity. Oh, and the professor is a pervert, because that’s funny. Turns out, the house is haunted, and they soon all have to try to stop the ghost(s) of the house from killing them.

We’ve seen a lot of the jokes in Scary Movie 2 before. Many of them are stolen from the first film. More still simply aren’t funny. Unpredictability and characters reacting to these silly things with a straight face are what work best in these films. When the characters can’t play it as deadpan, or when you can see the jokes coming, they’re far less effective. The only times I can remember laughing involved situations when characters traded dialogue with a profane parrot.

Oh, right, and there is also the best fight ever filmed which includes a human boxing against a cat. It might also be the only one ever filmed, but I stand by that statement. It says a lot about the characters in the movie that they’re only especially funny when they’re trading blows — be they verbal or physical — with animals. When not even Tim Curry can make me laugh, something has gone wrong on a fundamental level. The script just isn’t as sharp, and the gags just aren’t anywhere close to as funny.

Maybe the filmmakers didn’t have the time to do something inspired. Scary Movie 2 is a 2001 release, which is just a year after the initial installment. That’s not a lot of time when it comes to the movies. As soon as the first one was released, this one had to begin pre-production. No time to think things through; the filmmakers were back to work. If they weren’t making a good chunk of change, I’d pity them. Then again, their names are forever attached to a pretty terrible movie. I suppose they do deserve pity.

Scary Movie 2 is such a disappointment when compared to the original. Not that Scary Movie was a great film, but it was consistently funny. This one adheres to strictly to its foundation film’s plot, and as such is predictable and has fewer chances to surprise. Its script is also less sharp, and there isn’t much creativity to the proceedings. The film makes Tim Curry dull. That should never happen! Even if you like these types films, you should skip Scary Movie 2.

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