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review added: 3/20/02



Scary Movie
2000 (2000) - Dimension (Buena Vista)

review by Dan Kelly of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Scary Movie

Film Rating: C

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B/B

Specs and Features

88 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), Amaray keep case packaging, 6 deleted and extended scenes, "behind the scenes" featurette, theatrical trailer, sneak peeks, DVD-ROM features (including a screensaver, screenplay viewer, character profiles and the Scary Movie Guide for the Culturally Challenged), animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (17 chapters), languages: English and French (DD 5.1), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

I tried my best. I honestly did, and I still couldn't do it. I couldn't bring myself to fully like Scary Movie. Good trash cinema has its rewards (John Waters comes to mind), but I also allow myself to pick and choose the garbage in which I indulge. I'm opting out of enjoying this one. It's a would-be send-up of all the teen slashers that saw a resurgence in popularity in the late 1990's. And just like those by-the-numbers flicks, there's a lot of junk here that gets in the way of the good stuff. Horror satire has been done before, but never with the degree of crude humor that Scary Movie brings to the table. Character names and plot are of little importance to a movie like Scary Movie, so I won't bother summing up the "plot" of the film.

What works, and is sometimes hysterical in Scary Movie, are some of its moments of slasher parody. The opening scene with Carmen Electra, a mock of the Drew Barrymore scene in Scream, is inspired and actually pretty funny. Carmen Electra as sweet and virginal - as if! I also got a big laugh out of the old man who survives being hit by a car, only to be taken out by an empty booze bottle (a parody of a scene in I Know What You Did Last Summer). But by golly if the rest of the movie doesn't get in the way of the fun stuff! There are tons of scenes that have been lampooned to death. These are the moments when I completely lost interest in Scary Movie. How many parodies of the loud black couple in the movie house do I have to sit through? It's just not funny when you see it for the umpteenth time. For me, it's the overdone equivalent of "take my wife… please!" Throw in a heaping helping of fart jokes, a gratingly obnoxious role by Shawn Wayans and the acting wizardry of Shannon Elizabeth and you've got a movie that will leave some rolling in the aisles and others rolling their eyes. I did a little of both.

Buena Vista presents Scary Movie in its original anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and does so with mostly good results. There are a few instances of grain and the black level occasionally alternates between too dark and slightly gray. Otherwise, the picture looks spiffy. Compression artifacts are nowhere to be found, and the tell tale haloing effect of edge enhancement is nowhere to be seen. Scary Movie is filmed in fairly neutral tones, and these come across generally very crisply and cleanly with no oversaturation. On video, it maintains an almost theatrical appearance, but a little more care in the transfer process would have made it look even better.

There are two Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks - one English and one for those who parle Francais. It's not a very active mix, but then again there's not a whole lot to work with. Most comedies don't offer up a wide soundfield, and this one is no exception. Split surround use is rarely noticeable, and the surround channels really only come into play on a few occasions for sound effects. Rear channels are reserved nearly exclusively for the soundtrack and musical cues. Even so, when they are used, they're not very aggressive or obvious. However, there is some split channel use across the front end of the soundstage to add some depth to the film's effects track. Bass is active when it needs to be, but certainly could have been more lively. The center channel is always loud and clear, so you don't miss a second of the witty banter from the Wayans and company. This soundtrack gets the job done, but doesn't do so with much fanfare.

The DVD for Scary Movie isn't labeled as a special edition, but Buena Vista could easily have done so and gotten away with it. While not fully loaded, there are a handful of good things on here. For an EPK-style piece, the 7-minute featurette isn't half bad. Some of it is talking heads type stuff, but the heads have some knowledge to impart on the genesis of Scary Movie and jokes on the horror genre itself. If you pick and choose through the additional scenes, there are a few good things in there as well. There's an extended sex scene between the dumb white kids in the lead roles (don't ask me to remember their names), that's worth seeing solely because it's damn goofy. There's also a short scene of the Marlon Wayans character trying to get some man on man action on the football field. There are six additional trailers for related movies, the Scream box set, the Wayans yuck fest Don't Be a Menace While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood and Gone in 60 Seconds among others. You'll also get the Scary Movie theatrical trailer, in glorious 1.33:1 aspect ratio!

The DVD-ROM features are even worth browsing through once or twice. Most entertaining of all is the Scary Movie Guide for the Culturally Challenged. It gives you play-by-play action on the film's in-jokes, along with other useful trivia factoids on the horror genre. Alongside the browser window in this feature, there's a little "gaydar" that lets curious viewers (who can't otherwise figure these things out on their own) know exactly how light in the loafers a particular character is at any given moment. The screenplay viewers is just what you'd think it is - a viewer that lets you see the screenplay while you watch the movie. If the script intrigues you, give it a go. Rounding out the ROM features are goofy character profiles for all the principal players of Scary Movie, and a lame-o screensaver that features stills and quotes from the movie. See? That's not all that bad.

Scary Movie isn't everyone's cup of tea. It certainly didn't completely win me over. I did laugh a good number of times despite myself, but I also groaned a lot at the many jokes that fell flat. That said, it's probably worth a viewing if you like movies like Airplane! and Naked Gun. While it certainly doesn't come close to the groundbreaking goofiness of Airplane!, it has its moments and likes to revel in them. Its short running time shouldn't keep you occupied for too long. If I sound like I'm contradicting myself, so be it. Bobby Brown said it best: "It's my prerogative. I can do what I want to do."

Dan Kelly
dankelly@thedigitalbits.com




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