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Film review: Scary Movie

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Believe it or not, "Scary Movie" could have been even worse, if, say, the filmmakers could have found roles for Leslie Nielsen and Rob Schneider.

Either of those alleged comic "talents" probably would have felt right at home in this horror-movie spoof, which gets progressively cruder and less funny as the minutes slowly tick off.

(In fact, the level of the sexual humor here is so extremely crude that it's a wonder the film didn't get an NC-17 from the rating board; it certainly would have warranted it.)

The concept here is to give the "Scream" film series and its myriad wannabes — including the "I Know What You Did Last Summer" movies — the Zucker brothers ("Naked Gun," "Airplane!") treatment. But the hit-to-miss ratio isn't nearly as high as most of the Zuckers' movies or nearly as high as it should be.

Also, considering its main targets were already sendups of the slasher-film genre, you have to wonder what the point of this movie is.

At least you can give the film a little credit for making fun of itself. Among the self-reverential bits is the acknowledgment of the casting of either unknown, or too-old actors as high-school students, who are being stalked by a ghost-faced killer.

The murderer seems to be striking indiscriminately, though it appears he may actually be after Cindy Campbell (newcomer Anna Faris) and her equally clueless friends (including Shawn and Marlon Wayans, Jon Abrahams and Shannon Elizabeth, from "American Pie").

It turns out the teens ran down a fisherman the previous year, and the unfortunate victim may have returned, seeking vengeance.

The local authorities are on the case, but it appears that Cindy may have to stop the killer herself, especially since her supposed rescuers include mentally challenged, would-be-deputy Doofy (Dave Sheridan).

Again, the whole idea seems redundant. Also, there certainly was no call for director Keenen Ivory Wayans ("I'm Gonna Git You Sucka") and a platoon of screenwriters to sink to such depths for humor.

Frankly, some of the gags have been done before (such as "The Matrix" spoof, which showed up in "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" last year). Others, such as the jabs at "The Blair Witch Project" and "The Sixth Sense," aren't even that clever.

Not that the performances are all inspired, either. Faris is a fresh face, but most of her co-stars resort to camera mugging (particularly Marlon Wayans and Cheri Oteri, from "Saturday Night Live") or shrill hysterics (Elizabeth especially).

"Scary Movie" is rated R for crude humor (verbal and sight gags involving both bodily functions and sexual contact), violence (most of it done for comic effect), full male and female nudity (as well as nude props), strong profanity, simulated sex (again, played for laughs), simulated drug use (marijuana), gore and scattered use of racial epithets. Running time: 89 minutes.

E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com