Anna Faris (Scary Movie I to IV)


Is the ‘Scary Movie’ franchise puerile and crudely vulgar? Absolutely. Is it offensively sexist? In places it definitely is offensive and the first two films, in particular, seem to be obsessed with fellatio and women’s breasts. Being that the main target audience is teenage American boys, this is, perhaps, not entirely surprising. Do I like the films? I do. I can’t help myself. As immature and objectionable as they are in places, they make me laugh.

The first two films were written by Shawn and Marlon Wayans, amongst others, and directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans. David Zucker directed the third and fourth films – and the Wayans brothers were no longer involved in any capacity. It hardly needs to be said that all four films grossed big bucks and a fifth film is now in pre-production.

The first film is a cheap cash-in on the success of the ‘Scream’ franchise. It parodies a number of other films, notably ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’. The second film deviates slightly from the formula and is a haunted house comedy-horror –- kind of like ‘Haunted Honeymoon’ with added teenage gross-out comedy. The third film returns to the successful formula of the first film and is often cited as the best of the series. The main points of reference are ‘Signs’ and ‘The Ring’. The fourth film parodies ‘The Grudge’, ‘War Of The Worlds’ and ‘The Village’, amongst other things.

One of the things that remains constant through all four films, and the main reason why they rise above the potentially risible concept, is the presence of Anna Faris, playing the character Cindy Campbell. I think Faris is the best comedy actress in Hollywood right now.

It’s difficult to put a finger on exactly what it is, but she brings a kind of guileless enthusiasm to the role. It’s almost like the oft-told story (a myth, of course) that Margaret Dumont was entirely oblivious to the fact that the films she made with the Marx Brothers were comedies, which is why she was such a perfect foil for Groucho. Faris plays the role of Cindy Campbell totally straight, as if she were unaware of what is going on around her.

This is very much in evidence in the fourth film, in which the actor Craig Bierko plays Tom Ryan, based on the Tom Cruise character in ‘The War Of The Worlds’. This role does result in some very funny scenes at the expense of the Steven Spielberg film, but Bierko plays the role with a nod and a wink, letting the audience know that he is in on the joke. Faris never does this.

Regina Hall, who also appears in all four films, is another reason why I like them. She is particularly funny in the “cinema” scene in the first film, a parody of the opening sequence from ‘Scream 2’.

Anna Faris was very effective in supporting roles in ‘Lost In Translation’ and ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and also received great reviews for her role in a film called ‘Smiley Face’, which I am looking forward to watching when the opportunity arises.


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