That seems to be the only way to explain how the scabrous satire from the Wayans Bros. skated by with an R rating. The vast majority of films offering multiple male nude shots wind up in NC-17 territory.
A Scary sampling:
— While occupying a bathroom stall, a man gets stabbed through the head with an erect penis;
— A female gym teacher sports a suspiciously male nether region;
— A teen paramour unleashes an Exorcist-like stream of his, uh, essence;
— Faced with an Amazon-like thicket of female pubic hair, a teen Lothario dons goggles and uses a weed-whacker to reach the promised land.
These gags — especially the hot-button depiction of the male member — raise fresh questions about the MPAA's typically dim view of sex scenes in pictures such as Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut and Boogie Nights."
Daily Variety film critic Joe Leydon, in a review published Friday, said that in sending up Miramax's own Scream franchise, Scary Movie definitely raises -- or is that lowers? -- the bar.
"Unbounded by taste, inhibition or political correctness, this potential summer sleeper boldly goes where no one, not even Peter and Bobby Farrelly, has gone before with mainstream megaplex fare," Leydon wrote. "Many critics, social commentators and op-ed writers may express outrage, which should only make the picture even more attractive to the under-30 target audience."
One viewer on Web site Ain't It Cool News agreed: "I find it hard to believe that the MPAA is going to approve the cut that I saw."
Miramax managed to dodge the dreaded NC-17 thanks to the longer leash afforded comedies, most observers theorize.
"It's definitely out there," said one distribution exec who has seen the picture. "But I figured that it would be seen as a satire so it might get more leeway."
"This was a rather straightforward process," said Marcy Granata, Miramax's publicity president. "The MPAA gave us comments. The filmmakers resubmitted changes and were given approval for an R with the one resubmission."
Many pictures striving for an R, she noted, go through many more rounds of cuts and resubmissions.
"The MPAA tends to have problems not with comedy but with sexuality when it appears in a serious context," offered one exec who saw the picture in Cannes at a screening for foreign buyers.
Indeed, the gleeful skewering of sexual mores and even the MPAA itself in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut — especially in its provocative title — drew raised eyebrows a year ago from many industries. Yet that picture got an R even as potted plants were pasted into Kubrick's final work.
The MPAA wouldn't comment on the specific evaluation of Scary Movie. The body's official explanation of its rating cites "strong crude sexual humor" as one factor.
"They're a subjective measure and not everybody will agree with them," shrugged MPAA spokesman Rich Taylor. "Poll after poll shows parents and moviegoers believe we're providing the proper guidance.”
The picture will be released July 7 under Miramax's Dimension Films genre banner. Tracking is reportedly strong enough, especially among sub-25-year-olds, to be many box office observers' pick as summer's biggest commercial surprise.
More interesting will be whether grosses will validate the mounting sentiment that Scary Movie makes the Farrelly Bros. or Tom Green seem tame by comparison.
Just as Porky's begat American Pie begat Road Trip, big returns on Scary Movie could prompt future gross-out gurus to consult Gray's Anatomy for a new bodily region to explore—Reuters.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)