Shawn and Marlon Wayans, veterans of movies and their own WB
situation comedy, say that it’s easy to tell when a movie
genre is ripe for parody. “They’ll hit you,” Marlon explained
in a recent Dallas interview to discuss “Scary Movie,” their
new Miramax release which sends up the “Scream” series in
particular, but also takes shots at such varied fare as “The
Usual Suspects” and “The Matrix.” “A parody, you can’t force it.
We’ll be sitting in a movie theatre, and just like we did with
‘Don’t Be a Menace [to South Central While Drinking Your Juice
in the Hood,’ their 1996 takeoff of urban street melodramas],
and we saw ‘Poetic Justice,’ we said ‘Okay, it’s time.’ And
with ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer, Part 2,’ we said, ‘It’s
definitely time.’ And I’m pretty sure we’ll be sitting there
and it’ll hit us again.”

Shawn, the more laid-back and reserved of the two, nodded his
agreement: “The genre presented itself right in front of us.”
He liked the original “Scream,” he noted, but added, “All the
bad versions of it were what made the genre ripe for parody.”
But, he went on, pulling off a spoof is no easy matter. “It’s
always hard doing a parody. Parodies are the hardest movies
in the world. You can’t just do the parody. You have to do
just what’s plain old funny and then layer it” with funny
characters and references to pop culture. Marlon, who has a
habit of jumping in and finishing his brother’s thought, added,
“You have to look for the common denominator” in the genre,
and then add your characters, dialogue and sight gags. The
difficulty was especially great doing a parody of teen
slasher flicks, because, Marlon said, they were so very
frightened by them. Recalling watching one of their favorites,
“A Nightmare on Elm Street,” he declared, “Oh yeah, we were
scared! I was huddled up on Shawn like a little girl, and
Shawn was huddled up on my little nephew like a little girl.
And he was only three at the time.”

The “Scary Movie” script was begun by Shawn and Marlon alone,
but their older brother Keenan (who introduced his siblings to
the world in the groundbreaking Fox series “In Loving Color,”
and who eventually directed) was involved early. Many drafts
followed, but the final step was what Shawn called “a comedy
gang-bang on the script,” and the picture is credited to six
scribes–Buddy Johnson, Phil Beauman, Jason Friedberg and
Aaron Seltzer as well as the Wayans. The result is a movie
that, as some have already noted, really pushes the envelope
for an “R”-rated release in terms of its raunchiness and
suggestive jokes. But it’s garnering big laughs from audiences.
“The movie has so many laughs that you miss a lot of jokes
[while you’re] laughing,” Marlon said. “So hopefully people
will go back again to see it” and check out what they missed
the first time around.

The Wayans were raised in rather grim surroundings in New York
City, and attribute their comic sense to the environment.
“Growing up in Manhattan gave us our comedic point of view,”
Shawn said, describing their perspective as “smart project.”
They also had the footsteps of the older brothers Keenan and
Damon to follow. Was there any one-upsmanship in such a
large family of talented laugh-getters? “No,” Marlon mouthed
with exaggerated seriousness, “because me and Sean are the
funniest. I think Damon and Keenan have been sort of tagging
along with us over the years, and we haven’t gotten our

“But,” he went on, “we’re going to squash and destroy them, and
then after that I’m going to destroy Sean and I’m going to be
sole emperor. But there’s no competition in the family.” To
which Sean could only smile.