American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
I recently published a book about movies I hated, and people have been asking me which reviews are harder to write--those about great movies, or those about terrible ones. The answer is neither. The most unreviewable movies are those belonging to the spoof genre--movies like "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun" and all the countless spin-offs and retreads of the same basic idea.
"Scary Movie" is a film in that tradition: A raucous, satirical attack on slasher movies, teenage horror movies and "The Matrix." I saw the movie, I laughed, I took notes, and now I am at a loss to write the review. All of the usual critical categories and strategies collapse in the face of a film like this.
Shall I discuss the plot? There is none, really--only a flimsy clothesline to link some of the gags. The characters? They are all types or targets, not people. The dialogue? You can't review the dialogue in the original movies (like "I Know What You Did Last Summer") because it is mindlessly functional, serving only to advance the plot. How can you discuss the satire, except to observe it is more mindless? (Some of the dialogue, indeed, seems lifted bodily from the earlier films and rotated slightly in the direction of satire.) Faced with a dilemma like this, the experienced critic falls back on a reliable ploy. He gives away some of the best jokes and punch lines. He's like a buddy who has just walked out of a movie and tells you the funny stuff before you walk in.
I am tempted. I fight the impulse to tell you that when a character is asked for the name of a favorite scary movie, the answer is "Kazaam." That some of the scenes take place at B. A. Corpse High School. That the teenagers in the movie are played mostly by actors in their late 20s and 30s--and that the movie comments on this. That the movie's virgin has a certificate to prove it. That the invaluable Carmen Electra plays a character not coincidentally named Drew.