Tag Archives: Comedy

Hot Shots! Part Deux

WFTB Score: 8/20

The plot: When a mission to rescue the people sent to rescue American hostages in Iraq goes wrong, there’s only one man to rescue them: Topper Harley. Inconveniently, Topper doesn’t want to know, but he’s brought round by the CIA and signs on for the mission, reuniting with his lost love Ramada in the process. However, there are plenty of bodies between him and the prison where the hostages are held captive.

It’s been two years since Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) delivered a bomb onto the lap of Saddam Hussein (Jerry Haleva) in Hot Shots! But things haven’t worked out how he hoped: his Latin love Ramada (Valeria Golino) jilted him at the train station, sending him into self-imposed exile at an ashram in Thailand, living with monks and boxing for money. Colonel Walters (Richard Crenna) and CIA operative Michelle Huddlestone (Brenda Bakke) fail to talk him round, but when word reaches him that Walters has been captured on a rescue mission, Michelle’s words, looks and – ahem – bedroom prowess persuade him to take part in the mission to rescue him.

Topper’s contact in the field just happens to be Ramada, harbouring the pain of secretly being married to one of the hostages, an Englishman called Dexter (Rowan Atkinson); but as Ramada, Topper and his band of inept brothers fight their bloody way towards the prison camp, the former lovers struggle to hold back their feelings. Back home, President ‘Tug’ Benson (Lloyd Bridges) depends on the mission succeeding to shore up his faltering re-election campaign, and decides that the only way to secure success is to take direct action.

Moving on from Hot Shots!’ parody of Top Gun, director Abrahams and co-writer Pat Proft here use America’s ongoing feud with Iraq to fashion a parody of ‘Nam films such as the Rambo trilogy, The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now. Part Deux is largely successful at lampooning the thoughtless violence of Rambo and the earnestness of the other films – the segment on the river is great fun and includes a lovely Martin Sheen cameo. Sheen Jr, his own life now something of a parodic tragi-comedy, both looks the part and is admirably straight-laced; he’s ably supported by Golino, looking as fine as ever, even in a moustache (and her Gabriella Sabatini joke is amongst the film’s best).

Elsewhere, things are much more hit-and-miss: some of the jokes, like the ’Geronimo!’ gag, are a wonderful surprise, whereas others are terrible – ‘I see you’re no stranger to pain’ is paid off with ‘I‘ve been married – twice’. Bridges doesn’t quite have the same impact as President as he did as Admiral, and the members of Topper’s team are less than luminary (Ryan Stiles’ goofy turn is as welcome as – well, Goofy); but they are redeemed somewhat by Rowan Atkinson’s marvellously sulky turn. Brenda Bakke, meanwhile, makes for a decent Sharon Stone-alike in the film’s Basic Instinct spoof, but eventually suffers the indignity of being the movie’s turncoat, ill-used as she and Golino fall out and randomly embark on an American Gladiators face-off. More than ever, you get the idea that Abrahams and Proft added bits and added bits to their script, until the answer to the question ’So…this feature length yet?’ was ‘I guess!’

Then there’s the thorny issue of killing people in comedy movies. The ‘bloodiest movie ever’ tag is obviously a silly joke, but history has leant this film a slightly queasy political element. If you are going to make jokes about it, the cartoonish way in which hundreds of Iraqis are dispatched is probably the best way to go about it; but given the relative casualties of Desert Storm (and I urge you to find and listen to Bill Hicks’ take on the “war”), it just makes me uncomfortable that dead Iraqi soldiers are considered fodder for body count comedy.

And given the ridiculous revenge mission that we now know/always knew Operation Iraqi Freedom was for George W. Bush, the flippant ridicule of Saddam Hussein rings a bit hollow (never mind the human/economic cost, they got their man in the end). I accept that this might be pretty heavy criticism for a damn silly spoof, but you can’t have Topper saying ’You sold out the greatest country in the world’ with a straight face and still be surprised that some countries think America is a nation of stupid, arrogant bullies. Anyway, enough with the politicking – it’s unfair to judge the film now for its stance at the time, and Abrahams and Proft certainly weren’t alone in feeling the despot was ripe for ridicule.

Finally, while you wouldn’t call Hot Shots! Part Deux sloppy, it doesn’t create locations half as effectively as its predecessor, so you really have no sense of enemy territory as a place (are there really jungles in Iraq?) Another niggly comment, maybe, but it’s one that wouldn’t have arisen had the comedy been more diverting and less reliant on pop-culture references for giggles. Overall, Part Deux is an entirely adequate ninety-minute diversion; but there’s nothing to suggest that there would be much merit in a part trois.

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Carry On Cowboy

WFTB Score: 13/20

The plot: Johnny Fingers, aka The Rumpo Kid, rides into the peaceful town of Stodge City and turns it into a lawless den of drinking and lewd dancing. The place needs a saviour, but probably not Marshall P Knutt, the sanitation engineer sent from Washington DC by mistake. Perhaps his companion in the stagecoach, a Miss Oakley, out for revenge, will prove to be more useful.

By the time I became aware of their existence, the Carry On films had already been chopped into half-hour television segments called What a Carry On! Little wonder, then, that watching an entire film can sometimes be difficult, having already seen the best bits and having to sit through the not-so-good parts and often cobbled-together plots.

The good news is that Carry On Cowboy, in its intact form, is both a funny and coherent parody of Westerns, setting up a classic Sid James vs Kenneth Williams confrontation in the shape of the Rumpo Kid and the blustering but ineffectual Judge Burke (of the Wright-Burkes).  From the start, the jokes hit the mark, James coolly dispatching three men before asking “Wonder what they wanted?” You can also tell from the start that a lot of effort has gone into making the film work: the sets and costumes hint at high production values which the cast complement by taking the plot seriously, some of them even attempting accents. Joan Sims, as usual, is very good as Belle, the owner of the saloon bar that Rumpo quickly takes over as his own.

As a ballast to these performances, Jim Dale is the nerdy Knutt accidentally sent into Stodge City to clean it up, and he arrives at the same time as Angela Douglas, the pretty, petite blonde who also happens to be an expert gunslinger and out for revenge against James, who killed her father. Dale and Douglas make a bland hero and heroine, and it is no surprise that they should fall in love, but there is enough going on around them to keep proceedings lively, especially when Charles Hawtrey and Bernard Bresslaw turn up as an unlikely pair of Indians – Hawtrey is sublime as the frightfully posh leader, Big Heap.

As is always the case with Carry Ons, your enjoyment of the film will depend on your tolerance for the jokes, and although Talbot Rothwell’s script contains rather too much room for slapstick and not a little sexism, it relies much less on innuendo to get its laughs than later films in the series and when it is good it is very good: the undertaker following Knutt around, for example, or the query about why the ultimate showdown has to take place at High Noon. All in all, Carry on Cowboy shows the team at or near their height, and despite being a bit patronising about women, and featuring an undistinguished song from Douglas, is as enjoyable as they come.

The Man Who Knew Too Little

WFTB Score: 13/20

The plot: Aptly-named Blockbuster employee ‘Wally’ Ritchie comes to England to visit his brother, but fearing he may disrupt an important dinner party, the brother arranges for him to spend the night with an interactive, improvisational theatre experience that takes place on the streets of London. However, Wally unknowingly stumbles into a deadly plot between bosses of MI5 and the KGB to prolong the Cold War and keep them all in a job.

Although The Man Who Knew Too Little is by no means a one-joke film, your enjoyment of it is likely to be influenced by how willing you are to accept the film’s central joke, that Wally (Bill Murray) takes everything that happens around him to be an act for his benefit, whilst everyone else is involved in deadly espionage. The title is an obvious nod to Hitchcock, but the animated titles are equally reminiscent of Blake Edwards’ Pink Panther series and Wally’s accidental genius is similar to that of Clouseau.

The script deals with Wally’s ignorance very well. He has absolutely no concept of being in danger, so his cool reactions unsettle the powers that be at MI5 and the KGB.

Importantly, what Murray says whilst ‘acting’ and how people react to him never feels forced. The plot moves along at a decent pace and maintains a decent gag rate throughout, although a few jokes go over the top (I’m thinking of the geriatric bondage) and the depiction of Russians by British actors is very stereotyped. The plethora of familiar British faces used to play Brits and Russians occasionally makes the film feel like an extended sit-com episode, but thankfully Bill Murray has the star quality to lift the material whenever he is on-screen.

Those used to Murray’s po-faced, occasionally downright depressed performances in films such as Lost in Translation and The Royal Tenenbaums will find him positively delirious here. Watching Murray bumble happily through Wally’s various scrapes is a little unsettling, but he delivers his role with a nonchalance that other comic leads such as Steve Martin or Leslie Nielsen would have struggled to match. Peter Gallagher is competent as his exasperated brother Jimmy, whilst Richard Wilson and Nicholas Woodeson are entertainingly baffled as the secret agency heads.

Joanne Whalley is given little to do but, since the script demands it, falls in love with Murray’s klutz to the best of her ability. Perhaps she looks confused because her comic role – the mistress of a cabinet minister – is oddly similar to the straight role she played in Scandal. Though she is fine, the payoff to the film (that they end up together should surprise nobody) takes the audience for granted, and the final scene feels improvised – not, in this instance, a term of praise.

With its Anglo-American slant, The Man Who Knew Too Little seeks to plough the same furrow as A Fish Called Wanda; and while this film never even threatens to reach those heights, it’s a cute comedy with a brave conceit and lively performances. And whilst only the Russian dance music is likely to stay with you after the film’s finished, you’re unlikely to ever be bored whilst it’s on.

Carry on Constable

WFTB Score: 10/20

The plot: London’s thin blue line is stretched to the limit by a ‘flu epidemic, forcing one station to bring in a rum bunch of raw recruits. As the rookies get themselves into a series of disastrous scrapes and singularly fail to keep law or order, the put-upon sergeant – already fed up with his Inspector – wonders whether he’d be better off with an empty station.

When ‘flu hits the cop shop run by fish-loving Inspector Mills (Eric Barker), he puts the pressure on Sergeant Wilkins (Sid James) to come up with a solution, threatening to transfer him sharpish if he fails. Unfortunately, the solution that presents itself at the station’s front desk is less than promising: superior Stanley Benson (Kenneth Williams), convinced that phrenology holds the key to identifying criminal types; superstitious, cannily-named astrologer/astrologist Charlie Constable (Kenneth Connor); and upper-crust Tom Potter (Leslie Phillips), a man with an eye for the ladies but not necessarily much of a knack for policing.

The troublesome trio are joined by budgie-fancying Special Constable Gorse (Charles Hawtrey) and super-efficient WPC Gloria Passworthy (Joan Sims), who makes Sgt Moon (Hattie Jacques) suspicious and gives Constable Constable some very unprofessional ideas – so long as she’s a Virgo, that is.

As the new recruits are put up in their compact lodgings (the cells!) and put through their paces, they prove to be as much of a hindrance to Wilkins as a help, with Benson and Gorse dragging up, Some Like It Hot-style, to catch shoplifters and Potter spending more time giving relationship advice than preventing crime. But there are a bunch of bank robbers hiding out in the area, and with the pressure on to bring them – or anyone – to book, the new recruits spy a chance to prove to Mills that they’re not completely useless.

You could, if you squint in a certain way, see Carry On Constable as a precursor to Police Academy; however, though the plot is essentially similar, the films are worlds apart in their sensibilities, as indeed is this fledgling effort (number 4 in the series) to the later Carry On films. Other than a few tantalising glimpses of young lady flesh, and rather more male nudity, the comedy is of a much more genteel nature than the series’ 1970s efforts, which is a double-edged sword: there are sequences that come across as merely daft rather than funny, and a few that don’t work at all (mostly the dog-walking larks); but on the upside, the amount of care that writer Norman Hudis has put in to creating lively, funny and credible characters is something that Williams, James, Connor et al would surely have killed for in the later efforts.

Williams has an absolute ball as the snooty officer who thinks he knows everything but is constantly made to look foolish, whilst Leslie Phillips, admittedly playing to type, enjoys cosying up to Shirley Eaton’s confused young lover and anyone else in a skirt. Sid James, in his first Carry On (and pre-Babs chasing), is marvellously down-to-earth and Hawtrey shows just how good he could be before his parts were written around his drinking: ‘Priceless innuendo, how witty!’ he observes joyously during a raucous parade. On top of these game performances and those of Jacques, Sims and others, there are wonderful cameo appearances from the likes of Joan Hickson as a friendly old soak and Esma Cannon as (what else?) an old dear Benson unwillingly drags across the road.

Impressively, the film also manages to squeeze in a half-decent action story as by pure luck the novices stumble onto the robbers’ hideaway; plus, there’s a nicely cynical attitude towards work hierarchy (the inspector takes all the credit and none of the blame) and a clutch of rather sweet matches made during the happy ending – happy for everyone, that is, except Barker’s Mills, the authority figure who gets the short straw and is perhaps the least effective presence, though it’s equally likely that I’m not familiar enough with Eric Barker’s considerable body of work to appreciate his comparatively mannered style.

In my callow youth I associated older films, especially those in black and white, with a sort of corny, unsophisticated comedy (possibly based on snippets of Will Hay and Norman Wisdom films). Having seen movies such as Passport to Pimlico, The Ladykillers and Alastair Sim’s Scrooge, I now know what a simplistic view that was. I wouldn’t claim that Carry On Constable is the equal of any of those British greats; neither has it the lively spirit of the series in its mid- to late-sixties stride. However, it is charming whilst being winkingly daring and the cast’s energy knocks spots off the lethargic, lazy motions of the Carry Ons’ later years.

Bullets over Broadway

WFTB Score: 17/20

The plot: Uptight playwright David Shayne writes the play of his life, but can only get it produced by way of a deal with the shady Nick Valenti. He puts up the money, on condition that his dumb moll Olive gets a part. As if this wasn’t torture enough, Shayne has to endure the interference of Olive’s ‘minder’ Cheech, though distractions are provided by the play’s domineering leading lady.

Woody Allen’s prodigious output has not always been accompanied by prodigious variety, and at first glance this story of a struggling playwright trying to put on a Broadway show may appear overly familiar. However, as the film is set in Prohibition-era New York and the part of the writer is taken by John Cusack (Allen himself does not appear in the film), Bullets Over Broadway feels different from most of Allen’s contemporary efforts and remarkably fresh.

Cusack is David Shayne, living in a humble apartment with long-suffering girlfriend Ellen (Mary-Louise Parker), determined that his new play Gods of our Fathers will be produced exactly as he sees it. But there is an insurmountable obstacle in the lack of money needed to put the play on, until his agent cuts a deal with mob kingpin Nick Valenti (Joe Viterelli) to fund the show. The only catch is, Valenti’s girlfriend Olive (Jennifer Tilly), a showgirl with a sharp tongue but not the sharpest tool in the box, has to have a part in the play.

The annoyance of this compromise is exacerbated by the muscular appearance of Cheech (Chazz Palmintieri), a thuggish hood sent to watch over Olive; but even though she turns out to be predictably terrible, the rest of the cast show promise: Eden Brent (Tracey Ullman) and her dog are both small and perky, whilst Jim Broadbent’s talented Warner Purcell is unable to resist his penchant for snacking or, disastrously, the attentions of Olive.

But more than these, fading star Helen Sinclair (Dianne Wiest) overcomes her initial distaste for the role to embrace the play – and the playwright. At the start, Cheech is an unwelcome presence at rehearsals, but he makes valid criticisms and reveals himself to be an instinctive playwright upon whom David eventually comes to lean on for advice and dialogue. Even so, he is disgusted by Cheech’s solution to the Olive ‘problem.’

The tight plot of Bullets Over Broadway is served up with convincing period detail, a predictably well-chosen jazz score, and a script packed to the gills with subtle, snappy jokes – as well as a number of very broad ones, such as the reveal of a beefed-up Warner on the Broadway stage. More than this, though, the film sparkles due to the performances: Ullman and Broadbent are entertaining, Tilly is perfectly cast as the squeaky, petulant Olive and reveals a talent for comedy, and Cusack is a funny and energetically jumpy substitute for Woody himself. Dianne Wiest commands centre stage and turns in a flawless performance as an old soak of an actress miraculously given a career-saving part, a diva in every respect of her life and hilarious when silencing the entreaties of her lover (“Don’t speak!”).

To be very, very critical, there is an argument to be made that the resolution of the film is a little rushed and predictable compared to the invention shown by the rest of it, in respect of Chazz’s treatment by Valenti and the undercooked relationship between David and Ellen (she gets her revenge by sleeping with Rob Reiner’s failed playwright Sheldon Flender); but in general the film feels exactly the right size and perfectly formed.

Allen is known for the analytical, neurotic nature of his films, and if you want to look for it, there is much in Bullets Over Broadway to inform pretentious discussions about the timeless value of art versus the value of a single human life, embodied in the brilliant but psychopathic Cheech (superbly played by Palmintieri). However, the film works because these themes are just themes, allowed to do their thing in the background whilst the main story drives on. The story is funny whilst retaining a palpable sense of threat (reminiscent of Some Like It Hot), and the effervescent script and marvellous acting mean this ranks amongst Allen’s best.

Drop Dead Gorgeous

WFTB Score: 9/20

The plot: Mount Rose, Minnesota is home to the area finals of the Sarah Rose Cosmetics American Teen Princess Pageant, a contest celebrating its 50th anniversary. Gladys Leeman, Event organiser and former winner, is confident that neither perky poor girl Amber nor any of the other girls will obstruct her daughter Becky’s path to victory; and a sticky end awaits any of the contestants who look as though they might.

The beauty pageant has had a tough time of it this last twenty years. Always an essentially naff concept, by the start of the nineties beauty contests had practically disappeared from public view, vilified as outdated, sexist relics of a paternalistic age, only to come back coated with a new, critic-proof sheen of irony. It’s in this vein that Jann’s would-be documentary Drop Dead Gorgeous presents the contestants of the awkwardly-named American Teen Princess Pageant; but is it a Little Miss Sunshine-like swan or an ugly Carry On Girls-style duckling?

Gladys Leeman (Kirstie Alley) is the local pageant organiser in the small farming town of Mount Rose, Minnesota. A winner of the contest herself back in the day, she now has a very nice life thanks to furniture-salesman husband Sam McMurray, and she fully intends to use the family’s influence to boost the chances of haughty gun-wielding daughter Becky (Denise Richards), by both picking and bribing the judges (Mike McShane, Matt Malloy and the film’s screenwriter Lona Williams).

Not that the competition is particularly fierce, in the main, since it includes chubby dog fanatic Tess Weinhaus; Molly Howard, adoptive daughter of enthusiastically pro-American Japanese parents (with a disgruntled natural child); toothy nymphette cheerleader Leslie Miller, complete with ubiquitous jock boyfriend; and Lisa Swenson, eccentric devotee of her brother’s New York drag act. But then there’s Amber Atkins (Kirsten Dunst); although she’s so poor she has to work in a funeral home and a canteen, she is both perky and talented, driven by an overwhelming desire to emulate Diane Sawyer that impresses her dipso mother (Ellen Barkin) and her mum’s friend Loretta (Allison Janney).

Amber is clearly a threat, so when ‘accidents’ start happening around the contestants – farm girl Tammy’s thresher explodes before she gets on stage, Amber’s admirer Brett gets shot in the head, the Atkins’ trailer blows up – suspicions are rife that things are rigged in Becky’s favour; suspicions more or less confirmed by Amber’s insanely difficult interview with the judges and Gladys’ refusal to let Amber on stage when her tap outfit – suspiciously – goes missing (luckily, Lisa steps into the breach).

It’s easy to invoke the name of Chris Guest at the mention of the word ‘mockumentary’, but to be absolutely fair to Drop Dead Gorgeous, it came out before his excellent Best In Show. Jann’s film is different in approach to Guest’s films, in any case, as while Guest’s actors inhabit the characters and let most of the jokes come spontaneously out of their mouths, the characters here are tightly-scripted, and each scene is engineered to deliver one particular joke.

And to be fair (again) the film features a decent sprinkling of funny moments, the height of the satire displayed in the anorexic state of the previous year’s winner, Mary Johanson (Alexandra Holden); but equally, there are bits that don’t work at all, and one of these is a supposed high point, after Amber has wowed the audience with her tap dancing. I have no theological concerns about Denise Richards dancing with a foam Jesus on a cross whilst singing You’re just too good to be true, but in execution the joke falls completely flat (Richards can’t sing, Jesus looks cheap, the crowd aren’t sufficiently shocked), and what should be outrageous comes over as tasteless for effect. The same is true later on when the film runs out of ideas and brings us mass vomiting in the state finals.

Perhaps one reason why the film doesn’t really work is that the young cast fail to stamp their personalities on their parts (there are too many contestants, too); and while Kirstie Alley works hard, the stand-out performances come from Malloy as the disturbingly keen judge John Dough and – of course – the brilliant Allison Janney, who guides Amber after her mother is confined to a wheelchair.

One more thing about the plot: the film sets up Gladys Leeman, her daughter, or both, as manipulative cheats, prepared to do anything to ensure Becky triumphs; and it is something of a disappointment to discover that all is exactly as it seems to be. I understand that making Amber either the shock winner, or the cynical genius behind the ‘accidents’ out to frame the Leemans, might have been a corny move (Bob Roberts?), but seeing the story play out completely straight is deflating – as is the extremely telegraphed nature of Becky’s post-win demise.

Furthermore, it’s a shame that when the film goes to great lengths to assert its documentary nature – the crew fall over into shot, meet up with a crew from Cops, and there are captions explaining the doctrine of non-interference – an intrusive soundtrack takes away from the movie’s otherwise naturalistic feel, often appearing out of nowhere and treading on actors’ lines.

Given the subject matter, it’s perhaps no surprise that Drop Dead Gorgeous comes across as broad and a little crass, and slightly inappropriate for a documentary format that favours subtler material. The cast could have done with a little more comic talent to free up the scenes, but this might also be a problem with the subject matter – beautiful and funny is a rare combination indeed. That said, Drop Dead Gorgeous raises enough laughs to pass a perfectly pleasant hour and a half, so long as you adjust your brain – not to ‘drop dead’, exactly, but to ‘slightly vacuous’.

Shriek if you know what I did Last Friday the 13th

WFTB Score: 6/20

The plot: A group of suspiciously familiar-looking students with a secret to hide unwittingly become the targets of a manic masked killer in and around their dysfunctional high school. As a dopey mall cop and a vacuous TV reporter watch proceedings unfold, everyone involved gets a strange feeling that they’ve seen it all before.

‘You can’t stop progress!’ was Bill Heslop’s catchphrase in Muriel’s Wedding, and in many ways this is a good thing: for one, it means I’ve mentioned Muriel’s Wedding, which is a great film; for another, it means that with the march of time and technology the range of films that you can watch without moving a muscle – in near-cinema quality, these days – has expanded exponentially, making the speculative trip to the local video, er, place a thing of the past. As such, opportunities to watch films such as SIYKWIDLFT13, complete with trailers for appallingly cheap sci-fi movies starring Steve Baldwin, have diminished considerably. I may be mad, but I believe this is a shame.

Why all the pre-amble? Well, there’s not an awful lot to say about Shriek if…, other than the fact that it covers nearly identical ground to Scary Movie, and by extension Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, except with a considerably lower budget (the two spoofs came out within similar timescales, and I don’t think this film actively copies the Wayans brothers’ effort in any way).

So, instead of little-known actors such as Anna Faris playing the parts of the high school pupils with a guilty conscience and a masked slasher causing havoc in the background, you have complete unknowns: Harley Cross is Dawson (geddit?), the new guy; Julie Benz is Barbara, the airhead blonde; Simon Rex is Slab, the dumb jock; Danny Strong is Boner, desperate to lose his virginity (thereby roping in American Pie and several old Porky’s jokes at the same time); and Majandra Delfino is Martina, possible love interest for Dawson except for the hurdle that everyone assumes she’s a lesbian (largely on the basis of her unimaginative name).

The ‘stars’ of the show are reporter ex-Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills 90210 starlet Tiffani-Amber Thiessen as crack reporter Hagitha Utslay, and ex-Mr Roseanne Barr Tom Arnold as dopey mall cop Doughy. Although the pair have some involvement in the plot late on, especially Arnold, they form not so much a chorus to the youngsters’ goings on as a pause for breath while the scene changes behind them, complete with gags both related and completely irrelevant to the goings-on elsewhere in the film. Predictably, this lends the film a very sketchy air, and though the whole is tied together by Scream’s plot, these interludes and other fairly unconnected cameos from Coolio as The Administrator Formerly known as Principal (not a bad joke, actually) give a shortish film a fragmented feel.

More than anything, though, the film parody lives or dies on the quality of the material; and Shriek… does contain enough laughs to overcome many of its limitations, not least in the deviant school nurse (Shirley Jones) and one or two of its more inspired, if not exactly up-to-date, parody moments – particularly good is a Grease skit which fails to catch on (‘Of course it looks stupid if you don’t join in’, moans Slab, or words to that effect).

But just when all is going quite well, in particular treading a nice line in not lapsing into the tastelessness of the Wayans brothers’ output, the film gets horribly self-conscious, Martina declaring to the assembled house party that they are in a ‘parody situation’, awkwardly name-checking inspirations such as Airplane! and The Naked Gun! and explaining the formula behind spoof films as the gags take place on-screen. This is in itself a Scream reference, of course, but comedy is never improved by someone trying to explain why something is supposed to be funny. Not that, at this particular point in the film, the jokes are up to much anyway.

This lumpy section apart, Shriek if you know what I did Last Friday the 13th is a harmless enough way to spend an hour and a half. That the Killer’s identity is of no consequence either before or after he’s revealed doesn’t matter much, but it is perhaps a bit disappointing that the younger actors don’t make a greater impression. They are, like the movie as a whole, pretty forgettable, but it’s a lot more appealing than Steve Baldwin doing sci-fi – though perhaps I should reserve judgement until I actually get round to seeing Xchange.