Is anything more frightening than realizing that a desperate and hackneyed sequel to a desperate and hackneyed parody required the work of seven writers? Yes seven writers including brothers Shawn and Marlon Wayans. Perhaps one group of writers divided their time poking fun at the latest pop culture phenomenons while the other group concocted new and disgusting ways to drench their cast in vomit urine excretion and semen. The result: a tired tasteless and uninspired send-up of The Exorcist and The Haunting complete with jibes at Nike's new Stomp-inspired basketball commercials and the Florida presidential election fiasco. Our heroes-plus some fresh meat--spend the night in the haunted Hell House as part of an experiment conducted by mad professor Tim Curry. Naturally they find themselves tormented by the ghost of the house. Cue sexual humiliations mutilations and giant wedgies.
So the sequel ignores the fact that some of its cast members perished or were implicated in the first film's murders. Were you expecting a semblance of logic to permeate the proceedings? Anna Faris as the virginal Cindy; Marlon Wayans as pothead Shorty; Shawn Wayans as the closeted gay Ray; and Regina Hall as the pushy Brenda return. They are joined by Tori Spelling wasted as a coed obsessed with her ghostly host; Curry hammy as the professor willing to sacrifice his students; David Cross hysterical as Curry's wheelchair-bound assistant whose self-reliance causes more problems than necessary; and Chris Elliott a hoot as the mansion's caretaker whose withered left hand generates more laughs than almost all the script's woeful cracks at satirizing its intended targets. All prove game especially Faris who finds herself up to her neck in all kinds of nasty goo in the name of comedy.
If only director Keenen Ivory Wayans made an effort to be funny rather than just shocking. He seems intent on making the sequel so much more outrageous than his first film that he forgets to make us laugh for the right reasons. The chuckles mask the slight disgust at seeing Faris dripping in semen or Shawn Wayans sodomizing a demonic clown (but the sight of Cross fellating himself is an amusing way to emphasize his character's doggedness). Wayans' attempts at parodying What Lies Beneath and Hannibal flounder but he does a fine job sending up John Woo's dove-filled climax to Mission: Impossible 2. There's nothing more lazy than tearing into The Exorcist--it's 28 years old!--and it's sad to see James Woods demean himself as a priest with a taste for little girls. Woods stepped in for Marlon Brando whose poor health cost him a reported $2 million but saved him his dignity.
Start with hard work a grueling arduous schedule and an industry already famous for fast living. Throw in lots of money and starstruck scantily dressed fans willing to do anything for a few moments with the men of their dreams and ... well you know. But there's more to "Backstage" than cognac bottles green leafy substances and female anatomy. Rappers eat sleep play fight discuss their inner struggles and admit to being moved to tears by "Good Will Hunting." Just don't expect the story of the girl who broke up the band -- the rivalries and conflicts are mostly low-key and a friendly paintball game supplies the only gunplay.
As major players in an image-conscious business the rappers and hip-hop impresarios profiled here do their fair share of posturing; at other times the conversations seem remarkably candid and revealing. Highlights include interviews with Jay-Z Beanie Sigel and DMX with some comic relief as hip-hop wannabes try to impress the touring rappers. Also noteworthy is the film's focus on music magnate Damon Dash and his high-decibel insights into management philosophy intellectual property and brand identity. (He is the producer after all.)
Documentary and music video director Chris Fiore chose to let the subjects of "Backstage" tell the story in their own words. Unlike many of his contemporaries he helped them out by editing miles of celluloid and tape into a well-structured comprehensible narrative. The film starts out loud and fast and keeps up the pace despite a detour into sex and drugs that lasts just a bit too long. Missing for the most part is the view from across the yawning gender gap -- little is heard from female hip-hop artist Amil despite her prominent billing in the credits.