‘A Haunted House 2’ Spoofs Better Than the Original

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CHICAGO – The parody industry that the Wayans comedy machine has generated has provided big laughs and big box office for years. In 2013, Marlon Wayans launched another series, with “A Haunted House.” Faster than the fastest green light, that success led to ‘A Haunted House 2.’

Moving to a personal note, I absolutely despised the first film, mostly because I felt that (writer) Wayans relied on tired gags and a strange, misogynistic attitude toward women in that film. But it’s nice to report that “A Haunted House 2” was much better, the gags were sharper (and weirder) and the supporting cast was stronger. While the anything-for-a-laugh pacing that Wayans practices will never get a Mark Twain Award, “A Haunted House 2” is bizarre spoof – especially of last year’s horror epic “The Conjuring” – that effectively elicits some guffaws for a night at the movies.

The film begins at the end of the last film, with Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) and Cousin Ray Ray (Affion Crockett) running away from Malcolm’s possessed girlfriend Kisha (Essence Atkins). Apparently anxious to get into a new relationship, the timeline progresses to the next year, with Malcolm introducing a new love Megan (Jaime Pressly), who comes with two kids, and a new house which possibly could be haunted.

Marlon Wayans
Screaming Again: Malcoln (Marlon Wayans) in ‘A Haunted House 2’
Photo credit: Open Road Films (II)

One of the items that comes with the move is an odd doll, similar to the toy found in last year’s “The Conjuring,” and Malcolm becomes unusually obsessed with it. Feeling that the house has a supernatural power, Malcolm consults with Professor Wilde (Rick Overton), Father Williams (Cedric the Entertainer) and his new neighbor Miguel (Gabriel Iglesias). It’s time to call in the Exorcists.

What separates this sequel from its predecessor is Wayans ability to rely on his supporting cast (Ray Ray and Miguel are hilarious) and alter the jokes towards his frustrations on being in a weird house, with a new white girlfriend – and jokes about that pairing – and some really freaky kids. Also, the focus on the film “The Conjuring,” which had many targets to satirize, made the spoof that much funnier.

Marlon Wayans is a marvel to behold in selling a joke. He will go anywhere, and do anything (I mean anything!) to stick the laugh. He is the youngest of ten in the Wayans comedy family, and gaining attention in such a brood must be the roots for his not-so-subtle comic bits. What was more enjoyable were his occasional confrontations with everyday weirdness, including the stereotype enabling neighbor Miguel – with Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias used to the highest degree – and his confrontation with African American church ladies and their bizarre hats.

Less effective is Cedric the Entertainer as Father Williams, but compared to his appearance in the first film, he’s practically Bill Cosby in the sequel. It is suspected that Cedric writes his own material, which includes the liberal use of swearing as a punchline, which works maybe once. Wayans definitely weighed the possibilities of the Father Williams character, and Cedric’s role in the sequel in blessedly (get it?) limited.

Gabriel Iglesias, Marlon Wayans
Miguel (Gabriel Iglesias) and Malcolm in ‘A Haunted House 2’
Photo credit: Open Road Films (II)

Another difficult performance – and this has shades of the disdain for woman characters in the first film – was Jaime Pressly as Malcolm’s new girlfriend. Pressly portrayed the character Joy on the sitcom “My Name is Earl, and the expansion of that character on the show began its demise, but she did have a comic presence and a particular style. She is given nothing to do in this film except strip to lingerie at some point and shriek occasionally. It’s a wonder why she was cast.

But why quibble with small criticisms? This “R”-rated comedy is profane, gross, fast-paced and funny. The horror genre will be ripe for parody to all the way to Marlon’s great-great-great grandson Wayans, and Marlon has a certain grasp on that line of comedy. It all adds up to a sure alternative to “Heaven Is for Real.”

“A Haunted House 2” opens everywhere on April 18th. Featuring Marlon Wayans, Gabriel Iglesias, Affion Crockett, Jaime Pressly, Cedric the Entertainer, Essence Atkins and Rick Overton. Written by Marlon Wayans and Rick Alvarez. Directed by Michael Tiddes. Rated “R”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2014 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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