Scream 2

Scream 2 is currently available on instant Netflix.

Scream 2 (1997) – Rated R

“In the two years since the fateful events in Woodsboro, Gale has written a best-seller, which has been turned into a film. As the movie premiere looms closer, the mysterious deaths begin again. Dewey heads to Sidney’s college to protect her.”

“There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate – more blood, more gore – *carnage candy*. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead. “

Props have to be given to Scream for setting the whole series up but Scream 2 has a better cast, better jokes, and is generally the better film. Director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson’s cross of ironic humorous detachment and actual suspense gel here just as well as they did in Scream. Scream 2 is funny and suspenseful.

Craven assembles a fantastic cast here. Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette return as our heroes/victims Sidney Prescott, Gale Weathers, and Deputy Dewey. Jaime Kennedy also returns hilariously as film geek Randy Meeks to warn us of the dangers of being in a sequel.

Liev Schreiber plays the recently released from jail, Cotton Weary. Sarah Michelle Gellar, Rebecca Gayheart, and Portia de Rossi play sorority sisters. Joshua (Fringe) Jackson, Timothy (Justified) Olyphant, and Jerry (Piranha) O’ Connell are students. Laurie (Andy’s Mom in Toy Story) Metcalf is a reporter.

Acting as guest stars are Jada Pinkett Smith and Omar Epps explaining why you don’t see people of color in this type of film. Heather Graham, Tori Spelling, and Luke Wilson cameo as Casey, Sidney, and Billy in the movie within a movie, Stab. As you can see, you might get whiplash just pointing out who’s who in Scream 2.

One of the problems with slasher films is that much of the runtime is just filler between kill scenes with a bunch of stock cardboard characters (the jock, the slut, the nerd, the comic relief, the rich guy, the virgin). Here that time is filled with many humorous asides and a number of fairly exciting chase sequences. Characters are fleshed out and feel real. Humor is not restricted to the comic relief or the killer.

While none of the killings have the visceral brutal quality of the opening of Scream, most are quite inventive. One of the killings is particularly shocking and the reveal is almost as good as the one in Scream. Naturally, as one character handily points out, the body count is higher and the deaths are bloodier and more elaborate.

People Watch: There are plenty of cameos here. Matthew Lillard has a cameo as guy at party. Wes Craven has a cameo as a doctor. Selma Blair is the voice on the phone talking to Cici. Kevin Williamson is Cotton’s interviewer.

Sequel-itis: Scream 3 (2000) suffers severely from Kevin Williamson not doing the script. His Scream and Scream 2 scripts tread the fine line between suspense and humor. Scream 3 falls from sly humor into farce and there is little suspense.

Kevin Williamson comes back as scriptwriter in Scream 4 (2011) and it shows. Unfortunately the first two Screams mined the idea for most of its potential. The opening of Scream 4 is inspired and fun, the ending and many of the ideas are nice but it is not the classic that Scream and Scream 2 are.

Arrested Development

Arrested Development (2003-2005)

This wickedly funny Emmy-winning sitcom follows the tribulations of the Bluths, a wealthy California clan gone to the dogs after paterfamilias and real estate tycoon George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) gets busted for fraud. Now long-suffering son Michael (Jason Bateman) keeps the family business afloat as he spars with his boozy mother (Jessica Walter), vapid siblings (Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett and Tony Hale) and other wildly dysfunctional relatives.

“Remember there’s always money in the banana stand.”

Well I had intended this week to just cover some truly awful turkeys but I felt I had to digress. Netflix finally announced that they will show NEW episodes of Arrested Development in 2013 and that they will be showing exclusively on Netflix. Now it will be quite a wait but you can start by watching the first three seasons right now on Netflix.

Arrested Development features a wonderful if unwieldy ensemble cast. Jason Batemen anchors the show as everyman Michael Bluth but most of the other characters are completely off the wall. Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Jeffrey Tambor, Tony Hale, Jessica Walter, Alia Shawkat and David Cross all play quirky relatives – each one vying for attention. Everyone seems to have a different favorite character.

The wonderful ensemble extends to the frequent guest stars. Look for Liza Minnelli, Henry Winkler, Charlize Theron, Amy Poehler, Carl Weathers, Ben Stiller, Jane Lynch and many more in multi-episode story arcs.

The writing is wonderful and it is amazing that they are able to fit all nine family members in each episode. I love the runningĀ  joke where each episode has a preview of the next episode and none of those events ever occur in the next episode.

People Watch: Yes that is Ron Howard narrating each episode and look for noted terrible (yet enthusiastic) singer William Hung playing himself in two episodes .