‘Scary’ rating is R: raunchy

Slasher send-up laughs its way past censors

A number of early viewers of Miramax’s upcoming “Scary Movie” have reached the same conclusion: The Motion Picture Assn. of America must have been laughing too hard to crack down.

That seems to be the only way to explain how the scabrous satire from the Wayans Bros. skated by with an R rating. The vast majority of films offering multiple male nude shots wind up in NC-17 territory.

A “Scary” sampling:

  • While occupying a bathroom stall, a man gets stabbed through the head with an erect penis;

  • A female gym teacher sports a suspiciously male nether region;

  • A teen paramour unleashes an “Exorcist”-like stream of his, uh, essence;

  • Faced with an Amazon-like thicket of female pubic hair, a teen Lothario dons goggles and uses a weed-whacker to reach the promised land.

Male nudity

These gags — especially the hot-button depiction of the male member — raise fresh questions about the MPAA’s typically dim view of sex scenes in pics such as “Eyes Wide Shut” and “Boogie Nights.”

Daily Variety film critic Joe Leydon, in a review published today, said that in sending up Miramax’s own “Scream” franchise, “Scary Movie” definitely raises — or is that lowers? — the bar.

“Unbounded by taste, inhibition or political correctness, this potential summer sleeper boldly goes where no one, not even Peter and Bobby Farrelly, has gone before with mainstream megaplex fare,” Leydon wrote. “Many critics, social commentators and op-ed writers may express outrage, which should only make the pic even more attractive to the under-30 target aud.”

One viewer on Web site Ain’t It Cool News agreed: “I find it hard to believe that the MPAA is going to approve the cut that I saw.”

Miramax managed to dodge the dreaded NC-17 thanks to the longer leash afforded comedies, most observers theorize.

“It’s definitely out there,” said one distrib exec who has seen the pic. “But I figured that it would be seen as a satire so it might get more leeway.”

Quick work

“This was a rather straightforward process,” said Marcy Granata, Miramax’s publicity prexy. “The MPAA gave us comments. The filmmakers resubmitted changes and were given approval for an R with the one resubmission.”

Many pics striving for an R, she noted, go through many more rounds of cuts and resubmissions.

“The MPAA tends to have problems not with comedy but with sexuality when it appears in a serious context,” offered one exec who saw the pic in Cannes at a screening for foreign buyers.

Indeed, the gleeful skewering of sexual mores and even the MPAA itself in “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” — especially in its provocative title — drew raised eyebrows a year ago from many industryites. Yet that pic got an R even as potted plants were pasted into the late Kubrick’s final work.

The MPAA wouldn’t comment on the specific evaluation of “Scary Movie.” The org’s official explanation of its rating cites “strong crude sexual humor” as one factor.

“They’re a subjective measure and not everybody will agree with them,” shrugged MPAA spokesman Rich Taylor. “Poll after poll shows parents and moviegoers believe we’re providing the proper guidance.”

Tracking well

Pic will be released July 7 under Miramax’s Dimension Films genre banner. Tracking is reportedly strong enough, especially among sub-25-year-olds, to be many B.O. observers’ pick as summer’s biggest commercial surprise.

More interesting will be whether grosses will validate the mounting sentiment that “Scary Movie” makes the Farrelly Bros. or Tom Green seem tame by comparison.

Just as “Porky’s” begat “American Pie” begat “Road Trip,” big returns on “Scary Movie” could prompt future gross-out gurus to consult “Gray’s Anatomy” for a new bodily region to explore.

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