Imagine a Venn diagram charting three qualities: Silly, gross and dumb. At the point where they overlap you will find the fright film spoof "A Haunted House 2," a scattershot, anything-goes affair that's unapologetically stupid. Proudly stupid. Aggressively stupid.
Writer-star Marlon Wayans' puts himself at the center of this suburban ghost yarn that's also a target-rich environment for broad, politically incorrect satire. The first entry in the series gave Wayans' upwardly mobile new homeowner a head-spinning freak show of a girlfriend. With those demons banished, he takes another shot at suburban life with his new girlfriend (Jaime Pressly) and her two teenagers.
Once again the road to settling down and relationship building is strewn with supernatural stumbling blocks. Wayans is repeatedly hypnotized by a chalk-faced, creepy-eyed antique doll whose erotic magic sends him into a mating frenzy, typically when Pressly or her kids are approaching the bedroom door. The star's gymnastic, flesh-baring sexcapades and randy pillow talk are funny at first. It's not the kind of joke that improves with repetition, though. Wayans beats it to death, then to smithereens, then to dust motes.
To the limited degree that the film works, it's thanks to the all-in commitment of the cast. In a Santeria blood-sacrifice ritual, Wayans has to catch, pummel and slaughter a chicken that turns out to be remarkably uncooperative and tough. The scene is a master class in physically punishing over-the-top slapstick. Pressly is winning as Wayans' oblivious, cougarish new squeeze. Gabriel Iglesias provides good-humored ethnic awkwardness as Wayans' Hispanic neighbor, and Cedric the Entertainer returns as a serenely sinful exorcist.
Overall, though, the script is lazy, recycling countless genre cliches rather than inventing novel twists. The jokes aren't just painted in broad strokes, they're applied with a roller.
But at least in one way, "A Haunted House 2" improves on the first entry in the series. That film had a long, gratuitous shot of Nick Swardson's bare rump, a horror that the sequel spares us.
PLOT A guy, his girlfriend and her two teens move into a scary house in the suburbs.
RATING R (crude and sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violent images)
CAST Marlon Wayans, Jaime Pressly, Gabriel Iglesias, Cedric the Entertainer
BOTTOM LINE The ghosts won't be the only ones going boo.