A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Haunted House is the latest comedy spoof from Marlon Wayans and his cohorts, this time with their sights set on Paranormal Activity and the like. It's similar to Scary Movie and Dance Flick but less focused on pop culture references. Still, the humor is very vulgar and outrageous, with tons of sexual jokes/content (characters are swingers; one is gay; a sex toy and bondage outfit are shown) and some nudity (breasts, bottoms), as well as very strong language ("f--k," "s--t," the "N" word, etc.). The references to horror movies suggest some violence -- like demon possession and a scary ghost -- but the scare factor is often diffused by the humorous tone. Pot smoking and cocaine-snorting are played for laughs (a priest keeps a huge joint inside his Bible). Teens may want to see this opening weekend, but after that, not many will care.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) decides to move in with his girlfriend, Kisha (Essence Atkins). Things start off a bit rocky as their annoying habits become apparent to each other, but that's nothing compared to the malevolent demon that seems to be visiting their house. Malcolm decides to hire a security man (David Koechner) to set up cameras throughout the house, but when the disturbances become more paranormal, a psychic (Nick Swardson) is called in, followed by an exorcist (Cedric the Entertainer). Soon it's clear that the demon is after Kisha; can Malcolm save the day before it's too late?
Is it any good?
A Haunted House is steeped in the crudest, most vulgar type of humor, milking laughs mainly out of uncomfortable sexual situations. Co-writer/star Wayans and his crew are clearly making an attempt to move beyond their usual "spoof" movies; there are fewer direct references to pop culture and more focus on characters and romantic relationships. Wayans even plays the movie's "straight man," giving the funniest lines to outsiders. But as a whole, it doesn't really work.
One character is gay and hot for Wayans' character, while the demon likes to have "sex" with Atkins' character, and the next-door neighbors are kinky "swingers." Other jokes are filled out with the usual farting, strong language, and drug references. On the plus side, the filmmakers have paid close attention to the Paranormal Activity movies and have mercilessly skewered their methods, and Cedric the Entertainer's arrival late in the movie is a breath of fresh air; his (clearly improvised) line deliveries provide the movie's few genuine laughs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about A Haunted House's strong sex-related humor. What makes it funny? Does the movie ever discuss sex in a mature way?
What is a spoof, exactly? What does a spoof promise and deliver? What does it do to the original material?