There have been many times in my life when I've said I like Scream 2 more than I like Scream. With age I'm starting to think I'm probably wrong, but I don't change my mind easily enough to say that for sure today. Check back with me tomorrow.
The main character arc in Scream 2 is Sidney Prescott's trajectory as a survivor girl, which Neve Campbell handles fantastically. She's taking steps to protect herself - her early use of caller ID is the most obvious example of this - and is slowly but surely trying to get back to trusting others. In scenes like the one where she nervously pauses before kissing her boyfriend in a crowded cafeteria or when she tells him that she needs space to deal with her situation - and that he doesn't have a say in the matter - it's clear that Sidney is taking every precaution possible to make sure that she's putting herself first.. In fact, I'd bet it was around this point that 16 year old The Mike went from "Man, Sidney's a cutie" to "Man, I really feel for Sidney". Emotional growth, thy name is Mike.
Since we're moving backward through what was once a trilogy, I suppose I need to go back in time to where we met Cotton Weary. In Scream, Weary appeared briefly on a news report, and we quickly learned that he was the person who Sidney Prescott identified as her mother's killer one year earlier. And...that's it. The plot of that film reveals that Cotton was not in fact the killer, but the film doesn't come back to him. Schreiber is credited as Weary, but the character is only mentioned a couple of times. Nothing prepared us for where Scream 2 went with the character, and I thus think it might have been the best plot development as Scream rolled into Scream 2.
Unlike most characters in these films, Cotton Weary is not drawn specifically as a "good" or "bad" person. In Scream 2, it kinda seems like he's the only character aside from Sidney who is interesting beyond the surface level. He's upset at the world about what he's been put through - and upset at Sidney as well - but he isn't lashing out at people directly, he's simply trying to remind others that he too has been screwed over. He reminds me of those times when I'm sitting around at work, ranting and raving in my head about why other people can't do what they're supposed to and why all the problems fall to me. I'm not at my best in these moments, but my intention isn't to harm anyone; I just want things to go right for me. And that's where Cotton Weary is at in Scream 2.
Most of the credit for Cotton becoming so interesting goes to Mr. Schreiber, who is quite frankly one of my favorite actors working. Remember that movie Seconds where the old man gets put into Rock Hudson's body so he can live a better life? If I could do that, I'd become Liev Schreiber. (And, since Schreiber already starred in the remake of another John Frankenheimer sci-fi thriller, there's no reason we can't remake that one with The Mike starring opposite Liev. Hollywood, feel free to call me anytime.) He makes the character a lot more charming than it could have been, delivering plenty of lines that start with "All I want is..." with an unease in his voice and a varying posture that easily tells the viewer that he's more than just a one-dimensional greedy villain.
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