Spoof, parody, or satire. Call it what you will, but the concept is essentially the same. Take a serious topic and put a comedic spin on it. In the serious business of Hollywood, a select few have taken on this task for an industry that’s ripe for the picking. Parody films generally follow one of two formats: Poke fun at a broad genre of films, or spoof specific films within a genre. With yesterday’s release of the ‘Twilight’ parody, ‘Vampires Suck’ (judgment is reserved till I see the movie), here’s a countdown of the top 10 spoof movies of all time:
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10. ‘Robin Hood: Men in Tights’-
A direct parody of ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,’ ‘Men in Tights’ pulled no punches. Written and directed by the great Mel Brooks, this film begins with Robin of Locksley (Cary Elwes) escaping a Persian dungeon during the Crusades. He returns to England to discover the country under the rule of the conniving Prince John (Richard Lewis) and his enforcer, the Sheriff of Rottingham (Roger Rees). Robin gathers his band of (maybe too) merry men to free the people of tyranny. With clever sight gags (the mole on Prince John’s face is in a different place in every scene), a memorable music number, and top notch comedic timing (though unlike some other Robin Hoods, Elwes does speak with an English accent), ‘Men in Tights’ was truly blessed by Rabbi Tuckman.
9. ’Scary Movie’-
The first and best of the recent string of parody ‘____ Movie’s,’ ‘Scary Movie’ was written by Shawn and Marlon Wayans, and directed by their brother Keenan Ivory Wayans. Another direct parody, this time of the ‘Scream’ and ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ movies, ‘Scary Movie’ took aim at the horror genre. Cindy Campbell (Anna Ferris) and her friends are stalked by a not-so-crafty killer after they dispose of the body of a man they accidentally killed the year prior. ‘Scary Movie’ played on the horror stereotypes (like the virginal lead tormenting her horny boyfriend) and provided enough slapstick humor (Cindy calling out the killer whom she can see hiding behind the couch) to spawn three sequels and another dozen not-so-funny, wannabe spoof films (‘Not Another Teen Movie’ was pretty funny though).
8. ’Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!’-
Bumbling cop Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) embarks on a journey to discover who is trying to assassinate the Queen of England (surprisingly not O.J. Simpson), in this police satire written (along with Jim Abrahams and brother Jerry Zucker) and directed by David Zucker. As evidenced in their other films, the Zuckers and Abrahams are masters at play on words (“Nice beaver,” Nielsen says as Priscilla Presley pulls a stuffed beaver off the shelf). Baseball hall-of-famer Reggie Jackson even makes his acting debut as a brainwashed caricature of himself. ‘Naked Gun’ launched two, almost equally as funny sequels.
7. ’Shaun of the Dead’-
In recent years, zombies have been the new go-to horror staple, which just begs for parody. Luckily, actor Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright together created the ultimate zombie satire. Slacker Shaun (Pegg) is forced to lead his friends to the only safe place he can think of (the pub) as an outbreak creates brain-thirsty living dead. As a resurgence to great British comedy, ‘Shaun of the Dead’ used deadpan timing to create some of the most memorable moments of the film (“I’m sorry. No, I’m sorry,” as Nick Frost silently breaks wind). ‘Shaun of the Dead’ became a launching point for Simon Pegg’s career as he recently starred in JJ Abrams ‘Star Trek’ as Scotty.
6. ‘Hot Shots’-
Over his career, Charlie Sheen seems to have had a conflict of conscience (at least in the roles he’s taken). The perennial dramatic actor turned comedic actor, turned dramatic actor, turned comedic actor has created fantastic films in both genres. The pinnacle of those in comedy is the ‘Top Gun’ parody, ‘Hot Shots.’ Written and directed by ‘Naked Gun’s’ Jim Abrahams, ‘Hot Shots’ is a near perfect successor. Sheen assumes the rebel Tom Cruise role as Topper Harley, a man trying to overcome the failures of his father while he tries to save the day and get the girl (Valeria Golino). With more tongue-in-cheek word play (“You have the whitest white-part-of-the-eyes I have ever seen. Do you floss?”), ‘Hot Shots’ delivers the payload with pinpoint accuracy.
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