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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5. ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’-
“If he were any cooler, he’d still be frozen, baby!” The tagline from ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’ says it all about the quintessential British secret agent. A parody of the spy genre of films, namely the ‘James Bond’ franchise (pick one of the 22 films), ‘Austin Powers’ was written by Michael Myers and directed by Jay Roach. Frozen in the 1960’s in case of any future threats, Powers (Myers) is thawed in the 1990’s to defeat the return of Dr. Evil (also Myers). Pulling from every spy film stereotype (villain holds the world ransom for one million dollars) and digging at British culture (constant references to Powers bad teeth), ‘Austin Powers’ set in motion a decade worth of comedy dominance by Myers (except ‘The Love Guru’).
4. ‘This is Spinal Tap’-
A genre of film not necessarily considered for satire prior to reality TV, documentary films are the target of director Rob Reiner and his mockumentary juggernaut, ‘This is Spinal Tap.’ Written by and starring Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer, ‘Spinal Tap’ explores and chronicles the “world’s loudest band” on tour and their many trials and tribulations. With a constant rotation of drummers dying at every show and stage props malfunctioning, ‘Spinal Tap’ turns it up to eleven and has created a huge cult following. The band even reunited in 1992 for a 25th anniversary show (note that ‘This is Spinal Tap’ was from 1984).
Playing off the monumental success of the ‘Stat Wars’ franchise, Mel Brooks created a golden space parody with ‘Spaceballs.’ When Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and sidekick Barf (John Candy) are recruited to save the planet Druidia from the evil Lord Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis), they find an alliance in the planet’s snooty Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga). Brooks not only wrote and directed, but he also stars as Yogurt, mentor to Lone Starr in the ways of the Schwartz. More witty dialogue (“Yes, we’re going to have to go to ludicrous speed”) and gags (literally “combing” the desert), ‘Spaceballs’ definitely doesn’t go from suck to blow.
2. ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’-
The godfathers of British slapstick comedy, the ‘Monty Python’ troop created their first feature film as a satire of the King Arthur mythos, with Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones behind the camera. As King Arthur (Graham Chapman) recruits knights on his quest for the Holy Grail, they encounter unspeakable dangers including the Knights Who Say NI!, a castle full of beautifully virile women, a blood-thirsty rabbit, and the French. ‘Holy Grail’ has some of the most quotable lines to date (“She turned me into a newt. I got better.”) and memorable sight-gags (the Trojan rabbit), that you don’t need an African swallow to deliver the laughs.
“Do you like gladiator movies?” Well this isn’t one of them, but it is one of many ultra-quotable lines that makes ‘Airplane!’ the best spoof movie of all time. Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers struck gold on their first directorial effort about a war vet trying to overcome his fear of flying for the woman he loves. As with any good disaster film (or satire for that matter), not everything goes as planned when half the passengers and crew aboard the flight get sick from the in-flight meal. Sharp dialogue (“Striker, listen, and you listen close: flying a plane is no different than riding a bicycle, just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.”) carries this film from scene to scene with slapstick grace. The film also has no shortage of clever sight-gags (a blow-up autopilot that needs “manual” re-inflation, and Striker’s “drinking problem”). Robert Hays stars along side Julie Hagerty, with scene-stealing support from big-shots Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. If you say you haven’t seen this film, then “surely you can’t be serious. I am serious…and don’t call me Shirley.”
Go directly to: Part 1
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