Is there anything better than a good parody movie? The genre may have fizzled out in recent years thanks to the over-saturation of Zucker Brother-directed movies in the mid-to-late 2000s, but the higher quality parody films like Young Frankenstein or Airplane! are classics with popularity that has lasted for over thirty years. Everybody knows the legendary resume of parody masters Mel Brooks, David Zucker, and Marlon Wayans. Even, with all the pop-culture obsessed parodies geared towards 13 year old boys that get spewed out today, every now and then you'll find a gem in the seemingly endless pile of manure.
Parody movies can go one of two ways: Some of them, like Hot Shots or Spaceballs, take a singular blockbuster and base their entire premise on how ridiculous it is. Others (like Epic Movie or Dance Flick) poke fun at an entire genre of films and modern-day trends in pop culture. Both types of film are great in that they allow audiences to take a step back and laugh at the things they normally would pay no attention to. However, it seems like the ones with the more coherent plot (based off a real movie) have stayed relevant across multiple generations of moviegoers. But the question remains: How well do you know your parody films? Let's play What movie is this film parodying?
Meet The Spartans
In a time in which the parody genre was in full swing, Meet the Spartans was the film that effectively acted as a metaphorical wall that it smacked straight into. This was the first of those mid-2000s parodies that completely ditched any semblance of plot or well jokes that were well thought out, instead giving us an anthology of pop culture references that would probably make no sense if we went back and watched it today. It followed a heroic Spartan King as he and his army fought off the invading Persians.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
It may have bombed at the box office, but the critics and the few audiences that saw Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping reacted fairly positively to the parody. With the legendary comedy group the Lonely Island playing the leads, Popstar delivered the troupe's signature vulgarity-laden humor and clever pop culture references. It is argued that the main reason the film flopped was because marketing made it look too much like the film it was parodying. In other words, people thought this was really just another half-baked documentary about a washed up singer!
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Austin Powers wasn't the first film to poke fun at this particular film franchise, but it certainly did it in the most '90s way possible! Created by SNL alum Mike Myers, the International Man of Mystery was the star of three entries in the franchise. The story followed Powers, a shagadelic spy from the '60s, as he traveled across time to stop is arch-rival, Dr. Evil. Over the course of the series Powers ended up in the '90s, in Space, and back in his home of the '60s.
Scary Movie 2
In the second of the Scary Movie films, the entire cast returns to the forefront despite being killed off in the first movie. In this entry, the focus is less on serial killers or aliens and more on the supernatural. The plot follows the group as they are invited to the mansion of an eccentric billionaire with a creepy servant. While there, all sorts of ghosts, ghouls, and demons begin to come out and torment the guests. In true Wayans brothers fashion, there are lots of dirty and weed-related jokes.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story did to classic folk/rock singers what Popstar did to the modern pop industry. The story follows the life of Dewey Cox, a folk rock singer from Alabama, as he journeys through the different stages of a musician's career. The film was a hit with both fans of the genre as well as casual audiences. Walk Hard was a spoof of a similar rockstar-related movie that had been nominated for multiple Oscars not long before.
What can be said about Spaceballs that hasn't already been said? The movie is universally praised as one of the greatest parodies ever made as well as one of the greatest comedies of all time. Created by the legendary Mel Brooks and starring the likes of Rick Moranis, Bill Pullman, and John Candy, the film takes jabs at the entire sci-fi genre with varying degrees of mockery. However, the general plot and aesthetic of the film adheres very closely to this beloved film.
The original Scary Movie was a game-changer for the parody genre. Not only did it revive a genre that had been somewhat dormant since the early '90s, but it also changed the way these types of films were made. After the success of the movie the parody genre began to become more and more raunchy and pop-culture obsessed. Though these types of movies would get out of hand and die a quick death by the early 2010s, the first Scary Movie is generally regarded as a classic.
As we said in the last entry, the parody genre took a huge nosedive in the early 2010s. This is never more apparent than the movie Vampires Suck, a film that both bombed at the box office as well as received terrible reviews. This was one of the last-ditch efforts to prove this style of parody was still viable, and it failed miserably. Vampires Suck tried to parody the entire "supernatural fiction" genre. However, one film in particular stuck out as the subject of its ridicule...
National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1
Loaded Weapon 1 is one of those parody films that appeared right before the first "bubble burst" of the genre in the early '90s. At this time it seemed like everyone was trying to cash in on the success of films like Spaceballs, Airplane!, and the Naked Gun by making their own spoofs. National Lampoon, the company behind the famous Vacation movies, decided to take a crack at one of biggest action franchises at the time when they made this 1993 movie.
A Haunted House
An attempt to revive the spoof genre came in 2013 with Marlon Wayan's A Haunted House. It made sense; Wayans was one of the minds behind the original Scary Movie, so who better to save a genre that was dying out than the man who originally helped bring it back? The film was fairly successful, getting a sequel but never quite gaining the levels of popularity that Wayan's original films had back in the early 2000s. A Haunted House mostly spoofed the found-footage genre.
It's not too often that a parody can get away with making fun of not only a genre, but a specific series and its fans. Thankfully, even the subjects of Galaxy Quest's ridicule found it hilarious! The story follows a group of actors who were the stars of an insanely famous sci-fi show. When real aliens from another galaxy catch the exploits of their characters, they come to Earth, abduct the "crew" and ask them to help save the universe.
Hot Shots! Part Deux
In the sequel to Hot Shots! Topper Harley is once again called out of retirement for a special mission. This time, it's to rescue a group of captured U.S. operatives who were captured by Saddam Hussein after a failed secret mission. The sequel stayed true to the style of its predecessor; it featured a ton of slapstick (including the use of a chicken as an arrow), pop culture references, and spoofs of the '80s action and military genre. The plot is almost a direct rip-off of this famous series.
Superheroes are currently king at the box office. Starting with Blade back in 1998, studios began to see the genre as a viable box office draw. Nowadays every summer seems to be filled with big-budge superhero blockbusters. The team behind Disaster Movie!, Date Movie!, and the latter three Scary Movies decided that it was time to take on the topic. Though it was meant to parody the entire superhero genre, the Zucker Brothers' Superhero Movie! was near-identical to this famous franchise.
2003's Johnny English was another spoof of the spy genre of films. However, unlike the crude and zany humor of Austin Powers, Johnny English took a more family-friendly approach. Rowan Atkinson plays the character similar to his role as Mr. Bean: English is a bumbling idiot who means well. When the rest of M15 is wiped out in an attack, he is the only agent left standing. The series got a sequel in 2001, and Atkinson has confirmed that a third film currently set for 2018.
Scary Movie 3
There sure have been a lot of Scary Movies...This entry in the franchise marks the point in which the Zucker Brothers took over from the Wayans Brothers, turning the films into more absurdist slapstick comedies rather than continue on with the R-rated vulgar humor that it was known for. Scary Movie 3 saw the return of Anna Faris in the lead, but this time she was joined by Charlie Sheen and Leslie Neilson rather than the cast that had appeared in the previous two films.
From the twisted mind of Will Forte came MacGruber, a super spy/handyman that could use everyday object to create incredible gadgets. The film was based off of an SNL skit of the same name in which MacGruber would be locked in a room with a bomb set to go off. As he tries to figure out how to deactivate the weapon, he always gets distracted by whoever else is in the room with him (causing the bomb to explode). This scene made it into the movie, but with happier results.
Much like the rest of the "exclamation point" films on this list, Mafia! was an attempt to riff movies based on organized crime. However, there is some misleading marketing here...despite having a similar title to movies like Airplane! or Superhero Movie!, it was not made by the same people. It shows, too; the film was both a critical and financial failure. Even today, it seems to be forgotten about when talking about the great spoof movies of the time.
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
If you haven't noticed by now, there are a lot of Mel Brooks movies on this list. The man is the king of the parody genre, spoofing the story beats of classics like Frankenstein and Star Wars all while injecting his own sense of humor into them. In Robin Hood: Men in Tights Brooks took on the task of parodying the legendary medieval hero. Though he poked fun at elements of multiple versions of the character, there was one in particular that he REALLY didn't hold back on...
In this 1998 spoof, Leslie Nielsen stars as an accident-prone violinist who is accused of murdering a famous artist. He's completely innocent, but nobody believes his claims that the real killer was a man with several missing body parts. As he goes on the run from the authorities, he uncovers an assassination plot to kill the Secretary General of the United Nations. Wrongfully Accused was based off of a short-lived TV show that was later turned into an Oscar-winning film.
No, we aren't talking about the over-the-top gore and sex fest that was 2010's Piranha 3D or its sequel, Piranha 3DD. Though those are technically in the same franchise as this film, they are more of a reboot than a direct sequel. The original Piranha movie was pure '70s B-Movie cheese! It follows a group of resort goers as they are terrorized by a horde of genetically-engineered piranhas that are accidentally released into the river. It's just as horribly awesome as it sounds.
Believe it or not, this movie is legendary among film buffs. It's not good by any means. It is one of those movies that is horribly obscure, but was brought to the internet's attention thanks to James Rolfe, aka the Angry Video Game Nerd, in 2008. The parody was actually shot in 1983, but it was considered so horrible that it didn't see a VHS release until 1988. Ricky I follows Ricky, a male stripper and gigolo who decides to take up boxing.
Starring a young Charlie Sheen (before he went off the deep end), the film Hot Shots! followed the story of Topper Harley. Harley was a former fighter pilot who retired after a terrible accident involving his father (who was also a pilot). He is only brought out of retirement by a top secret pilot mission for the U.S. Government. Of course, the movie completely rips on the military/action genre with jokes about ridiculous stunts, convoluted plots, and over-the-top love scenes.
Duck Dodgers in the 24th-and-a-Half Century
Our only animated entry on this quiz, Duck Dodgers in the 24th-and-a-half Century was a Looney Tunes cartoon from the '50s that riffed off of the popular sci-fi serials of the time. Though it only has a run-time of about ten minutes (making it a short film), how could it not be included in the list of parodies!? The story follows Duck Dodgers (Daffy Duck) and his assistant (Porky Pig) as they explore the galaxy claiming worlds in the name of Earth. They land on "Planet X" and engage in a war with Marvin the Martian, who wants to claim the planet for Mars.
Leave it to Mel Brooks to satirize movie legend Alfred Hitchcock! Who else would have the courage to make fun of the director that many film buffs consider to be the greatest icon of the silver screen? Apparently, Hitchcock himself was in on the joke; he helped Brooks write the screenplay! As the title suggests, this movie was about a man who suffered from anxiety. Or does he? Brook's character discovers that the institute diagnosing him is purposefully faking illnesses to overcharge its wealthy patients.
The Naked Gun
A sequel may currently be in the works (sans the original cast), but it's going to be hard to touch the classic Naked Gun films. The original Naked Gun film is one of the highest-rated spoofs of all time, playing off of Leslie Nielsen's hit role in Airplane! and further cementing him as a comedy all-star. Frank Drebin is a hard-talking, no-nonsense cop in the vein of the heroes of classic noir films. Of course, this is mostly used to highlight the absurdity of his many wacky situations by creating a juxtaposition with his overly-serious demeanor.