I guess it should be said that I love, love, love comedy movies. I mean, one should be able to guess that a puss like me would generally gravitate towards movies a little less bloody and serious, and they would be right. Ever since I saw Steve Martin’s The Jerk and first heard Martin’s character utter the words “I was born a poor black child” (That caught me off guard! I could clearly tell that he was Asian) I knew that these were the movies for me. An even greater discovery occurred at the age of 14, when found a DVD in my parents’ room called Blazing Saddles. I was blown away. How a person could fit that many jokes into one movie was beyond what my teenage mind could comprehend. After watching one of the funniest movies of all time, I quickly searched the film on Wikipedia, looked at pages for all the actors, and eventually came upon the filmography of Mel Brooks. Two days later, I high-tailed it to the local Blockbuster, grabbed their copy of Spaceballs, and never looked back. Thus began my lifelong obsession with spoofs. Shut up, I don’t care that I haven’t lived long.
That said, not only are there virtually no good spoof movies being made today (The only ones even being released are by Seltzer and Freiberg, who have brought you such classics as Meet the Spartans and Vampires Suck. You’d better know that’s sarcasm), but there really isn’t much of a selection of spoofs to begin with, at least when it comes to spoofs that were good. For all the simplicity that appears to drive spoofs (Rapid fire jokes, puns, and sight gags, usually lampooning pop culture), not many parody movies of late have managed to get so much as a chuckle from anyone that isn’t 13. Mel Brooks was the master of the spoof, you probably know that already, so for this top ten list, I’m splitting it up into two halves: The Mel Brooks Division and Non-Mel Brooks division. And without further word rambling, my favorite spoof movies. Read and discuss after the jump!
The Non-Mel Brooks Division
5. Hot Shots!/ Hot Shots! Part Deux
- Who directed it? Jim Abrahams
- What does it spoof? Action movies of the 80’s, specifically movies such as Top Gun and Rambo
- General praise: Charlie Sheen may be a
bit of ahuge mess right now, what with the cocaine hooker stories and whatnot, but I’ll always remember him for (a) his role in Platoon, and (b) the hilariousness of the Hot Shots movies. The first film is mostly a parody of Top Gun, utilizing Sheen, who looks like and generally is a poor man’s Tom Cruise, and the sequel becomes more of a spoof of hard-boiled action. They’re easily the two most underrated films on the list (Besides maybe Robin Hood: Men in Tights), but these two films were a bright spot for spoofs in the 90’s, when the genre began it’s steady decline.
4. Shaun of the Dead/ Hot Fuzz
- Who directed it? Edgar Wright
- What does it spoof? Zombie movies and hard-boiled action/ cop movies, respectively
- General praise: Just when I’ve almost forgotten them, the Brits show up and remind me that they’re usually wittier than Americans when it comes to comedy. The first two films in the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg/Nick Frost trilogy (Dubbed ‘The Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy’) are two of the only spoof films of the 21st Century that are worth watching (Besides, for me at least, Scary Movie 3, which saw Charlie Sheen return to spoofs). Plenty of jokes jump right out at you, but like most good spoofs and British comedies in general, there are a lot of subtleties and little jokes that may require more than one view to catch. Not only are these two of the best spoofs in over a decade, but also two of the best comedies in general from over a decade.
[Yes, I know this video has bad audio.]
3. Monty Python and The Holy Grail
- Who directed it? Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones
- What does it spoof? Arthur’s quest to find the Holy Grail, human decency
- General praise: God, where do I start? Monty Python’s first true feature film is comedy gold from start to finish, one of the silliest movies to ever come out of Britain. It’s also one of the most quoted spoofs of all time, from references to the Black Knight (It’s only a flesh wound!) to the French guards (I fart in your general direction!) to the killer rabbit. One could spend a good hour debating which bit from this movie is the best.
- Who directed it? Jim Abrahams and the Zucker Brothers
- What does it spoof? Campy disaster films of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, specifically the film Zero Hour!
- General praise: So. Much. Awesome. Whereas Monty Python heaped on the skit-like scenes, Airplane! loaded up on just about as many one-liners and puns that one could possibly absorb. This film was so good, that it actually managed to get a cameo out of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was seen mostly as a surly and introspective guy. It also introduced the world to Leslie Neilson, the Mel Brooks of spoof actors.
1. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!
- Who directed it? David Zucker
- What does it spoof? Old police movies
- General praise: Before most spoofs were the worst movies around, before OJ Simpson went crazy, there was The Naked Gun. Not the most innovative spoof, certainly not the most intelligent (Har har, oxymoron), The Naked Gun won me over with it’s nonstop slapstick and sight gags. Oh, and Leslie Nielsen was simply awesome. He carried that series for 3 movies, and all of them are worthy spoofs. I be the only one to make it my number one non-Mel Brooks spoof, but I’m the one writing this, so why not?
The Mel Brooks Division
5. Robin Hood: Men in Tights
- What does it spoof? Robin Hood (Duh)
- General praise: Before Mel Brooks finally fizzled with Dracula: Dead and Loving It! (Which even starred Leslie Nielsen! How did it fail?!) he released one last quality spoof movie. Before Cary Elwes made us laugh with his performance in Saw, he portrayed Robin Hood in a very funny way, and unlike Kevin Costner, this movie was meant to be funny. Another note of interest is the role of Ah-Choo, played by a young Dave Chappelle.
4. The Producers
- What does it spoof? Broadway
- General praise: Probably the least spoof-ish of the movies in this list, The Producers still wins in the fact that it’s simply a damn good movie. Mel Brooks proved that he could make quality satire movie with a good plot and good jokes, and the soundtrack was pretty good too.
3. Young Frankenstein
- What does it spoof? Frankenstein, Puttin’ on the Ritz.
- General praise: Just like the other three movies in the Top 4, the general praise simply boils down to “This film is a comedy masterpiece”. Gene Wilder gives his best performance in a Mel Brooks film, and Peter Boyle is so, so, so good. And it’s not Eee-Gor, it’s Eye-Gor.
2. Blazing Saddles
- What does it spoof? Western movies
- General praise: So yeah, this is generally seen as one of the best comedies of all time, certainly one of the best spoofs of all time. While Brooks’ previous films broke a few taboos of the old age of comedy (Mostly the Nazis in The Producers), Blazing Saddles tore down all the walls and built a new house. Of course the movie that first introduced fart jokes to Hollywood is gonna be excellent!
[Warning: The N-Word is present in this video.]
- What does it spoof? Star Wars
- General praise: What more can I say? This is one of my favorite comedy movies of all time. Maybe it’s because I was more of a Star Wars fan than western movies or Frankenstein, but this movie just hit home with me, and I have no trouble calling it my favorite Mel Brooks film. Biggest props go to Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet, which is easily one of my favorite movie characters of all time.
Don’t like the placement? Did I omit your favorite spoof? Leave a comment detailing just how stupid I am! Thanks for reading!