When done right, a spoof takes everything that’s stupid, annoying or just downright ridiculous about a genre or specific movie and turns it on its head, making what was once obnoxious entertaining. Like the bully on the playground who’s become our friend, we love spoofs for making fun of all the idiot movies we’re too chicken to make fun of ourselves.
By Nathan Bloch
The following article does not represent the opinions of Spike TV or its affiliates.
10. The Kentucky Fried Movie
Source: United Film Distribution Company
The Kentucky Fried Movie did a lot for cinematic spoof history. For one thing, the movie is awesome. While it’s pretty much a disjointed series of mock ads, documentaries and scenes, their raunchy, clever, and sometimes downright offensive sense of humor glues them together.
But, more importantly, Kentucky produced some of the best writers and directors of the spoof and comedy genres, including John Landis (who went on to direct Animal House), Jim Abrahams, and David Zucker. The last two were the writers and directors of some of the best spoofs to ever hit the big screen (a few of which are listed below).
In one of the scenes a man laments that “death continues to be our nation’s number one killer.” You could say that The Kentucky Fried Movie continues to be one of history’s top ten spoofs.
9. Scary Movie
After the Scream phenomenon of the mid-90s, and the break-out hit The Sixth Sense from M. Night Shyamalan, it was inevitable that the teen horror flick was going to take a bashing. And who better to do it than the Wayans brothers?
It's hard to forget some of the great spoofs they’ve brought us: Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2, Scary Movie 3, White Chicks… Scary Movie felt very necessary when it came out in 2000. The Scream franchise had churned out three films when Scary Movie was released, and the Wayans made their name(s) by pointing out just how goofy the teen horror genre was to begin with.
Then again, Scream kind of does that, too… But enough analysis. Within the realm of spoofs, Scary Movie continues to be recognized as the prized gem it is.
8. Austin Powers
Austin Powers – the first one, anyway – remains one of the most hilarious spoofs out there, due in no small part to Mike Myers’ interpretation of his British spy’s libidinous crassness. Austin excels at exposing his bad teeth, growing matted chest hair and issuing catchy one-liners like, “Behave,” and, “Yeah, baby.” Simple stuff, but good stuff.
One might argue that the ensuing sequels undid the greatness of the first, but one would be wrong. One would be grievously wrong. The first Austin Powers established Myers as a star, and it was also probably the only memorable movie Elizabeth Hurley’s ever been in. And would any of us know who Seth Green was if he hadn’t taken the part of Scott Evil? Unlikely.
In closing, Austin Powers was one of the funniest films to come out of the ‘90s, and it’s debatable whether Myers has ever been funnier in anything else, or ever will be. The Love Guru still stings to think about.
7. Hot Shots!
After Top Gun became a smash hit in 1986, by 1991 it was time for a spoof sequel. And who better to write and direct than Jim Abrahams, one third of the writing team of The Kentucky Fried Movie?
This movie became iconic because of great scenes like the one where a bomb falls in Saddam Hussein’s lap. Its tagline, “The Mother of all Movies,” is itself a parody of Saddam’s famous commentary on the Gulf War when he described it the “mother of all battles.”
It could be said that Charlie Sheen did some of his best work in this film. Though he might not agree with that summation of his life’s ouvre, I’ll never forget the scene where he fries a couple of eggs on his special lady friend during foreplay. Those are the kinds of movie moments that do down in history.
Mel Brooks is probably the father of the movie spoof, and he has proved this time and time again. Spaceballs is one of the best examples of this. It was released in 1987, when we badly needed someone to put a lighter spin on the awesomeness of the three Star Wars movies that came before it.
For starters, the fact that Rick Moranis was chosen to play the ersatz Darth Vader (called Dark Helmet ) is genius. Few people are less like the tall, evil, ominous Darth Vader and his James Earl Jones-powered voice than Moranis. But more than this, Brooks casts his farcical net (the tagline is, after all, “May the Farce be with you”) across the entire genre of sci-fi, ensnaring many films with one spoof.
Brooks is particularly prescient when he spoofs The Planet of the Apes at the end of the movie, the heroes’ Statue of Libery shaped spaceship crashing on Earth as the monkeys look on in disdain. “Oh, shit. There goes the planet,” they deadpan. They could have said the same about the remake that was on its way in a decade and a half.
5. The Naked Gun
Another film under the belt of director David Zucker and writers Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker – the master Jedis of the spoof genre – The Naked Gun takes advantage of the excellent thick-headedness of Leslie Nielsen (who spent the '50s acting in classics like Forbidden Planet).
Detective Frank Drebin (Nielsen) is put on the case of uncovering a potential assassination of Queen Elizabeth II, which has been set into motion by evil businessman Vincent Ludwig. Ludwig has brainwashed a baseball player to take the Queen down, which results in general hilarity. Interestingly, the plot of Zoolander is very similar to this. Ben Stiller might have even stolen the idea from The Naked Gun – but at least he stole from the best.
4. Young Frankenstein
Mel Brooks is one of the most prolific spoofers in cinematic history, and it was no surprise that Young Frankenstein has become a pillar in the community of spoofs. Gene Wilder, Teri Garr and Peter Boyle make up the core of the cast, and between Wilder’s Dr. Frankenstein and Boyle’s dancing monster, we get a much wackier interpretation of Mary Shelley’s novel. If Bob Fosse and Jay Roach had made a movie of Frankenstein, it would have probably looked a lot like this.
3. Blazing Saddles
Possibly the greatest of the Mel Brooks spoofs, Blazing Saddles is damn near perfect: it has Gene Wilder; it has an entire scene where cowboys and village people duke it out with a chorus line; and it manages to actually make a statement about the stupidity of racism while being hilarious.
On top of all that, the thing is chock full of some of the best one-liners in spoof history, like “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!”, a hilarious spoof of the line from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
Blazing Saddles is one of those movies that continue to age well despite the fact that it’s now 35 years old. Not many westerns are made anymore, but anybody who’s ever seen one – or even seen any movie, for that matter – can appreciate the spin Blazing Saddles puts on the studio films of the past. If only to see the scene where Mongo punches out a horse, watch this movie.
Airplane! continues to be one of the foundations upon which all spoofs rest. Once again put together by the team of David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, this movie is packed with hilarious scenes and one-liners. One of the best is when Joey, a boy infatuated with flying, visits the cockpit. Over, one of the pilots, asks him if he's "ever seen a grown man naked?”
The perversity doesn’t stop there. After Over is through with him, Joey meets Roger, the co-pilot. Joey notices that Roger is being played by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and proceeds to list off all the things his dad thinks he’s been doing wrong on the court. No longer able to take the criticism, Kareem grabs Joey by the lapels and gives him a piece of his mind. Over then asks, “Joey, you like gladiator movies?” This is good stuff.
1. This is Spinal Tap
This is Spinal Tap takes the rock documentary and slants it at a perverse angle, and in so doing has become one of the funniest movies to come out of the ‘80s – period. Rob Reiner established himself as one of the funniest men working in that decade with this film, and it did a lot to put Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer on the map. We even get a hilarious little cameo from Billy Crystal in the middle.
What makes Spinal Tap so incredibly awesome? There’s so much awesomeness in this movie it’s difficult to isolate one awesome bit from another, but I’ll try. The scene where David St. Hubbins (McKean) castigates his manager for making a Stonehenge set that is, as he puts it, “In danger of being crushed by a dwarf,” is one of the best. Though it’s hard to beat the scene where Nigel Tufnel (Guest) shows off his amplifier to the director, boasting, “This one goes to eleven.” These lines are classic.
This film, though directed by Reiner, also began a long and productive line of mockumentaries that Guest, McKean and Shearer would do together, as well as other actors like Fred Willard and Katherine O’Hara who would join the ensemble. Spinal Tap was to the mockumentary what aqua socks were to shoes: a new beginning.