Hollywood, for all of its pomp and circumstance regarding pop culture and celebrity, has, many times, found a way to poke fun at itself and the world at large. Parody films have been around almost as long as moving pictures. Some of the greats like Charlie Chaplin went as far as to go after Adolf Hitler in The Great Dictator back in 1940, proving that comedy can sometimes be a powerful weapon. Now, most films that are considered parody don’t always cover heavy-handed a target like, say, World War II (although you may find a couple on the list), but sometimes the serious subjects do open a door to farce in fun and interesting ways if handled deftly.
Parody or Spoof films hold a special place in the public zeitgeist due mostly to their rewatchability. Filled to the brim with joke after joke, cleverly roasting some of our favorite movies and genres, these flicks come at you quick. Almost to the point of missing even the most subtle gag playing in the background. With a nearly inexhaustible amount churned out in the early aughts such as the Scary Movie and Epic Movie series, we may have taken a wrong turn. This list is here to fix some of that. Without further ado, here is a list of some Parody movies you may have forgotten about.
Occasionally thought of as one of the more OG parody movies, Airplane! aped its concept from the 1957 film Zero Hour!, where an ex-WWII pilot has to land a commercial plane in heavy fog after the pilots and passengers fall ill to food poisoning. Written and directed by The Zucker Brothers and Jim Abrahams (talents known for many of the films that will appear on this list) turn this nail-biting drama into a feast of ridiculousness. Starring a string of dramatic actors, the likes of Peter Graves, Robert Stack, and Lloyd Bridges, Airplane! brought serious delivery and quick banter to a heightened level of comedy, while managing to jibe a slew of popular films such as Saturday Night Fever of all things.
Johnny Dangerously (1984)
A film that might have slipped off of many of the modern-day movie watchers’ radar is the 1930’s style gangster spoof Johnny Dangerously. The film stars, then comedian, Michael Keaton as a good guy turned crime boss who is trying to raise money for his sick mother’s medical bills. Keaton, with the help of seasoned comedy veterans Danny DeVito, Peter Boyle, and Dom DeLuise, plays the titular role with a slick-witted charm that makes the farcical world around him all that much more hilarious. Directed by Amy Heckerling, her flair for comedy, if you were unaware, has spanned generations starting with Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982), Look Who’s Talking (1989), and Clueless (1995). Even so-so SNL alum Joe Piscopo holds his own as the heavy Danny Vermin, and that’s saying a lot.
Top Secret! (1984)
As a child of the ’80s, you might have come across the cover art at your local video store with a spotted cow wearing rain boots and thought to yourself, “What the?” If you were lucky enough to have given it a rent, good on you. If not, now’s your chance. Top Secret!, made by the guys who brought you Airplane! (told you they’d be back, exclamation points and all), is a spy comedy starring a fresh-faced Val Kilmer as Nick Rivers, an American Rock and Roll star who is recruited by Resistance fighters during WWII to help on a mission. There is no shortage of jokes here and they don’t let up. Kilmer uses his knack for clever banter to ramp up the comedy while never breaking character, even during an Old West saloon donnybrook performed entirely underwater.
Loaded Weapon 1 (1993)
Next on the list is Loaded Weapon 1 starring Emilio Estevez as loose-cannon cop Jack Colt and Samuel L. Jackson as Wes Luger, his less than enthusiastic new partner in a spoof of Lethal Weapon, amongst other buddy cop films. What makes this one so funny is the attention to detail the production takes in nailing the feel of the genre (down to the bluesy saxophone score), while managing to make the comedy quick and unrelenting. Co-starring Jon Lovitz, supermodel Kathy Ireland, William Shatner, and Tim Curry, the cast plays so well off of one another while lovingly bagging on Die Hard and even Silence Of The Lambs with F. Murray Abraham doing his best Hannibal Lector impression. The number of celebrities (A through Z listers) are blink and you miss them but all used to comedic gold.
Yes, many of the movies on this list might date themselves both in references and social mores but remember the time in which they were made. What makes many of these films so funny for the most part is their attention to detail when making farcical gags. Unlike the aforementioned Scary Movie and Epic Movie franchises, these films spoof rather than blatantly copy scenes from the subject, only reenacting them with poorly written characters then spit out into theaters for a quick, unearned buck. So, if you have the time and want to watch something a bit off the wall, these films might just surprise you.Loaded Weapon 1