Top 10 Parody Films
#10 – Mars Attacks!
Remember when Tim Burton was good? This film marks the moment when he was genuinely great. Spoofing the deadpan sincerity of old school alien invasion flicks like The Day the Earth Stood Still and War of the Worlds, Mars Attacks! is, essentially, about just that. Flying saucers have been spotted hovering over the capitals of the world and the President of the United States – played by the legendary Jack Nicholson – is anxiously waiting to see what they do next. He’s been assured by science advisor Pierce Brosnan that the aliens are peaceful, although military commander Rod Steiger reckons the Prez should just nuke the bastards. Luckily for Earth’s inhabitants, Jack chooses to follow the advice of 007 and extends the hand of friendship to the brand-new species…
Possibly the only time WMDs would have been a good idea, eh?
#9 – Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
James Bond may be the number one international man of mystery, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take the mickey out of him once in a while. He’d probably laugh, if you made sure you delivered your pithy one-liners with a glass of Martini. Probably. Hopefully, anyway. Because he could just as easily execute one of his super-spy killer moves and ruin your day in a very big, very final fashion. Thank goodness, then, that he’s never met Mike Myers, who successfully held a microscope up to the 007 franchise and exposed every single cliché-laden henchman, baddie and elaborate plan for world domination. Cue Austin Powers, an inexplicably shaggable spy on a mission to stop the fiendish Dr Evil from employing a giant “laser” on the moon.
If you ignore the inexhaustible supply of toilet jokes (does anybody really find human excrement funny anymore? REALLY?), this spoof hits as many funny bones as it possibly can in the time available. Probably with judo chops.
#8 – Top Secret
Let me guess – you’ve never heard of Top Secret before, have you? You poor sweet darlings; someone has been cruelly depriving you of pure unadulterated cinematic joy for YEARS now! Val Kilmer’s first ever feature film sees him star as Nick Rivers, a US pop singer – with a voice like Elvis and fans like Justin Bieber – heading off to perform in East Germany during WWII. He inevitably winds up falling for Hilary (“she whose bosoms defy gravity”) as she attempts to rescue her scientist father from a dungeon somewhere. And then, y’know, her childhood sweetheart returns to her life – yeah, the one she spent lost her virginity to when she was marooned on a desert island that time. And there’s a traitor in the midst of the French Resistance. And there’s a roaring fire in every single sex scene. AND EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER NOTICED HAPPENING IN ESPIONAGE FILMS IS RIGHT HERE, GUYS, ONLY BETTER AND FUNNIER!
Best of all, the film has a truly almighty soundtrack; fancy a violent twist on Beach Boys tune Surfin’ USA anyone?
I wish they all could be double-barrelled guns, I really bloody do.
#7 – Analyze This
Robert De Niro is the ultimate mafioso – we’ve all seen him in The Godfather – but, in Analyze This, he finds himself plagued with panic attacks. We guess that makes sense; we never like it when rival mob bosses are after our blood either. Cue a scheduled session with terrified psychiatrist Billy Cyrstal and a careful, yet hilarious exposé into every single gangster movie cliché ever. My favourite one of all?
Feel better? Because I do.
#6 – Airplane!
It’s pretty much the most famous parody film ever, isn’t it? Every aero-based disaster movie has been (sometimes preemptively) ridiculed in this hilarious film, which relies on a deadpan style and some intensely groan-worthy dialogue to make its point – all films set on an airplane are ridiculously predictable. Unless Samuel L. Jackson and a bunch of mother-f**king snakes are involved, obviously.
#5 – Monty Python’s Life Of Brian
EVERYONE has seen Monty Python’s Life Of Brian, so I’m not going to sit here and explain every single iddy-biddy Jesus-bashing detail to you. You’re better than that, I’m better than that and, frankly, I have better things to do with my time. Like talk about the fact that anyone who sees it is sure to have a different favourite scene. John Underwood favours the carefully corrected Latin grafitti, for example, whereas I’m more into the shrill moustached women hurling rocks at John Cleese’s bony face. That’s just the way I roll, guys – let’s take a look at that Old Testament feminism, shall we?
#4 – Clue
Ah, Clue. I have an especially soft spot for Clue, mostly because it stars Tim Curry at what is arguably his best, but also because I love Cluedo. And, in this case, the rules of the boardgame are applied to “real life” – six strangers come together for dinner at the house of the (unfortunately named) Mr Body and, inevitably, he is murdered. But by who? And where? And with what?
THAT’S WHAT WE’RE HERE TO FIND OUT, GUYS!
Yup, it’s basically just blissful silliness – but the dialogue is furiously witty, the cast have impeccable comic timing and, yes, it successfully spoofs murder mystery dramas everywhere. And, with a handful of alternative endings and clues dotted around everywhere, it’s the kind of film you can legitimately watch again and again without ever getting bored. Like, ever.
#3 – Shaun of The Dead
Zombie apocalypse movies are so wearily predictable. Person gets bitten, person gets ill, person dies, person becomes a zombie and causes some serious mayhem – at an achingly slow shuffling speed. So thank CHRIST that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have injected new life into a seriously tired formula, showing us what it would be like if an extremely ordinary man was caught up in all that undead drama. This smart parody film references everything from the obvious Dawn Of The Dead and 28 Days Later to An American Werewolf In London, not to mention the soulless dead-eyed people in suits we see every single day on the morning commute.
Go in with your eyes and ears open, notice everything and NEVER use the zed-word. Sorted.
#2 – Galaxy Quest
I’ve waxed lyrical about Galaxy Quest plenty of times before, so I’ll try to stick to the basics here. The story follows a bunch of has-been actors from a cancelled 70s television series (ringing any bells, Star Trek fans?), who have nothing better to do with themselves than open supermarkets, sign autographs and pose with their legions of crazed fans. Too bad they find themselves beamed aboard a real space ship, based on their NSEA Protector, and begged by an alien species to help them do battle against a cruel reptilian race. Yup, the Thermians have no idea that these guys are actors. They have no concept of what a television show is. And, no, they have no idea that they’re essentially doomed to die at the hands of an extremely incompetent crew.
Didn’t those guys ever watch the show?
Keep an eye on Guy (Sam Rockwell), who played a disposable red shirt on the original Galaxy Quest show, and his increasing levels of paranoia. Why doesn’t anybody know his last name? IS IT BECAUSE HIS CHARACTER ISN’T IMPORTANT ENOUGH FOR A LAST NAME?! It’s through him that we see every single Star Trek cliché ripped apart and devoured for its comedic value – and we get to have a helluva lotta fun doing it…
#1 – Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Who could beat Galaxy Quest to the wildly coveted number one top spot? Who would I allow to sneak past my favourite film ever and claim the parody crown? Monty Python and the Holy Grail, obviously. It’s got everything you want from a film; (almost) invincible knights, plenty of visual gags, dry wit, utter lunacy and a twist ending that will leave you feeling a little bit… well, a little bit sad, to be honest. It’s oddly depressing after all that marvellously funny stuff that came before it.
It’s pretty much impossible to sum up everything that’s great about this film without giving away the best parts – and to do that, my dears, would put me on par with the most evil and cold-blooded killer out there. Who am I to strip you of your right to laugh out loud at Terry Jones, John Cleese, Eric Idle and the gang’s antics for the first time, eh? NOBODY, THAT’S WHO!
Just check out this iconic clip from the cult classic if you need any further persuading…
I just… I just can’t explain how wonderful it is in human words. However, in the language of the Knights That Say Ni!, I have but this to say: “Ni! Ni! Ni! Ni! Ni, ni, ni, ni, NI-NI-NI, ni, ni!”
And we’re done here. Well, I’m done here anyway. Time for you to go away and educate yourself in the realms of excellent parody; you’ll come out feeling like a better person, a better comedian and a better lover than ever before.