The Art of the Parody

I couldn’t think of a good image about parodies, so take some generic theater masks

A parody is a work whose entire goal is to bring to light the ridiculousness of a certain genre. A parody isn’t always comedic, but comedic parodies are by far the most often form they take. So what makes a parody good, such as “Airplane,” or rather, what makes a parody awful?

I think the first thing people overlook when creating a parody is that you actually have to make a film that is good for the genre it parodies. “Scream” is not only a good parody of slasher films, but it stands on its own as a good slasher film. On the other hand, “Epic Movie” fails at being either a competent parody or even the bare minimum of an entertaining movie.

Instead of talking about a singular bad movie today, I just want to take a look over some of my favorite films from a genre that is infamous for its bad movies.

“Airplane” is possibly the best parody of all time. It combines the overdramatic environment of an airplane crisis film with absurdist humor and extremely topical jokes.

Even though many of the jokes go over my head because they are far before my time, I can still enjoy the majority of this film because of just how stupid some of the jokes are. This movie had me in stitches with laughter every time I watch it because of how many jokes they were able to shove into its runtime.

“Spinal Tap” is a masterful parody of the rock documentary.

While technically classified as a ‘mockumentary,’ that’s just a sub-genre of parody. This film pokes fun at some of the absurdities in the filming process of said documentaries, the rock lifestyle and even the people who find themselves in these types of documentaries.

It is full of jokes that take the metaphorical realities of the rock world and turn them into literal disasters, such as spontaneously combusting drummers.

“Tour de Pharmacy” is another ‘mockumentary’ that focuses on the many documentaries about the Tour de France. It has a very skilled cast that tells the tale of a race full of doping, scandals and even a fake interview with real cyclist Lance Armstrong.

It’s an absolute riot, especially if you’ve kept up with some of the crazy things that have happened in the real-life race, as many of the gags are only slightly stretched from the truth.

“Scream” is a parody that took a direction other than just comedy.

The director’s goal with the movie was to kill the slasher genre by thoroughly roasting it with this film. Instead, he single-handedly revived the genre because he created not only a great parody, but a brilliant slasher film.

It investigates a string of murders that includes nothing supernatural, just some kids who got too engrossed by the genre itself.

One show that everyone seems to forget is the Japanese anime “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” The show seeks to deconstruct the mecha genre and turn it inside out, showing the reality that would be involved with children being forced to take control of giant robots to fight evil monsters.

It focuses on the psychological toll these kids are going through while still being in middle school. It is heralded as one of the greatest shows made in its genre, despite it parodying said genre.

“7 Days in Hell” is another ‘mockumentary’ that this time, takes a look at the tennis world. It follows a 7-day game of tennis as the players are unable to break their tie game. It is full of crude humor and isn’t afraid to mock the sport of tennis itself. It isn’t as good as many of the others I’ve mentioned, but it is most certainly not a bad film.

“Hot Fuzz” is in my opinion one of the greatest comedies and greatest cop movies ever made. Its humor is spot on, and it has action scenes that stand out as honestly stupid, yet visually cool. The fact that the entire film seems like a joke that they didn’t tell half of the cast, with everyone taking every single absurdity straight faced, is absolutely brilliant.

Bad parodies can be found everywhere. Because the genre appears to be easy to make, many people have attempted to parody just about everything under the sun but tend to fall extremely flat.

Here are some of the worst.

“Disaster Movie” is exactly that — a disaster. Nothing about this movie shows an ounce of skill from the writers, nor the crew of the film. It’s a technical and comedic tragedy that attempts to put too much on its plate and then just drops the whole table of food off a cliff.

If I were to call “Meet the Spartans” a movie, it would be a disservice to the entire industry. It is a collection of references acting in the place of humor that wears a mask with the number 300 on it, yet the 3 is backwards.

It tries too much and falls so flat that it somehow goes beneath the ground and keeps going. It isn’t funny in the least and should never be watched by anyone with a shred of decency.

“Epic Movie” is what you’d get if you took 300 out of “Meet the Spartans” because it’s just the same thing — horrible humor, references every 3 seconds and a cast who can’t act convincing enough to fool preschoolers.

The “Scary Movie” franchise is an attempt to put an even more comedic twist on “Scream,” yet it isn’t even as funny as the original.

There is no subtlety to its jokes, and I’m pretty sure a monkey with a typewriter could write a better story than these on his first try. It is everything wrong with the parody genre, taking no lessons from the works it parodies and instead, just trying to fill the runtime with as many offensive jokes as they can get away with.

I’m not going to take the time to rate each of these films individually, but if I had to make a few recommendations, I would say to watch “Airplane” and “Hot Fuzz,” staying away from anything on that second list like your life depends on it.

I guess I’ll take this time to shout out the master of the parody himself, Weird Al. His songs get everything about a parody right, taking the original work and twisting it in a way that tells an entirely different tale.

I’ve seen other parody musicians on YouTube, but every song they do doesn’t do anything other than make fun of the original song and artist. It hurts to see that they lack the respect for the works that they make their living off of, while Weird Al’s songs show his love for the original work and artist.

This article was originally written for The University of Tennessee’s Daily Beacon’s Bad Movie Showcase.

Editing done by Evan Newell

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