With the recent Wayans Brothers spoof Dance Flick opening at #5 at the box office with $10.7 million in ticket sales, the question once again has been asked: Is the spoof film dead?
With recent atrocities to the genre such as Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie, the ability for filmmakers to come up with parody films that are worthy of audience time has become all the more obvious. As those who know the genre, or are avid movie-watchers, this has not always been the case.
Consistently, the spoofs that have garnered the most praise are the ones that started it all. These innovators to the genre have not only the comic chops to remain solid entertainment, but story and characters that transcend the decades.
Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974), Airplane! (1980), and The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1982) are four spoofs that continue to be enjoyed by audiences and re-watched even now. It’s hard to imagine anyone watching Disaster Movie 30 years from now and getting the same belly laughs one gets from Blazing Saddles. Not gonna happen!
There was hope for the genre in the early part of the new millennium with the original Scary Movie and the shoved-to-the-sidelines Not Another Teen Movie. But the pop culture references, celebrity cameos, and in-jokes wore thin, and the genre once again made an abrupt turn toward cheaply made “entertainment.” Throw in bored teens who have already seen the latest big-budget movies and the film’s break-even, make their money back, and hence more are made.
And the cycle continues again…Sci-Fi Movie, anyone? It’s coming soon!
What seems to be the trend these days is spoofs of movies, TV, and pop culture that emerge for free on the web, and television. Aside from Saturday Night Live and the recently-cancelled MadTV, Family Guy has taken the reins of parody to new levels that even larger-budget films haven’t reached in years. A perfect example is Family Guy’s recent parody of three Stephen King stories title “Three Kings,” where the series spoofs Stand By Me, Misery, and The Shawshank Redemption.
And, of course, The Simpsons has been utilizing the art of spoof, parody, and satire for over twenty years. For some reason, TV just seems to do this genre better than film does. Maybe it’s the simple adage of too many cooks in the kitchen when it come to filmmaking versus TV. Everyone wants their joke in the movie, everyone wants to say, “That was my idea!” But too many spoofs and not enough coherent story or solid characters and the comedy becomes forced and dies.
Like all film genres, the spoof film has found itself dying and in need of new life and energy to attract audiences once more. Sci-fi went through a similar cycle as recently as the 90s. Independence Day started the sci-fi craze once again, but Battlefield Earth killed it. Even teen horror has gone through multiple cycles with the slasher flicks of the 80s being revived by Scream, but then slowly dying as cheap direct-to-DVD movies.
It’s only a matter of time until the next innovative, fun, and hilarious spoof movie emerges from the rubble. The only question is: When?
I’m afraid it may be a while. Until then, enjoy the classics and keep on laughing!
Here’s the Family Guy mentioned above, “Three Kings”: