5 Parody Films

This is one of my favorite genres and it was damn hard to narrow this list down to 5. I like that parody films reward the viewer for knowledge of other genres, while still providing plenty of laughs for those who are unfamiliar with the source material.

5) Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), directed by Carl Reiner


This film quite successfully skewers the film noir and hardboiled detective movies of the 1940’s with Steve Martin as private detective Rigby Reardon. Martin is hilarious as always. The big seller here though is the concept that makes it all work. Throughout the movie, Martin interacts with footage from 19 different classics of the very genre the film is lamponing. This allows Martin to play directly off of iconic performances like Humphrey Bogart as Phillip Marlowe and Fred MacMurray as Walter Neff. The gag works brilliantly and Renier’s attention to detail keeps the film grounded in noir traditions.


4) The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad (1988), directed by David Zucker

This is the first of a trilogy of films starring Leslie Nielsen as bumbling detective Frank Drebin. Nielsen is at his best in this one, lending his deadpan delivery to some classic gags. The movie is endlessly quotable, full of puns and visual gags and inspired bits of slapatick. Both sequels are funny and inspired in their own right, but this one is the best of the bunch.

3) Johnny Dangerously (1984), directed by Amy Heckerling

Michael Keaton is fantastic as the title character of this hilarious send-up of classic gangster movies. The supporting cast turns on top notch work as well, particularly Joe Piscopo as Danny Vermin and Richard Dimitri as Roman Moronie. Innuendo abounds in this one and the perpetual botching of curse words from Dimitri’s Moronie makes for some of rhe funnies lines in the picture. For months after seeing this one at my grandfather’s house, I went around saying “you fargin’ sneaky bastage’” anytime I found something even mildly upsetting. This is a great flick that doesn’t get the recognition it is due

2) Blazing Saddles (1974), dieected by Mel Brooks

Everything Mel Brooks put out was gold. I go back and forth between this film and the equally funny Young Frankenstein as his greatest work. Blazing Saddles skewers the western films that were popular in the middle years of the 20tg century. The film is hilarious from start to finish, with great performances from all involved. It manages to make the audience road with laughter while making social commentary on the racism, misogyny, and economic issues glossed over in all those classic cowboy movies people loved so much.

1) Airplane (1980), directed by David Zucker, Jim Abrams, and Jerry Zucker

No list of parody or spoof films would be complete without this one. This is the first feature-length film from the writer-director trio known as ZAZ, who would go on to make fantastically funny films for decades. Airplane! is a hilarious spoof of disaster films full of some classic lines. Filled with slapatick physical humor, puns, visual gags, and some fantastic running jokes, this flick provides nonstop laughs. The film is also significant for marking Leslie Nielsen’s transition from serious actor to comedic powerhouse. The movie is just as funny now as it was 42 years ago.

As this is a genre that is particularly close to my heart, here are 10 more that are very much worthy of checking out:
1) Young Frankenstein
2) Walk Hard
3) Wet Hot American Summer
4) Kentucky Fried Movie
5) Amazon Women on the Moon
6) High Anxiety
7) This is Spinal Tap
8) Top Secret
9) Hot Shots
10) I’m Gonna Git You Sucka

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