Top 10 Parody Films

Published 1 year ago by , Updated January 13th, 2013 at 1:04 pm, This is a list post.

Top 10 Parody Films

In celebration of the release of A Haunted House – a parody of recent found-footage films like Paranormal Activity and The Devil Inside – we're counting down some of the best films the parody sub-genre has to offer. Although it has become harder and harder to find solid examples of parody talents like Mel Brooks, David Zucker, and Jim Abrahams, we still believe that the concept can work when done right. However, it's just as easy to deliver a parody that feels lazy and lacks any sort of comedic or satirical punch - just look at films like Disaster Movie, Epic Movie, and Date Movie. Thankfully we have these Top 10 Parody Films to remind us just how good the sub-genre can be.(LISTED IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER.)

Top Secret!

Best Parody Films - Top SecretPerhaps the most obscure title on our list (spoiler alert), the 1984 comedy Top Secret! features a very young Val Kilmer as Nick Rivers, a rock-and-roll singer that becomes a WWII spy. And though Kilmer is the most recognizable face in the film, it's the one-off characters – like Déjà vu and Chocolate Mousse (yes, those are character names) – that steal the show. Top Secret! is at times subtle with its humor, and requires an attentive ear or eye, but it's also filled with plenty of visual gags to ensure the audience is always smiling. If you've never seen Top Secret! we highly recommend it.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Best Parody Films - Austin PowersWhile it's unclear what the legacy of Michael Myer's Austin Powers will be – especially if they end up making the long-gestating fourth film – for now International Man of Mystery still (mostly) holds up as a solid parody of the spy genre - namely the James Bond series. What's even more impressive than the film's ability to poke at the promiscuity of Bond, though, is Myers turn as both the hero and villain. No doubt a challenge for any comedic actor, Myers was able to create two distinct, and memorable, personalities that helped sustain an entire film filled with endless gags and potty humor. Yes, the two Austin Powers sequels beat many of the first film's jokes to death, but evaluated as a single film, the jokes in International Man of Mystery were pretty hilarious.

Galaxy Quest

Best Parody Films - Galaxy QuestAs we enter a new era of Star Trek, and fans begin to look back on how far the franchise has come, it's hard not to think of Galaxy Quest at the same time. While not a direct parody of Star Trek's content, Galaxy Quest is more a comedic expose of the dynamic that is rumored to have existed between the series' actors after it went off the air. Tim Allen leads a cast that includes notable faces like Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver and Sam Rockwell, as they poke fun at many of the sci-fi character tropes from the jaded thespian to the fateful "red shirt." However, when these TV has-beens find themselves in the midst of a real space conflict, the film brings things full circle by paying homage to the spirit of Star Trek, albeit with much better special effects.

Shaun of the Dead

Best Parody Films - Shaun of the DeadThe film that arguably put director Edgar Wright on the map (for anyone that hadn't seen Spaced that is), Shaun of the Dead is the film that poked fun at zombies before The Walking Dead transformed them from generic horror movie fodder into a cultural phenomenon. What makes Shaun of the Dead work so well is its ability to parody your typical zombie outbreak movie, but place two "below average Joes" at its center. And Wright didn't stop genre-bending there, either: He went on to take jabs at action films with Hot Fuzz, which reunited the director with his Shaun stars Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. It's tough to choose between the two, but we give the slight edge to Shaun of the Dead for catching us completely by surprise.

Young Frankenstein

Best Parody Films - Young FrankensteinBeyond being a great parody of the story of Dr. Frankenstein's monster, Young Frankenstein is also some of director Mel Brooks' best work. Starting first with a star-studded cast - including comedic legends like Gene Wilder, Terri Garr, and Marty Feldman - and a sharp script, the film was destined for great things even before a single roll of film was shot. Granted, it takes some time to get going, but when Dr. Frankenstein (pronounced Fronkenstein) first meets Igor (pronounced Eye-Gor) the film grabs hold and never lets go. And like many of the movies on this list, Young Frankenstein works on so many levels beyond being a great parody. Also, Frau Blucher!

The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad

Best Parody Films - Naked GunMuch like Mel Brooks is the king of parody film directing (more on him later), Leslie Nielsen is the king of parody acting. In fact, he was so dedicated to the genre that he continued to star in parodies – like Scary Movie 4 and Stan Helsing – up until his death in 2010. But there's no question that his role as Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad is his most iconic – so iconic that he essentially played the same character in nearly every film he made thereafter. Sure, Naked Gun borrowed heavily from the lead of many of the films that preceded it, but most were ensemble affairs. Naked Gun, on the other hand, works because Nielsen is just so good. Though many will try, there will never be a comedic actor quite like Leslie Nielsen.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Best Parody Films - Abbott and Costello Meet FrankensteinComedic duo Bud Abbott and Lou Costello met plenty of (fictional) literary and cinematic icons in their day, but none of those encounters hold a candle to when Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Though the name would suggest Abbott and Costello only come into contact with the mad Doctor and his monster, the film also features Bela Lugosi in his legendary role as Dracula and Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolfman. For its time, the film was pretty unique, poking fun at what were supposed to be horrific characters. Yes, when viewed today, the humor of Abbott and Costello might not be as appealing, but there's no mistaking the two had a knack for timing and physical comedy that is much harder to find these days. Certainly an oldie, but definitely still a "goodie."

Spaceballs

Best Parody Films - SpaceballsThere's something about Mel Brooks' Spaceballs that, for Star Wars fans, just hits on so many levels. The movie follows the story of Lone Star (Bill Pullman) and his faithful pal Barf (John Candy), as they try to stop Rick Moranis' Dark Helmet from conquering the universe. Spaceballs takes the framework of Star Wars' story and tells its own tale, one that could stand as an engaging sci-fi comedy all on its own. Though many of the films on this list poke fun at genres or subtly reference films or novels, Spaceballs takes George Lucas' epic space adventure head on - but does so from a place of reverence. Now, had Mel Brooks made Spaceballs after Episodes 1 through 3 had been released, we might have been treated to a very different (read: meaner) film.

Airplane!

Best Parody Films - Airplane In terms of jokes-per-minute in the parody sub-genre, audiences would be hard-pressed to find a better film than Airplane! Directors Jim Abrahams and David Zucker went on to find great success in the genre - they are the team responsible for Naked Gun and Top Secret! - but it was Airplane! that really set the tone for their entire career, and arguably paved the way for the success of many of the modern films that appear on this list. From the "don't call me Shirley" line to Robert Hays' never ending torrent of sweat, there are so many little details packed into Airplane! that even a second or third viewing might not reveal all it has to offer. Sometimes parodies like to let their jokes breath and give the audience time to adjust; Airplane! sought to keep them coming, rapid fire.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Best Parody Films - Monty Python Holy Grail The comedic troupe Monty Python created some pretty memorable features in their day, but it's typically Monty Python and the Holy Grail that stands out above the rest. Based loosely on the exploits of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, Holy Grail features so many iconic scenes – from the battle with the black knight to the 'Holy Hand Grenade' – that it's hard not to endlessly quote the film after just one viewing. More importantly, though, Holy Grail hearkens back to a time when comedy didn't always need to be so broad, and  could still appeal to a wide range of audiences in the process. And who hasn't wished they could ride a fake horse clapping a pair of coconuts together?

Honorable Mentions

Best Parody Films ConclusionChoosing just 10 films was not an easy task, but hopefully our list contains a solid mix of the old and the new. Of course there were plenty of films that deserve honorable mention: Scary Movie – The Wayans brothers combined the R-rated, gross-out comedy with the parody genre and delivered one of the most successful films (financially) in the sub-genre. Blazing Saddles/Robin Hood: Men in Tights – A case could be made for a list comprised entirely of Mel Brooks films, so holding these two out (especially Saddles) was more about variety than anything else. Hot Shots! – Charlie Sheen poking fun at macho action films like Top Gun and Rambo, and one of the goofiest parodies in recent memory. What are some of your favorite parody films? Follow me on Twitter @ANTaormina

10 Best Parody Films

TAGS: a haunted house, austin powers, monty python, shaun of the dead

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  1. “Nice Beaver”.
    “Thank you, I just had it stuffed”.

  2. Fine list although I don’t really think Galaxy Quest qualifies as a parody film and Young Frankenstein should’ve been much, much higher! Also, where the hell is Blazing Saddles? And what’s with the omission of Hot Shots! and Hot Shots! Part Deux?! I think you guys need to rework this Top 10 list a bit. Both Hot Shots films are easily a lot funnier than Top Secret, Shaun of the Dead and Austin Powers!

    • He *DID* say no particular order.

  3. Kung Pow: Enter The Fist, anyone?

  4. I dont agree with this list too much, shaun of the dead i wouldnt really consider a parody, i guess maybe if ur just talking about zombie films in general but they werent pulling off things from other movies and it wasnt crazy ridiculous like Air Plane (Which is great) Scary Movie and Not Another Teen Movie should have been on this list

    • first. you must be under 20 so your opinion on classics is whack. second you lost all credibility with Not Another Teen Movie.

      • Not Another Teen Movie isn’t bad at all. Why do good films get hate?

        • IMDB has NATM at 5.6 out of 10; RT has it at %60 for viewers, %28 by critics. Is this film really good?

          • NatM is brilliant. Its only issue is that it parodies movies from two different generations, so a lot of people will only get half the jokes. But it’s hilarious.

            (BTW, I’m in my 40s.)

            • THANK YOU. I don’t look at RT and IMDB as reliable sources. Some films just aren’t for some people.

          • Kahless, I thought it was hysterical. It had more of American Pie type sexual humor than most of these films on the list. If you don’t mind some shock humor, this is a funny film.

            • Not Another Teen Movie is an awesome movie! I like more of the older parodies like Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs, Men in Tights and I can’t stand any of the Scary Movie, Date movie stuff but NATM was freakin funny.

  5. I know it’s not a parody per se, but I’d like to mention “The Princess Bride”. While it does not spoof a specific story it does poke fun at fairy tales in general. And I can’t believe you didn’t mention “This Is Spinal Tap” or any of the mockumentaries by Christopher Guest.

    • I might also add “The Breaks”. White, Irish, immigrant adopted by a black family in the ghetto…hilarious.

      • A mighty Wind..and Best in Show are awesome parodies of all Documentary films. At least one of those should have been added.

  6. Team America? Love that movie, it’s time for a montage!

    • When I first saw that movie, I laughed my butt off. But when I tried watching it again, didn’t laugh once. I guess once you seen it, the magic is gone.

  7. I like Wrongfully Accused and Spy Hard as well as Borat

  8. Young Frankenstein is a movie I can watch again and again, just to admire the comic timing. The entire cast is so perfect. It may be the best Frankenstein movie, period.

    Years later I finally watched all of the Frankenstein movies and I couldn’t believe some of the overlaps. There actually is a guy with a wooden arm, they play darts, and he sticks the darts in the arm.

  9. I realize it was probably either Space Balls or Ice Pirates and Balls has direct Star Wars references so it’s the obvious choice. But, Pirates was simply better.

    • Ice Pirates isn’t really a parody; it’s just a comedy space adventure.

      • . . .although the Space Herpe is kind of a parody of Alien. :)

  10. Top Secret isn’t a WWII movie; it takes place during the early Cold War.

    All the movies on the list are great with the exception of Spaceballs, which is only good. Looking back on it from afar, you mostly remember the classic jokes, but if you watch the whole thing again, there really aren’t that many of them. It’s certainly no Blazing Saddles (or even Not Another Teen Movie).

  11. Spinal Tap ? maybe its my browser but i cant see it …. surely thats on the list …. surely

  12. you didnt mention Phantom menace – wasnt that a parody of a Star Wars film?

    what about Blazing Saddles – one of the most famous parodies of western genre
    or Kentucky Fried movie – one of the earliest parodies

    • And what about Amazon women from the moon, or I’m gonna get you sucka?.

    • Lmao!!! I just read your comment and had to reply on how it had me laughing. “You didn’t mention Phantom menace…” Hilarious!

  13. I was wondering if anyone could help me. I remember watching Top Secret when I was a child,(I’m now 37) and I recall seeing scenes that showed this newspaper vendor always getting hit by a bundle of newspaper, and every time he gets hit, he gets cured of an ailment but he gets a new one. For example, I think he started out deaf, then he gets hit by a bundle then he starts to hear but he becomes blind, and I think towards the end he gets cured of blindness but he gets amnesia. Curiously, when I bought a video of Top Secret, the scenes were not present. I was wondering whether those scenes were from Top Secret but got deleted in other versions or I actually watched another film and mistakenly thought that it was Top Secret. Can anyone help? If those scenes were not from Top Secret, can you identify the film that actually had those scenes? Thank you very much.

    • That’s because that was Johnny Dangerously with Michael Keaton. A much better movie that Top Secret and a spoof of gangster movies that should have been on this list.

      • “You shouldn’t grab me, Johnny. My mother grabbed me once… ONCE!”

        “You shouldn’t kick me in the balls, Mrs. Kelly. My sister kicked me in the balls once…” [Stumbles in pain]

        “You shouldn’t hang me on a hook, Johnny. My father hung me on a hook once. ONCE!”

        Wasn’t a great film but still fun to watch.

  14. Don’t be a menace to south central while drinking your juice in the hood. Best “hood” parody. Deserves a mention. Good list though.

  15. I watched Galaxy Quest in the theatres and laughed my ass off. As a Star Trek fan, to me it was brilliant!! My Girlfriend not being a Star Trek fan didn’t understand why I was laughing at some parts…

  16. Where’s This is Spinal Tap? One of the most brilliant parodies ever made. What made that film so brilliant was that it actually fooled people into thinking it’s about a real group. I remember hearing some of my buddies talking about the film and saying they’re going to hit Tower Records up for some of their albums. I had to give them a dose of reality and explain that thy’re are NOT a real group while trying keep my composure from laughing all over the place. I reminded them to take a close look at bandmember David St. Hubbins and think about the show Laverne and Shirley, that’s Lenny!

    • Here’s the thing: Spinal Tap IS a real band! They were created for the movie, and parodied a number of real bands and events, but they went on to record their own albums and tour several times. I saw them once myself, when they toured their second album (Break Like the Wind).

      That said, TIST is easily the #1 omission from this list.

      • Ok, I know all about that, but they were not a group in a classic sense as the film depicts.

        I remember a roomate I had who was about same the age as me, TIST was on TV and starts going on about how long it’s been since he’s heard anything from them and that as a kid he never bought any of their albums.

        Naturally, I was about to the point of banging my head against the wall.

  17. three letters: UHF

    A true parody movie (and cult classic now) by the king of all parodies….

    • Cult classic, definitely, but how is it a parody?

      • It parodies multiple movies within the movie – Indiana Jones, Rambo, Ghandi, and multiple other forms of entertainment

        • Yeah, I suppose that counts.

          No more Mr. Passive Resistance!

  18. “Spaceballs” is still one of my favorite parody films. The list was pretty complete in its entirety.

  19. I quite liked “Repossessed” but I don’t think anyone else liked/saw that movie. It was really cheesy, but I got some good laughs from it.

  20. Is it just me,

    Or are Screen Rants movie lists alot more accurate and acceptable than that of Time?

  21. As someone who grew up watching the Lethal Weapon series, National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1 is far and away my favorite parody movie. There are several on this list that aren’t even parodies. What the hell…

  22. While there are some great parodies listed, no list is complete without Blazing Saddles.

  23. many of these movies make fun of a few movies, and are good in their own right. There is one movie that makes fun of alot of movies and in different decades, from “Gone with the Wind” to “Ghandi” as well as pop culture. One movie should stand alone when it comes to parodies. Who is the king of parody? Wierd Al Yankovic, his movie UHF. One of the main parts of the movie also does a parody of “money for nothing” with “beverly hill billie.”

  24. This should have been done with more than just the top ten so you could include more Leslie Nielsen and Mel Brooks movies without causing too much imbalance in the list. Also why are so many calling Princess Bride a Parody? It’s a book adaptation for starters, secondly it’s a classic, and thirdly there’s no actual humor in it. Yes, it has a sort of fairytale feel to it but where do you think fairytales come from? Do you think they just exist without anyone ever making them up at some point?

    • No actual humor in Princess Bride?

      Seriously?

      Miracle Max: You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.

      Vizzini: HE DIDN’T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.
      Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

      Inigo Montoya: I donna suppose you could speed things up?
      Man in Black: If you’re in such a hurry, you could lower a rope or a tree branch or find something useful to do.
      Inigo Montoya: I could do that. I have some rope up here, but I do not think you would accept my help, since I am only waiting around to kill you.
      Man in Black: That does put a damper on our relationship.

      Inigo Montoya: [drawing his sword] You seem a decent fellow… I hate to kill you.
      Man in Black: You seem a decent fellow… I hate to die.

      Count Rugen: Ah. Are you coming down into the pit? Wesley’s got his strength back. I’m starting him on the machine tonight.
      Prince Humperdinck: [sincerely] Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped.

      Inigo Montoya: Who are you?
      Man in Black: No one of consequence.
      Inigo Montoya: I must know…
      Man in Black: Get used to disappointment.
      Inigo Montoya: ‘kay.

      Buttercup: We’ll never survive.
      Westley: Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.

  25. No Hot Shots? Are you kidding me?

  26. Hot Shots! Part One & Deux and Murder By Death should definitely be on this list!

  27. Blazing Saddles

  28. Men in Tights

  29. Dr. Strangelove or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb. I t may be more of a satire then a parody, but it beat “Failsafe” hands down. Also, the best western parody I ever saw was “Rustler’s Rhapsody”. I is easily better than several movies on the list and rivals “Blazing Saddles” for laughs.