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. Men in Tights was awful

    • that was the best movie ever!

  2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail.. still one of my favorites film to this date. So many funny scenes like the “Bring out your dead”!!

  3. Though, Airplane! is my all-time favorite spoof film, Top Secret is a close second. I’ve had three copies of that film, only because people kept taking it from me!!

  4. MacGruber!

  5. Why isn’t “Hot Shots” on this list? I personally believe it to be the greatest parody of them all. Though I do agree that Leslie Nielsen was the greatest parody actor.

  6. I would have included a Western parody, namely Blazing Saddles, or even Rustlers’s Rhapsody or Three Amigos, over Abbott and Costello which I feel is more of a mash-up.

    Oh and the love for musical parodies such as Walk Hard and Spinal Tap, (two of my all time faves) was disappointingly absent. Still the list IS chock full of goodness!

  7. Okay this list might as well be invalid since Tropic Thunder isn’t on it! There are so many clever and hilarious references to pop culture and etc in that movie. The cast was outstanding. The writing is amazing :D

    I would also add Scream on this list. Maybe it wasn’t so much a Parody as rather being Self-Aware. But it meets the criteria of a good parody by being smart, clever and creative. It was a film about a genre. So I guess that makes it a parody.

  8. Where’s “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka!”? Great Blaxsploitation parody!

    • @Tim Thorp I can’ believe I forgot to mention that one myself :D Baring that in mind, Hollywood Shuffle By Robert Townsend should definitely be on this list.

      • Oh yes! One of the all-time classics. My college lab partner and I used to recite scenes from it verbatim to entertain the class during lab work. :)

  9. I agree on all but Spaceballs. Lots of people seem to think it’s good, but I think it was awful. Bad (unfunny) jokes, and disappointing performances by actors who have done much better in other films.

    • You have a good point, but in context, and at the time, the movie works for me. It’s one of those comedies that didn’t hold up as well as others, like Caddyshack and Animal House, etc.

  10. Well..u missed one of,if not,the best parodies ever..Meet The Spartans..i mean cmon..who didnt find that movie funny?

    • You mean aside from (according to RT) 98% of critics and 75% of moviegoers who care enough to rate it? :)

  11. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaCkJm7THaw
    one fabulous remake

  12. Mel Brooks is just a whole lot less funny than he’s advertised. Same with Monty Python. And you think Holy Grail isn’t broad? I’m down with Airplane and Galaxy Quest, though

    • I agree, two of my personal favorites on the list. Airplane! you have to watch at least twice, the first time to see what’s going on in the foreground and the second time to see all of the antics in the back.
      Galaxy Quest is a great spoof of Star Trek but also of what happens once your show goes off the air. I don’t know how many actors that I’ve seen at car shows giving out autographs.

  13. Life of Brian (parody of Christianity and religious movies)

  14. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaCkJm7THaw
    you should see this awesome video !!!

  15. Jane Austen’s Mafia
    National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1
    Fatal Instinct
    The Silence Of The Hams
    Mystery Team

    Not saying they should be above any movie on the list, or even the honorable mentions, but I enjoy them

  16. Not Another Teen Movie!!! Duh!!!

  17. ‘I’m Gonna Get You Sucka’ definitely deserves props before Scary Movie, maybe even Robert Townsend’s ‘Hollywood Shuffle’ too. Don’t know if ‘Bowfinger’ qualifies as a parody, but I think that’s one of the most underrated comedies ever. And ‘Three Amigos’, would that fit as a parody?

  18. Scary Movie in honorable mentions, how about mentioning Scream, that is an amazing parody of a horror movie while still being scary.

  19. Great list! I’m glad you included Galaxy Quest, a very underrated movie with an all star cast. And it did have better special effects than most of the sci-fi pics of today.

  20. Brook’s Dracula: Dead And Loving It — my favourite Dracula parody!

    • “Love at First Bite” was funnier.

  21. While not a parody of other films or genres, Semi-Tough, with Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, and Jill Clayburgh, did a fantastic job of parodying the lunacies of the self-help groups that sprang up around the 1970′s. Even Lotte Lenya, the evil SPRECTRE agent from From Russia With Love (Sean Connery James Bond film from the 60′s) makes an appearance as a sadistic masseuse.

  22. “We ain’t found sh*t!!” and “When will then be now?!?” “Soon…!” are possibly my two favorite lines in any parodies. Space Balls was my first intro to parodies, so I have a very strong love for that movie. Hot Fuzz not only did it with jokes and acting, but the camera did a lot of the parody-ing (?) too! The quick parts between scenes where he is grabbing his coats and the pouring of drinks with exaggerated close ups and sound effects. Also, how the camera circles the two characters as it did in Bad Boys and Frost says “yeah muthaf*cker!” in that bad boy bravado. Excellent!

  23. too many of these I wouldn’t have considered spoofs… being a comedy doesn’t make it a spoof. Parodies of other known work makes it a spoof. How can you not have one of the hardest-working spoofs in show business today, the Scary Movie series–it gets “honorable mention?” Yet other movies that don’t parody anything at all, but they’re just funny, place in the spoof category… And someone above mentioned “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka!”… one of the funniest movies ever made. Not a spoof, just a really funny movie. “Didn’t someone tell them about the other door?”

    • Of course I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA is a spoof. It parodies the Blaxploitation films of the ’70s.

      Which of the movies on the list do you not think is parodying something? They all look like spoofs to me.

  24. On the mark with all in top 10 except Spaceballs. Unlike his other genre-busting films (How did you miss Blazing Saddles???), Brooks made the mistake of going after a specific film. And 10 years after is was released, to boot. By the time of Spaceballs, there was plenty of fodder for him to satirize. But by limiting himself to just one film, what ended up a mediocre movie could’ve been a GREAT movie.

    • Spaceballs also pokes at Planet of the Apes and a few others (it has been a while since I watched it, so don’t remember all the others).

  25. I would argue that Shaun of the Dead was not a parody of zombie movies, but a horror-comedy. There were a few moments that might be considered parodic, such as the zombies stopping to watch Ed answer the phone, but mostly the zombies were played pretty straight.

  26. Our Man Flint. Best Bond spoof ever.

  27. really? mel brooks, history of the world, best parody film ever.

  28. Spaceballs Overrated / Top Secret Underrated

  29. The problem with Mel Brooks films is that he has to remind us who he is and that he’s Jewish. Mel, we got it after the first half-dozen movies! None of his movies are really all that and a bowl of popcorn.
    Although Airplane! is one of my most favorite movies ever I’m still a big Galaxy Quest fan as it makes fun of Star Trek and other space flicks. You look at the comedy but also see what happens after any TV show is cancelled. It’s a wonder that the cast wasn’t doing the custom car show circuit as I’ve seen many former stars at them. It’s kind of sad that they have to hand out autographs at those to help make ends meet.

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