The Captain's Top Ten (or more) Spoof Movies EVER
Apr 29, 2004 (Updated Oct 29, 2008)
The Bottom Line If you like a good spoof, there're plenty of them on this list. (Couldn't stick to just ten...)
I’m not in the mood to try to put these in order (and looking back on some of my other Top Tens, I even find myself disagreeing with my own placements!), so I’m just going to give you the low-down on some of the funniest spoof movies I’ve ever seen. I’m using a fairly relaxed interpretation of the term “Spoof” too, as otherwise I might have to miss out some excellent films… Don’t be surprised if I don’t stick to ten, either…
I never even saw any of the Airportfilms, but I don’t need to – I know exactly what they’d have been like thanks to one of the funniest films ever made! Written and directed by Jim Abrahams, David & Jerry Zucker, this features an early appearance by Leslie Nielsen as a doctor, but he’s completely upstaged by the absolutely brilliant Robert Hays as Ted Striker, a former fighter pilot who is haunted by demons from the past, the stewardess who is his former lover Elaine Dickenson, played by Julie Haggerty, and Lloyd Bridge, who is just fantastic as Steven McCrosky, the air traffic controller. But to me the best part (Johnny) was landed by Steven Stucker – I’m not quite sure what his character was actually supposed to do, but he’s hysterical. I must have seen this movie over a hundred times now (without exaggerating!), and it has me in stitches each time. It’s one of those films where you seem to notice something new each time you see it. The only thing I can say against Airplane! is that it contains some scenes that make it unsuitable for children. (Oh and if you get the DVD version, the Directors’ commentary is interesting – for about 10 minutes. Turn it off after that…) Also notable for brief appearances by all three directors.
There’s a sequel that doesn’t begin to match the first film but is still enjoyable, particularly the scenes with William Shatner.
If I had to pick an all-time number one spoof movie, it would be Airplane!
(No, I’m not calling “The Others” a spoof movie. It’s a subheading – you know, like “The other great spoof movies apart from Airplane!… Sheesh, you have to explain everything to some people…)
This time Leslie Nielsen is very much the star in this spoof detective movie (an offshoot of the TV series Police Squad, which I liked but never seemed to gain much popularity). Priscilla Presley is also superb as his love interest, and overall this is one of the funniest films Nielson has starred in. (Seeing OJ Simpson in this is a bit strange, but if you can take him purely as an actor, he’s very funny in this.) Sadly the sequel (Naked G2 ½) was nowhere near as good and the last movie in the series (Naked Gun 33 1/3), apart from a brilliant pre-credits sequence, was just awful.
Mel Brooks’ wonderfully funny western would probably be banned in today’s ridiculously politically-correct atmosphere, but that’s not the only reason to watch it.
Another Mel Brooks, a spoof of Hitchcock films (particularly Vertigo… I think), this is probably his finest hour.
Young Frankenstein- saw this more recently, and it's definitely up there with Blazing Saddles and High Anxiety. Many peopel regard this as Mel Brooks' finest hour. Want more? Read my review of Young Frankenstein
Hot Shots / Hot Shots Part Deux
Top Gun gets mercilessly ripped in the first film starring Charlie Sheen, while the second takes off everything in site. An excellent performance by Sheen is matched by a witty script and quick-fire plot. The second film really plays on the events of the 90’s, I guess people who were actually involved in the Gulf War might finds parts of it offensive but at the end of the day it’s just a comedy, not a social commentary. (Lloyd Bridges also stars in Part Deux.)
Support Your Local Gunfighter
With a cast of oldies including James Garner, Jack Elam, and Harry Morgan, this remains one of the funniest of the sppof westerns. It spawned a sequel called Support Your Local Sheriff, but this somehow lacked the sparkle of SYLG.
A Chinese Imperial Guard (Jackie Chan) finds himself in the wild west on a mission to save a captured Princess (Lucy Lui), and finds himself teamed up with a nice-guy bandit (Owen Wilson), and have all manor of fun and adventures. I actually found the sequel, Shanghai Knights, to be funnier, but this works very well as a spoof of all those westerns your dad made you watch when you were a kid…
Based on the real event of NASA using a remote receiving station in Australia to keep in contact with Apollo 13 when the earth was facing the wrong way for them to pick up the signals themselves, this film really surprised me. It’s not classic cinema, but it’s extremely enjoyable and a little-known cast acquit themselves well – but it’s the basic idea of the plot that lifts the whole thing above
John Candy and a bunch of unknowns come together in a funny, touching, and really feel-good movie, based loosely on the true story of Jamaica’s first ever Olympic bobsleigh team. Endearing performances and an irresistible plot premise combine to make this one of the best Disney films of recent years.
This also made it into my “Top Ten Sci-fi Films” list, but as a spoof of films such as Independence Day, it deserves another mention here. Although the first half is a little slow, this will always hold a place in my heart for the US President (Jack Nicolson)’s speech with unexpected reaction from the alien, Michael J Fox being incinerated by ray-gun, and the way the aliens are finally defeated (in itself a parody of “War of the Worlds”?).
Tim Curry stars as the butler in this spoof of the game “Cluedo” . I may be wrong but I think this was one of the first films to employ alternate endings. Inventive and funny throughout, the fact that I’ve never actually played the game didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this fine film!
Murder by Death (review coming soon)
Virtually every detective show in the last few decades is slain in this hysterical spoof of “And Then There Were None” / “Ten Little < INSERT NON-PC TERM HERE >” –did they end up changing that from Ten Little Indians too?
Police Academy 3
You’re thinking to yourself, “now he’s going to tell us he was only joking”, right? Well I’m not. This particular PA film I did find genuinely funny, largely due to the performance of Bobcat Goldthwaite (with a name like that, there’s no way you’re going to turn out normal…). It’s not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s made me laugh every time I’ve seen it. (I just know I’m going to get caned for including this one…)
Ok last one… another Sci-Fi spoof, this is the funniest take on the Star Trek phenomenon (not just the show itself but also the conventions, the lifestyles, etc). Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver are great in the starring roles, but to me the real star of the show was Alan Rickman, who plays a long-suffering “Mr Spock”-like character. This was my joint no.1 sci-fi movie of all time too – so it’s not simply a great spoof, it’s a great film too!
Son of Paleface
Bop Hope and Jane Russell team up again after the (slightly disappointing) Paleface, are joined by Roy Rogers, his horse Trigger, and Paul E Burns in a much funnier western. (Just how many western spoofs have been made?!?!) A hugely enjoyable film that has kept its charm over the years.
Well, that just about wraps it up. Apart from saying that there is one film that I have yet to see, which would almost certainly earn a place here, is Peter Seller’s “Dr Strangelove – or How I Learned to Love the Bomb”. I have only seen extracts from it but it looks amazing. (Which reminds me, there was one of the Pink Panther films that was really good, but I can’t remember if it was “Curse of the Pink Panther” or “Return of the Pink Panther”… whichever it is probably deserves a place on this list… still can’t remember, so just watch both of ‘em…)
I've now seen Dr Strangelove, and I have to admit that it didn't really do much for me. I think you would need to have grown up in the right era and properly understand the attitudes of the time to really appreciate it. I've seen some people describe it as the greatest film that was ever made, but I just can't see it... maybe the failing's mine though, not the film's?!?
Spoof Animated Movies
A few animated movies I saw in 2008 made me think that this section needed adding. There are initially three movies I want to mention (which I may add to later, of course):
Space Chimps (sci-fi)
Kung-Fu Panda (martial arts movies)
My Top Ten Lists:
The Top Ten Movies of All Time
Science Fiction Films
Top Ten Star Trek Movies
Top Ten Science Fiction Series
Top Ten Musicals
Best Lines in Film History