Options

The Dying Artform of [Parodies]

cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm RegentBears The Name FreedomRegistered User regular
edited May 27 in Debate and/or Discourse
I love spoof films. Some of my earliest comedies were all-timers like The Naked Gun/Police Squad, Airplane!, Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men In Tights, etc. etc.

So it's really made me sad to see what modern creatives think makes a parody funny.

hyphgbu44av8.png

Or what I unaffectionately dub as "SNL Syndrome": dragging out a simple 1-2 minute sketch to 4-5+ minutes to the point that it's no longer funny, and it's even worse when the premise was never that funny to begin with(e.g. Shirley Chisholm repurposed as a Jeffersons-esque sitcom or a recurring, tremendously unfunny skit about the Civil War.

cinfym1gk8uf.png


So unfortunately, I think it's a dying art form. The last arguably good parody was Michael Jai White's legendary Black Dynamite.

6tjs9m3c70wt.png

And while even it wasn't perfect, it still had a lot of scenes that showed MJW at least understood how to make a spoof funny: showing reverence for the original material, producing a parody with the same methods, and just pushing the material to 11.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qZwwyHvCbo

Keep the 70s aesthetic, the jive-talkin' slang, and just push the already-ridiculous settings even further, until you have attacks coming from off camera and fourth wall humor flying from every direction.
(The animated series was a decent follow-up, but I think it was more interested in being an adult boundary-pushing comedy than a spoof like the film.)


Unfortunately, even the follow-up to Black Dynamite, the long-delayed and miraculously-finished Outlaw Johnny Black, sadly did away with being a parody altogether, and just focused on being a (sadly unfunny) comedic action film, and failing with being good at either.


So what's some classic examples of good parody, and what makes them good to begin with? Glad you asked!

To me, the gold standard to start with is arguably one of the OGs: the Police Squad series.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFhpctuUwb4

"Who are you and how'd you get in here?"
"I'm a locksmith. And I'm a locksmith."

No ridiculous expressions or hard sells, just silly dialogue played completely straight, and best of all: sight gags for days(a Zucker & Abrahams trademark).

2rpyutiemms1.png

The background should always have something going on, and give the sketch or spoof an extra layer of payoff.

c7426k3agvs0.png
(Something Mr. Brooks also had to a science)

You can't go wrong with any of the classic Brooksfilms, really, though the highlights would probably be Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Blazing Saddles, and (major content disclaimer) History of the World Part 1. Some of them have some deeply problematic elements, so take with a grain of salt, but when they nail it, they hit it on the head.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnF1OtP2Svk

In fact, whoever made History of the World Part 2 had such a massive misunderstanding of what makes his content funny, I'm not even sure they ever watched the original.


There are other bright spots in the genre, though, such as the out-of-nowhere classic Kung Fury:

8kfc2junq93m.png



Made on a shoestring budget while also somehow innovating how to use CGI in creative ways that look effortlessly hilarious and cost almost zilch, David Sandberg also showed he knew how to make a parody funny, and that he did his homework:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bS5P_LAqiVg

It sends up the 80s cop genre with ease, and most importantly of all, he does it while playing it straight.

Maybe we'll even get the sequel one day, who knows.


So do you think the genre's still dead, or is there life in it yet? If so, are there any modern examples still doing it justice?
(The less said about the [noun] Movie series, the better.)


We could also talk sketch comedies that touch on the genre, though I think modern ones(especially SNL) are massively more miss than hit.

wVEsyIc.png
cj iwakura on

Posts

  • Options
    ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    It feels like a dying art form in the way that many types of films are, because studios aren't willing to take risks anymore, nor are they interested in anything that can't be "guaranteed" hits.

    Weird just came out a couple years ago though, and it was great.

    WiiU: Windrunner ; Guild Wars 2: Shadowfire.3940 ; PSN: Bradcopter
  • Options
    FANTOMASFANTOMAS Flan ArgentavisRegistered User regular
    Is Robocop a parody?

    Yes, with a quick verbal "boom." You take a man's peko, you deny him his dab, all that is left is to rise up and tear down the walls of Jericho with a ".....not!" -TexiKen
  • Options
    cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent Bears The Name FreedomRegistered User regular
    FANTOMAS wrote: »
    Is Robocop a parody?

    I'd say it falls more under satire, unless you count the amazing commercials(especially in 2).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMtqRir7dco

    wVEsyIc.png
  • Options
    A Dabble Of TheloniusA Dabble Of Thelonius It has been a doozy of a dayRegistered User regular
    The only recent Airplanelike is Angie Tribeca and it is fantastic. Needed more seasons.

    Does Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping count? Or is that strictly mockumentary?

    vm8gvf5p7gqi.jpg
    Steam - Talon Valdez :Blizz - Talonious#1860 : Xbox Live & LoL - Talonious Monk @TaloniousMonk Hail Satan
  • Options
    HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    I think History Of The World Part II followed very well in the footsteps of History I. A big part of the entertainment of Mel Brooks is that he's just constantly tossing a barrage of jokes at the viewer, and if one misses another will be showing up in 5 seconds. I do agree that the civil war stuff was by far the weakest of the story lines between both movies, but that didn't stop me from enjoying bits like the Karma Souptra.

    I think parody movies are alive but we've certainly been making less of them lately. In the past decade we've had The Lego Batman Movie, Teen Titans Go! To The Movies and Teen Titans Go! Vs Teen Titans, Borat 2, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, and History Of The World Part II. The major studios have quit making parody movies, so we're reliant on streaming companies, Cartoon Network, and Lego to keep the genre alive.

  • Options
    GyralGyral Registered User regular
    edited May 27
    The only recent Airplanelike is Angie Tribeca and it is fantastic. Needed more seasons.

    Does Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping count? Or is that strictly mockumentary?

    Much like Spinal Tap I think it falls under mockumentary, which could be argued is a subcategory of parody.

    Gyral on
    25t9pjnmqicf.jpg
  • Options
    Mathew BurrackMathew Burrack CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    I will say this about HotWpt2: it made me less excited about a Spaceballs sequel, and I fucking love Spaceballs.

    "Let's take a look at the scores! The girls are at the square root of Pi, while the boys are still at a crudely drawn picture of a duck. Clearly, it's anybody's game!"
  • Options
    AtomikaAtomika Live fast and get fucked or whatever Registered User regular
    An issue with parody is that it’s both dependent on other trends to reflect and has a penchant for being fairly singular

    We don’t need or want 30 parodies about the same thing

    We don’t need a dozen blacksploitation parodies when Black Dynamite did it so well. We don’t need a new parody of hagiographies every year when Walk Hard fucking nailed it.


    Honestly, I think we’ve kinda tapped out.

  • Options
    cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent Bears The Name FreedomRegistered User regular
    I will say this about HotWpt2: it made me less excited about a Spaceballs sequel, and I fucking love Spaceballs.

    The problem is, I think Mel Brooks is just, frankly, too old to be writing anymore, and the other people he's letting pick up the slack don't have the strength to carry it.

    And Angie Tribeca was fantastic... for the first season, then it just became a straight, mundane comedy.

    wVEsyIc.png
  • Options
    ThroThro pgroome@penny-arcade.com Registered User regular
    I think a lot of the problem with the SNL / sketch stuff is, yeah it's just sketches. There's no story, there's no movie. That's not going to hold interest that long with out being invested somehow.
    I think the best parodies stand on their own, without an audience "getting" the references to what they're parodying. All the gags are throwaway gags; they're often literally just in the background.
    Mel Brooks, Airplane, Naked Gun types set out to make a parody, and that works. When they set out to just make jokes, it doesn't.
    There's also some that accidentally a parody? Like there was a real movie someone wanted to make, had no budget, tried anyway and everyone had a good time. The Last Dragon feels like this to me.

  • Options
    TastyfishTastyfish Registered User regular
    edited May 27
    Where's the Cornetto Trilogy here? Hot Fuzz just showed how you could blow something like Naked Gun out of the water in both jokes per minute and parodying both Midsummer Murders and Bad Boys whilst also making a decent comedy film in it's own right.

    If we're bringing up Angie Tribeca, I'd also add "A Touch of Cloth" as the UK version.
    Deadloch is also a decent inclusion as an Australian parodic take on the grim Scandi murder mystery (or the UK/US adaptation as I think it's more Broadchurch).

    Also are we going to include What We Do in the Shadows and the spin off series, Wellington Paranormal?

    I think more seriously, the advent of reality TV did a lot these in as it is often beyond parody and has taken up a lot of the space of the previously parodied shows.

    Another Charlie Brooker show, but "Dead Set" is also a great zombie series/parody of Big Brother (and good in itself own right). But closer to a dark Shaun than a naked gun.

    Also "Future Man", as a general parody of 70s-80s Scifi, amongst other things.

    Tastyfish on
  • Options
    Mathew BurrackMathew Burrack CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    I wasn't sure if What We Do in the Shadows counts, since it's more mocumentary if anything. Like, it's not directly parodying? Bits and pieces sure, but it feels more like just outright comedy. But maybe the line is just super blurry.

    For oldies but goodies, I would nominate both Top Secret! and Hudson Hawk, though I haven't seen the latter in a while so I don't know if it holds up...

    "Let's take a look at the scores! The girls are at the square root of Pi, while the boys are still at a crudely drawn picture of a duck. Clearly, it's anybody's game!"
  • Options
    Ninja Snarl PNinja Snarl P My helmet is my burden. Ninja Snarl: Gone, but not forgotten.Registered User regular
    Hudson Hawk is a perpetual mockery of heist films and will hold up as long as they make heist films.

    You just can't beat having a villain who yanks the main character into his limousine and joyfully proclaims "What can I tell you? I'm the villain." with a big grin. Or how the villains have a secret plan undercut by the CIA's secret plan undercut by their leader's plan, all of which is undercut by that damned secretive Vatican organization which is literally the spy wing of the Catholic church. And all of that is undone by Hawk and friend, who have no plan.

    The original run of Pink Panther movies start as mere parody and enjoyably run into the completely farcical. The first movie is an inept-but-lucky French inspector tripping into victory while driving his chief mad, the last movie is his chief having gone totally mad and attempting world domination complete with a secret villain castle. And he tortures a scientist by, and prepare yourself, scraping a metal glove across a chalkboard. Yeah. It's that serious.

  • Options
    TastyfishTastyfish Registered User regular
    There's an older UK series called 'People like Us' from the early 2000s (maybe late 90s) that is closer to the parody documentary, but the original WWDIS and perhaps the first season did feel like it was taking the piss out of the format as much as telling it's own story.

  • Options
    nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    Let us not forgot the best moment in movie history

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJoTBlDfVhk

    with a close runner up from Airplane 2

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1un4phiEaE

  • Options
    GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    I wasn't sure if What We Do in the Shadows counts, since it's more mocumentary if anything. Like, it's not directly parodying? Bits and pieces sure, but it feels more like just outright comedy. But maybe the line is just super blurry.

    For oldies but goodies, I would nominate both Top Secret! and Hudson Hawk, though I haven't seen the latter in a while so I don't know if it holds up...

    Wwds is definitely a parody. It’s a parody of the fake documentary comedies like the office but it’s a parody definitely

    wbBv3fj.png
  • Options
    jothkijothki Registered User regular
    The original run of Pink Panther movies start as mere parody and enjoyably run into the completely farcical. The first movie is an inept-but-lucky French inspector tripping into victory while driving his chief mad, the last movie is his chief having gone totally mad and attempting world domination complete with a secret villain castle. And he tortures a scientist by, and prepare yourself, scraping a metal glove across a chalkboard. Yeah. It's that serious.

    It's an interesting contrast with the Police Squad series. Rather than having characters act seriously despite their world being completely ridiculous, the early movies have a world that's attempting to be serious but has that being undercut by how ridiculous the protagonist is.

  • Options
    shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited May 28
    Atomika wrote: »
    An issue with parody is that it’s both dependent on other trends to reflect and has a penchant for being fairly singular

    We don’t need or want 30 parodies about the same thing

    We don’t need a dozen blacksploitation parodies when Black Dynamite did it so well. We don’t need a new parody of hagiographies every year when Walk Hard fucking nailed it.


    Honestly, I think we’ve kinda tapped out.

    I kinda feel like the style of comedy has moved on as well. The OP mentions History of the World Pt 1 and I would say it feels dated these days. Not bad but definitely old. And comedy tends to date faster then drama too.

    I think the zeitgeist of comedy in film has just shifted pretty decisively away from that style of broad parody these days. So even if you do the same kind of thing it's just not gonna land as well.

    We had that period in the 2000s of <insert thing> Movie starting with I think Scary Movie and that felt like it was already running on fumes and feeling tired within a few years. I just don't think that style has legs now 20 years further along.

    Just think that back then was the heyday of shit like Friends and now look at what a lot of comedy on TV looks like.

    shryke on
  • Options
    cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent Bears The Name FreedomRegistered User regular
    I love what I've seen of Touch of Cloth, but I don't even know how to watch it in the states. :(

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmvgU4p4uTI

    The show gets it, though.

    wVEsyIc.png
  • Options
    HerculePyroHerculePyro Lord Mayor's CroupierRegistered User regular
    I would add a shot of Danger 5 to the mix - especially the first season, riffing on things like the Man from UNCLE and similar.

  • Options
    TastyfishTastyfish Registered User regular
    cj iwakura wrote: »
    I love what I've seen of Touch of Cloth, but I don't even know how to watch it in the states. :(

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmvgU4p4uTI

    The show gets it, though.

    A bit of light googling seems to suggest that NowTV have it on streaming, and for the US "Xfinity Internet customers" can get access to it, so that might work?

  • Options
    tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    I think a parody as a movie is more dead, than parody in general. But that also could just be because there are just way fewer movies made now. But parody on "TV" is alive and well.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDTlfGXXV4s

    Fallet(The Case) was a Swedish parody of all the Nordic crime dramas that were super popular for a bit.


    Documentary Now is series that are mostly parodies of famous documentaries.

    Juan's Chicken and Rice (Jiro Dreams of Sushi) is a great example of it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo0sN872oH0&amp;list=PL_OXR07hJ8OADqHryeFnTuZeEHwgtwyuj&amp;index=9


    Also Always Sunny turns out a good parody episode every season or two. The Making a Murder episode is great.

    6ylyzxlir2dz.png
  • Options
    cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent Bears The Name FreedomRegistered User regular
    As massively popular as anime's become, I think we're overdue for another Excel Saga-type show. Every episode basically targeted a different genre, but we've had a decade+ of new tropes since then for a new show to go after(maybe a shonen one).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0ZyQo78b2E

    Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention another all-timer: Kung Pow - Enter The Fist, one of the most infinitely dumb and rewatchable parodies ever.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_PhnQW0GGY

    While most of the film is repurposed from an old(ridiculous) kung fu flick, the original parts are usually the most hilarious, deliberately filmed in the same absurd style, hard zoom-ins left and right.

    And there's sight gags too!

    bpv76sgr2lga.png

    wVEsyIc.png
  • Options
    RatherDashing89RatherDashing89 Registered User regular
    There was a lighthearted whimsy to Nielsen stuff and to Mel Brooks that seems independent of the parody aspect. That is to say, some of my favorite jokes have nothing to do with commenting on any other media, but are simply the writers and actors having fun not taking things seriously. 'Weird' had that in spades, but it's hard to hold that up as a "recent" example because Weird felt very much like a movie from a different time. And whether that humor is present in other kinds of movies depends heavily on how broadly you apply the term "parody". Something like Men in Tights is obviously parody, especially because so much of it deliberately references a single specific movie. But is The Princess Bride parody? Or Hitchhiker's Guide? I'm genuinely not sure. I watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for the first time this weekend and, being familiar with the plot but not having watched it beginning to end, I was surprised at how much it felt like a parody of itself, with the characters constantly making direct or indirect references to just how silly the whole thing is.

    I don't have a great example of a recent comedy apart from Weird that employs that earnest, innocent kind of humor like "don't call me Shirley". I guess there's a bit of it in Futurama and the best moments of the Simpsons, but that's not the primary humor they employ.

  • Options
    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    Documentary Now is series that are mostly parodies of famous documentaries.

    Juan's Chicken and Rice (Jiro Dreams of Sushi) is a great example of it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo0sN872oH0&amp;list=PL_OXR07hJ8OADqHryeFnTuZeEHwgtwyuj&amp;index=9

    I'm glad you mentioned Documentary Now! That series is fantastic.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • Options
    scherbchenscherbchen Asgard (it is dead)Registered User regular
    How about Schmigadoon and Schmicago? Pretty much both a love letter and a parody.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgbpAR-KPOQ

  • Options
    spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Shaolin Soccer should also be in the parody list.

    And we've completely left the classic sports-movie parody Major League out of the discussion. It's excellent!

  • Options
    TryCatcherTryCatcher Registered User regular
    My opinion is that parodies have gone to YouTube because, let's be honest, you don't need that much money for an SNL skit and they don't have to drag out jokes.

    Classic examples, because Alasdair Beckett-King makes me laugh:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9W7pvOLxmQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFOv4nlL88M

  • Options
    redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    cj iwakura wrote: »
    As massively popular as anime's become, I think we're overdue for another Excel Saga-type show. Every episode basically targeted a different genre, but we've had a decade+ of new tropes since then for a new show to go after(maybe a shonen one).

    I don't know how that works when half of anime are 'That Time I Fell into a MMO: Oops all Tropes Edition' they are already meta as heck and basically parody.

    They moistly come out at night, moistly.
  • Options
    Mr FuzzbuttMr Fuzzbutt Registered User regular
    I think the key to a good parody is actually loving what you're poking fun at, and also being a good example of it.

    Like look at Shaun of the Dead. Without the comedy, it still works great as a zombie apocalypse film, and is much better for it. Galaxy Quest is a great sci-fi movie, and even the extremely silly Airplane! is a good disaster film.

    If you hate your source material, the parody is going to rely entirely on its jokes, and those jokes won't land because you don't understand what you're making jokes about in the first place.

    broken image link
  • Options
    BogartBogart Streetwise Hercules Registered User, Moderator Mod Emeritus
    I don't think Major League is a parody, it's a comedy. It's not parodying baseball movies, it's wholeheartedly a baseball movie as much as A League Of Their Own or Bull Durham.

    I don't think there are crystal clear lines you can draw around parody and comedy to make them mutually exclusive, but I feel like a bunch of movies mentioned are just comedies that are self-aware.

  • Options
    FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    Hot Shots is a parody

  • Options
    RetabaRetaba A Cultist Registered User regular
    I think another aspect is the way content works these days, all the youtube and streamer stuff kind of undercuts the build up of parodies. If someone can see a potential parody in something they can find ways to express it online where as in the older days it would sit around in cultural debris until it got introduced in a show/movie. Does abridged stuff count as parody? Cause people are enjoying doing that to various animated shows. I want to say it's less dying and more changing with how we consume media.

  • Options
    FANTOMASFANTOMAS Flan ArgentavisRegistered User regular
    redx wrote: »
    cj iwakura wrote: »
    As massively popular as anime's become, I think we're overdue for another Excel Saga-type show. Every episode basically targeted a different genre, but we've had a decade+ of new tropes since then for a new show to go after(maybe a shonen one).

    I don't know how that works when half of anime are 'That Time I Fell into a MMO: Oops all Tropes Edition' they are already meta as heck and basically parody.

    Those animes/mangas are just trying to ride the wave and are not parody, they are just bad. A good parody in anime, are the *filler* episodes of Gintama, where they reference specific works, sometimes in the same genre that their manga/anime is.

    Yes, with a quick verbal "boom." You take a man's peko, you deny him his dab, all that is left is to rise up and tear down the walls of Jericho with a ".....not!" -TexiKen
  • Options
    cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent Bears The Name FreedomRegistered User regular
    Retaba wrote: »
    I think another aspect is the way content works these days, all the youtube and streamer stuff kind of undercuts the build up of parodies. If someone can see a potential parody in something they can find ways to express it online where as in the older days it would sit around in cultural debris until it got introduced in a show/movie. Does abridged stuff count as parody? Cause people are enjoying doing that to various animated shows. I want to say it's less dying and more changing with how we consume media.

    The good abridged series totally are, like Fate/UBW, because it makes constant fun of how ridiculous the characters are.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8Eq8TUki44
    White hair, red clothes, pathological liar, self-absorbed...
    I figured it out! You're Actually Satan!

    wVEsyIc.png
Sign In or Register to comment.