Parody is defined as imitating the style of a writer, artist, or genre with exaggerated emphasis on tropes for comic effect. The aphorism made famous by Oscar Wilde, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” should be taken to heart when it comes to parodies. Parody and satire have been the tools of writers to point out the absurdity of the world around them since the time of Plato and Socrates. Our list of the top five best parody movies might help readers to find a selection of some of film’s greatest comedy hits.
Humor, comedy, and merry-making have been a part of the human creative process for thousands of years. The age-old saying “laughter is the best medicine” might be more accurate than you think. A new comprehensive review of several studies on the effects of humor therapy on patients with depression and anxiety suggests that incorporating comedy and laughter into treatment could be a powerful tool in mental health care. The extensive study was conducted on a wide range of integrative therapies, with a focus on humor-based approaches such as clown therapy and laughter yoga. The results demonstrated that humor therapy can significantly enhance treatment for mild cases of anxiety and depression, confirming the long-held belief that laughter truly can be a form of medicine.
Humor is, after all, a complex abstract method of thought. Trying to understand what makes something funny to a given individual is at the heart of comedy writing. The finest parody movies are comedic masterpieces that cleverly satirize and lampoon popular genres, films, or cultural phenomena. With a blend of wit, humor, and a keen sense of observation, these cinematic gems playfully deconstruct well-known tropes while delivering uproarious laughter. Through their irreverent take on familiar narratives, the best parody movies offer a refreshing and often exaggerated perspective, providing audiences with a delightful escape into a world of hilarious exaggeration and clever commentary.
Though much of the meta-humor of these comedy classics requires a knowledge of the tropes that are being lampooned, these films are still hilarious. That’s why we turned to expert sources to compile our list of the best parody movies to watch next. Let us know your favorite side-splitting comic parodies in the comments below!
The List: Best Parody Films, According to Fans
Filmmaker Mel Brooks is arguably the greatest creator of film parody in the history of cinema. It is not exaggeration to state that this entire list could be filled with nothing but his movies. The Independent explains, “The king of spoof movies leaves no western cliche or stereotype unscathed in this riotous destruction of one of cinema’s most loved genres… ‘Blazing Saddles’ is still as side-splittingly funny as when it was first released. However, as ‘Blazing Saddles’ is also a condemnation of racism both in the old west and Hollywood itself, there’s so much more to the daddy of all spoof movies than cowboys overdosing on beans.”
“Rather than simply deconstruct these outdated tropes and offensive politics, Brooks eviscerated them by turning them into punchlines. ‘Blazing Saddles’ was so good that it effectively killed the classic Western. No one took Westerns seriously again. It would be decades until filmmakers revived the genre, but through self-serious dramas,” adds CBR.
The Mary Sue also states, “This manages to be a fun Western that thumbs its nose at the wholesome western that dominated TV and movies in the ‘50s and ‘60s while also pointing out the rampant corruption and whitewashed racism of both the time period and the genre. Some people say ‘Blazing Saddles’ couldn’t be made today, but if it had been, it would probably get called ‘woke trash’ by ‘comedians’ who don’t get the joke.”
“Airplane” is a contender for the title of funniest film of all time that was written and directed by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker (ZAZ). Indeed, this film needs to be seen more than once, as many viewers laugh so hard that they miss several jokes. “The ZAZ team’s disaster movie goof prized verisimilitude. Practically a remake of the 1957 scare-in-the-air non-classic ‘Zero Hour!,’ ‘Airplane!’ gets some of its biggest laughs from the deadpan delivery of lines taken straight from its inspiration… ‘Airplane!’ turned fading character actor Leslie Nielsen into one of Hollywood’s top comedic draws, and inspired a generation of jokesters to emulate its laugh-a-second formula. It’s one of the funniest and most influential films in the history of the medium,” writes Yard Barker.
The Independent asks, “Only number two? Surely you can’t be serious?… And don’t call me Shir… Oh, let’s not go there, particularly as the Shirley gag is just one of a nonstop barrage of jokes and sight gags in a movie in which you’re still laughing at the previous joke even as the next one comes flying at you. And surely Otto the autopilot was robbed of a Best Supporting Actor Oscar?”
Liveaboutdotcom also adds, “‘Airplane!,’ which was written and directed by David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, parodies disaster movies, particularly the air travel-based ones released during the 1970s like ‘Airport’ (1970) and its sequels. ‘Airplane!’ also features humor based on some of the hassles of airline travel as well as absurd humor, slapstick humor and clever verbal jokes.”
As the second Brooks film on our list, “Young Frankenstein” is absolutely hilarious. Even viewers without previous knowledge of the original “Frankenstein” film will be able to enjoy this pun-filled slapstick movie. Liveaboutdotcom details the following, “After a successful career as a television comedy writer and creating the TV spy parody series ‘Get Smart,’ Mel Brooks transitioned to writing and directing feature films. One of his best parody films is ‘Young Frankenstein,’ a black and white movie that lovingly homages the style of Universal Studios’ monster film franchises from the 1930s through the 1950s. The screenplay was co-written by Brooks and actor/writer Gene Wilder, who played Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, the grandson of Victor Frankenstein.”
“Young Frankenstein is a horror comedy from the 1970s that is a director parody of the horror classic Frankenstein, which was the second release within the Universal Monster films. Gene Wilder embodies his role as a young doctor who moves into his grandfather‘s castle, only to inherit a book that outlines reanimating dead bodies. The late Peter Boyle plays The Monster, and breathes life into a once lifeless corpse. The film offers little frights, but is a parody that has withstood the ages,” according to MovieWeb.
ScreenRant states, “Mel Brooks most lauded comedy when it comes to pure laughs. Gene Wilder was again instrumental and Madeline Kahn is a supremely funny foil, but they aren’t alone. Marty Feldman’s Igor is amazingly funny… Every one of them gets not just laughs, but side-splitting scenes funnier than some entire comedies can muster.”
“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” is one of the greatest works of parody and humor to be produced by the British comedy troupe. This film is brimming with gags so iconic that it is the route of many narrative tropes that are still used by writers today. List Monster says, “There are several Python properties that fall a bit flat, but everyone can agree that this one is a crowd-pleaser and has made a mark on history. This 1974 film pokes fun at the medieval times / swords and sandals epics / King Arthur type films. It features ridiculous premises. Like an aide following a knight with two coconuts, clicking them together to mimic the sounds a galloping horse makes.”
The Cinemaholic adds, “Based on the legend of King Arthur and his famous knights, this movie tells the story of the knight’s quest for the holy grail. Labelled as one of the most hilarious films ever made, this one is the stuff of legends, both literally and metaphorically. From the trojan rabbit to the killer bunny, from the castle of Aarrrgh to the castle Anthrax, everything in this film is a madcap ride.”
“This film was one of the most successful UK releases in the US. Despite having a relatively small budget, Monty Python and the Holy Grail did exceptionally well at the box office. It is widely considered to rank high among the funniest films ever made,” offers Taste of Cinema.
This bizarre film is a parody of the rockumentary genre. Spinal Tap is a fictitious band, but their exploits have become legendary. Yardbarker offers, “There’s never been a broader target for satire than rock-and-roll musicians or the rockumentaries they stumble through under the influence of god-knows-what, and the killer comedy quartet of Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Rob Reiner hit one bullseye after another in this one-time cult favorite that is now one of the most quoted films of all time.”
ScreenRant praises the film, “The mockumentary genre has a few kingpins filled with comedic savants, including ‘This Is Spinal Tap,’ which cut through the rock god facade portraying a band of simplistic goofs who don’t know they’re already past their brief peak. Spinal Tap features an amazing cast of comedians who fill the movie with so many quotable lines and the best parody songs around, making Rob Reiner’s 1984 rockumentary a must-see for parody fans. Just make sure you turn it up to eleven.”
The Independent also claims, “This celebrated, largely improvised mockumentary, following fictional pompous British heavy metal behemoths Spinal Tap, is almost frighteningly accurate – right down to the song and album titles (‘Lick My Love Pump’, Smell the Glove) – and is full of great in-jokes that skewer the pretensions of the music industry.”
You might also be interested in:
- Best Comedy Movies
- Best Movie Plot Twists
- Best Comedians of All Time
- Best Black Comedians of All Time
- The Independent
- List Monster
- The Cinemaholic
- Yard Barker
- Taste of Cinema
- The Mary Sue
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