Monday, June 11, 2012

Blast from the Past: Spoof Movies, Pt. 2

Last week, in Blast from the Past, I shared trailers from some of the best spoof movies of all time. Not surprisingly, most were from the masterful Mel Brooks, and some combination of ZAZ (David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker), and we won't stray far from them here. This week's collection isn't quite up to the level of Part 1 by necessity. They were just the best. But there is some gold to be found here.

1. Naked Gun 2-1/2: The Smell of Fear - Police show parody - You'd think I'd put The Naked Gun: From the files of Police Squad! as my pick from the series, but no. The first in the series was the revival of the short-lived television show. It was funny, and provided fodder for the series, but was a little thin, especially toward the end. Part 2 was consistently funny, end-to end. Part 3 rehashed a lot from the original series, so Part 2 wins it. All are worthy of your time, and are responsible for Leslie Nielsen's resurgence, and Hollywood's belief that he'd make any movie funny. Here, it was true. ***

2. Hot Shots! Part Deux - Rambo/war movie parody - Like the inferior Airplane II: The Sequel, this movie put its title's suffix into the lexicon. If you hear "part deux" or "the sequel," that's where it came from. Unlike the latter, HS!PD is a worthy sequel, if slightly less so than its predecessor. This time, Charlie Sheen (in his prime) is aping both Rambo and Apocalypse Now, along with several other movies. He's helped along by Richard Crenna, Rowan Atkinson, Ryan Stiles and Lloyd Bridges. It kinda runs out of gas about 2/3 of the way through, but there are memorable gags throughout. Recommended. **-1/2


3. Scary Movie - Scream/horror movie parody - The first in the series--by the Wayans brothers--is a gem, funny, filthy and a lot of fun. It closely follows the Scream movies, and parodies the crap out of them. Which is kind of funny, when you consider that Scream was sort of a send-up of horror films in the first place, and had the working title, Scary Movie. This movie also put Anna Ferris on the map, in the first of four in the series. The Wayans' take on what is essentially a white-centric movie genre is genius. ***

Scary Movie 3
- Parody of Signs and The Ring - Part 2 of this series was just terrible, mostly for Chris Elliot (decidedly not for every taste) and the fact that it strayed so far from the first movie. Part 3 took the series out of the Wayans' hands, and into David Zucker's. It was perhaps his last funny movie. Very funny, again with Charlie Sheen. But if you watch the outtakes, you'll see what a mess it could have been (and reasons why the movie is a little disjointed in places). Part 4, also by Zucker, has its moments, but is not worthy of this list. **-1/2

5. History of the World, Part I - Historical epic parody - This one doesn't rate in the top mostly because it is wildly uneven. There are moments--many moments--of genius in this film. In my storied pop culture consciousness, there are quotes from this film aplenty. But lo these many years later, it just doesn't hold together. I find myself fast forwarding in places. But the French Revolution, Spanish Inquisition and Roman Empire sections are golden. I'd tell you more but I'm on my wine break. Mel Brooks managed to pull this one up above the line, but not to true greatness. **

6. Spaceballs - Star Wars/space movie parody - Critics said that this movie was curiously late, 10 years after Star Wars. But, did they say that about Young Frankenstein, 42 years later? Anyway, that wasn't really my problem with it. It has funny, memorable moments. It is classic Brooks. But it's thin. It feels like an hour's worth of jokes, spread over 96 minutes. Makes the list for the many classic bits, but just barely. **

7. Monty Python's The Meaning of Life - Historical epic parody - This one is one of my favorites, but like History of the World (and Monty Python in general) is wildly uneven, and not for every taste. Uproarious in places, head-scratching in others. **-1/2

8. Shaun of the Dead - Zombie/horror parody - This one should really be in my first list, to be fair. It is perhaps the best of the bunch, since it works as both a superb parody, and as an effective movie of its genre by itself. Hilarious, tense, well acted, and well written. Certainly the most in-genre spoof movie, but closely tied with Young Frankenstein for authenticity. Simon Pegg made his name here. ****

See, they put him in everything.
Also rans: Repossessed, the Exorcist parody really tries, but too hard. Airplane II has its moments. Naked Gun 1 & 33-1/3 do too. The Creature Wasn't Nice (also known as Spaceship!) has some classic moments, but is kind of cheap. Don't be a Menace to South Central while Drinking Your Juice in the Hood is funny, but way outside my pop culture zone, as is I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (both are worthy, I'm just unworthy to review them). Austin Powers and its sequels probably qualify, but sort of became an entity unto themselves. Not Another Teen Movie has some very good jokes (and Chris Evans), but is responsible for. . .

Terrible spoof movies: Disaster Movie, Date Movie, Meet the Spartans, Superhero Movie, Epic Movie, countless others, and the worst spoof movie of all time: An American Carol. Its spectacular badness is only rivaled by The Happening, which is possibly a spoof, but is so bad it doesn't matter.

And that's it for now. Have a great Monday, everyone!

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