The fairly recent success of the #LegoBatman movie has served as a nice little reminder of something that is quite easy to forget these days: You can, in fact, still make a good spoof movie.
Now, that really shouldn't be much of a revelation, as we seem to be constantly ready to take loving shots at our favorite characters, genres, tropes, etc. Yet, when it comes to feature-length spoof movies, most of them tend to be a far cry from the beloved classics like the Naked Gun films, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spaceballs, Hot Shots! (and many many more).
So, are the spoof movies really just a product of their time? Has this sub-genre had its moment and doesn't quite fit into today's cinematic landscape? Or, is there a bit more to them? Well, let's take a quick look.
What Made The Old Ones Great?
Firstly (and rather obviously), they were hilarious. More importantly however, they still are. You see, even though a spoof will always be a product of its time (to a certain extent) most of the best jokes from these aforementioned old classics are simply timeless.
These films really don't require you to actually be a fan of the particular genre they spoof (or, indeed, be aware of what was relevant during the time these films were made). It's just sharp and clever comedy written by the masters of this craft.
Further adding to their timeless value is the fact that they are essentially love letters to the films they parody. Therefore, as long as the targets of these spoofs remain in public consciousness, so do the spoofs. For exmaple, the Star Wars original trilogy continues to remain hugely relevance and is constantly being discovered by new generations. So, something like Spaceballs is essentially as sharp and relevant as it was back in the '80s.
The Decline Of A Genre
So, with these old classics being as timeless as they are, why do we so rarely get any worthy additions? Well, even though the humor is rather timeless, the idea of making a spoof movie is another story. You see, when these classics were made (roughly from late '70s to late '90s), the world of cinema was already varied and old enough to feature countless tropes just begging to be lampooned. Yet, the idea of actually doing it was a relatively novel one. Now, needless to say, this just isn't the case anymore.
Furthermore, it's simply difficult to make a spoof movie that appeals to modern moviegoers, who are used to everything being constantly lampooned anyway (via the endless amount of internet content and the fact that so many modern comedies frequently incorporate spoof elements). Also, a modern spoof needs to please the increasingly devoted and knowledgeable fanbase of the spoof's target.
Therefore, it's fair to say that a spoof movie just isn't a very attractive project to take up these days, leaving it largely overlooked by many comedic talents, and opening the doors for some below-bar entries looking to make a quick buck.
Looking Ahead Into The Future Of Spoof Comedy
So, does it mean that as the film industry and pop culture continue to evolve, spoof movies will remain this largely forgotten genre with only occasional flashes of brilliance? Well, most likely, yes. However, it does come with a silver lining. You see, the fact that they are so tricky to make these days also means that a talented creative team will have to be that extra bit more clever to make it all come to life. That, in turn, can lead to some rather brilliant content like the aforementioned The Lego Batman Movie, Jump Street franchise, or more niche ones like Black Dynamite and OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies.
Granted, that these passion projects can't come along too often. Yet, I for one am more than happy to take quality over quantity, especially since it solidifies the timeless role spoof movies will always have — a special (and often unexpected) reminder that, sometimes, the best way to celebrate cinema and fiction is to hilariously and lovingly tear it to shreds.
Also, speaking of great spoofs, check out this awesome compilation of Dr. Evil quotes from the Austin Powers movies
What are some of your favorite spoof movies? Let me know in the comments below!