What is it that classifies a movie as a “spoof”? Some would say that a spoof movie is one which mocks or closely follows the plot line of other films, adding humor and extra detail wherever possible. Yet these guidelines limit spoofing material to films, when in fact they can represent anything.
These movies have long existed as their own “hidden genre” in the film industry.
Though always comedic, they tend to also fall into multiple other categories depending on the films they are “spoofing”.
A widely popular classic “spoof” would be the 1980 film “Airplane”, which was a parody of “Zero Hour” (1957), a seemingly routine airline flight yields to food poisoning, both passengers and staff included, causing mayhem and forcing a war-scarred former pilot to overcome his fear and past memories in order to land the plane for the safety and health of the individuals on board.
Other classics include “Repossessed” (remake of “The Exorcist”) and the “Naked Gun” movies.
One common factor all these classic parodies seem to have is that they typically focus on reproducing one movie, adding play on words, wit, and humor to similar scenes in the original film.
Also, these older films are known for the involvement of the actor Leslie Nielsen.
Most widely recognized as the doctor in “Airplane,” Nielsen seems to be the living symbol of spoof movies.
He certainly can be seen as the transitional or tying force between classics such as “Naked Gun” and the more recent “Scary” and “Epic” movies.
Nielsen appeared in both “Scary Movie” 3 and 4, as well as in “Superhero Movie” (2008) as the beloved Uncle Alfred of the angst-ridden, teen superhero Dragonfly.
As a college sophomore, I view the “Scary Movies”, “Epic Movie,” etc. to be the spoofs of our generation.
These movies all use a fair amount of crude or sexual humor and slang, which the previous generation may not understand or appreciate.
These films also parody several movies, instead of focusing on one work. For example, “Scary Movie 3” (2003) has plotline traces of the films “Signs”, “The Ring”, and “8 Mile”, along with countless other references to other films.
Along with the attempt to bridge the generation gap through the involvement of Nielsen, these recent spoof movies possess their own recurring actresses.
Anna Faris who was most recently seen in “The House Bunny”, has been a main character in all four “Scary Movies”, and Carmen Electra has made appearances in many spoofs including “Meet the Spartans” and “Epic Movie.”
Even though today’s spoofs contain most elements of the classic spoof movies, including a certain degree of deliberate bad acting, corny humor, and over-expressive or ill-suited music, a close look at box office success shows that society may be losing interest in these multi-faceted spoofs.
The original “Scary Movie,” released in 2000, showed a US gross income of, an estimated, $157 million dollars.
Three years later, “Scary Movie 3” only raked in $110 million, and in 2006 “Scary Movie 4” earned $90 million. “Epic Movie” (2007) earned $40 million, and “Meet the Spartans” and “Superhero Movie” released in 2008 (in that order) made $38 and $25 million, respectively.
Could it be that our generation is becoming tired with these films and their repetitive plotline?
It seems that each of these movies aims to group together as many unrelated movies as possible and twist them into a new story overly saturated with crude humor.
Older spoof movies seem to gain more interest in multiple generations, including those not mentioned previously.
An entirely separate genre of parody movies aims to spoof true stories, cultures, or other such ideas.
“Cool Runnings” (1993) was a film spoofing the true story of the first Jamaican bobsled team, and “Robin Hood: Men In Tights” (1993), mocking the common Robin Hood tale.
Even more detached from previous films were the movies “Clue” (1985) based off the still-popular board game, and “Blazing Saddles” (1974), a film visualizing all of the basic ideas of a Western.
Even in this sub-category of spoof movies, there are consistent forces: Mel Brooks directed and appeared in both “Blazing Saddles” and “Men In Tights.”
The hilarity and intentional over-acting marking spoof movies is apparent.
Though all spoofs have those consistencies, along with their own seemingly trademark actors, it seems obvious that they can be grouped and categorized based on audience, content, and even by the genre of their intended parody.
Tara Tanzos is a second-year student majoring in secondary English education. She can be reached at TT649875@wcupa.edu.