Best: Airplane! (1980)
Vampires Suck , the new Twilight send-up, is out soon - and one TF writer was left equal parts ashamed and astounded that the trailer had her proper cackling (we won’t name and shame her… yet). Can it reach the heady spoof heights of Airplane! ? We doubt it, considering it’s by the same guys who brought us Epic Movie and the ilk.
Airplane! , though, is a first class act through and through. See, it’s all about the sight gags, the verbal gags and the gagging on your popcorn at its sure-footed hilarity. In short: it’s just plane awesome .
Worst: Scary Movie (2000)
What do you do when you have no original ideas? Make a spoof! At least that’s the kind of thinking that the guys behind Scary Movie are selling. Here, not even the title’s original (it’s Scream ’s unused original name), while it’s entirely debatable just why Shawn and Marlon Wayans thought it necessary to spoof a movie that was, in itself, essentially a straight-faced slasher spoof already.
Most unforgivable, though, Scary Movie is responsible for spawning a string of dreadful, lazily entitled ‘xxx Movie’ flicks, based on the genres they are supposedly riffing on.
Best: Robin Hood Men In Tights (1993)
Cary Elwes shows both Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe how it really should be done as the titular thief, effusing a dashing effortless hero aura that the aforementioned are miles away from attaining. Alright, so it might recycle some of Mel Brooks’ olde jokes, but this Hood spoof feels more content to let a story play out and allow the jokes to happen organically than some other frantic goofs.
Worst: Disaster Movie (2008)
Oh, High School Musical ’s a disaster movie? And so is Enchanted ? Gosh, and here we thought they were both Disney family flicks. How about Juno ? Carrying on the annoying trend of parodying everything in mainstream pop culture that given year even if it’s completely irrelevant to the concept of the flick, Disaster Movie is (forgive us) utterly disastrous.
Best: Team America: World Police (2004)
The guys behind South Park take their pared back aesthetic one step further by staging an epic, politically-charged action movie entirely using puppets. They don’t even bother to hide the strings. Parodying big, dumb actioners without ever becoming dumb itself, Team America is stuffed with the kind of side-splitting asides and clever in-jokes that make us thankful for people like Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
All together now : “I’m… so… ronery… So ronery… So ronery and sadry arone…”
Worst: Meet The Spartans (2008)
Sean MaGuire is near unrecognisable in this haggard send-up, bronzed and toned to within an inch of his life and donning a daft facial wig to replicate Gerard Butler in 300 .
Painful in every respect, Meet The Spartans barbeques a collection of movies and manages to come up with something even worse. Turning 300 ’s homoerotic subtext into actual text is the flick’s biggest misstep, as it states the bleeding obvious a hundred times over and still thinks it’s funny. Lazy.
Best: The Naked Gun (1988)
Holding up even over two decades later, Leslie Nielsen’s effortless hootfest still has us crying with laughter. Why? Because its jokes transcend time, and we all know the clichés of cop dramas so well we’d be fools not to find the situations Frank gets himself into outrageously funny. Rugby tackling the queen? Brilliant. The floating body outline? Awesome. The baseball match? Priceless.
Worst: Date Movie (2006)
Alyson Hannigan had so much promise when she first appeared as mouse-like Willow in Buffy – here she condemns her movie career forever, trussed up in a fat suit and parodying everything from Bridget Jones to Kelis and Marilyn Monroe (and that's just in the trailer).
Aren’t rom-coms already enough of a joke now without somebody half-heartedly attempting to make a farce about them? And… a cat taking a dump on the loo – that’s seriously the best you have for us?!
Best: Shanghai Noon (2000)
A spoof that is just as action-packed and adrenaline-fuelled as the movies its lampooning, Shanghai Noon also has the tag team of Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson to thank for much of its hilarity. Alright, the plot’s about as complex as a toddler’s puzzle, but the production values and emphasis on sheer entertainment value mark Noon out as one of the best the genre has to offer.
Worst: Spy Hard (1996)
Leslie Nielsen’s back (with his pants down) attempting to recapture the magic of Airplane! , and failing spectacularly. The silver fox falls back on Naked Gun -style gags as his Agent Dick Steele attempts to stop a nutjob from destroying the world with a missile. Like we really need to tell you – just watch The Naked Gun instead.
Best: This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Funny how it’s generally the oldies that are goodies. Considered an authority in not only the genre of mockumentary, but also in the genre of spoof, Spinal Tap ’s straight-faced awesomeness is a tour de force lesson in solid gold improvisation paired with a gem of an idea. Heavy metal was never so funny.
Worst: Not Another Teen Movie (2001)
Funny, that’s exactly what we groaned when this first came out. Though nowhere near as brutally awful as other recent ‘xxx Movie’ spoofs, this one still feels forced and trivial, and cemented the Scary Movie formula for just about every low-rent spoof for the next decade. Some will find its crudeness amusing; others will be left reaching for the sick bucket.
Best: Galaxy Quest (1999)
Sigourney Weaver, Tim Allen and Sam Rockwell show ‘em how it’s done with this clever chuckler, which sends up Star Trek and its legion of Trekkies. Pivotally, Dean Parisot and David Howard know their genre and their audience inside out, and produce a movie stuffed with winks and nods and geeky in-jokes that can be enjoyed over and over.
The time bomb that only stops one second away from exploding… the character who only repeats what the computer says… the catch phrase repeated ad nauseum to the frustration of its star utterer… Geek genius through and through.
Worst: The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)
Really, it was always going to be bad. The seemingly Prozac-addled Brady family get an update that, despite cleverly transporting the family to present day, still feels lightweight and obvious. In the end, everything is so sugar-coated that proceedings just end up tasting sour, while the script fails to consistently bring the chuckles. Good try, kids.
Best: Spaceballs (1987)
This is more like it. Genuinely affectionate send-up of Star Wars , clearly forged by giant Star Wars aficionados – only just trumped by Family Guy ’s more recent farcical Mickey take. The best thing about it is the hidden filth, which kiddie viewers wouldn’t notice, but get us adults giggling like hyenas on helium. Effortlessly smart, one for Star Wars fans and haters alike.
Worst: Dracula: Dead And Loving It (1995)
Oh give it up Nielsen. Next you’ll be popping up in Vampires Suck . (We checked, rest assured he doesn’t.) Having goofed his way through 2001: A Space Travesty, Spanish Movie, Superhero Movie and two Scary Movie s (numbers three and four), we think it really is time for Nielsen to hang up his spoof cape.
Want proof? Look no further than Dracula: Dead And Loving It . The gags are as decrepit as the lead character, and fall equally as flat. DOA.
Best: Blazing Saddles (1974)
Filthy jokes and merciless innuendo form the core of Mel Brooks’ hilarious spaghetti western send-up, showing that the director once had it before he went on to lesser efforts like Dracula: Dead And Loving It.
Just witness the look on Sheriff Bart’s face as he reacts to his election – pure terror and disbelief cloud his features. Throwing in everything PLUS the kitchen sink, Blazing Saddles is a restless, energy-pumped spoof for anybody who suffers from ADHD. For more Brooks genius, check out Young Frankenstein .
Worst: Plump Fiction (1996)
This one’s so rubbish it’s 0% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes (which roughly translates to: as rotten as Paris Hilton’s soul). Failing to realise that spoofs need even the most basic of smarts, the makers of this tired rip-off run the same joke into the ground until it’s buried six feet under. Buy the Miss Piggy poster instead – that’s far funnier than anything this flaccid flick has to offer.