With precious few exceptions, the parody spoof genre is one of the laziest forms of entertainment a filmmaker can turn to when in need of a quick, easy buck. For every true gem like ‘Airplane!’ or ‘Blazing Saddles’ are a dozen turds like ‘Epic Movie’ or (from the looks of it) this week’s ‘Fifty Shades of Black’. In today’s Roundtable, let’s look at some of the worst of the worst.
This wasn’t an easy topic for me – not because there aren’t plenty of options to choose from, but because these are generally the kinds of movies I avoid like the plague. However, one that jumps to mind is 1996’s ‘Spy Hard‘, which tried to take Leslie Neilsen and make a ‘Naked Gun’-style parody film in the secret agent genre. What could go wrong? Everything, as it turns out. The movie is completely unfunny, with ONE exception: the hilarious opening theme from Weird Al Yankovic, which deserves to be in a much better movie. In fact, should you ever come across ‘Spy Hard’, watch the opening credits and then turn the movie off. You’ll thank me.
I’m going with ‘Meet the Spartans‘ for two reasons. First, I’ve actual seen a significant chunk of this movie as a result of a friend and I accidentally walking into the wrong theater. I love spoof movies, but this junk is completely unwatchable. It’s like trying to endure tear gas, and I’d rather watch something by Uwe Boll.
Second, it was with ‘Meet the Spartans’ that I realized the duo of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer were on a quest to completely destroy the genre – a task in which they’ve mostly been successful. ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’ is the only recent spoof film that seems to even try.
M. Enois Duarte
As though the Friedberg and Seltzer spoofs couldn’t be any worse, Marlon Wayans and long-time collaborators Rick Alvarez and Michael Tiddes took a massive dump on cinema with ‘A Haunted House 2‘. By default, sequels always seem to be worse than their predecessors, but what happens when the first movie is already godawful?. Of course, the follow-up is bound to sink even lower.
An unwatchable, atrocious pile of garbage, the sequel is a bombardment of asinine physical pratfalls, idiotic cultural references and offensive vulgarities parading as comedy. Amazingly, Wayans plummets to an all-time low, if that’s even possible, with his performance as a scaredy-cat, effeminate husband, doing the grossest and dumbest things possible out of desperation and to appease only the most immature in the audience. Aside from a couple sporadic chuckles, there’s absolutely nothing to enjoy in this movie.
I know that many people love it, but I cannot stand the ‘Scary Movie‘ franchise. None of the movies are funny. In fact, I recall watching the latter two and not laughing once. The most iconic player in the spoof genre was Leslie Nielsen, so I found it extra disappointing when he can aboard the franchise in the end. Although it was Nielsen delivering the lines, the lines themselves felt like knock-offs of Nielsen’s true spoof prowess. Give me an ‘Airplane!’, ‘Naked Gun’ or ‘Hot Shots’ movie any day – but never make me watch another ‘Scary Movie’ again.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
Seven years after willingly enduring ‘Disaster Movie‘, I’m still not sure if I’ve completely recovered.
One of the first set-pieces in the flick has Flava Flav rocking a Viking helmet and leaping out of a guy’s bed. There’s no gag or anything wrapped around it; I guess you’re just supposed to think, “Oh, wow! It’s Flava Flav! How random and crazy is that?!” If you don’t pick up on the reference, he helpfully shouts “Flava Flav! Yeah, booooooooy! I’m Flava Flav! Flava of Love. I’m Flava Flav!” That’s pretty much a direct transcription, along with something about sucking his clock. You see, Flava Flav wears a clock around his neck. Now do you get it?
There’s not a pop culture reference that Friedberg and Seltzer aren’t eager to vomit on the screen, no matter how far past their sell-by dates they may be. There often aren’t even any jokes swirling around ’em. Remember that part in ‘Juno’ where that girl talked on a hamburger phone? There’s an actress who looks vaguely like her talking on a hamburger phone here too! That’s not the launching pad for some wacky hijinks that follow; someone does something you saw in a movie trailer, and that alone is supposed to pass for a joke.
Because I hate myself, I kept some running tallies:
- Poop jokes: 4
- Jokes where the only punchline is someone busting out profanity: If you count the “I’m F***ing Matt Damon” ripoff (also titled “I’m F***ing Matt Damon” because of course it is), 58. Otherwise…? 7
- Jokes where the only punchline is a character from a movie trailer or whatever getting whacked over the head or crushed: 7
- Ow, my balls!: 4
- Gags with actors being drenched in gallons of Juno’s bodily fluids: 2
- That overused sound of a record skipping to punctuate a really lame joke: 1
- Look! It’s a little person, therefore I should probably laugh even though they’re not friggin’ doing anything: 2
- Hey, that guy’s naked!: 3
- Songs Alvin and the Chipmunks Play Before Chewing on a Guy’s Groin for, Like, Six Minutes Straight: 3
The 1967 ‘Casino Royale‘ exists only as a licensing rights fluke. After the wild success of the early James Bond movies starring Sean Connery, producer Charles K. Feldman grabbed up the rights to Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel, which had somehow escaped the grasp of Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Realizing that he stood no chance of making a serious spy movie that could compete with the official franchise, Feldman decided instead to turn the title into a madcap parody. The film he came up with has no less than five different directors (including John Huston!), seven James Bonds, dozens of celebrity cameos, more bad puns than whole season of ‘Laugh-In’, and barely half a dozen funny jokes in the whole damn thing.
The movie’s plot doesn’t make a whit of sense, which wouldn’t necessarily be a problem for a comedy so long as it was funny. Sadly, as hard as it tries to be funny, it’s just not. At all. It’s almost remarkable how far from funny the whole thing is. At 2 hours and 17 minutes, the movie is long and dull with only a small handful of amusing gags or set-pieces popping up infrequently. Part of me wonders if the movie just hasn’t aged well, but the rest of me realizes that it was never very good to begin with.
It took four decades for EON Productions to finally obtain the rights to the original Ian Fleming novel and make an official Bond movie out of ‘Casino Royale’. Fortunately, the result (the first entry in the reboot cycle starring Daniel Craig) was one of the franchise’s best entries and has redeemed the title.
What are the worst parody spoof movies you’ve ever seen? Tell us in the Comments.