Many things can be considered “parody” but the way we look at it is a movie that’s specific goal is to poke fun at something preexisting. Whether it is one specific movie, one idea or even an overall genre, there are some great films out there. Below please find our list of best parody films.
Saturday Night Live has given us great films like Wayne’s World and Night at the Roxbury. MacGrubber is also on that list. By no means a great film, this one just makes the list because of the amazing talent involved. And the great character Will Forte has brought to life that parody’s the great MacGyver. MacGyver was a character in the late 80s and early 90s show about an action star who could make anything out of anything.
#29 Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Walk Hard is very specifically a parody of Walk the Line, the story of music legend Johnny Cash and his relationship with June Carter. That was a very serious movie and this is not. This differs from some of the other films in that it isn’t all about making jokes, the premise is a joke but within it tries to be a sweet and funny story about a non-musical legend’s journey to becoming one. This one is from producer Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Superbad) so you know you are in for good comedy and John C. Reilly is the perfect leading man to bring this one to life.
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#28 Black Dynamite
Black Dynamite is a 2009 film about the 70s when “blaxploitation” films were all the range. Typical themes of these films are usually a super smooth and super fly African American action stud taking on “The Man” or generally fighting against day to day oppression. This film kicks that up to an eleven. One of the side characters is “Soul Brother” and the villain is “The Man” if that tells you anything. A very funny movie, but still a satisfying kick-ass tale.
#27 Hot Shots!
The Director of Hot Shots!, Jim Abrahams, is credited along with Mel Brooks as one of the main creators of this genre, bringing films like Airplane! to life. This film is no different. Much of his work in the 80s and this would be his main franchise in the early 90s, spawning a sequel and some tv stuff. The plot is a parody of Top Gun, but also pokes fun at films such as 9½ Weeks, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Dances with Wolves, Marathon Man, Rocky, Superman and Gone with the Wind.
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#26 Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood
The history of the parody movie basically goes -> Mel Brooks -> Jim Abrahams -> The Wayans. There are a few filmmakers that absolutely own this format, starting in the mid-nineties through the 2000s, it was the various Wayans brothers. Meant to be an over the top take on the “hood” movies, similar to their older brother’s “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” it mainly parodies Boyz n the Hood, Menace II Society and Above the Rim but also the likes of Juice, Jungle Fever, South Central, Higher Learning, Do the Right Thing, Poetic Justice, New Jack City, Dead Presidents and Friday.
#25 National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1
The National Lampoon was a publication started by an alumnus of Harvard that was funny and zany. They brought together some of the best comedic talents at the time and would do skits and short stories. Eventually, they would branch into films based on their stories, the first two being Caddyshack and Animal House. To this day those two remain their best but they did have a few other successes. Loaded Weapon was a masterfully well-done parody of the buddy cop films of the 80s like Lethal Weapon, Beverly Hills Cop and Another 48 Hours. Starring Emilio Estevez and Samuel L. Jackson, this best parody films entry on this list is funny and well written.
#24 Mystery Men
Mystery Men has a little more heart than some of the other entries on the best parody films list. You really do route for this ragtag group of makeshift superheroes. It’s still a parody in that it set out to poke fun at the whole superhero thing. From how they got their powers to the amount of time they spend on their character presentation, there are some poignant critiques. Starring an all-star cast of Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, William H. Macy, Hank Azaria, Kel Mitchell and Paul “Pee-wee Herman” Ruebens, this is a lovely use of 2 hours.
#23 Not Another Teen Movie
Not Another Teen Movie set out to poke fun at the “teen” movies of the 80s and 90s. The story is mainly a cross of She’s All That and Varsity Blues, but also poked fun at 10 Things I Hate About You, Can’t Hardly Wait, Pretty in Pink, Bring It On, American Pie, Cruel Intentions, American Beauty, Never Been Kissed, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Can’t Buy Me Love, Jawbreaker, Sixteen Candles, Lucas, Rudy, and The Breakfast Club. Starring a huge cast that includes Chyler Leigh, Jaime Pressly and Chris Evans, this one is dead on over and over again at the fun poked at the source material. A slam dunk entry for best parody films.
#22 Johnny English
Rowan Atkinson, who is best known as European comedic powerhouse Mr. Bean, lends his unique brand of comedy to this Parody that takes on the idea of the super spy. Rowan’s whole thing is this blissful ignorance where he gets into all these situations and deals with them in a dry over the top super-klutz way. It makes for some tremendous physical comedy. Dropping him into this parody situation lends itself to his style very well.
#21 The Other Guys
The Other Guys is a comedic take on the odd couple cop procedural, poking fun at some of the over the top moments that these types of films tend to bring. This is a little more straight-laced than some of the other films on this list, in that it has its own story that doesn’t rely on the joke. But it is funny, and it does make us think of some of the many cliches of this genre. Director Adam McKay discovered after a dinner that stars Mark Walhberg had great chemistry and of this came The Other Guys, as well as, the Daddy’s Home franchise.
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#20 Hot Fuzz
Edgar Wright has come into icon status with films such as Baby Driver and his close ties to the “fanboy” community, but it all started with a series of films that attempted to poke fun at many mainstay film genres. The first, and best, can be found later in this list, but the second in the series was Hot Fuzz. Staring mainstays Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Hot Fuzz is his take on a cop action film. They play it pretty straight-laced but at the center, the villain (spoiler alert) is the community who cares more about their fountains not having graffiti than cold-blooded murder. This entry into the zeitgeist of best parody films is certainly worth a watch.
#19 Robin Hood: Men In Tights
Mel Brooks is definitely a winner in this game. He has four movies on this list (the other three are #6, #5 and #3) that span from 1974 to 1994 and have all been huge iconic films that all still hold up today. There have been some twenty or so Robin Hood films, but many argue that this may be the best. A complete parody of the fabled story, Robin Hood: Men in Tights pokes fun at some of the craziness of the legend like one man firing an arrow into the air to take down an entire army or the merry men.
#18 Austin Powers
Mike Meyers is an SNL alum who is known for creating amazing characters. One of the best, and biggest box office winner was his international man of mystery Austin Powers. The character is a mix of James Bond and Derek Flint (cool guy crime fighter and womanizer from the 1967 In Like Flint). He has all the sexiness and charm of James Bond, without actually being him. Hilarity ensues. The character spawned two sequels and countless catchphrases such as “do I make you horney, baby” and “shagadelic”. Fun fact, this was Will Ferrell’s first feature film. He played a bumbling foot soldier for the villain “Doctor Evil” who was also played by Meyers.
#17 I’m Gonna Git You Sucka
Another film brought to you by a Wayans brother is this 1988 film that is part Hood coming-of-age parody and half Blaxploitation parody. This one is definitely one of the funnier ones on the list but doesn’t rank higher because it is a more original story that parody, but it definitely fits. The whole film is great but the highlight is a young Chris Rock asking to buy just one rib. Another interesting fact is that this film included many of the prominent actors from Blaxploitation in Jim Brown, Bernie Casey, Antonio Fargas, and Isaac Hayes.
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#16 What We Do in the Shadows
The men behind comedy music show Flight of the Concords have made some amazing projects, but one could argue that the absolute best is this mockumentary about a group of vampires and how they live their lives. The whole thing plays like an episode of MTV’s cribs with the three different vampires walking the camera crew through their surroundings and lives. They come across as nerdy guys from a victorian time that are just trying to exist in modern-day life. It pokes fun at the legend of vampires and just tries to show that these guys are normal just like you and me.
#15 Best in Show
Best in Show is a 2000 mockumentary that dove into the ultra-competitive world of Dog Shows. The film follows several different groups of people and their dogs as they prepare for the big show. The style is interviews cut against footage and is incredibly dry in its humor. It takes everything very seriously, but it is not serious, so comedy gold ensues. Christopher Guest, the director and co-writer, is known for these types of films. He brought in an Allstar cast of improv geniuses that he tends to work with like Fred Willard, Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara to name a few.
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#14 Tropic Thunder
This is an example of a film within a film creating a parody of itself. In Tropic Thunder a group of actors shooting a big-budget war movie are forced to become the soldiers they are portraying after a series of unfortunate incidents. While they think they are in a movie, everyone they come into contact with thinks they are legitimate soldiers. This lends itself to some interesting situations. The cast of characters is what makes this one special. Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr, Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey play arguably the best characters they have ever played in their career.
#13 Scary Movie
The various members of the Wayans family have brought to life some amazing films in this genre but it all culminated with the mega-hit Scary Movie. The IP spawned five films and launched the career of Anna Ferris. It all started as a take on Scream since within that film there is a subplot about the “rules of a scary movie” and being inside one. This takes that to a new level and also pokes fun at equally campy I Know What You Did Last Summer.
#12 Monty Python’s the Meaning of Life
Monty Python was a British comedy troop active originally in 1969–1983. It included comedy greats Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. They created an iconic sketch show “Flying Circus” and then went on to create a string of very successful films. This entry on the list of best parody films is the first of two from the genus group. Unlike their first two films The Holy Grail and Life of Brian that had one coherent story, this film went back to their routes of various sketches and micro-stories. The film generally makes fun of all the things we look to find meaning in and is very poignant and smart.
#11 Naked Gun
Leslie Neilson came on to the scene in the 80s as the epitome of the dry parody actor. He had a prominent role in Airplane! which you will find at a better ranking, but he was given his own franchise in the Naked Gun movies. Leslie plays Frank Drebin, an incompetent police Detective who must foil an attempt to assassinate. Everything is a misunderstanding in both conversation and his actions, leaving everyone around him kind of baffled and thrown off their game. It is through these acts that he is able to forge ahead and come out of the big hero.
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#10 Dodgeball: An Underdog Story
This is another film that is less of a parody and more of a stand-alone comedy. That said, they take the idea of a ragtag group of losers taking on Goliath and apply it to the ridiculous sport of Dodgeball. The villain, super gym owner played by Ben Stiller, is also a parody, and over the top embodiment of the most ridiculous evil rich masterminds. This is one of those films that you can watch over and over and continue to find new jokes. Past that, it just has a lot of heart.
#09 Team America: World Police
The creators of South Park announced one day that they were making a movie using all marionettes (puppets controlled by strings). The public was a bit hesitant, but oh boy did Trey Parker and Matt Stone not disappoint. You will laugh out loud from start to finish at this one. Not only is the dialogue and premise hilarious, but coming from puppets takes it to another level. Spoiler alert that may or may not include a sex scene and a love ballad from the leader of North Korea. This one parodies the Super American Strike force being the only people who can stop the world’s evil.
#08 Shaun of the Dead
The second Edgar Wright film on our list is his first feature directorial debut. Shaun of the Dead pokes fun at the zombie apocalypse genre, making jokes about how slow-moving and easy to take down zombies are, as well as, some of the stupid places people go and hide during a zombie invasion. Just like all his films in the series, it makes fun, but it is its own serious film that can stand alone. Shaun the dead is not only hilarious but an incredibly well put together piece of cinema.
#07 This is Spinal Tap
Hands down the best Mock-Rockumentary of all time is This is Spinal Tap. The film centers around a fictional rock and roll band and recounts their journey to fame in a documentary style. It satirizes the behavior and musical pretensions of rock bands and the hagiographic tendencies of rock documentaries. Examples include Gimme Shelter (1970), The Song Remains the Same (1976) and The Last Waltz (1978). Spinal Tap was directed and co-written by the great Rob Reiner, but what’s special here is that it kicked off the rise of Christopher Guest’s career. He was a writer on the film and would go on to become the master of the mockumentary. Bringing such greats to life as Best in Show and A Mighty Wind.
#06 Blazing Saddles
Another Mel Brooks legendary film is his 1974 take on Westerns. This is also the rare entry to the list in that it is the only one to ever be nominated any Oscars. And it was nominated for three in fact, Best Music, Editing and Actress. Parody films are typically seen as low brow and wouldn’t get this attention, but Mel Brooks movies had deep intelligence and always had a way of attracting the best talent. It also touches on hard hitting issues like racism. The film is just great, review over.
Star Wars was all the rage in the 80s so it makes sense that a film like this would come along in 1987. And it came perfectly, master of parody Mel Brooks brought together an A-level cast to tell the tale of the search for “The Schwartz” which was their version of the force. While Star Wars is the main focus, the film also touches on other sci-fi-fi franchises Star Trek, Alien and the Planet of the Apes.
Airplane! 100% changed the game. Anything you know about conceptual ideas being broken down into their most basic literal meanings, you probably (whether you know it or not) got it from Airplane!. To show what I mean just think about the iconic line “Surely you can’t be serious”, “Yes I’m serious, and don’t call me Shirley”. The film is just one-liner after one-liner. Many films have come along since that try to replicate it, but not one has made it to this level.
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#03 Young Frankenstein
The fourth and highest-ranking Mel Brooks movie is the 1974 Young Frankenstein. For those who think Black and White can’t be enjoyable and that Gene Wilder’s most iconic role is as Willy Wonka, you would be dead wrong. This film obviously parodies Mary Shelly’s classic tale, Frankenstein. It has taken on a life of its own, being on every list of “greatest comedy films of all time”. Equally as amazing as Gene Wilder is Peter Boyle (the father from Everyone Loves Ramon) as the monster.
#02 The Disaster Artist
The disaster artist is kind of completely different from every other film on the list. It is less of making a joke about something serious and more about making something serious about a joke. In 2003 a little film called “The Room” came out and was universally panned as the worst movie ever. It is so incredibly bad that it may easily be one of the funniest things you will ever see. Over the last 15 years, it has become a cultural phenomenon. People go to midnight screenings and endlessly quote the terrible lines “hello Doggy”. In 2013 Seth Rogen’s production company and director/star James Franco wanted to bring the story of making that film to life. It is based on a real memoir but everyone plays over the top versions of the real-life character.
#01 Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Our second Monty Python film to make this list of best parody films is arguably the best. There are several Python properties that fall a bit flat, but everyone can agree that this one is a crowd-pleaser and has made a mark on history. This 1974 film pokes fun at the medieval times / swords and sandals epics / King Arthur type films. It features ridiculous premises. Like an aide following a knight with two coconuts, clicking them together to mimic the sounds a galloping horse makes. Then the way they got the coconuts is debated.