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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ultimate Geek Fu

This past weekend, the movie Vampires Suck surprised just about everyone by staking (!) its claim as the number two movie in the country. I assume this means that teenage girls will go see any movie about sparkly vampires, even if the movie is a parody of what they love. Either that or all the teenage boys went to laugh at what their girlfriends go crazy over.

This surprising showing by a parody movie got me thinking about parody movies in general. I suspect Vampires Suck is similar to most of these parody movies, in that they throw out a lot of stupid jokes, gross jokes, and blatantly sexual jokes, the vast majority of which aren't funny in the least. Still, if you throw enough stuff against the wall, some of it is going to stick. I can't imagine a whole lot of talent is required to write the script for one of those parody movies.

Still, there are some great parody movies out there; ones that show that the writers hold respect for the material satirized in their scripts. Ones that have coherent plots that form the basis for much of the parody. Ones which fans do not tire from watching again and again. My favorite of the truly great parody movies is Galaxy Quest, both a brilliant parody of and an homage to Star Trek. It's a movie that bears repeat viewing because there are some many good lines that you can't catch them all the first time through. The movie was well cast, well written, well presented, and was a gift to Star Trek fans.

The other great parody movie that comes to mind is Young Frankenstein, which is so faithful to its source material that Mel Brooks filmed it in black and white. While Brooks cast many of his regulars in the leading roles, the actors played those roles so well that I can't imagine anyone else doing similar justice to the roles.

Most impressive, perhaps, is the fact that both of these movies are accessible to people who have little or no familiarity with the source material. How often can you say that about a parody movie?

I'm certain some of you are already wondering when I'm going to finally mention Spaceballs. Okay, I mentioned it. I saw it in the theaters and just wasn't that thrilled with it. I haven't bothered to watch it again since. Am I wrong about Spaceballs? Has it somehow gotten funnier in the 20+ years since I saw it? Or is there some parody movie I've not mentioned that's superior to Galaxy Quest and Young Frankenstein? Tied with, actually, but I didn't mention Without a Clue because it's a Sherlock Holmes parody and has nothing to do with science fiction. Great parody, though.

Let the arguments begin!
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