Sunday, 3 February 2008

Putting the Poo in Spoof

Rumack: Captain, how soon can you land?
Captain Oveur: I can't tell.
You can tell me. I'm a doctor.

Captain Oveur:
No. I mean I'm just not sure.

Well, can't you take a guess?

Captain Oveur:
Well, not for another two hours.

You can't take a guess for another two hours?

- Airplane!, 1980.

I love Airplane!, one of the most perfect spoof movies ever made. A ridiculously funny parody of the Seventies' disaster movies, ruthlessly subverting every cliché and convention of the genre, the movie pretty much laid down the template for the spoof genre and transformed Leslie Nielsen from gravel-toned straight man to comedy superstar.

I have a slight obsession with spoof movies, especially the output of the 'ZAZ' team, (writer/directors Jerry and David Zucker, and Jim Abrahms). I think Police Squad! is one of the best TV comedies ever made; six perfectly crafted episodes prodding and poking the TV detective genre with brilliant skill. The Naked Gun films always cause me to laugh right out loud ("Bingo!") and I firmly believe that Top Secret! is an often overlooked classic.

Somewhere along the line, however, the spoof movie took an awful misstep, leading to the creation of the horrid little stepchild of the genre that clutters up cinema screens across the globe today. Yeah, I'm looking directly at you, Epic Movie, Scary Movie, Fucking-Piece-Of-Shit Movie.

Sadly, I think the ZAZ team are largely to blame. It all started with Hotshots, the satire of Top Gun helmed by ZAZ alumni Jim Abrahms. It's not an awful film by any means - Lloyd Bridges is particularly good in it - but it feels rather like an extended comedy skit, more than a fully-formed film in its own right. This is largely due to the decision to switch the target of the parody from a type of movie to one specific movie, a move that had the unfortunate effect of promoting a new mentality in Hollywood, where all that was needed to make a successful spoof film was to simply rewrite an already popular film, but add more fart jokes and tits. VoilĂ ! - instant parody! Just add jokes.

This cookie-cutter, factory-style approach to parodies lead to a slew of wretched abominations being foisted upon the film-going public, guff like Repossessed, Wrongfully Accused and Spy Hard - all as funny as a knife to the balls; and all tragically starring Leslie Nielsen, who seems hell-bent on using up all of the goodwill earnt on earlier, classier parodies.

The latter of that trilogy of toss, Spy Hard, also threw up ('threw up' being the perfect term, here) writer/directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the bastard progenitors of the spoof genre who, despite making such a stinker as Spy Hard, would somehow be allowed to continue their foul work with crap such as Scary Movies 1-4, Date Movie, Epic Movie and the upcoming laughter-voids that are Meet the Spartans and Superhero Movie. This must surely be all the proof needed to prove we live in a Godless world.

Crispin Glover: Turned down Back to the Future 2, but happily signed up to do Epic Movie. Twat.

Friedberg and Seltzer's idea of a parody is to recreate scenes from films that have been released in the past year or two (presumably because their idiot audience has difficulty in recollecting anything that happened before then) and then they simply throw in some vomit, maybe a nob gag or two and even some breakdancing. Thus these movies become nothing more than a tired exercise in spotting characters from movies doing things that the character would not normally do. Look, mummy! Captain Jack Sparrow is throwing up! Look! The Spartans are dancing! Look! Willy Wonka is body-popping! HILARIOUS!

The spoof movie genre no longer feels obliged to be troubled by such irksome trivialities as plot and character. Today's spoofs shun straight-faced acting for relentless gurning and mugging, and eschew well-crafted gags and jokes for piss and sick. They are loud, obnoxious and charmless, and firmly put the poo in spoof, filling a once ingenious genre with nothing but shit.

I am not just going to sit back and let the rot continue, though. I think I'll pitch my own rioutous spoof movie to Hollywood; a sure-fire winner guaranteed to have audiences rolling in the aisles and showering the producers with cash. It'll redefine the genre, and will spawn a new franchise that'll run and run and run, like a diarrhetic leopard.

It'll be called Spoof Movie, and will feature a man dressed up a bit like Indiana Jones slowly crapping into a pot for a whole hour and a half, to the soundtrack of Britney Spears' Toxic.

That's got to be better than Date Movie, anyway.

- Fanton.


Lord Andrew of Goulding said...

You're on your own, there, nigah!


Roufa Tav Gosou & Mimi Lass said...

Well, not any longer! Hallo, Handsome Host! We are back!

We liked Scary Movie Three...