What Happened to Parody Movies?

Dominique Pecovic

The art of the parody film is pretty much dead in the water. Scary Movie 1-4, Not Another Teen Movie, Austin Powers, and even Airplane!; They just don’t make movies like these anymore. To fully understand why, you have to look at each reason individually.

Parody is not the highest grossing of movie genres. Austin Powers in Goldmemeber is the highest grossing spoof ever, making $213,307,889 since its release. Compared to reliable film franchises such as Harry Potter, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Star Wars, parodies fail to reach the mark of their unironic counterparts. Money-hungry movie studios may not want to invest in risky projects, especially ones that historically are not successful.  

Recent parodies such as Vampires Suck and The Starving Games have been below average at best. In part because directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer just don’t know when to quit. They’ve been riding the commercial success of Scary Movie (despite not actually working on the final script) and for some reason, producers keep letting them make films. They have quite literally plagued the genre that was already not well respected in the first place.  

Additionally, it’s hard to spoof a movie already making fun of itself. Take Thor: Ragnarok as an example. When Thor and Hulk are pit against each other in the “Contest of Champions,” on the planet Sakaar, Thor tries to use “sun’s getting real low” to turn Hulk back into Bruce Banner. Obviously, it does not work because Thor is not a hot Russian spy. However, it pokes fun at the nightmare that is Avengers: Age of Ultron and the relationship that nobody asked for because Joss Whedon is insane. If a movie can mock its own franchise, there is no point in anyone else doing it. 

Another theory is the pattern in Hollywood of nepotism and everybody knowing everybody. All the quality comedy writers have connections, and nobody wants to make fun of their friends. Good parodies are a dime a dozen, and they are even more rare because nobody actually funny is involved. Spoofs are not character driven, so talent in the writing room is necessary- otherwise they come out cheap and lazy and audiences know that. 

Parody movies are ridiculous and campy and have bad reviews for a reason. They cater to a niche audience and do not make a lot of money. Despite all of that, satirically crafted movies mocking other movies will always make for an easy laugh. Could a renaissance be in the future? Probably not; but it’s fun to imagine Tall Girl and The Kissing Booth receiving the taunting they deserve.