Readers frequently ask about my favorite movie critic. Often, the most pointed movie criticism is a parody that affectionately examines the genre cliches. As cheap wine is to vintage, spoofs are a cruder form of comedy than satire. But they do the trick.
Tomorrow's release of Dance Flick, a giggleworthy Wayans clan collaboration that tickles the conventions of teen musicals such as Save the Last Dance, Step Up and High School Musical, inspires thoughts of favorite parodies perfect for Memorial Day laughs.
The acknowledged spoofmasters are Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Steve Martin, the Monty Python gang, Mike Myers, the Wayanses, the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker trio behind the Naked Gun flicks, and mock-documentarians Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer of Spinal Tap and Mighty Wind infamy.
Allen's Love & Death spoofs Tolstoy by way of Ingmar Bergman, but really it's a Bob Hope comedy name-checking Russian literary giants while making fun of the pretentious people who would do so. Brooks' Blazing Saddles, the first and funniest of his many spoofs, mocks the wagon trains, saloon brawls and campfire confessionals of movie Westerns. Martin's Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid is the sunniest and funniest of film noir parodies, including clips from noir classics. Monty Python's irreverent Life of Brian is the faux-Biblical of a man whose life and death comically parallels that of Jesus. Is there a more affectionate takedown of James Bond movies than Mike Myers' Austin Powers series of the guy who loves to shag and spy? Keenen Ivory Wayans' I'm Gonna Get You Sucka sends up Blaxploitation flicks, with Wayans as a private dick named Jack Spade out to avenge his brother's death by "OG" (overdose by gold chains). Of the ZAZ parodies, which have the highest laugh-per-ratio in the history of Hollywood, my favorite is Naked Gun 33 1/3, simply because Leslie Nielsen mugging cracks me up. And in This is Spinal Tap, about a headbangers who think there's a fine line between "sexy" and "sexist," Guest and company amp the laughs up to 11.