The Rise and Fall of Spoof Movies

There have always been movies that spoofed, or made fun of, other movies. Mel Brooks elevated the art form in the 1970s with Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein and other comedies. That kicked into high gear when Airplane! came out in 1980. At the time, everyone knew it was a spoof of the 1970 film Airport and its sequels. There are few people today who can even recall Airport. But in the 1980s, the success of Airplane! spawned spoof movie after spoof movie, until the genre was burned out.

Will they ever come back? It's doubtful. Airplane! made fun of the overly-dramatic Airport, and was full of cultural references that made the audience laugh. The 1987 movie Dragnet was funny because people still remembered the over-the-top Jack Webb version. Stuffing a movie with cultural references today is iffy at best. Cable TV, streaming, internet channels, and video-on-demand have fractured our viewing so much that a filmmaker can't assume that the audience will understand what a movie is spoofing. The 2012 version of 21 Jump Street was a comedy, but not quite a spoof because it did not rely on anyone remembering the 1987 teen cop series. Read about the peak of spoof movies in the 1980s and why it will never happen again at Mental Floss.


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