10 Movies That Parody a Genre While Also Being Great Examples of That Genre

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10 Movies That Parody a Genre While Also Being Great Examples of That Genre
10 Movies That Parody a Genre While Also Being Great Examples of That Genre


It takes skill to make a movie that viewers can take seriously, and it takes just as much skill to create an effective parody. Each requires sound knowledge of what does and doesn’t work when it comes to telling a story in the medium of film to get viewers seriously invested or laugh at what they see on screen. Then there are all the technical skills needed to make a tonally consistent story work visually in things like filming and editing.

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Further, some movies try to do both at once: telling stories that work within their target genre while also parodying that very genre at the same time. These types of movies will often combine comedy with an unexpected genre, and when done right, can make for great experiences that can be enjoyed on more than one level. These movies all deliver when it comes to this, being great parodies while providing engaging, even emotional stories at the same time.


10/10 Zombie Movies: ‘Shaun of the Dead’ (2004)

Edgar Wright‘s specialty seems to be injecting surprising amounts of comedy into genres where you wouldn’t normally expect constant jokes to be. Few movies of his do this as well as his breakout feature film, Shaun of the Dead, which combines a romantic-comedy storyline with a (very violent) zombie movie premise.

The titular Shaun (Simon Pegg) sets out to mend his flailing relationship and turn his life around, yet has the misfortune of happening to start the process during a widespread zombie outbreak. It’s a loving send-up of classic George Romero-style zombie movies (as shown by the title and lines like “We’re coming to get you, Barbara”), but it becomes a genuinely tense zombie movie in its final act. There are brutal kills and some intense moments, ensuring Shaun of the Dead works as a zombie movie and a zombie movie parody.

9/10 Slasher Movies: ‘Scream’ (1996)

Drew Barrymore in the opening of Scream 1996

Wes Craven often injected his horror movies with a sense of humor, and his love of meta-commentary can be traced back to the creative and underrated Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. Yet it’s the first Scream that might well be his best — and most popular — a combination of horror and comedy.

It’s perhaps more of a horror movie, being a vital reason why the slasher genre had a resurgence of popularity in the 1990s, and Scream itself would be parodied in the (far sillier) original Scary Movie. But the satirical and meta-commentary aspects are certainly there, with the characters being fans of horror movies and discussing slasher movie “rules” in dialogue, with the film’s story playfully toying with viewers’ expectations of the genre.

8/10 Fantasy Movies: ‘The Princess Bride’ (1987)

The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride is a story within a story. It starts with a charming framing device involving a grandfather reading a fairytale book to his grandson, who’s sick in bed. At first, the young boy isn’t engaged, but he soon becomes wrapped up in the simultaneously old-fashioned and postmodern story about fantastical creatures, skilled swordsmen, a princess desperate for love, and an evil prince.

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Viewers may find themselves questioning the movie at first the same way the young boy does. The Princess Bride starts in a generic way but gradually wins you over with its comedic moments and lovable characters. By the end of it, it’s plain to see that it’s as much an engaging fairytale as it is a gentle deconstruction of classic fairytales, perfectly balancing humor and heart throughout its entire runtime.

7/10 Action Movies: ‘Last Action Hero’ (1993)

Arnold Schwarzenegger standing near his fake Terminator 2 poster in Last Action Hero.

By the early 1990s, Arnold Schwarzenegger was an action superstar, having been a dominant force at the box office thanks to numerous classic action movies. Last Action Hero gave him a chance to parody himself and the types of movies he was known for, thanks to its story about a young Schwarzenegger fan who gets transported to the world of a fictional Schwarzenegger film.

It, first and foremost, feels like a parody, but it successfully gets its cake and eats it, too, since it’s also an entertaining action movie. There are plenty of fun shootouts, car chases, and hand-to-hand fights, meaning you can enjoy fun, dumb action while laughing at the movie satirizing fun, dumb action.

6/10 Documentaries: ‘Borat’ (2006)


One of the defining mockumentaries of the 2000s, the original Borat remains Sacha Baron Cohen‘s greatest movie. He plays the titular character with unwavering dedication, traveling the USA as a fictional journalist gaining insight into the Western world. Nevertheless, he seems to convince most people he meets that he’s real.

The documentary that Borat claims to make is a fake one, but while in character, Sacha Baron Cohen does capture a darker side of America in a way few genuine documentaries have managed to do. Borat ends up exposing prejudicial and racist values within certain members of the US population, serving as a snapshot of the USA in the mid-2000s in its unique way while simultaneously being a hilarious mockumentary.

5/10 Martial Arts Movies: ‘Kung Fu Hustle’ (2004)

A man kicking a bunch of goons off a balcony

Kung Fu Hustle is one of the best martial arts comedies of all time. It has a loose plot involving an aspiring fighter, a vicious gang of ax-wielding criminals, and kung fu masters in hiding, all serving as an excuse to make a film that’s essentially a live-action cartoon with almost non-stop martial arts action.

It serves as a send-up of classic martial arts movies, thanks to gently poking fun at the excess and archetypes in the genre. But it also feels like it was made by people who love the genre, and so in that way, it works as a legitimate martial arts movie — just one that’s more over-the-top and comedic than most.

4/10 Buddy Cop Movies: ‘Hot Fuzz’ (2007)

Hot Fuzz car eating ice scream

Not satisfied with merely making a zombie movie that was also a zombie movie parody, Edgar Wright followed up his classic Shaun of the Dead with 2007’s Hot Fuzz. What Shaun of the Dead did for zombie movies, Hot Fuzz pretty much does for buddy cop movies.

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The story follows a no-nonsense police detective who’s relocated to a sleepy, seemingly idyllic English town. He soon uncovers a dark conspiracy there, with a story heavy on mystery and a final act packed with great shootouts. It’s a compelling story that delivers strong action. It also happens to be hilarious and self-aware at the same time, making for an all-around great action/comedy/mystery movie.

3/10 Music Biopics: ‘Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story’ (2007)

Walk Hard Goat

A send-up so good it arguably killed the music biopic genre for a decade or so, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is one of the definitive parodies of the 2000s. It follows the turbulent life of fictional rockstar Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) as he finds success, battles personal demons, and meets various eccentric characters, some fictional and some based on real people.

Besides the fact that Dewey Cox isn’t a real person, Walk Hard does feel surprisingly like a real biopic, as it perfectly replicates the style and structure of 2005’s Walk the Line. Okay, you’d also have to edit out most of the jokes to make it feel like a true, serious biopic, but the original songs are surprisingly good, as is the attention to detail in the film’s historical scenes.

2/10 Horror Movies: ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ (2011)

The Cabin In The Woods (2012) (1)

A wild ride that starts like a generic horror movie before becoming something else, The Cabin in the Woods is a movie where the less said about the plot, the better. There is indeed a cabin, it’s in the woods, there are hapless young victims, and there are supernatural forces… but there’s also a lot more going on behind the scenes.

The Cabin in the Woods goes off in many interesting directions and uses its surprising story to comment on modern horror movies and the formulas inherent in the horror genre that fans seem to love. It’s funny, dark, and heavy all at once and a great example of genre-bending.

1/10 Fairytales: ‘Shrek’ (2001)

Shrek is a movie that needs no introduction at this point. It’s been a beloved classic for over 20 years, with its story about an ogre who becomes an unlikely hero resonating with young and old viewers alike.

For much of its runtime, it’s a (surprisingly) scathing and sometimes crude takedown of well-known fairytales and their classic Disney interpretations. But as it goes on, Shrek reveals itself to be a genuinely touching movie about love, friendship, and being true to yourself, emerging as a great modern fairytale while poking fun at fairytales of old.

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