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16 Parodies That Are Just As Good As - Or Better Than - The Real Thing

September 11, 2020 16.5k votes 2.5k voters 132.8k views16 items

List RulesVote up the genre parodies that work almost TOO well.

Let's get one thing straight: Comedy is harder than drama. And to make a parody that's better than the original? Well, that's harder than making a comedy or a drama. To deftly combine the best aspects of two distinct genres into one incredible film - to expertly parody and subvert a genre while simultaneously adding a noteworthy film to the genre's canon? Hard to do, but for the movies on this list, clearly not impossible.

Part of what makes this cinematic feat doable is inherent to the nature of parody itself. Ask comedians or comedy writers what they like to spoof, and you'll generally find they choose subjects they genuinely love. So, a comedian making a horror movie knows enough about the genre to subvert the audience's expectations; by that same token, they know enough about the genre to simply make a good film within its formula.

Here's a list of films that have done it best. Vote up the movies you think best parody a genre while being just as good as the real thing.

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  • What It’s Making Fun Of: Zombie movies

    Why It’s Just As Good As The Real Thing: The conditions for achieving the rank of "zombie movie" are: first, to be a movie; and then, to have zombies in said movie. Shaun Of The Dead checks those boxes. Traditionally speaking, though, a theatergoer headed into their neighborhood cinema is expecting a zombie movie to be, first and foremost, a horror movie. Luckily for them, Shaun of the Dead checks off that box while also being incredibly subversive and funny.

    Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright is one of the greatest modern filmmakers, and lead actor/writer Simon Pegg is one of our best comedic actors, so it's no wonder that together they created a zombie parody with enough gore, tension, and drama to be worthy of the real thing. Stephen King himself is a noted fan of the film, and if that's not a horror stamp of approval, what is?

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  • What It’s Making Fun Of: Buddy cop movies 

    Why It’s Just As Good As The Real Thing: Hot Fuzz perfectly parodies buddy cop movies by switching up the setting. Instead of patrolling the mean streets of New York City or Los Angeles, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is a veteran police officer from London who's transferred to a sleepy country town. The movie uses its setting to parody buddy cop tropes by forcing them into a smaller scale, but it also manages to tell a genuinely engaging story. As it turns out, the sleepy town isn't so sleepy after all, and all sorts of secrets and cults are uncovered. 

    Parody? Yes. A genuinely gripping buddy cop movie? Also yes.

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  • What It's Making Fun Of: Star Trek movies and space operas 

    Why It's Just As Good As The Real Thing: Galaxy Quest boldly goes to parody and beyond in creating a genuinely good comedy with the look, feel, and heart of the real thing. The Star Trek formula is simple - a likable lead, a helpful crew, and a perilous mission to help life on an alien planet. Galaxy Quest delivers on that premise, along with a whole lot of laughs. With the ingenious subversion of putting actors from a Star Trek-like television show into a real space-faring adventure, Galaxy Quest is able to have its comedic cake and eat it too.

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  • What It’s Making Fun Of: Fairy tale movies

    Why It’s Just As Good As The Real Thing: Shrek parodies traditional fairy tales by being fully set in a self-aware world. The characters all seem to know their tropes and behave accordingly. This backdrop allows for the main characters to go on the typical hero's journey you'd see in a fairy tale, while the secondary characters fulfill their required roles with a wink and a laugh.

    Shrek delivers an emotional story and heart-wrenching romance while simultaneously making fun of the traditional "prince charming" narrative. Shrek is Shrek, and Fiona accepts him like that. Somehow, with this message, Shrek manages to elevate the conventional fairy tale trappings into something much more meaningful. Your prince charming may not have an exquisite jawline, but that doesn't mean he isn't the right guy for you.

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