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Spoofs Ahoy

10 Rotten Spoof Movies

Catch Epic Movie Friday at 8P during IFC's Rotten Fridays.

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Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox/Everett Collection

Spoofs are deceptively difficult. Parody giants like Mel Brooks, the Zucker Brothers and the Documentary Now! crew realize their jokes must still be funny on their own and work as if their inspirations never existed. Otherwise, all you’ve got is just a parade of references without substance or value and a shelf life briefer than its subject.

In honor of the “Certified Rotten” Epic Movie (2%!) airing Friday, September 16 at 8PM on IFC, check out 10 truly rotten big screen spoofs.

1. Epic Movie, Date Movie, Disaster Movie, et. al

When it comes to the work of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, brows don’t come any lower. Using the weakest, emptiest references to fleeting bits of pop culture with zero subtext, the directing duo have successfully franchised 90-minute groin kicks and devalued the spoof genre for the foreseeable future. Although the Friedberg-Seltzer movie factory seems to have lost its luster with audiences, it was just 2010 that their $20 million Vampires Suck earned $80 million at the box office. Weep for humanity.


2. Zucker-Free Leslie Nielsen Spoofs (Spy Hard, 2001: A Space Travesty, Repossessed, etc.)

How can a man whose deadpan expression once kept us in stitches end up in such unfunny dreck? Leslie Nielsen‘s background in dramatic acting made his straight-faced one-liners in Airplane!, Police Squad! and the Naked Gun series all the more hilarious. But ironically, it was his background in spoof movies that soon typecast him in much-lesser parodies which hindered his dry delivery with cheap slapstick and totally botched the way Jim Abrahams and the Zuckers were able to evoke laughs from a simple look of misguided confidence. However, that trusty Nielsen-Zucker team-up backfired spectacularly in 2008 with…


3. An American Carol

Director David Zucker is a rarity in the entertainment industry and a complete oddity in the comedy world: He’s conservative. And following in the long tradition of right-leaning institutions trying to lampoon the left while remaining hip, funny and relevant, An American Carol is a colossal misfire. Featuring a binge-eating Michael Moore surrogate, tone deaf gay jokes, leftwing terrorist sympathizers and Bill O’Reilly, this spoof from 2008 not only missed its brief, pro-Bush era window but also failed to skewer Democrats as effectively as progressive hosts Jon Stewart, Seth Meyers and John Oliver have done on a routine basis.


4. Casino Royale (1967 version)

The bumbling spy is as integral to spoof movies as the underdog is to sports movies. (See Austin Powers, Johnny English, The Man Who Knew Too Little, etc.) And given the limited success rate for unwitting espionage plot lines to be legitimately funny, we thought to include the rotten granddaddy to the genre: 1967’s madcap romp Casino Royale. Non-canonical by popular demand, this James Bond reworking saddles an impressive cast with an unfunny, unworkable script that flies in all directions with no particular aim. When Peter Sellers can’t make a movie funny (let alone coherent), it’s time for a page one rewrite.


5. Movie 43

Speaking of impressive casts, this anthology spoof boasts household-name talent not only in front of the camera but behind it. No less than Kate Winslet, Bob Odenkirk, Julianne Moore, Jason Sudeikis, Elizabeth Banks, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Emma Stone and Richard Gere (and that’s just a fraction) were involved with the making of Movie 43 — or what film critic Richard Roeper dubbed “the Citizen Kane of awful.” Produced on the backs of celebrities who owed somebody a favor, Movie 43 was shopped around and shot over the course of several years as producers begged talent reps to borrow their clients for a day or two of filming. Miraculously and lamentably, they succeeded.


6. The Onion Movie

Whereas Movie 43 prevailed in having its terrible vision preserved onscreen, The Onion struggled to keep a perverted image of its own work from being released. Originally conceived and written by the venerable satirical publication’s talented scribes, The Onion Movie was shuffled around the studio system so much, by the time it was rewritten, shelved, reworked, and produced, the movie was a shell of its former self and couldn’t measure up to its award-winning origins. Prior to release, The Onion disowned the Frankenstein’s monster of a spoof, but their branding remained as this groan-heavy movie crawled its way out of development hell and straight to DVD.


7. Not Another Not Another Movie

It’s one thing to fail at making a straight-forward spoof — it happens all the time — but to fall far short of a funny “spoof movie about spoof movies” is to crash and burn at a fantastic scale. Not Another Not Another Movie aims to poke fun at the slew of soulless parody movies but ends up being just as soulless and twice as conceited. The high concept might have worked in the hands of Edgar Wright or Charlie Kaufman — meta writers who can distort pop culture in ways that makes it funny on multiple levels — but it crumbles in the hands of lesser spoofmeisters. Burt Reynolds and Chevy Chase lend their diminished names to this 2011 title, and sadly, that’s the funniest thing about it.


8. Leonard Part 6

Even before he was revealed to be an irredeemable monster, the formerly beloved Bill Cosby already had his legacy permanently tarnished in the form of Leonard Part 6. Released just before Christmas 1987, this spy spoof was too dumb even for kids and had film critic Roger Ebert decrying it as the worst movie of the year. (That timespan would lengthen years later considering it holds a 9% currently on Rotten Tomatoes.) In the clip above, watch Ebert list the litany of offenses Leonard Part 6 commits, including flagrant product placement that causes the critic to profess, “[Cosby] ought to be ashamed of himself!” (That sentiment would intensify years later.)


9. The Works of Vince Offer

A vegetable chopper pitchman with infomercial aspirations tries his hand at comedy, and it goes about as well as you’d expect. Vince Offer, better known as “The ShamWow! Guy” or “The As Seen on TV Creep Who Beat Up a Prostitute,” wrote and directed the anthology spoof The Underground Comedy Movie, which was marketed in late-night cable TV ads alongside Girls Gone Wild DVDs and commemorative coins. Despite it being considered a giant waste of time and money with no redeemable value, that wouldn’t stop an infomercial genius like Offer. He topped himself with the sequel InAPPropriate Comedy which features Rob Schneider as a porn reviewer and the most embarrassing Adrien Brody performance this side of his reggae-loving Rastafarian character from SNL. Like his products for the kitchen and the garage, his movies are best left in the warehouse.


10. The Ridiculous 6

And lastly, we come to Adam Sandler, who is able to redefine “rotten” with every Happy Madison release. This time around, Sandler managed to drag Netflix down with him as his Old West spoof The Ridiculous 6 earned its share of controversy for its unflattering portrayal of Native Americans, causing several extras to walk off the set in disgust. (An impressive feat of offensiveness that even Jack and Jill couldn’t match.) Critics had a similar reaction to the movie, as it holds a pitiful 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But between Sandler and Netflix, only one party rebounded with their integrity mostly intact.

Experience the “Rotten” spoof Epic Movie this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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GIFs via Giphy

Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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