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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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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

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

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.