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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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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