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The Dumbing Down of Satire

by Edward Copeland March 28, 2008 11:18 am

Flying into theaters today comes Superhero Movie, following the same path as Epic Movie, Date Movie, Not Another Teen Movie and the Scary Movie series, which I believe by now has had more installments than Friday the 13th. Now I'm sure some of these films are good for a fair amount of laughs, but it's odd that a genre has sprung from essential laziness.

Compare these films, little more than a collection of unrelated gags, to the great spoofs of movies past. The great Airplane! was very specific (and didn't have to be called Disaster Movie) and actually had a plot, albeit a silly one, to carry it from beginning to end. The other films in the genre spawned by Airplane!, even the lesser ones such as the Hot Shots! movies, also zeroed in on their satirical targets without relying on the broad. Can you imagine anyone trying to make the underrated Top Secret today? Try selling a spoof that tosses Elvis movies, Beach Party movies and WWII tales into a blender and hits puree?

Look back even further at Mel Brooks' heyday. Watch Young Frankenstein and admire the care taken with its cinematography and even some of the same sets used in the Frankenstein films of the 1930s. The lowest common denominator is alive and well. I just wish they'd cut to the chase and start naming some films Crap Movie and just add Roman numerals after them (or Arabic numbers if you find the Roman numerals too highbrow).

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