Comedy Movies/Parody

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Question
How come there are no more good parodies what happened to movies like young Frankenstein, Robin Hood: men in tights, and airplane!

Answer
Avi, what is considered good comedy is very much a matter of personal taste; however, having said that, I will add that I concur with your opinion about parodies. Keep in mind that what follows is just my view based on what I know from my study of film--I don't claim to know exactly what is going in the minds of studio executives in Hollywood, but I can make some educated guesses.  

First, it is clear that in recent years movie-making in Hollywood has been taken over by those more concerned with profits than quality. The days of directors like Mel Brooks or the Zucker Brothers is gone, replaced with those who mistake an incoherent string of one-note jokes and allusions as sufficient for a parody film.

Thus we get supposed parodies like "Epic Movie" and its ilk, which just aren't especially funny to many people. The best parodies had more than just allusions to other works--they were able to reimagine their source material in both funny and, yes, reverent ways (consider parodies like "Take the Money and Run," made by a young Woody Allen, as well as Mel Brooks'"Young Frankenstein," which uses the original sets of the 1930s "Frankenstein" along with some of the dialogue). Indeed, while these films had jokes, to properly appreciate them required some knowledge of their source material ("Airplane!" is a lot funnier if you've seen the disaster films it mocks, especially "Airport"). Some of the best parodies also had an element of satire in them, such as the race-relation skewering in "Blazing Saddles."  Such complexity is not considered to be viable today. So we get stupid movies that are very cheap to make and which make a lot of money, even if their appeal is not lasting.  

This situation is unlikely to change anytime soon--not when opening night (and to some extent opening weekend) grosses are driving what type of film that gets made. Few directors have the clout or the freedom to deviate from what the studios want. That is why I watch a lot of older movies, despite my love of comedy.

I hope this answer, pessimistic as it is, was helpful to you in understanding why the type of films you noted are no longer made.  

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Barbara L. Baker

Expertise

I am a professor of communication at a midwest university, who has expertise on subjects related to film. I can answer general questions on U.S. film comedy (especially satires of the 1960s and 1970s) and comic theory. I also could answer questions related to specific comic genres, such as comedian comedies, screwball comedies, "stupid" comedies, and so forth. The more specific you can make your question, the better (e.g. main plot details, main characters, possible character names, possible actors, how you viewed the show, etc.). I also need to have a release date (or range of dates, or at least the year you viewed the film). Please do not just provide a set of links to someplace else (e.g. imdb discussion threads). I am less able to answer questions about comedies from other countries, made-for-TV movies, and recent comic films and actors (although I would do my best to find out). I cannot answer questions about specific TV shows or series, "Our Gang" episodes, anime/magna or about film collectables. I generally cannot provide movie recommendations, since what I find funny others may not. Nor will I answer obvious homework (although I will point you to resources to help answer the question, if asked). I also can't help you find movie stars, or where to buy movie memorabilia, or tell you how to break into the business.

Experience

Course work in comedy films along with teaching about comedy films for several years; I've also conducted research into comedy films.

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. in Communication, emphasis in film and rhetoric

Awards and Honors
A dissertation award from a national organization plus various paper awards

Past/Present Clients
My students

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