Call them spoofs or parodies -- or just call them "Scary Movie, Part 246" (really, they're only up to Part 5) -- parody flicks are great because they remind us of everything we love about movies in the most ridiculous ways possible. And also because they involve stuff like the chicken launched from a bow and arrow in "Hot Shots! Part Deux" and the full-on musical number about the Spanish Inquisition in "History of the World: Part I." Either way, these are the movies that made ridiculousness a force to be reckoned with, and an absurd reminder that if you build it, they will make fun of it.
'Wet Hot American Summer' (2001)
The hazy summer romances. The stuck-up camp counselors. The jorts. "Wet Hot American Summer" has all the summer camp movie staples you'd expect from a send-up, but it also has kitchen cooks who make love to refrigerators, an awesome 1980s-inspired musical sequence that's so on-point you won't believe it's satirical, and one of the best, most manic ensembles to ever grace a cult comedy.
No wonder everyone returned 14 years later for a series, "Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp." Let's never go that many summers without Camp Firewood again.
'Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story' (2007)
"Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" is a different beast, and that's exactly why it takes its place in the parody pantheon. It's a super-specific spoof -- satirizing the overwrought music artist biopic -- that plays things just as straight as its source material, and it's that contrast that makes it a cult classic. When national treasure John C. Reilly's Dewey croons "In my dreams, you're blowing me ... some kisses" and his partner dryly sings back, "You can always come in my back door" in their faux-country duet, you know that the line has been walked across. Hard.
'Team America: World Police' (2004)
Do you need more convincing than that? If so, consider that you might not have even realized "Team America: World Police" -- an all-marionette action movie about special ops taking down a North Korean dictator -- is a parody. You definitely know it's ridiculous, wonderfully vulgar political satire, but it's not just politics it sends up: Jingoistic actioners from the likes of Bay and Bruckheimer? Check. Action classics from the '80s? Check. Creepy '60s Saturday morning puppet shows? Double-check.
'Not Another Teen Movie' (2001)
After a half-dozen or so "Scary Movie" iterations and "Meet the Spartans," you might be ready for "Not Another Spoof Movie." But "Not Another Teen Movie" works because it mines from the deepest well of material -- the well of hormonal, angst-ridden, but oh-so-pretty high school flicks. We've had teen movies since James Dean started chain smoking, which makes it easy for "Teen Movie" to explore everything from the "surprisingly" smart and sensitive jock to the token black friend. If you catch it while channel surfing, it might even take you a minute or two to realize it's satire.
'Black Dynamite' (2009)
"Black Dynamite" wasn't the first blaxploitation parody -- that honor goes to the equally fantastic "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka," from the heyday of the '80s spoof -- but it needs more love. When "The Man" kills his brother, Michael Jai White's titular Dynamite takes on stereotypical Fu Manchu-inspired villains, rough streets, funk music, and Richard Nixon, learning the secret origins of Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles along the way.
"Dynamite" isn't just explosive in its fist-driven flurry of witty dialogue and sight gags, it explodes with its embrace of the subgenre, complete with an intentionally cheap look and so-bad-it's-awesome over-acting. As Complex puts it, "'Black Dynamite' just might be the funniest new millennium movie that hardly anyone ever talks about."
'The Naked Gun: From the Files of the Police Squad' (1988)
All right, modern parody movies are great, but you have to recognize the classics now and then.
From "Airplane!" to "Scary Movie," director David Zucker and brother-slash-partner Jerry form a Holy Trinity of parody movie directors right alongside Mel Brooks. Hard as it is to pick just one, "The Naked Gun" takes the cake for its prime-era Leslie Nielsen and insane quotability. Like the best spoofs, "Naked Gun" eats its targets alive -- in this case, those targets are all things cop movie -- with an endless barrage of sight gags and quips rather than tight storytelling. And when you see a hospital bed eat a man alive or Nielsen don a human-sized condom in the name of safe sex, you'll know why it's still remembered, two sequels and an impending reboot later.