Instead of spoofing movies that came out two weeks ago, they decided to spoof movies that
hadn't even come out yet. This becomes painfully obvious when the "jokes" amount to simply recreating moments from the trailers and TV spots. Ultimately, this movie should have been called 2008 Movie, because it seems the main requirement for being spoofed here was being released in 2008.
Good parodies have different levels of accessibility, stretching from popular, new stuff to older classics. With a smaller pool of things being parodied, writers will feed on more generalized tropes.
The Narrow Parody occurs when the writers are afraid the target audience might be too young (or just too stupid
) to catch the expected references, and have no concept of Parental Bonus
, so they just narrow the field down to things made in the last few years
. This can work against the writers, as works hailed as "classics" make for good parody, while fluff often doesn't. In many cases, the parody itself is also painfully obvious and laboured, going for the cheap laugh rather than trying to make any kind of point about what is being parodied.
If done poorly, the parody aspect seems more like a cover for ripping off the most recent movies, as sometimes there's nothing particularly iconic about the things being parodied. Much of this depends on your definition of "narrow".
These works are almost always doomed to become Unintentional Period Pieces
. See also Small Reference Pools
. Sometimes overlaps with Shallow Parody
, which is so badly researched that it gets vital details wrong and/or substitutes generic jokes in place of actual parody.
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Anime and Manga
- Seitokai no Ichizon is very guilty of this, with nearly all of their parodies being of shows from the last 2-3 years (The closer the better), including series from the same season. The times they reference something older are few and mostly refer to super-popular series like Dragon Ball and one Appeal to Obscurity to make a "nobody will get this" joke.
- The later films in the Scary Movie series ended up like this. Originally, they worked, as most Horror Tropes were codified in The Eighties or earlier, so anyone with even a passing familiarity with the horror genre will get the jokes. However, later gags became a lot more obvious and telegraphed while the pool of references narrowed from broader subgenres of horror (slashers in the first, Haunted House/ghost movies in the second) to specific, recent movies (some of which weren't even horror). The first big complaint from fans was the inclusion in the third film of an extended parody of 8 Mile, which had nothing to do with horror movies.
- Epic Movie by Seltzer and Friedberg, including parodies of such "epics" as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Nacho Libre.
- Disaster Movie suffered from this as well. It has half-assed parodies of Juno, Hannah Montana, Iron Man, Sex and the City, The Incredible Hulk, Kung Fu Panda, Hellboy, The Dark Knight, Hancock, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Superbad, High School Musical, The Love Guru, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Enchanted, Wanted, Beowulf, Night at the Museum, Jumper, and 10,000 BC. All of which are definitely not disaster films. Some even came out AFTER Disaster Movie was in theaters, which takes Shallow Parody to a truly ridiculous extreme: There's skimping on the research, and then there's not even bothering to watch the movie you're supposed to be parodying!
Live Action TV
- Many a sketch comedy show has fallen into this trap. Saturday Night Live manages to avoid it most of the time, but some of the lesser seasons have succumbed.
- Sesame Street often falls into this as part of its attempt to add Parental Bonuses. It's often borderline impossible to do a true parody of the subject matter, so they simply copy the title, the appearance of the characters, and the general setting. True Mud, for example, was about a man's attempt to get a waitress to serve him Mud (as opposed to spud, cud, and a dud).
- This can happen even in shows as acclaimed as Arrested Development. Some of the Iraq War references in particular more or less require one to be intimately familiar with 2002-2003's news about it.
- MAD tended to rely on this trope, especially in the 1990s. (They've since gotten better.) One 1995 issue, for example, has multiple references to Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America." (A Cracked issue from the very same month did likewise.) Good luck explaining to the average teenager in the 2010s exactly what this was.
- Parodied in 1954, before Mad even was a magazine, in a Faux To Guide parodying their imitators by introducing into a lampoon of Julius Caesar such unexplained elements as the Dragnet theme ("Routine #8...the Domm-Da Dom-Domm routine! No explanation necessary!") and:
"...Eth's Marilyn Monroe
! What's she doing here?" What's she doing everywhere else? Routine #10: Marilyn Monroe... Wherever possible!
- A cartoon from the late 1990s shows the Greek gods and goddesses of Olympus being portrayed by then-popular celebrities. Some of the cameos made a good deal of sense, like Sylvester Stallone as Ares and Madonna as Athena. But when it came to "casting" Poseidon (the god of the sea), the cartoonist awarded the role to...Tiger Woods, who has nothing at all to do with maritime or nautical themes. How did the cartoonist justify this move? By having Poseidon hit a golf ball with his trident. Still a huge stretch.
- Due to South Park's rapid turnaround, they're able to parody and satirize aspects of pop culture that are only a few days old. Some of these references rapidly drop out of the public consciousness after the episode has aired.
- The Animaniacs song "Video Revue", set in a video store (which in itself makes this sequence dated) is basically a Long List of characters and plot points from random movies from the 1980s and early '90s, some of which are barely remembered today (if that).
- To be honest, however, a lot of referential jokes and songs in Animaniacs went this way, especially if you did not live in the USA in the 1980s-early 1990s. Even their song listing all the countries of the world is dated now that Yugoslavia no longer exists.
- "Video Revue," however, can be excused as an homage to the "things come to life in a bookstore" genre of cartoons, most of which were similarly products of their time.
- On that note, many Looney Tunes cartoons of the 30s and 40s are essentially this. Take, for example, "The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos," where most of the jokes are based upon the fact that a celebrity of the 1930s has been parodied as an animal.
- While most of the Chipmunks Go to the Movies episodes spoofed movies that are still frequently recalled today, a few of the movies they parodied were merely popular when they came out in The Eighties / the top of The Nineties: Big, Dick Tracy and Splash.
- Much like the magazine it's based on, MAD primarily parodies movies and programs from the early 2010s, often ones that are less than a year old.