Neal Damiano takes a look at some of his favourite satirical films feat. faves from the 1990s and 2000s as well as some older movies like Chaplin’s classic The Great Dictator.
10. The Great Dictator (Chaplin, 1940)
Perhaps the most famous shot at Hitler in film history. Charlie Chaplin delivers a slapstick caricature and no holds barred look at one of the most vicious dictators the world has ever seen. This is also Chaplin’s first speaking role as he plays two characters, a ruthless dictator named Adenoid Hynkel, loosely based on Hitler and a meek lonely barber. An outlandish satire of Germany just before World War II.
9. The Replacements (Deutch, 2000)
The film takes an exaggerated look at the NFL, all the deals and bargaining that takes place during the draft with its inspiration coming from the 1987 draft wash-out. Keanu Reeves stars as a second rate quarterback hired to bring the Washington Sentinels to victory. This is one of my favorite Reeves films, simply because it shows he can actually act. Gene Hackman plays the hard as nails coach with a never say die attitude. His devotion brings ambition and hope to the never has been and never was players the team has assembled. A funny satirical look at the business side of football and the lengths organizations will go to catch the best athletes. Overall an entertaining film.
8. Major League (Ward, 1989)
Major League is a satirical look at America’s favorite pastime – baseball. Charlie Sheen plays an ex con pitcher named “Wild Thing”. He’s the new addition to the losing team. An indulgent all star infielder and a weary catcher try to lead the Cleveland Indians to the pennant, against the desires of the team’s new owner. Hilarity ensues on the field and in the locker room as these bunch of offbeat slackers try to gain back the respect of their fans. Charlie Sheen is classic Charlie Sheen here, and one of the reasons why America fell in love with the ultimate bad boy.
7. A Boy And His Dog (Jones, 1975)
A comical satire on the age old battle of the sexes and if man really needs the female to survive. Set in the future, Don Johnson plays a soldier in a post nuclear future. The most important thing to him is his telepathic dog named Blood. The film came out in 1975 and was quite misogynistic for its time. Probably my favorite film starring Don Johnson, really shows his acting ability.
6. Serial Mom (Waters, 1994)
An outlandish and over the top take on over protective parenting from the king of offbeat cinema John Waters. Susan (Kathleen Turner) is the perfect all American housewife – good cook, recycles, and will do anything to keep her children happy. Her murderous ways turn her into a media sensation. The dialogue is quite hilarious and the killings are so ridiculous. A very funny and edgy satire on fame, tabloid, and family life. It also features a very young Ricki Lake, who stars in many of Water’s films.
5. The Last Supper (Title, 1995)
There was a surge in indie films available at video stores in the early 90s. Stacy Title’s The Last Supper somehow fell under the radar, it’s a shame because it’s one of the most brilliantly written satires I’ve ever seen. A very dark and humorous look at politics and extreme liberalism. A group of liberals invite bigoted conservatives over for dinner to plead their political views and take on world affairs. Like judge and jury if they don’t agree with the hosts, a little poison goes in their wine. A very clever and original storyline. The movie also stars a very young Cameron Diaz, in one of her first roles. She’s quite feisty here, sticking it to the ultra conservatives.
4. Jawbreaker (Stein, 1999)
Jawbreaker got slammed by the critics as being trite and clichéd. I happen to like the film and the dark, satirical undertones of teenage popularity. Not since Heathers has a film made fun of the importance of being liked in high school so well. Rose McGowan stars as an ultra bitch that runs Reagan High School with her followers. Yes, it’s clichéd at times and sarcastic, but that is what makes it funny. A prank goes wrong and they end up killing the prom queen princess. The evil clique eventually gets their due towards the end, but not without reeking havoc on the entire high school. The film also features a very entertaining performance by Pam Grier as the persistent detective.
3. Election (Payne 1999)
Election is one of my favorite dark comedies, so enriched in satire and exaggeration. Starring Mathew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon, both deliver performances that are over the top and insane. Broderick plays a likable high school history teacher that carries an animosity towards a determined “goody two shoes” student (Witherspoon). This hatred leads him to rig the class election, so she gets beat by the rival jock. What transpires is a hilarious series of events for the unlucky teacher, which leave his personal and professional life in ruin.
2. American Psycho (Harron, 2000)
Brett Easton Ellis’ novel gets turned into a beautiful visual nightmare in Mary Harron’s film American Psycho. Christian Bale pulls out a brilliant performance as the compulsive and deranged law executive Patrick Bateman. The film is a satirical view of the excessive and superficial time period of 80s yuppie culture. The whole movie is a metaphor for indulgence and consumerism. But what makes American Psycho so good is that it leaves the viewer open to interpretation, becoming very vague especially the ending. Did he actually do the killings or was it all imagination inside his mind? Bale’s acting is phenomenal and the setting of the 80s is spot on. Some very quotable, funny lines and the mannerisms of Bale are hysterical. A very entertaining movie from beginning to end. Now, if you excuse me…I have to return some video tapes!
1. Office Space (Judge, 1999)
One of my favorite films, Office Space is the battle cry for anyone who has worked at a job they hate. Ron Livingston plays Peter, a computer programmer at Initech who gets heat put on him after a computer glitch. Upon seeing a hypnotherapist, he finds a revelation that nothing really matters. Peter begins caring less about his job and more about telling the truth. He becomes an unfiltered, sarcastic, carefree individual. Rather than getting fired he receives a promotion. The characters are absolutely hilarious and the scenarios completely over the top. In my opinion, Office Space is one of the greatest satires on corporate life. The movie has some of the funniest lines and made red Swingline staplers fly off the shelves. The film also includes a beating of a fax machine with baseball bats and rap music blasting. I could not stop laughing through the entire film. Don’t forget to wear more flare!