Top 10 Satirical Films

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)

The-Great-Dictator_charlie_chaplin_top10filmsPerhaps 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-replacments_gene-hackman-keanu-reeves_top10filmsThe 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)

charlie-sheen-major-leagueMajor 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)

ABoyandHisDog_top10filmsA 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)

Beverly Sutphin, Serial Mom, Scary Mothers,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)

Bill Paxton, Film actor and director, Top 10 FilmsThere 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_top10filmsJawbreaker 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-reese-witherspoon_top10filmsElection 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)

best-dressed_american-psycho_christian-baleBrett 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)

office_space_jennifer_anniston_friends-tvOne 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!

Written and compiled by Neal Damiano.

Top 10 Films asks: what are your fave satirical films?

About the Author
Neal Damiano calls himself “an unhip film geek” who mixes his passion for movies with an enthusiasm for travel, music and journalism.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    This list shocks me. Office Space, The Last Supper! Fantastic. Two of my favourites. Terrific write up and some really off the cuff entries.

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    Mike B Reply

    Good choices Neal. Nice, eclectic mix of films from the 1990s with my all-time favorite Charlie Chaplin film. Satire isn’t easy but when done right it can make for some terrific cinema. Election, The Last Supper and American Pyscho are some of my personal favorites.

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    Thanks for reading and the feedback…I really enjoyed the breakdown process of writing this one!

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    CineGirl Reply

    There’s a lot of great satire in the cinema. It’s tough to get an all-time list when you have just 10 choices. For me there’s some classics that need mentioning – Network, The Truman Show, Swimming with Sharks, Sunset Boulevard, MASH, Cache 22 and Natural Born Killers would be a few that would make my list.

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    fiend1sh Reply

    1. Dr. Strangelove – hands down…

    …then more Kubrick please – A Clockwork Orange!

    …then Altman (The Player), and more Altman, and some Lumet (Network).

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    Craig Allcott Reply

    Great Neal! I love Office Space, probably one of my favourite films from the 1990s. And one of the few Jennifer Aniston films I can stand.

    My favourite satire in film has to be Network – such a sharp-toothed attack on television news, the sensationalism behind our consumption of mainstream media, and way ahead of its time.

    I’d recommend checking out some of Altman’s films such as The Player and MASH. Perhaps Dr. Strangelove would be another good addition to this top 10?

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    allflicker Reply

    Dr. Strangelove, In The Loop, Natural Born Killers. Anything by Altman.

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    Lisa Elin Reply

    Death to Smoochy, hands down. (stars Robin Williams, some of his & Edward Norton’s best work)

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    Rod Smith Reply

    Meaning Of Life, Man In the White Suit, God Bless America, Mash, To Be Or Not To Be, Doctor Strangelove, Clockwork Orange

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      Rod Smith Reply

      …can I also include Dawn Of The Dead?

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        Dan Reply

        Great choice! The original presumably?

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          Rob Smith Reply

          definitely the original!

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    Hudson Reply

    Good choices – American Psycho is a terrific satire. I would have included MASH, Catch 22 and Network.

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    I tried to weave out the obvious….just my style. There is so many satire films. I try to inform as well.

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    Key word being “obvious”

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    Those films mentioned ^ would be on everybody’s list (if you get my hunch)

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    Craig Reply

    Great top 10! You definitely have cool taste Neal. Loving the love for all these 1990s classics. The best era, it’s the one that informed my interest in movies.

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    dooby Reply

    is fight club satire. that film is cool. brad pitt makes me purr

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      Dan Reply

      …it certainly is! Very astute breakdown of our commercialised culture.

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    Addison Wylie Reply

    Worlds Greatest Dad is at the top of that satire list. A ballsy film with strong thoughts and an incredible lead performance.

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      Dan Reply

      World’s Greatest Dad is superb. Bobcat Goldthwait’s best film to date and Robin Williams is superb. The film has even more resonance and poignancy now given the late actor’s tragic death.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    I like the direction you took with this, Neal. Lots of comedies on here. I also will plead with everyone who has read your list, to go find Last Supper immediately. It’s one of the more bizarre films you’ll see but it’s also very funny, very witty and has one of the coolest casts assembled….highlighted again by Bill Paxton.

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      Dan Reply

      …totally agree with Dan regarding The Last Supper. That’s one of the 1990s “forgotten” films that deserves to be seen.

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    Dan Reply

    I, for one, am so pleased to see an Alexander Payne film make another top 10 list on the site. He’s up there with Christopher Nolan as one of the best filmmakers currently working in Hollywood. Election is a great example of his ability to mix comedy with tragedy; there’s an icy cold sense of humour to his movies that manages to touch a nerve while his satirical look at high school is both refreshingly offbeat and recognisable.

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    Christian Reply

    Soft spot for Fight Club. It was the first film I saw that made me think: I love cinema.

    Love many of your choices. American Psycho is great; Election, Office Space, Serial Mom, The Replacements and Major League are all great. Need to see The Last Supper.

  20. Avatar
    Neal Damiano Reply

    I always try to add a uniqueness to my lists make people think – I would of never thought of putting that film up or I remember that film, or even better yet I never seen that film…I’m going to check it out. Fight Club certainly is a great satire.

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    Thank you all for reading…..I always enjoy the feedback!

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      CineGirl Reply

      Always enjoy reading your lists Neal. Love your passion for movies!

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        Neal Damiano Reply

        CineGirl, thank you very much, so kind! I will definitely have to check out Worlds Greatest Dad upon hearing Dan & Addison’s love of it, I have never heard of this film, slipped by me?

        Election is one of my favorite films, Dan.
        Brilliantly written and casted!

        Dan Grant, you are so right…everyone should see “The Last Supper “it is one of the most original scripts and the cast fit perfectly, great assemble of actors.

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    Kevin davis Reply

    I would have State and Main by David Mamet on here at #1

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    Kevin davis Reply

    I just found this site and its right up my alley…great lists!

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    Dan Grant Reply

    Just wondering, Neal, have you had a chance to view Fight Club again?

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    I’m just seeing this now, Dan. So please forgive the late response.
    Yes, I did go back and watch Fight Club, have said before it’s a great satire….for sure, however it’s not my favorite adaptation into film of a Chuck P. book, Choke is my favorite rather enjoyed that film, greatly.

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    Chris Reply

    Blazing Saddles

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