Just finished watching Top Secret! and hadn't seen it in a long time. Still really good. Not quite up there with Airplane! or the first two Naked Guns but there's still a multitude of brilliantly silly, creative visual gags and wordplay. So, what happened to these guys? Has there ever been a more depressingly marked slump in quality from once hilarious filmmakers? I know David Zucker went a bit nuts post-9/11 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_American_Carol), but does new-found hardline Conservatism mean you physically can't be funny anymore? Abrahams seems to have pretty much retired after the lacklustre Jane Austen's Mafia! (possibly related to exclamation mark fatigue), and Jerry Zucker shifted in to sporadic producer credits, probably made a metric shit-ton of money with Ghost, and floundered with the awful ensemble comedy Rat Race.
And does their decline simply mean that the parody film had a limited shelf-life anyway? At the cinema for certain films right now you may well get trailers BACK TO BACK for Scary Movie 5 (a lame riff on Paranormal Activity plus gay and fart jokes) and Marlon Wayans' A Haunted House (a lame riff on Paranormal Activity plus gay and fart jokes). Both looked utterly, exhaustingly awful, beyond lazy, offensive, completely dull witted dross of the lowest order. Only one had Charlie Sheen though, so that's some respite. Is it even possible to do a decent parody these days? Should you even bother when the whole genre is so tarnished? Is there even still an impulse to lampoon when the source materials are so debased and awful in the first place? I understand the business impetus behind it, sadly, as you'll rarely fail to claw back a profit when so little is invested in the first place. But I cannot for the life of me see what an audience gets out of it.
I know the Epic/Date/Whatever Movie slating has been going on for a while now and has achieved precisely nothing. I'm just wondering whether this is just the natural end result of a genre doomed to implode or whether it would still be possible to make a film of the calibre of Naked Gun or Airplane! these days, and whether it's possible to pinpoint the exact moment when it all went irredeemably wrong. I might be tempted to suggest it was with the release of Spy Hard. That was fucking dire, and it's all been downhill since.