If you find yourself stuck at home and struggling to find ideas on how to entertain yourself, I hear you! Not knowing how to pass the time indoors can surely take a toll on our quality of life. To that end, I recommend having a movie marathon. And what better way to keep yourself amused than by watching some good old satire movies!
Satire movies give powerful political or social critique and ridicule the ways of modern society. But they still provide loads of fun for the masses. The best satire pictures are those that succeed in being hilarious and thought-provoking at the same time. So let’s give credit where credit is due — let’s delve into my top satire movies of all time!
#1. District 9 (2009)
The action of District 9 takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1982. It is an alternate history science-fiction movie and the first one Neill Blomkamp directed. Among its main cast are Jason Cope, David James, and Sharlto Copley.
The picture deals with the themes of social segregation and fear of strangers. However, it gives an exceptional satirical account of the actual events that happened under the apartheid regime in Cape Town’s District 6 in the 1970s. What I personally loved was that the movie’s format is a faux documentary. The scenes are a mixture of uncovered lost footage of interviews, surveillance videos, and news broadcasts.
The story deals with the arrival of insect-like aliens to Johannesburg. That is a clear parallel to the people of color and their oppression by white supremacists of apartheid. The movie’s title is a clear pointer to those events. The creatures are also called “prawns” throughout, just in case you fail to make the connection.
The people treat aliens as an inferior, filthy race and keep them in confinement camps, not letting them go back home. Hungry and sickly, the extraterrestrials suffer greatly in District 9. As their rebellion grows stronger, the main character, Wikus van der Merwe, slowly transforms into one of them. And in becoming less human, he develops more understanding of the species.
The movie received praise from critics and earned four Academy Award nominations, namely:
- Best Picture
- Best Adapted Screenplay
- Best Visual Effects
- Best Film Editing
District 9 is a must-see, even for those not inclined to Sci-Fi. It may just cause you to come around and fall in love with the genre!
#2. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
Although the previous movie on my list was not at all comical, this one is a satirical comedy at its best! Borat is a “shockumentary,” a format that is cringe-worthily offensive, but at the same time, roll-on-your-back hilarious.
The movie follows the story of a Kazakh journalist, Borat Sagdiyev, who travels to the United States of America, “The Greatest Country in the World,” to make a documentary about its way of life. On his travels, he meets with and interviews people from many social groups. He also has some typically American experiences. For example, he falls head over heels for Pamela Anderson after watching an episode of Baywatch.
Borat throws a host of mocking insults at numerous groups: the Jews, the feminists, and the southerners, to name but a few. Unsurprisingly, it received plenty of backlash for its controversial nature, and nearly all Arab countries banned it.
Larry Charles signs as the director of the picture and Sacha Baron Cohen as the lead actor, co-writer, and producer. The movie also stars Ken Davitian as the producer of Borat’s documentary.
Overall, the movie is a splendid satire of the American obsession with reality TV. But it also depicts the people of the U.S. as being incredibly helpful to foreigners wanting to learn about their culture.
Despite the severe criticism from particular audiences, the movie received the Golden Globes award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy. It also got nominations in several categories at both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.
#3. Get Out (2017)
Next up on my list is another not-so-obviously-satirical picture, the ingenious horror movie warningly titled Get Out. It is a debut feature by Jordan Peele, both as a writer and as a director. However, the movie strikes all the right chords with the viewers.
The suspense in the movie builds up slowly. Initially, we can sense that something is wrong with society. Then, we start detecting something genuinely foul when we see the African American servants, seemingly brain-washed into submission. Ultimately, our suspicions prove true as all hell breaks loose.
Get Out is an excellent satire of the American perception and treatment of the people of color. The end of the movie smashes the supposed acceptance and equality of all races to pieces. Commentators say that it is an accurate depiction of contemporary American society.
The cast is also on-point and includes Daniel Kaluuya, Alison Williams, Bradley Whitford, and Catherine Keener in the lead roles. Everyone gives equally captivating and spine-chilling performances.
The picture got worldwide critical acclaim and nominations for numerous awards. It was also a huge box-office success, grossing $225 million worldwide.
#4. The Interview (2014)
My satire movies list wouldn’t be complete without including The Interview. This movie is so controversial that it never even entered the theaters!
Starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, the movie follows a TV host and his producer preparing to interview none other but Kim Jong-un. Once the CIA finds out about the setup with the North Korean dictator, it recruits the pair to assassinate the leader and bring the world nuclear threat to an end.
However, the fun began when real-life Jong-un learned about the movie and made actual threats. That led to Netflix buying out movie rights and the ditching of any screening plans.
The irony is that The Interview isn’t aimed at North Korea in the slightest. It rather satirizes the American mass media and its ability to spin anything as the truth.
So if you enjoy a hearty comedy fueled with satire but also filled with jokes about genitals, which are typical of a Rogen feature, do give this one a go.
#5. Tropic Thunder (2008)
Another comedy on my list, Tropic Thunder, abounds with satire! In fact, it’s hard to tell what it is not aimed at.
Starting from its opening scenes that mock Hollywood’s habit of typecasting actors, the movie promises to deliver tons of entertainment. And it indeed does precisely that! Its star-studded cast includes Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., and Jack Black. They give exceptional performances and address the most prominent faults of the American movie industry.
Ben Stiller’s character struggles with a string of flopped movies threatening to ruin his career. But all the while, he maintains the diva persona of his glory days.
Downey Jr. mocks the lack of African American leading roles in the industry by portraying a black character himself. Not only that, but his character ridicules actors who tend to over-identify with their roles. Namely, his Kirk Lazarus undergoes plastic surgery to alter his skin color — it can hardly get more obvious than that!
Furthermore, Jack Black portrays a substance-abusing star of a low-end sequel of movies. That ingeniously tugs at America’s obsession with obese, flatulent stars of reality TV.
Are you fed up with those concepts as well or looking for a funny movie to pass the time? If so, make sure to add Tropic Thunder to your must-see list.
#6. Thank You for Smoking (2005)
Thank You for Smoking is another excellent piece of filmmaking. It gives a sharp social commentary on the 21st century’s attitude toward — you guessed it! — smoking.
The story revolves around Aaron Eckhart’s character, Nick, who works for the Academy of Tobacco Studies. His task is to draw attention away from the harmful consequences of consuming tobacco products. That is necessary to boost sales in the market that’s growing increasingly hostile toward cigarettes.
The Academy will stop at nothing to achieve its goal. In fact, it goes so far as to state that the tobacco industry wants its consumers to stay alive and healthy so that they could continue to use their products. The absurdity of making claims that smoking isn’t related to lung cancer and many more in the same vein is what makes this movie truly humorous and clever.
Jason Reitman directed this picture that is based on the 1994 novel by Christopher Buckley. Apart from Eckhart, it features Maria Bello, Rob Lowe, Adam Brody, Katie Holmes, Sam Elliott, and Robert Duvall.
#7. 22 Jump Street (2014)
Comedy sequels are rarely a good idea (just think of The Hangover trilogy) because they almost never surpass the humor or success of their predecessors. However, 22 Jump Street is an exception to the rule.
The movie reminds us of what the storyline of 21 Jump Street was by mocking the very idea of sequels from its first scenes. And then, it proceeds to inform us that, this time around, we’re in for exactly the same thing! Sequel jokes are plenty throughout the film, all the while taking the movie in a different direction and making it quite different from the original picture.
The directorial prowess of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller is undeniable. And the chemistry between the leads, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, is also superb. Therefore, we highly recommend that you see 22 Jump Street — it is one of my favorite satire movies that satirizes, well, itself!
Ready for some binge-watching? Pop some corn, grab a beer, cozy up under your throw, and enjoy some of the best satire movies of all time! I’ve given you one for every day of the week. And if your favorite is not on my list, make sure to tell me all about it in the comment section below. Who knows, there may be a Best Satire Movies, Part Two article coming one of these days!