Examples of movies (or tv shows) that deconstruct a genre
December 13, 2017 4:45 PM   Subscribe

Last night while watching Logan for the first time I reflected that it reminded me of other movies that subverted and deconstructed the genre they ostensibly belong do, such as Chinatown, Frozen, Scream, and Unforgiven. This sort of thing really appeals to me, particularly if the deconstruction is cynical or fatalistic, or you get the sense in the end that watching any other movie from "genre X" is a waste of time until the genre is reinvented. Got any other examples? (vague and minor spoilers for Logan inside)

In particular, the thing that interested me the most about Logan is that it ended up becoming the ultimate X-Men movie in that it covered absolutely everything the series has always been about in a crystallized and devastating fashion. The long history of this series and its association with civil rights, identity politics, and minorities, the damage that can be done due to ego or naivete, science unencumbered by ethical concerns, and body horror can all be found in this one movie. But it also deconstructed the genre by eschewing fancy SFX set pieces where non-mutants are treated like bodies to be affected by mutant conflict but never acknowledged or thought of again. Instead, humanity is a centerpiece in the scene that animates the final conflict, reminding the viewer that this is ostensibly what the superhero genre is supposed to be all about.

So, got any other examples of this level of self-awareness besides those I've listed? I'll take tv shows, too. I want to watch them all. Bonus points for any readings or videos on this phenomenon.
posted by xyzzy to Media & Arts (51 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Unbreakable, maybe?
posted by Weeping_angel at 4:57 PM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


Big Trouble in Little China, sort of.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:59 PM on December 13, 2017


A few horror movies love to play on horror movie tropes.

Especially Cabin in the woods. Also, Behind the Mask is a great horror mockumentary.

I think that most mockumentaries might fall into this category too?
posted by hydra77 at 5:06 PM on December 13, 2017 [9 favorites]


The Sopranos
posted by extramundane at 5:07 PM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


The TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is an expert deconstruction of the romantic comedy genre. It starts from a premise that would end in a happy marriage with your average romcom (woman runs into old flame out of the blue and uproots her life to move to his hometown), but it ends up being a biting commentary about the creepiness of so many standard rom-com tropes. On top of all that, it's also a musical with some extremely clever, catchy songs. Easily my favorite show I'm watching now.
posted by ActionPopulated at 5:11 PM on December 13, 2017 [17 favorites]


This is my personal take, but I think that's exactly what Jim Jarmusch's The Limits of Control is.

It's in the form of a stylized thriller, but it elides pretty much all the details, leaving almost nothing but the style. It's been years since I've seen it, so I can't describe specifics, and I guess those are the (second) closest thing it has to spoilers, but the general idea is that there's some mystery and this guy is going through the motions of a mysterious and stylish man doing mysterious and stylish things, but there's little indication, not even at the end, what those things are or why. So it's in the form of a mystery of the sort that the audience would usually be trying to figure out based on clues, except you don't really get to see the clues.

And there's also this little sub-theme where he meets these fascinating people who instantly regale him with big long expositions about their philosophies, which I interpreted as kind of a riff on a weird movie trope I've seen sometimes.
posted by ernielundquist at 5:15 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Galaxy Quest
Adaptation
American Vandal
posted by bluecore at 5:17 PM on December 13, 2017 [6 favorites]


If you're familiar with anime at all, Neon Genesis Evangelion for the "teenagers piloting giant robot fighting machines" genre, and Puella Magi Madoka Magica for the magical girl genre.
posted by waffleriot at 5:28 PM on December 13, 2017 [6 favorites]


Watch the first Austin Powers film, then try to watch You Only Live Twice.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:30 PM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


(500) Days of Summer is arguably this for the quirky indie romance genre.

At the time it came out, A Game of Thrones was this for epic fantasy. The TV show may also scratch the same itch.

If you're familiar with anime at all, Neon Genesis Evangelion for the "teenagers piloting giant robot fighting machines" genre, and Puella Magi Madoka Magica for the magical girl genre.

"Teenagers piloting giant robot fighting machines" has an even darker, more depressing deconstruction in Bokurano (Ours). Similar in tone is NaruTaru (Shadow Star), for the "kids make friends with cute monsters" genre. More on the cringey/relateable end of the tone spectrum is WataMote, which goes after the "awkward outcast kid makes friends" genre.
posted by capricorn at 5:40 PM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


Shadow of the vampire? The "making of" Nosferatu
posted by TheAdamist at 5:41 PM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


Deadpool. The movie and the comic books.

Community subverted the sitcom format, with Abed’s habit of treating real life as if it was TV, so appearing to comment on the show itself from inside.

Game of Thrones breaks the audience’s assumptions about what’s going to happen in a drama. Mainly whether main characters will suddenly die.
posted by w0mbat at 5:43 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Training Day re: buddy cop movie.
posted by Buddy_Boy at 5:43 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Animaniacs is a thorough deconstruction of cartoon tropes.
posted by Paper rabies at 5:44 PM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


Enchanted did this.
posted by velveeta underground at 5:44 PM on December 13, 2017 [8 favorites]


The Long Goodbye is both an adaptation of a Chandler novel and a deconstruction of the detective genre.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Shane Black's meta-action film
posted by octothorpe at 5:48 PM on December 13, 2017 [6 favorites]


Even if you're not really an anime person, Princess Tutu is this for fairytales. (The video is what got me and everyone I know to watch it.)
posted by colorblock sock at 5:48 PM on December 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


Firefly, particularly episode 1 (where the bad guy starts monologiing about getting revenge)

The Incredibles. Questions superhero tropes like capes and bad guys monologging.
posted by w0mbat at 5:49 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Inglourious Bastards takes apart war movies and puts them back together again.
posted by bq at 5:53 PM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


Starship Troopers, a massive deconstruction of Space Opera and Heinlein's weird ideological side, and also popular among some fans who overlook his subversive undertones. Verhoven's previous film, RoboCop, also included ironic political subtexts within a violent action movie framework.

This is Spinal Tap starts off as a generic parody of the Rockumentary format, but it isn't that... it's something more. Decent 70's style music and few philosophical gems mixed in the script make it something special.

(related note: if you liked 'Logan', it's kinda loosely based on Leon: The Professional, which is worth seeing if you haven't)
posted by ovvl at 6:18 PM on December 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


Seconding Cabin In the Woods
posted by greta simone at 6:39 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Adaptation.
posted by umbú at 6:41 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Zelig
posted by davebush at 7:14 PM on December 13, 2017


Clue deconstructs the whodunit genre. The deconstruction is so thorough that the movie came out with alternate endings.

And Thirding Cabin in the Woods.
posted by dws at 8:27 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


"Exit Through The Gift Shop" makes fun of the Art Documentary.
posted by nickggully at 8:33 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Maybe Gosford Park, a murder mystery where the detective (the great Stephen Fry) gets everything wrong and a servant girl figures out what happened, though the authorities never find out. And in a more parody-like vein, Murder by Death (if you can stomach Peter Sellers as a stereotyped Charlie Chan - though totally in keeping with the Charlie Chan movies).
posted by FencingGal at 8:37 PM on December 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


Brick is a deconstruction of and homage to the detective noir genre.
posted by erst at 8:46 PM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


Pennies From Heaven is a flawed but worthwhile deconstruction of musicals.
posted by cakelite at 9:05 PM on December 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


Shaun of the Dead?
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:14 PM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


Watchmen.
posted by jcatus at 9:56 PM on December 13, 2017


Rustlers' Rhapsody does this with westerns.
posted by Gorgik at 10:01 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Out of Sight is an amazing deconstruction of the classic heist movie.
posted by fshgrl at 10:08 PM on December 13, 2017


Fourthing Cabin in the Woods.

Also, What We Do In The Shadows is a hilarious deconstruction of vampire movies/stories.
posted by ejs at 11:46 PM on December 13, 2017


I think "Tucker and Dale vs Evil" qualifies. It's a comedic inversion of the slasher-in-the-woods formula: Tucker and Dale are affable rednecks who just want peace and quiet at their lakeside vacation cabin, but find themselves disturbed by the arrival of city teenagers who start dropping dead in their own accord, but blame Tucker and Dale thanks to a series of misunderstandings.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:02 AM on December 14, 2017 [8 favorites]


Blazing Saddles. Hollywood knew that following it with a normal Western would be as successful as the act that appeared after the Beatles on their first US television appearence.
posted by Homer42 at 12:37 AM on December 14, 2017


Slow West deconstructed the romanticism of the West as a concept and the Western as a genre.
posted by Homer42 at 12:39 AM on December 14, 2017


A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Punch Drunk Love

If you want more X-Men deconstruction there’s Legion
posted by chrisulonic at 1:20 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


"The Big Lebowski" is a Raymond Chandler parody
posted by thelonius at 3:53 AM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Jordan Peele's Get Out (which is stunning and you should watch it anyway)
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:06 AM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Garry Shandling did this twice, with It's Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders Show.
posted by Mchelly at 4:46 AM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


The entire Scream film series is based around the idea that the characters are aware of horror film tropes that the movies then attempt to subvert.

Edit: Sorry, I see now that they were mentioned in the OP.
posted by AndrewInDC at 4:59 AM on December 14, 2017


Hot Fuzz isn't cynical or fatalistic, but it's an affectionate subversion of a police-action movie that ultimately winds up knowingly embracing all the cliches of the same genre.
posted by gladly at 6:17 AM on December 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


Does The Last Action Hero count?
posted by tracer at 7:43 AM on December 14, 2017


I think actually most Coen Brothers films do this for their respective genres.

Mean Girls is kind of this for high school comedies.
posted by lunasol at 8:05 AM on December 14, 2017


Brick is not to be missed. It's awesome. The trailer is on Youtube. It's noir in a high school. (And, btw, Rian Johnson's first film; he's got another big movie in the theaters now you might've noticed; his name on it is the only reason I have any hope for it.)

Horror seems to be especially welcoming to genre-subverting films, like the aforementioned Cabin in the Woods. See also Shaun of the Dead, which brings me to Edgar Wright generally and Hot Fuzz specifically. When that came out, I had a long conversation with some folks about this idea of films that both participate in and satirize their genre.

This thread is becoming a great list of those.

(Now I've fallen down a Brick-flavored Youtube hole.)
posted by uberchet at 8:16 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Seconding Kiss Kiss Bang Bang which, in addition to being a staggering work of incredible meta action-noir (as octothorpe mentioned), is also just an awesome movie. It's one of my favorites!

You're Next did a FANTASTIC job of paying homage to home invasion horror tropes by kind of juxtaposing them up against a different flavor of horror genre, which ended up giving the whole movie a really unique twist. I don't want to say too much because the way the plot shifts unexpectedly is part of what makes it so fun, but if you haven't already seen it, I highly recommend it.
posted by helloimjennsco at 8:24 AM on December 14, 2017


Mystery Men and The Specials do this for the superhero genre.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 8:46 AM on December 14, 2017


Jane the Virgin deconstructs/exemplifies the telenovela genre.
posted by Frenchy67 at 9:34 AM on December 14, 2017


WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT - soooooo classic. If you haven't watched it since 1988, please please do yourself a favor and re-watch. Classic Noir with a Disney twist.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 1:07 PM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Three Kings used the action/adventure/quest for treasure genre to deliver a very serious critique of war and US millitary action in the Middle East.
posted by honeypot at 3:57 PM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


Brick is not to be missed. It's awesome. The trailer is on Youtube. It's noir in a high school. (And, btw, Rian Johnson's first film; he's got another big movie in the theaters now you might've noticed; his name on it is the only reason I have any hope for it.)

SW:TLJ fits nicely into this list and I won't get spoilery but it's definitely a very intentional attempt to deconstruct a lot of what a Star Wars film is.
posted by octothorpe at 5:02 AM on December 19, 2017


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