Top 15 Satirical Movies of All Time!

(or maybe just Our Favorites)

"American Beauty" with Kevin Spacey and Mena Suvari

"American Beauty" with Kevin Spacey and Mena Suvari

The last few weeks, there's been a lot of talk about satire and its place in modern society. This is especially true for those of us in the burlesque industry, since our art is often directly based in satire and subversion!

Here at Burlesque Moulin, we love satire, parody, subversive art, and anything that challenges the way we see the world. In a salute to all those whose creations poke fun at societal norms, we've decided to compile a list of our favorite satirical films! Of course, it's difficult to say exactly what it is that makes a film "satirical," and we could debate whether or not perhaps all comedy is satirical in nature. But these 15 movies, to a greater or lesser extent, all make us think about the world and society around us... in addition to making us laugh.

Which have you seen? Are there others that would make your list? Tell us in the comments below!

And don't forget- we have a satire photo contest going on now! Enter to win VIP tickets to our Spring Spectacle Sensation! Find details, and subscribe to our mailing list, here.

Top 15 Satirical Movies of All Time!  

(or maybe just Our Favorites)

  1. Dr. Strangelove (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)

    • Somehow, Stanley Kubrick managed to take a potentially panic-inducing topic and turn it into one of the greatest satires of all time. Required viewing for any cinephile, the 1964 film pokes fun at US-USSR conflict, politics, and nuclear war- and it has us rolling in the aisles every time.

  2. M*A*S*H

    • Not many of the movies on this list were so popular that they were turned into an equally (or perhaps more) popular television show! M*A*S*H had us examining our perceptions of war, morality, and even religion in a way that no other film has.

  3. American Beauty 

    • A modern cult classic, American Beauty reminds us that all that glitters isn't necessarily gold and that the "American dream" sometimes has more nightmarish undertones. With a top-notch cast and five Oscar wins, the film weaves dark comedy with profound reflections and is one that leaves us sad, pensive, and hopeful all at the same time.

  4. Fight Club

    • While superficially coming across as a "guy movie," complete with underground no-holds-barred boxing, explosions, and lots (LOTS) of swearing, Fight Club delivers so much more than sheer Schwarzenegger-style entertainment. The film examines the pointlessness of everyday middle class life through an unreliable narrator and extreme situations. There's something new to notice in every viewing, but be warned: by the end, you may be ready to join a revolution yourself!

  5. Saved!

    • One of our favorite light-hearted comedies, Saved! follows a group of American Christian high school students as they examine their lives, relationships, and faiths. Never condemning religion, the films still does a fantastic job of pointing out the silliness that comes with blind faith.

  6. Dogma

    • Kevin Smith's films are filled with unique characters, crude jokes, and foul language. But if you can get past the teenage-boy-like humor, Dogma delivers another fun-filled, fantastical look at the occasional absurdity of what the doctrines of religion sometimes drive us to.

  7. Thank You For Smoking

    • Somehow, Thank You For Smoking uses as its protagonist a lobbyist for the tobacco industry and makes it work! We follow his successes, his failures, and his changing views in a decidedly politically-incorrect film.

  8. Galaxy Quest

    • A direct, non-apologetic parody of the television conglomerate Star Trek and other science fiction shows and movies, Galaxy Quest is still loved by fans- and even by the actors from the real Star Trek! Silly and fun, the movie also does a great job of paying homage and showing appreciation to the fans themselves in the climax of the film.... we won't say any more... Spoilers!

  9. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

    • Oh, British comedy. It doesn't get better than Monty Python, and Monty Python doesn't get better than their tongue-in-cheek retelling of Arthurian legends! Yet another undisguised mockery of, well, just about everything: history, modern culture, storytelling, monarchy, democracy, witch hunts, religion, science, the migrations of African and European swallows...

  10. The Princess Bride

    • One part romantic comedy, one part swashbuckling adventure, and all parts satire, The Princess Bride doesn't take itself too seriously. Its satirical elements poke fun at the fantasy and fairy tale worlds, which often directly relates to our everyday lives. Ever met someone who used big words in the wrong context? You'll find that here: "Inconceivable!" "You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

  11. The Truman Show

    • Featuring Jim Carrey in his first non-slapstick role, The Truman Show is a convincing tale of to what extent reality television could go in the not-so-distant future. While the film does make us smile and even laugh, the social commentary is palpable. We laugh at the man watching Truman on television from the bathtub, at the 24-hour channel showing "greatest hits" of Truman's life, at the complex backstage organization of the successful show about a man's life... but we know that they is exactly what would happen in real life. This reality check is what makes the film so moving and popular- and on our list!

  12. American Psycho

    • Another dark, not-quite-comedic satire, American Psycho (the film as well as its predecessor novel) hits its marks hard. Unflinchingly, it shows us the superficiality, the consumerism, and the immorality of the 1980s (which we can easily still see today) and portrays them with an extreme contempt. Bateman, the main character played by Christian Bale, is able to hide his psychotic tendencies and serial murders easily among the frivolity of his business world. We see the ridiculous business cards, the focus on designer clothing and fancy apartments, but we see very little behind the masks.... until American Psycho takes us there.

  13. Office Space

    • Back in the comedic vein, Office Space is everyman's (or woman's) story: stuck at a dead-end cubicle job, surrounded by annoying coworkers and supervisors, and in love with the "girl next door." What would happen if we decided to express all those demotivating thoughts or, better yet, do something about our misery? Good luck finding someone who doesn't identify with this film, and who doesn't dream of a similar outcome!

  14. Waiting...

    • Speaking of identifying, anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant, or known someone who has, can't help laughing out loud throughout Waiting.... Despite a predictable plot, Waiting... captures restaurant life perfectly, from crazy coworkers to annoying customers to long food wait time!

  15. Adaptation.

    • If restaurant workers find themselves in Waiting..., then Adaptation is the mirror for writers. Nicolas Cage plays twins, one of whom is a screenwriter wading through Hollywood politics and lifestyle, searching for his next masterpiece. With well-written characters and some profound observations of life, passion, and Hollywood storytelling, this film makes us laugh while we consider our own lives- the true mark of satire!

Runners-Up

  1. Airplane!

  2. This Is Spinal Tap

  3. Spaceballs

  4. Tropic Thunder

  5. Transylvania 6-5000  (Kate couldn't resist adding this one... probably because of her unhealthy obsession with Jeff Goldblum.)


sat·ire ˈsaˌtī(ə)r/ noun

the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

synonyms:  mockeryridiculederisionscorncaricature