Posted by medusamorlock on July 31, 2011
I’m not going to assume that you know French and Saunders, that is, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, but I bet that you might. Even if you haven’t ever caught their eponymous comedy series and specials via some means (they’ve been doing them for British TV since the late 1980s), perhaps you know Dawn French in the title role of The Vicar of Dibley (frequently seen on PBS stations), and Jennifer Saunders as the creator and co-star (as Edina Monsoon) of Absolutely Fabulous. Both French and Saunders are funny and fabulous, and one of the frequent features of their work together were parodies of popular movies, old and new, with both ladies playing all parts, often male and female, and having a riot doing it.
French and Saunders were both products of the incredibly fertile world of British alternative comedy during the early 1980s, cutting their teeth on the new wave of Brit humor that also saw the emergence of comic performers such as Ben Elton (Black Adder, The Young Ones), Rik Mayall, Hugh Laurie, Adrian Edmonson (Saunders’ husband), Miranda Richardson and many others. As ladies who weren’t afraid to take a tumble for a laugh, French and Saunders and their combination of broad knockabout comedy, sly parody and a keen eye for absurdity made them the go-to gals for cutting-edge comedy.
There are lots of their bits available on YouTube for quick and easy watching, and I’ve gathered some of their movie-oriented parodies here. They also specialized in all kinds of pop culture parodies, with emphasis on skewering music idols from Britain and beyond. Many of their bits are long and quite elaborate, like their “Making of ‘Titanic’” piece that’s wonderful and should be watched (I’ve linked to the first part), and so many others. Classic old-time Hollywood also came under their comic gaze more than once, such as this moment: Direct Link is here.
Or this collection when they spoofed a variety of movie stars and movies: Direct Link is Here.
They did a dead-on parody of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in their version called “Whatever Happened to Baby Dawn?”: Direct Link is Here.
And what about Jennifer doing Vivien Leigh with Dawn as her mammy? One of their trademarks is breaking character, seen here to great effect. Direct Link is Here.
Here’s some of their The Sound of Music take-off, with a jaunt down London streets: Direct Link is Here.
They also cast their askew eye on brilliant international directors like Ingmar Bergman: Direct Link is Here.
They did a popular take-off on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; here’s the full skit: Direct Link is Here.
Check out their foray into science fiction spoofery with their version of Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace, with Jennifer Saunders once again doing Liam Neeson: Direct Link is Here.
If you love — or love to hate — everything Mamma Mia!, you will really enjoy this long spoof with guests stars Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous), Sienna Miller and Matt Lucas (Little Britain), among others. Saunders does a terrific Meryl Streep! Direct Link is Here.
Another big favorite is their Cold Mountain parody “Cold Turkey” – with Jennifer as Nicole Kidman and Dawn French really giving it to Renee Zellweger in her role as the ridiculously rambunctious mountain gal. This one is done as a DVD commentary on the film by Kidman. Direct Link is Here.
They’re a little more dramatic but no less silly in their take-off of The Silence of the Lambs: Direct Link is Here.
Again they play some kind of versions of themselves in this Misery spoof: Direct Link is Here.
Let’s watch them take on The Exorcist: Direct Link is Here.
And get stranded on the beach in (and with) The Piano: Direct Link is Here.
Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French have years of comedy history together, and I highly recommend seeking out their material (including several subsequent sitcoms) together and apart. They are always tremendous performers and absolutely the equals of any of their illustrious British male comedy colleagues, and they loved the movies, too!
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