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10 Beloved Movies That Deconstructed Their Own Genres

It's always entertaining watching a movie that is fully aware of its own existence. It's all too often that movies resort to age-old tropes to tell its story, and this type of predictable writing often makes for boring and ignored films. Some of the greatest and most critically adored films are ones that show awareness of the specific genre's tropes and actively work to subvert the audience's expectations.

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Many great films have been crafted in this mold. Whether it be horror films, spy thrillers, Westerns, or even comedies, these films actively worked to deconstruct their own genres and subvert their long-aged tropes.

10 Unforgiven (1992)

Unforgiven was specifically made to tear down the Western genre and every single one of its long-established tropes. There's even an extra degree of irony to the film, as it stars Clint Eastwood as an aged cowboy - a meta-commentary on Eastwood's career as a spaghetti Western legend.

The movie addresses all the Western tropes, including the concepts of good sheriff and bad cowboy and the gung-ho gunslinger. Will Munny's character development is a stark reversal to the norm (going from peaceful to violent), and the dime novel author character is an intelligent way for the movie to address and dismantle the Wild West mythos.

9 Skyfall (2012)

By 2012, some people were questioning the continued existence of the James Bond franchise. Die Another Day all but killed the series, and while Casino Royale proved an exceptional reboot, Quantum of Solace nearly ruined the good grace it had built. Enter Skyfall, which directly addressed the cultural need for James Bond within its story.

Not only that, it told said story through an old vs. new thematic lens, arguing that old-school Bond is always needed, even in the midst of increasingly complex and prevalent technology.

8 The Cabin In The Woods (2011)

A brilliantly unique blend of horror and comedy, Drew Goddard's The Cabin in the Woods subverts age-old horror movie tropes at every turn. The movie portrays every horror movie trope as being controlled by an underground committee, which has direct control over which trope is used to have the characters killed.

The movie contains, quite literally, every single horror movie monster and directly addresses many of the genre's tropes, including dumb teenagers, creepy spell books, the stoner, the virgin, and the always-idiotic decision of splitting up.

7 21 Jump Street (2012)

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have consistently proven themselves the funniest comedic duo working today, and one of their best films is undoubtedly 21 Jump Street. The movie brilliantly sends up numerous genres, including teen high school movies, cop dramas, and reboots.

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Numerous action movie tropes are hilariously upended, and the self-aware movie continuously makes fun of itself - especially its identity as an unwanted reboot of a long-ended sitcom.

6 Scream (1996)

Scream was easily one of the most successful horror films of the 1990s, and it is often credited with reviving the dying slasher genre. Unlike many films that send up their own genres, Scream was never anything less than a straight horror movie. Yes, it had comedic elements, but its clever humor was worked through the lens of a legitimate horror film.

Much of its own self-awareness is told through the character of Randy - a dedicated horror movie buff with intricate knowledge of the slasher genre and how it works.

5 Tropic Thunder (2008)

Tropic Thunder is both a war film and a comedy about egotistical movie stars. Its script is brilliant, unique, and hilarious, serving as both a war movie parody and a scathing satire of Hollywood elitism. It works tremendously, as war movies are ripe for parody and the actors essentially play caricaturized versions of themselves.

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Robert Downey Jr. tries perhaps a little too hard, Ben Stiller wants to be a leading director, and Jack Black is known for his crass comedies. Self-aware comedians always make for the funniest comedians.

4 Funny Games (1997)

Funny Games is a post-modern torture thriller that makes its pointless depravity the very point. The film is always aware of its own violence and audience expectations, and it directly asks the viewer why they enjoy watching these types of immoral movies.

The ending famously sees one of the villains breaking the fourth wall, literally rewinding the film, and making it so that his buddy isn't killed by the protagonist. It's a brilliant movie that criticizes its audience for enjoying it.

3 Heathers (1989)

The 1980s were filled with feel-good John Hughes teen comedies, and these types of movies proved endlessly popular. Enter Heathers, which was intentionally aimed at deconstructing the high school teen comedy.

The popular protagonist hates being popular and actively wishes to kill her fellow popular students, and the cute, silent, mysterious boy she falls for turns out to be a budding serial killer with aims of blowing up the school. It's a bitter film - one that actively hates the Hughes-style comedy.

2 La La Land (2016)

La La Land takes major inspiration from the Golden Age of Hollywood Musicals, but it also sends them up in numerous clever ways. The very story is depressing, contrasting the happy and colorful musical numbers with a tragic tale about doomed love and the soul-sucking nature of fame. In fact, the extravagant musical numbers are dropped once the brutal realities kick in, indicating that the characters have lost their innocence and sense of go-for-broke fun.

Furthermore, the numbers themselves are often hilariously self-aware, complete with forgotten lyrics and sounds of rustling clothes, scraping shoes, and other real-world intrusions on the fantasy.

1 The Cornetto Trilogy (2004-13)

Edgar Wright's Cornetto trilogy are critically acclaimed comedies that parody three distinct genres - zombie films in Shaun of the Dead, buddy cop action movies in Hot Fuzz, and alien invasion films in The World's End. Unlike other parodies, these films work as legitimate forms of their own genres; Shaun is scary and bloody, Hot Fuzz genuinely exciting, and The World's End mysterious and creepy.

Furthermore, The World's End often serves as a meta-commentary on its own creation, with a group of aging friends getting together for one last go and commenting on their wilder, younger, and more carefree years. It seems like Wright and his team want to move on from the Cornetto trilogy, and The World's End was made to declare it.

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