16 Movie "In Jokes" You Probably Didn't Notice

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Movie making has got to be an absolute blast. There's no other explanation for how pretty much every movie you've ever seen has some kind of weird joke hidden inside it just as an Easter egg for fans, obsessive compulsives, or in some cases, even the film-makers themselves. Below are all examples of actors, stunt-people, writers, and directors all making references to their previous work.

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  1. 1

    Jeff Bridges in Iron Man/The Big Lebowski

    In the first Iron Man movie, as Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is trying to steal some information from Obadiah Stane’s (Jeff Bridges) mainframe, there’s a brief reference to an earlier film starring Bridges - it’s only one frame long, but it clearly says “Lebowski” and lists the origin port as “Long Beach,” making it a clear reference to Bridges’s much-loved role as Southern California burnout Jeffrey Lebowski in the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski. 


    It’s an especially funny comparison since Obadiah Stane and Jeff Lebowski are pretty much polar opposites. The former is a multi-billionaire evil industrialist, the latter is... is uh... is this a... what day is this? 

  2. 2

    The Nicholas Cage Beige Volvo Trilogy

    Here’s a neat one that I found on TVTropes: Apparently Nicholas Cage really likes beige cars. He says he drives one in The Rock. Later, he drops Dave Chapelle’s body into one in Con-Air.



    And he steals one during Face/Off:



    Proving that.... Nicholas Cage loves beige Volvos? If James Cameron ever directs a movie where Nicholas Cage bites Michael Biehn's hand while driving a beige Volvo then... then we'll really have something here.

  3. 3

    Steve Carell in The 40 Year Old Virgin/Evan Almighty

    The 40 Year Old Virgin wasn’t that good, so you have to be in a really s**tty movie to want to go back to it. Luckily, Evan Almighty was a really s**tty movie.

    I guess none of us are really “lucky” to be subjected to that kind of pun.

  4. 4

    Jeremy Irons in Lion King/Reversal of Fortune

    No one plays “Creepy old guy” like Jeremy Irons. In The Lion King, when Simba says “you’re so weird,” Scar’s haunting response (“You have no idea”) would have been strange and foreboding even if it hadn’t been a repeat of the same line from an older film, Reversal of Fortune, where Irons played an arrogant and aloof British socialite accused of murdering his wife.

    Which is actually not all that different from the plot of The Lion King... if you’re crazy. Or if you’re the person who made this (and are also crazy).

  5. 5

    David Duchovny in Evolution/The X-Files

    Does anyone remember Evolution? It was that movie that came out in the early 2000s that all the sci-fi nerds really wanted to like because it had David Duchovny in it and was about wacky alien monsters, but it actually wasn’t any good because it also had Seann William Scott and the jokes were all terrible? No? Well, there’s a bit (which you can see in the trailer) where David Duchovny makes a joke about knowing “those people” who work in the government, which most people took as an X-Files joke.

    Weirdly, according to David himself, it wasn’t meant that way at all.

  6. 6

    Sean Connery in The Rock and... you know...

    One of the most obvious ones we’ll encounter here, when Sean Connery says that he was trained by British Intelligence we all know exactly what he’s talking about


    If you haven’t seen The Rock, you can watch the whole thing on Youtube (until it gets taken down) or, if you just want the short version, you can watch this scene. You don't really miss anything.

  7. 7

    Michael Biehn Keeps Getting Bitten on the Arm in James Cameron Movies

    James Cameron really hates Michael Beihn’s arm. First in Terminator: 

    When Sarah Connor still thinks he’s a crazy person. Then Aliens: 

    Newt gets him when they first meet her and he’s trying to pull her out of the vent. And finally The Abyss: 

    Lindsay Brigman (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) bites him on the hand. Proving that... uh... 
    ...moving on!

  8. 8

    Sylvester Stallone in Rambo/Tango & Cash

    “Just who do you think you are?” “He thinks he’s Rambo!” Rambo... is a p*ssy.”

    And then Tango shoots the truck they’re talking about. Jesus. Though I guess that wildly and illegally shooting your gun at random things is the only rational way to follow up the line “Rambo is a p*ssy.”

    (Sylvester Stallone played John Rambo in First Blood and all it's sequels. Obviously).

  9. 9

    John Cho: Better Luck Tomorrow/Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

    Near the beginning of the film when Harold (Cho) tries to park his car, someone else swerves into the spot just in front of him and shouts “better luck tomorrow!” –the title of a movie Cho starred in just two years earlier. 

    Also, hidden in that film is another one: Justin Lin, the direct of Better Luck Tomorrow, would go on to direct Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious and Fast Five, which reuse the character of Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kan). Does this mean that Harold & Kumar takes place in the same universe as The Fast and The Furious? I’m gonna go with “yes,” but I’ll let you guys in the comments figure out what that means, exactly.

  10. 10

    Ray Park in X-Men/Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

    This one’s pretty cool, but unfortunately, you’re going to need the DVD or Blu-Ray (or I guess, like, the VHS?) to see it in full effect: Ray Park is the Scottish actor/stuntman/martial artist responsible for the only good thing about Star Wars Episode I. 

    He also played Toad in the first X-Men movie. You know, the guy with the tongue that got zapped out of the sky after Storm said that line about toads and lightening? Well, after he throws Storm down the elevator shaft, he grabs a long metal bar and spins it in exactly the same way you see him spin his lightsaber in Star Wars. It’s pretty neat, but again, it’s not online, though, so you'll just have to believe me.

  11. 11

    Ewan MacGregor in The Men Who Stare at Goats/Star Wars

    I’m throwing this one on here primarily to dispel a rumor. In the Men Who Stare at Ghosts, Ewan McGregor plays an American reporter who stumbles across some former members of the army’s psychic warrior training program, who call themselves “Jedi Warriors.” Lots of people accused this of being a really ham-handed allusion to McGregor’s role as a young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the early Star Wars films.

    But it’s not. The Men Who Stare At Goats is a true story, and the men actually called themselves Jedi Warriors. It’s not a clever joke. It’s just a thing. Jeff Bridges is also in this so there are probably some Big Lebowski references, but I already did one of those.

  12. 12

    Kevin McCarthy in Both Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Major Spoilers)

    The ending of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) is one of the most haunting in the history of horror film endings: the hero Dr. Miles Benell (Kevin McCarthy) loses his love interest to the alien invaders, who take over the bodies of people who have fallen asleep. Finally giving up hope, and knowing that his entire town has been lost, Miles runs into the street screaming a warning – but no one listens, they just haul him off to an insane asylum.

    In the 1978 remake, about halfway through, you can see an old man screaming “They’re here!” as he runs through the street, desperate for anyone to listen. That old man is played by Kevin McCarthy, the same lead actor for the 1956 original.

  13. 13

    Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes/Planet of the Apes

    Do I need to describe this scene to you? At the end of the original Planet of the Apes, Charlton Heston (Charlton Heston) discovers that the planet he’s been on the whole movie was (spoilers) Earth the whole time! He screams “damn you! You blew it all up! Damn you all to hell!” Since you’ve all already seen that scene, so here’s a documentary on how they achieved the effect in 1968.



    In the Tim Burton remake, Heston has a cameo where he cleverly alludes to that scene by looking directly at the camera and speaking the exact same line. That scene sucks, so instead of linking you to it I’m going to show you this kinda hilarious analysis of the remake’s ending – an analysis that manages to explain the Burton ending perfectly while making me hate the movie even more than I already do.

  14. 14

    Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter/Equus

    The decision to cast Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe as the lead in Equus – a play that, among other things, involves walking around naked (it also involves horses and psychology) – garnered a little bit of controversy. Some people claimed that Radcliffe shouldn’t be nude on stage because... well, “reasons” are for people who spend their time on things that matter, so of course have nothing to do with anything here. 

    And based on the fact that the Harry Potter set designer decided to include an Equus poster in the background of this scene (influenced, rumor has it, by Radcliffe himself) I think it’s pretty clear what the staff really thinks of this “controversy.”

  15. 15

    Sonny Chiba in Kill Bill/Shadow Warriors



     You probably know the character Hattori Hanzo from the movie Kill Bill, where he’s played by Karate-film legend Sonny Chiba. But Tarantino didn’t invent the Hanzo character: he’s actually a common figure in samurai culture, as well as a real person, and had even been played by Chiba before – most notably in the early 80’s Japanese TV Series "Shadow Warriors."

  16. 16

    F. Murray Abraham in Last Action Hero/Amadeus

    This is the best movie ever that no one else likes. Do you like this movie? I like this movie. Last Action Hero is about a boy named Danny who, due to his sh*tty life, finds the only solace he can in movies. His favorite are the Jack Slater series (that roughly parallel Die Hard), which stars Arnold Schwarzeneggar as the titular badass cop. Due to a magic ticket and a conveniently wacky old man, Danny gets sucked inside the fictional world of the film – where some surprisingly clever writing takes place. 
    So, most of the movie is in-jokes about older movies (Sylvester Stallone even shows up in a Terminator poster) but one of the best parts involves Danny pointing out that a new character, just introduced, is played by F. Murray Abraham (in this scene played by F. Murray Abraham). Danny points out that he played the traitorous Antonio Salieri in Amadeus, so we know he’ll end up switching sides here. And he’s right.

    Okay, so maybe the movie’s not that good.

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