Monday at the Movies – Inside the In-Joke

I love a good inside joke in a movie – you know the ones only the real movie geeks (yeah, geeks like me) get. Whether it is an ongoing theme in a series of movies, inserting lines or dialogue from movies of the same genre, or hilarious cameos – I love them all.

So I had an idea to list 5 of my favourite ‘inside jokes’. The 5 that I have listed below are not neccessarily my absolute favourites, to be honest they are just the first ones that popped into my head. So without further ado: 

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    Back to the Future: Seen it? Well I am sure you have. Back to the Future is full of clever tidbits. One of the best is when Marty McFly goes back in time. The movie theater in 1955 in playing two movies, “A Boy’s Life” which was the original title of E.T. and “Watch the Skies” which was the original title of Close Encounters Of the Third Kind. Also when Marty hitches a ride on the back of a pick-up while riding his skateboard to school the driver is producer Stephen Speilberg. [btw as a side note did you know that virtually the entire movie was filmed with Eric Stoltz playing the part of Marty McFly? They decided it wasn’t working and put Michael J Fox (who had been their original first choice) in the role. His parts had to be filmed entirely at night as he was filming Family Ties during the day – I know what a font of useless information I am]

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    Scream: Classic film (which I know I have mentioned before – you might guess that it is one of my favourites). During a scene in the school the janitor says to Principal Himbrey “Talking to me?” the principal replies with “Not you Fred.” The janitor is played by none other than the immortal Wes Craven (director of Nightmare on Elm Street and of course Scream) and he is wearing the famous red and green stripped shirt worn by Freddy Krueger (the shirt is also visible in Scream 2 in Sidney’s wardrobe). There is also a classic reference to the fictional director ‘Wes Carpenter’ which is an amalgamation of Wes Craven and John Carpenter (director of Halloween).

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    Enchanted: I think the reviewers gave this movie a rough time when it was released. This movie is gold – but perhaps only for people who love Disney films. The film is a parody of every Disney movie ever made. This movie is so full of jokes and movie trivia that I could dedicate an entire post to it – but I will just mention a few. Of course there are the obvious references to Cinderella’s slipper and the apple from Snow White, but it is the obscure references, that only movie nerds like me even notice, that I love the most. My favourite part of this movie (apart from the hilarious prince played by James Marsden) are the cameos. Patrick Dempsey’s secretary in the film is played by the fabulous Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in The Little Mermaid (and Barbie in Toy Story 2 & 3). There is a scene in the movie where Timothy Spall is watching a soapie on television. In the soap the part of Angela is played by Paige O’Hara, who voiced Belle in Beauty and the Beast (the other characters names are Jerry and Odgen, the three of them named for Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach and David Odgen Stiers who voiced the Teapot, Candelbra and Clock respectively). Also when the prince is looking for Giselle in the apartment block one of the doors is answered by Judy Kuhn, who is the singing voice of Pocohontas.

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    Cars: All pixar movies have numerous references to other pixar films (and Disney do this aswell and I am sure I will go through many of these in later posts). Some of my fav’s from Cars include the use of Dinoco (as The Kings sponsor) which was the name of the petrol station in Toy Story. The tyres used by the cars are Lightyear’s (after Buzz). The number of Lightning McQueen is 95 after the year Toy Story was released. Both Mater’s number plate and the train that almost runs over McQueen contain the number A113, which is a room number for the animation room at California Institute of the Arts (this reference is in all pixar films). I could go on and on…

  5. Jack and the Beanstalk: This is actually the movie that made me think of writing this post in the first place and probably contains my favourite references of all time (this is the 2010 version of the story and to be honest the film was pretty ordinary but it is worth it just for this line). Wallace Shawn (who by the way plays two of my fav characters of all time Rex from Toy Story and Vizzini from The Princess Bride) plays the owner of the pawn shop and the man who gives Jack the Beans. At one point Shawn offers to trade Iocaine powder, the same fictional powder that kills his character in The Princess Bride. I love it!

I love in-jokes so much I have actually inserted some into my own novels. In each of my books there is a description of my kids at the age they were when I first drafted the scene. And there is at least on character in each novel that is named after someone that I know.

Do you have a favourite in joke or cameo? Are there any other in jokes you particularly like from the movies mentioned above. Do you have any in-jokes in your novels? As always would love to hear from you.

Jody Moller

2 responses to “Monday at the Movies – Inside the In-Joke

  1. I’ll mention a couple of Howard Hawks classics. In His Girl Friday, Cary Grant says, “Listen, the last man that said that to me was Archie Leach just a week before he cut his throat.” (Archie Leach was Grant’s real name).
    And in To Have and Have Not, Bacall’s character was based on Slim Keith. Hawks’ wife, so Bogart calls her “Slim” and she calls Bogart’s character “Steve” (reportedly Slim Keith’s nickname for Hawks) even though the character’s name is Harry.

    There are a few people who I know who have popped up in my writing from time to time as minor characters. I’ll have to think about in-jokes… I’m sure there are some.

  2. I feel so boring now! There are no in jokes or cameo parts in my novels. I was watching one of the Indiana Jones films with my son last week and did happen to notice for the very first time that the plane he was trying to escape in had OB-3PO on it. Upon looking it up I discovered numerous in jokes between Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

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