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

Monday at the Movies – Cars 2 Review

When I first heard that Pixar were going to be making a sequel to Cars I had one of those internal cringe moments. I mean their last movie was a sequel (Toy Story 3) was it really wise to back it up with another? Surely Pixar (one of my fav production studios) were not going to succumb to the ‘Sequel-Cash-Cow’. Then when I learned that their 2013 release was going to be a sequel to Monsters Inc (currently titled Monsters University) I almost cried.

Just because I had reservations about the film didn’t mean I wasn’t going to go and see it – of course I was, at the first available opportunity, which just so happened to be yesterday.

Okay, so first a basic run down of the film.

In Cars 2 we find Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) heading back to Radiator Springs to spend time with his best friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) having just won his 4th Piston Cup. Lightning decides to participate in the inaugural World Grand Prix – heading off to Japan with Mater and his Racing Team in tow (pun not intended). When Mater is mistaken for an American spy by members of the British Intelligence Agency – Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) and Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) the insuing drama is undoubtly hilarious. Mater and his spy friends must determine who is responsible for attacks on the cars participating in the Grand Prix before Lightning meets his demise.

So was the film great or was it just a cash in? Well I think I need to split that question into two separate questions.

The first is did my kids (2.5 and 4.5) like the movie? I think the best way to work out if kids like a movie is not to ask them straight out (they always say yes) but rather to use what I call the ‘wriggle-factor’. When my kids are really absorbed in a film their butts stick to the seat and they don’t move. They don’t ask me every two minutes for more food. And they don’t find it neccessary to sit on my lap and have a conversation. Unfortunately all these things happened in this movie. The problem, in my humble opinion, is that while it was exciting and colourful and fun it was just too confusing for them. All of the jokes my husband and I laughed at the most went completely over their heads and they were left asking me if I had any lollies left. Older kids might well be more engaged.

Secondly, did I like the film? YES, YES and YES. As you may have worked out (given that pixar films have now starred on my blog two weeks in a row) I am a bit of a Pixar fan. And I can promise you that any Pixar fan will love this movie. First of all it has the best computer graphics of any movie I have ever seen – while the cars themselves still maintain their cartoonish appearance the backgrounds could almost be real (except for the fact that all the famous landmarks have been modified slightly to incorporate car-based statues – I am sure this will provide loads of entertainment for things not noticed on a first viewing at the cinema). The movie was funny, yes Mater can at times be a bit painful (which seems to be the most common complaint from other reviews) but I think Lightning McQueen is painful too and was quite glad he wasn’t the main protag in this film. The only thing you need to remember is that it is ultimately a kids movie so if you are expecting something other than the obvious moral ending – go and see something else!

So my favourite moments (don’t worry I won’t give too much away). There was a lovely moment where the cars mourn the passing of Doc Hudson, which I can only assume was meant in homage to the passing of Paul Newman who voiced Doc Hudson in the original movie – a touching inclusion in the film. There were the inevitable references to previous Pixar films my favourite of which was the existence of ‘Gastow’s Restaurant’ in Paris (no that’s not a typo by me either, it’s a joke – get it?) There were plenty of amazing new characters including the very cool Professor Z (as a scientist myself I always have a soft-spot for the mad-scientist) and the Italian F1 car Francesco Bernoulli (voiced by the very funny John Turturro). And far too many laughs to count.

So personally, I give this 4 stars out of 5. I liked it, my husband liked it. I would like to go and see it again without the kids distracting me – but I am sure there will be plenty more viewings once it comes out on DVD.

Also as a side note the short movie that preceeded Cars2 was Toy Story Hawaiian Vacation and it was awesome. Correct me if I am wrong but I think this is the first of the pixar shorts (the ones before the cinema releases not the ones included on the DVDs) to include dialogue and at first I was a bit dissapointed – I love seeing how the Pixar masters manage to get so much across without the use of speech. But the short was so funny that it made up for it (I mean come on it stars Ken how can it not be funny!)

Have you seen Cars2? Are you planning on seeing it? Do you agree with my review? Was their anything you loved/hated about the film? Don’t forget to leave me a comment.

Jody Moller

(The Exasperated Novelist)