The Best Fake Movies Within Movies
Sometimes the most entertaining part of a movie is when we get a sneak peak inside the type of movie that movie's world would make. DID WE LOSE YOU? We're talking about movies within movies. And here's a list of our faves!
1) Gandhi II (UHF, 1989)
Somewhat of an acquired taste if you’re not of the mindset, “Weird Al” Yankovic’s UHF stars the singer-songwriter as George Newman, the reluctant owner of a small TV station smack-dab in the middle of nowhere. Parodying nearly every aspect of the ‘80s zeitgeist, UHF took a jab at 1982’s Gandhi, turning history’s most influential pacifist into a gun-toting, take-no-prisoners law enforcer! It’s an obvious play on Gandhi’s passive resistance philosophy (and the unforgivingly schlocky action films of the decade), but the short satire serves as a visual metaphor for just how awful movie sequels can be.
2) Angels with Filthy Souls (Home Alone, 1990)
It’s hard to believe that the most quotable line from Home Alone isn’t from the film proper, but rather the faux noir masterpiece, Angels with Filthy Souls. Plenty of effort on the producers’ part was put into this movie-within-a-movie, so much so that one can't say—watching through the lenses of childhood naivety, granted—they weren't convinced this was sitting somewhere in their grandparents' VHS collection (though the title is a parody of the very real Angels with Dirty Faces). And it only got better when its yuletide sequel, Angels with Even Filthier Souls, made a worthy appearance in Home Alone 2! "Keep the change, ya filthy animal."
3) Don’t (Grindhouse, 2007)
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s titular ode to the sketchy grindhouse theaters of yore did more than present movies in that gritty style. It tried to capture as much of the experience as possible by including a host of fake trailers written and directed by industry alums. Of them, Don’t—directed by Shaun of the Dead’s Edgar Wright—is a spot-on self-referential parody of the horror films British studios, Hammer Films in particular, were churning out at the time. Or more to the point, the manner in which these trailers were edited to appeal to American sensibilities: No talking whatsoever, just the overuse of jump cuts and snappier retitling.
4) The Fatties: Fart 2 (Tropic Thunder, 2008)
Tropic Thunder was an example of cinematic mise en abyme: A parody within a parody within a parody. Aside from riffing on overzealous war epics and the offscreen personalities of actors, the movie tore apart the current state of Hollywood with its slew of fake trailers—and no genre was safe! Many will say that the best of the bunch was Satan’s Alley (featuring Robert Downey, Jr.'s character, Kirk Lazarus, and a cameo by Tobey Macguire), but there’s an obnoxious charm to The Fatties: Fart 2, embodying the film industry’s inclination to assault the market with sequels to lowbrow comedies no one asked for. It was perfect... in that unsettlingly familiar sort of way.
5) McBain (The Simpsons)
Okay, The Simpsons isn’t a movie, but we’d be remiss not to include the legendary McBain series on this list. Now and then in current seasons we still get a clip thrown our way, but they hardly stack up to those from the early ‘90s—when the over-the-top action, synth music, and cheesy catchphrases of ‘80s action films (hallmarks of the genre all) were still fresh in the minds of The Simpsons’ staff writers. And it was only a few years ago that trenchant fans realized these seemingly disparate McBain snippets actually weave together as one cohesive movie!
Which one would you want to see made into an actual movie?