50 Greatest Meta Movie Moments

Tango And Cash (1989)

The Meta Moment: Who do you think you are?” asks a local cop of Tango. “He thinks he’s Rambo,” chrips another. “Rambo?” chuckles Tango. “Rambo’s a pussy.”

Why It’s Great: Sly is having a laugh at himself. A bloody good laugh…

Swordfish (2001)

The Meta Moment: “You know what the problem with Hollywood is?” begins John Travolta’s villain. “They make shit. Unbelievable, unremarkable shit.”

Why It’s Great: Opening a movie like Swordfish with the aforementioned lines is punchy in the extreme. Having them delivered by the man who brought you Battlefield Earth … well that’s nothing short of genius.

Deconstructing Harry (1997)

The Meta Moment: Harry begins to lose his focus, resulting in his character becoming visibly blurry on the screen.

Why It’s Great: Most of Woody Allen’s characters are fictionalised versions of himself, so it’s nice to see him being more explicit about it here!

The Mist (2007)

The Meta Moment: The film’s opening reel sees Thomas Jane’s character painting a rather familiar-looking image to fans of Stephen King…

Why It’s Great: That painting is the cover art of King’s novel The Dark Tower . We’ll be expecting a reference to The Mist in that film, should it ever get made…

Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (2007)

The Meta Moment: “I should be on that list!” protests Stan Lee, having been turned away from the wedding of Reed Richards and Susan Storm.

Why It’s Great: Stan Lee is always awesome, but this one is particularly nod-nod, wink-wink as a Stan Lee lookalike is also turned away from the very same event in the comic-book.

Casper (1995)

The Meta Moment: Ray Stantz comes bursting out of the haunted mansion, sporting a terrible moustache and looking a bit perturbed. “Who you gonna call?” he asks. “Someone else!”

Why It’s Great: A Dan Aykroyd cameo would be one thing, but having him pitch up as Ray Stantz is raising the bar.

Charlies Angels (2000)

The Meta Moment: Drew Barrymore’s character goes hurtling into a living room that’s the mirror image of the one lived in by her character in ET .

Why It’s Great: Ignoring the too-obvious placement of an ET poster above the television, it’s a nice call-back to Drew’s big break.

Welcome To The Jungle (2003)

The Meta Moment: The Rock is strolling into a nightclub, only to bump into Arnie walking out of the entrance. “Have fun,” smiles the Austrian Oak before heading off into the night.

Why It’s Great: It’s a lovely passing of the torch from one action hero to another.

Scream 2 (1997)

The Meta Moment: Mike Epps and Jada Pinkett Smith head to a screening of Stab (itself a parody of Scream ), where the latter complains about the horror genre being “historical for excluding the African-American element.” Guess who gets it first?

Why It’s Great: Wes Craven takes the hoary old genre trope of the black guy dying first, holds it up to ridicule, then goes through with it anyway!

Adaptation (2002)

The Meta Moment: The moment where Nicolas Cage announces he will cast Gerard Depardieu in his movie, giving us the prospect of Depardieu as Charlie Kaufman in a film by Charlie Kaufman in a film by Charlie Kaufman.

Why It’s Great: Because you don’t often see an example of meta-metafiction!