The 25 best Star Wars references in other movies

Feel the Force across the spectrum of cinema

It's typical for movies to receive industry accolades - usually in the form of little gold men - to recognise their excellence. But there's nothing typical about Star Wars. It relies not on the acquisition of awards and baubles to feel appreciated. Those same people who cast their votes come award season are often the same folk who honour The Force in another way. Directors, writers, producers and actors who get creative and drop loving nods to the trilogy into their own films.

And really, that's how you measure the brilliance of Star Wars: by its reflection in popular culture. It's a testament to the impact George Lucas' creation has had on the world. Whether it's a small easter egg for die-hards to spot, or a lengthy tirade in which characters debate the efficacy of the Empire's workforce, there's a lot of love for Star Wars in cinema. With The Force Awakens hitting theatres soon, kickstarting a whole new era, there'll no doubt be more to come in the future. Until then, here's 25 of the best movie moments that truly feel The Force.

25. Paul (2011)

Simon Pegg's love of Star Wars echoes throughout his career. And while the best comes from Spaced, when Tim delivered a superb rant tearing down the prequel trilogy, Paul's subtle nod to the series is just as cool. When the Graeme, Clive and Paul duck into Roy's Roadhouse in Nevada, the house musicians fire up the song played by the cantina band in the first Episode Four. "They were a local New Mexico band," director Gregg Mottola told MTV, "and I asked if they could learn the song and they said, 'Oh, we played a wedding for a Star Wars freak. The cantina theme was the first dance.'"

24. Up (2009)

You might not have spotted these two little hints due to torrents of tears obscuring your view of the screen. Remember the crew of fighter pilot dogs? Listen up when they're all signing in: their calls are identical to the Red Squadron's. The difference being, as they're all colourblind these airborne canines go by the name Grey Squadron. And keep your eyes peeled during the credits, as the camera lingers on a polaroid of Russell and Carl outside a theater showing Star Wars.

23. Pitch Perfect (2012)

"Vader' in German means 'father'. His name is literally Darth Father." So says Anna Kendrick's achingly-hip DJ Beca as justification for her tedium with movies. According to her, they're too predictable. Citing Star Wars works well to prove her point: Darth revealing himself to be Luke's dad is one of cinema's best jaw-droppers. Well, except she's wrong. Vader means father in Netherlands Dutch, not German. The German dub of the movie corrects this little snafu.

22. Pineapple Express (2008)

You're about to be thrown into an underground pit by the thuggish lackeys of the city's most powerful drug lord. Why not lay down your cultural savvy before your meet a potential grisly end? That's the thinking behind this choice quip from James Franco's verbose drug dealer Saul. "What's down there, a fucking Rancor?" he asks Matheson and Budlofsky as they attempt to shove him down the pit. Rancors are Jabba The Hutt's preferred beast to keep chained in dark, dingy holes and rolled out whenever he needs things 'disposed of.'

21. Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)

Dr. Evil's plans are rarely original, his tyranny oft-inspired by the evil schemes of villains throughout pop. culture. That doesn't stop him from taking great glee in unveiling those plans. The announcement for his latest effort to destroy Washington D.C. reveals that his latest weapon hails from a galaxy far, far away. "I've turned the moon into what I like to call a 'death star'," he tells the congregation. "Alright then, Darth," says his son Scott, mockingly.

20. Chasing Amy (1997)

"Fuck Lando Calrissian!" shouts Hooper in response to Holden's assertion that the character is a positive African-American role model in the realm of sci-fi and fantasy. As any Kevin Smith fan knows, Star Wars isn't casually referenced in his movies. It's debated at length, spiels of comedic verve laced with foul language. They're all terrific. This back and forth banter is Smith at his best. Hooper, a comic book writer delivering a speech at a convention, lets loose his thoughts on the symbolism behind the "holy trilogy."

19. Sunshine (2007)

Danny Boyle confessed to this deliberate steal from The Phantom Menace, probably the only director to admit that the first prequel was worthy of pilfering. As references go, it's not as noticeable as other entries on this list, purely because the line itself isn't Star Wars-specific. The unhinged Icarus I captain Pinbacker asks Capa "Are you an angel?" which you may recall is the same question a young Anakin Skywalker asks Padme during their first meeting in Episode One.

18. Can't Hardly Wait (1998)

No teen party movie is complete without a cluster of uninvited geeks. One enters the party, while the other two remain stranded on the roof with nothing to do but talk. The pair let their geek credentials be known whenever they're onscreen. Their impromptu lightsaber battle with flashlights changes a few key details of the epic father-son fight at the end of Empire "Hey, Luke doesn't push Vader!" cries one. "Well he should've," his buddy responds, "I mean, the guy cut his hand off."

17. Happy Gilmore (1996)

The ending to Adam Sandler's golf comedy takes a fun jab at Luke's spectral vision from the party scene in Jedi. Happy sees three important figures from his own life just as Luke sees Obi-Wan, Anakin and Yoda as spirits looking on as the Rebels celebrate. Hovering above his grandma's house as everyone walks in, he spies his mentor Chubbs, Abraham Lincoln, and the crocodile which previously bit Chubbs' hand off, all waving from the clouds.

Gem Seddon is GamesRadar+'s west coast Entertainment News Reporter, working to keep all of you updated on all of the latest and greatest movies and shows on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Outside of entertainment journalism, Gem can frequently be found writing about the alternative health and wellness industry, and obsessing over all things Aliens and Terminator on Twitter.