A joke that has to be explained is never funny, so don’t come into this list expecting to get taught a joke and leave laughing. It just can’t happen that way. What this list will bring you, however, is a sense of peace. You’ll leave knowing that you are just a little bit closer to understanding everything there is to know about the movies. In this list are those jokes that went over almost everyone’s head. These jokes were undetectable until now. Only the brightest minds could spot them right off the bat. Well, we found them and we’re bringing them to the masses. The jokes on this list are such pointed and minor references that most of them are difficult even just to see or hear, let alone understand. But we’re here for you. We’re going to remind you of these in-jokes from big movies and then tell you what they mean. The next time you stumble across them, you’re gonna laugh. You’re gonna laugh so hard.
Most of these jokes are considered inside jokes because only a few people in the know get them off the hop. For the most part, it’s a game of connect the dots. Once you hear the joke, you need to think about who’s making it, what it’s referring to and, from there, you might find the solution. Yeah, you understand how inside jokes work. The scenes in question are, for the most part, very recognizable. You may even have laughed or chuckled without even knowing why. You probably looked stupid doing that in hindsight. Or maybe you just went about your day, not even knowing you missed a joke. Imagine how much better your day would have been if you had got it in the first place. Well, let’s get on with making your days better from here on out. Here are 15 In-Movie Jokes That Everyone Missed.
15. Sideways And The Merlot
In the movie Sideways, Paul Giamatti‘s character refuses to drink Merlot wine, slamming it adamantly in favor of Pinot Noir. From this, an urban legend was spawned that sales of Merlot were actually negatively affected by this in-movie quip, even though there’s really no evidence showing it did anything at all. The worst part about this entire thing is that the line was actually a joke in the first place. While certain people probably did avoid Merlot, citing Sideways as evidence for why it’s an inferior wine to others, they were silly to do that. The Merlot joke was missed by nearly everyone except for those who know wine intimately (and now you). In Sideways, Giamatti has a treasured bottle of wine that he talks about throughout the film, the one he pops open at the end and drinks out of a plastic cup. This favored wine is a classic bottle of Chateau Cheval Blanc, you know the one? Turns out, that bottle is a Merlot blend. Merlot was simply a symbolic representation of his wife.
14. Stargate’s Hieroglyphic Humor
In 1994, Roland Emmerich released Stargate and it was pretty decent overall. Not really all that funny, but it wasn’t meant to be. There was, however, one line in the film that could have been so funny if we were all Egyptologists. Since no one is actually an Egyptologist in real life, I’ll let you in on the hilarity. At one point, James Spader’s character says that reading ancient Egyptian is “easy once you know the vowels.” Haha. You see, my confused and stupid friends, ancient Egyptian vowels were not written down. So, whenever one is working out hieroglyphic translations, they must deduce the vowels from what they have in consonants. Therefore, yeah, it’s easy to read hieroglyphs when you know the vowels, but they don’t know they vowels. That’s why it’s funny. He’s saying it’s hard. Humor.
13. King Kong And The Sumatran Rat Monkey
In Peter Jackson‘s King Kong, Adrien Brody’s character is walking around looking at his on-ship crib when he notices a suspicious looking box with the label “Sumatran Rat Monkey—Beware the Bite.” This looks like nothing too crazy, but fans of Peter Jackson knew better. If you had seen Jackson’s early film Braindead/Dead Alive, then you would know that the Simian Raticus or Rat Monkey Sumatra was the carrier of the film’s deadly virus. In that early film, it was said that these little creatures were taken from Skull Island, a direct reference to King Kong’s home. It was serendipitous that Jackson would go on to direct King Kong years later and have the chance to include this payback joke.
12. Thor’s Donald Blake Inside Joke
In the Marvel film, Thor, Chris Hemsworth comes down to earth and meets up with Natalie Portman and it’s a match made in heaven. At one point, Portman gives Thor some human clothes to put on, such as a crappy blue t-shirt. Thor looks at it and sees that it still has a nametag on it. Portman then looks at it and pulls it off, saying it belonged to one of her ex-boyfriends. The nametag reads Donald Blake M.D. This is a joke for all the comic book fans out there that know Thor’s alter-ego on Earth is actually Donald Blake. While it certainly did not get any chuckles in the theater I was in, it no doubt caused a stir in many a basement across the nation.
11. Django Unchained And The Boy Blue
While it may not be confirmed by Quentin Tarantino himself, this little joke-reference-thing is pretty neat. For painting lovers, Django’s outfit brings to mind the famous 1770 Thomas Gainsborough painting, The Blue Boy. Both wear a bomb frilly getup that would make Liberace jealous, and it seems that only a reference to this painting would make any sense for why the outfit was chosen. Keeping that in mind, that painting was also said to inspire the lost silent film from 1919, Knabe in Blau, created by FW Murnau, who was also a film pioneer. He famously created a filming technique that enabled filmmakers to move the camera around. That technique is called the “unchained technique.” OOOOOHHHHH. Spooky. Even if this wardrobe joke wasn’t intentional, we’ll help to keep it alive.
10. Terminator 2 With GNR
In Terminator 2: Judgement Day, as the Arnold walks through the mall looking like a total badass, he carries with him a box of roses. His stride is determined and his mind is set on his goal of stopping the T1000. It’s intense. As he gets to the hallway with John Connor, he sees the T100 and he opens up the aforementioned box of roses. Now we know what else is in that box, don’t we? Yes, we do. There’s also a gun in that box. It’s a box of guns and roses. Get it? Guns N’ Roses. Nice. You should also note that the song, “You Could Be Mine” by Guns N’ Roses was the theme song for the James Cameron classic. It may not be funny at all, but it is clever. We like it. I like it.
9. Toy Story’s Dirty Humor
As with all Disney and Pixar films, Toy Story is not only loaded with little jokes, it’s loaded with sexual jokes. After all, who doesn’t want their children watching films loaded with sexual tension and innuendo? By far the best of all of these moments is when Jessie and Buzz are having a little flirt, and Jessie realizes that the dog needs to be let out for a pee. She jumps into action, leaping on a little car and rolling down the track, through loop-de-loop (scientific term) and jumping onto the door handle, opening it up for the dog. Always the action hero and thrill-seeker, Buzz just loves what he sees here in Jessie and he can’t contain his excitement. I mean, he really loves it. He loves it so much, his wings pop out, straight out to his sides. It’s all very erotic.
8. Charlie’s Angels Remembers E.T.
When Drew Barrymore stumbles naked (covered up by a pool toy) up to the house where the two boys are discussing the number of boobs that they’ve seen, we see an E.T. poster on the wall and that’s all fine and dandy. We chuckle because, you see, it’s Drew Barrymore and it’s E.T. They’re forever connected. But look closer. The kids are eating Reese’s Pieces. Remember, those were the treats that Elliot used to lure and kidnap E.T. Now, look even closer. Does the house look familiar? It should. It’s the exact same house that the filmmakers used for E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. That means that this was the same house that Drew Barrymore shot scenes in 18 years earlier.
7. Scream Sees Freddy Krueger
Wes Craven‘s meta-horror film, Scream, is absolutely jam-packed with horror references and jokes, but there’s one that gets on this list because it’s got two levels of clever. The first part of the joke is obvious. When the camera looks outside of the principal’s office, it shows a janitor mopping the floor, wearing a Freddy Krueger hat and sweater. A Freddy joke is always welcome in any horror movie, but he gets a spot in this one in particular because both Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street are Wes Craven films. The other half of the joke is the part that not many recognize. The janitor in the Freddy outfit? That’s Wes Craven himself decked out in makeup and a wig
6. Shaun of the Dead and Night of the Living Dead
There are 33 million zombie movie references and jokes in Shaun of the Dead, but the best of the bunch comes when Shaun (Simon Pegg) is talking to his mom on the phone. While Shaun tells his mom that the guys are coming to get her, Ed (Nick Frost) yells, “we’re coming to get you Barbara,” which is a riff on the famous quote from Night of the Living Dead when Ben says to Barbara, “they’re coming to get you Barbara.” Which is a pretty rude thing to say, when you really break it down. He got his in the end.
5. Spider-Man 2 Nods To Evil Dead
In Spider-Man 2, when Doctor Octopus’ arms come to life and start smashing up the surgeons that are trying to remove them, many of the camera angles used are very familiar for Sam Raimi fans. You see, in addition to the Spider-Man films, Raimi directed also directed Evil Dead. In Evil Dead, the camera point of view is often from the attacking demons POV, just as it is from the perspective of the arms in this particular scene. At one point, one of the surgeons looks over and sees a chainsaw, Ash’s (Bruce Campbell’s) weapon of choice from Evil Dead. The way he holds it up is a perfect in-joke to the classic horror franchise and something that nearly all film fans can appreciate if they know what they’re looking for.
4. Cars Is For Adults, Too
A list of movie jokes without two Disney/Pixar films is not a list I want to be a part of. In the film Cars, there are several sexual innuendos that could make the list, but we’ll point to the best two. These are fairly obvious, but maybe you haven’t seen the movie in the while or you were too young to understand the jokes at the time. The one joke comes with Sally’s “tramp stamp” tattoo, the design on her bumper/lower back that means absolutely nothing but looks nice, I guess. The other is when two female fans (cars) drive up to Lightning McQueen and they open up their headlights, flashing him, so to speak. This is just about the greatest thing a car movie could do, so I’m glad they included it.
3. Die Hard with a Vengeance and Pulp Fiction
In Die Hard with a Vengeance, John McClane (Bruce Willis) explains that he has been spending his time off work, “smokin’ cigarettes and watchin’ Captain Kangaroo.” This is a meaningless line unless you’ve studied Pulp Fiction through and through because it’s actually a joke about Willis’ role in that movie. In Pulp Fiction, Willis sings The Statler Brothers’ song, “Flowers on the Wall,” which has these exact lyrics. The joke is probably in here because both Willis and Samuel L. Jackson were in the Quentin Tarantino hit together.
2. Halloween H20’s Psycho Joke
In one of the final chapters of the Halloween franchise, there is a little moment that is often overlooked, but it is a brilliant little joke for horror and film fans in general. The scene in particular has Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) speaking to Norma Watson, who is actually played by Janet Leigh, Curtis’ real life mother. The joke here comes in Watson’s line of dialogue. She first says to Laurie Strode that “everyone’s entitled to one good scare,” which is a line from the Halloween (1978)—also likely a reference to Leigh’s own scare from her role in Psycho (1960). After that, Leigh says, “if I can just be maternal,” which is poking fun at the relation between the two. Then, before the scene ends, Leigh walks over to her car, which is a 1957 Ford Sedan with the license plate NFB 418, the same car and license plate she had in her role as Marion Crane in Psycho.
1. Silence of the Lambs Gets Smart
The famous line uttered by Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs has always been seen as a bada** line followed by a wicked hissing sound. It showed us how hardcore Hannibal was and how crazy he was because of his nonchalant talk of cannibalism. But there’s always been something else here. It was right under our noses; we just weren’t smart enough to see it until now. Perhaps it’s an inside medical joke or maybe it’s Hannibal admitting that he’s not been taking his meds, but the line is almost certainly a reference to the drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These drugs were used by institutions at one point, but because they have potentially lethal side effects when combined with certain foods, they were canned. There are three main types of foods these drugs react particularly bad with: liver, beans and wine.