You can call it a tribute, an homage, a cinematic tip of the hat - this is what links films across genres and decades, and preserves cinema. Classic horror films like Kubrick’s “The Shining” can find love in a Pixar film like “Toy Story” and director’s like Scorsese can create entire features dedicated to their love of movies. Films don’t have to call upon their predecessors, but almost all films have some point of inspiration, and when this inspiration is acknowledged directly, the film becomes a much larger experience. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our ten favorite homage’s/tributes that make us appreciate not just the film, but also the connection it creates to movies through the ages.
10. Back to the Future 2 (Midnight Cowboy)
We figured this was the perfect one to top off our list. It’s simple and it’s quick. In Zemeckis’ “Back to the Future: II” there is a scene where Marty McFly Jr. almost gets hit by a car as he attempts to cross the street. In reaction to this, Marty screams out the famous “Midnight Cowboy” quote “I’m walking here, I’m walking here!”
This homage (or parody) is one that stuck with us over the years, seeing as how we are big “Midnight Cowboy” fans. Of course, Dustin Hoffman’s delivery of the line can’t be beat, but it’s fun to watch it over and over again in many different incarnations.
Check out this link with both clips
9. R2D2 (Star Trek/ Close Encounters of the Third Kind)
Ok, this is not so much an ‘homage’ as it is little Easter eggs. Either way, we thought it deserved to be in our list. Back in 2009, fans got to hear about how director J.J. Abrams snuck in R2D2 into his 2009 “Star Trek” film. Since then, many fanboys went crazy trying to find the image, only to find out later that he is in it for half of a split second, zipping away with debris through space. What many people didn’t know, however, is that R2D2 also makes an appearance in Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. The scene takes place towards the end of the film. If you look carefully while Richard Dreyfus is peering over the edge of the mountain, you can see R2D2 hanging upside-down from the aliens’ space ship. How awesome is that?!
8. Toy Story 2 (Jurassic Park/ 2001: A Space Odyssey/ Vertigo)
One of the best sequels out there, this film is packed with little “homage jokes”, as we like to call them. The first one we’d like to mention, is of course, the “2001: A Space Odyssey” references in the film. The entire opening sequence is an enormous galactic battle scene ending with Buzz Lightyear inside of Zorg’s secret space layer. Buzz ends up hopping across a floating bridge made of hovering disks. His footsteps, as well as background machinery, all serve to make up the famous “2001: A Space Odyssey” music (Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra”). Watch the clip here.
“Toy Story 2” also gives a classic throwback to “Jurassic Park” in the scene where Rex is chasing after the car in the toy store.
Another classic reference in this is when Woody has his Vertigo-esque nightmare. Andy drops him to the floor while the camera does a dolly zoom. He also crashes through into a realm of isolation and echoes. It all ends with Woody waking up and screaming, much like in Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”. You can watch Woody’s nightmare here.
These are just a few of the references that “Toy Story 2” packed into their film. There are many more, from Zorg telling Buzz Lightyear that he is his father, ala “Star Wars”, to the Barbies dancing to the same choreography as Ann-Margret in “Viva Las Vegas”.
7. Iron Man 2 (The Incredible Hulk)
Yes, yes. We understand that in this case, this was all planned by Marvel for about 5 years to lead directly into the “Avengers” movie. None of this makes it any less exciting for us. Which is why we chose this one to be in our list. In a scene in “Iron Man 2”, Tony Stark and Nick Fury chat while a news report goes on in the background with images of the torn up Campus from “The Incredible Hulk”’.
Seeing the images of the debris caused by the green behemoth in his own movie made our inner geeks go crazy. It helps nail down our realization that this is all taking place in one universe. And that, my friends, is worth being in our top 10 list.
6. Shutter Island (Hitchcock Potpourri)
Ok, we all know that Scorsese is an absolute genius. We are not debating that. But did you know that he took tons of inspiration from Hitchcock for his film “Shutter Island”? It’s already known that Scorsese is a big fan of Hitchcock seeing as how he shot a promo film for a Spanish cava-maker “the way Alfred Hitchcock would have made it then, only making it now”. Hitchcock is spewed all over “Shutter Island”. From a shower scene mimicking Psycho, to climbing up unbearably tall buildings ala “Vertigo”, to hanging off a rock face like in “North By North West”, the film has more homages to Hitchcock than Toy Story 2 did to other films.
5. Toy Story (The Shining)
Pixar’s done it again! How do you make the creepiest kid ever even creepier? By making the very place he lives just as creepy. The geniuses behind Pixar had the great idea of making Sid’s carpet the same design as the carpet from the hotel in “The Shining”.
We still can’t watch The Shining without covering our eyes (specifically at the shot with the bloodied twins). So seeing that carpet in Sid’s house is definitely cringe worthy. Touché, Pixar.
4. The Untouchables (Battleship Potemkin)
Here’s a big one! The classic gun shootout scene at the train station from Brian De Palma’s “The Untouchables” also has an iconic image of a baby carriage falling down the stairs. Watch that scene here.
This was De Palma’s homage to Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 “The Battleship Potemkin”. Here is the original iconic scene of the odessa steps.
3. Hugo (Georges Méliès)
The homage of homages (some would say). Scorsese does a beautiful job at showing us the inner workings of filmmaker Georges Méliès. This film made the film geek inside all of us go crazy. To be able to actually see how a set was on a Méliès film was an incredible experience. Yes, we understand that it was not real and was all shot by Scorsese. But that’s the closest we’ve ever been.
Anyone who hasn’t seen “A Trip to the Moon” can check it out right here.
2. Rango (Chinatown/ Fear and Loathing/ Spaghetti Westerns)
Rango! This film definitely deserves our number 2 spot on this list. For starters, the entire story is an homage to Polanski’s film “Chinatown”. Both of these films take place in a world where water has become a luxury because of its scarcity. Both films have a character of high political power in charge of the water supply, and of course, both take place in a dessert world full of brown hues and dry landscapes. Oh, and did we mention the big one? It turns out that both towns do indeed have water, but the water is being dumped at night to maintain control.
On top of being an homage to “Chinatown”, “Rango” also ends up giving us a pretty comical scene as our main character accidentally lands on the windshield of a traveling car. Who is driving this vehicle? The same character that Johnny Depp played in his 1998 hit “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”
How meta of you, Rango. One last thing that would be worth pointing out, is the hilarious portrayal of “The Spirit of the West” by Timothy Olyphant. Best Clint Eastwood Impersonation ever?
1. Be Kind Rewind (Tons of “Sweded” films)
Our number 1 pick for this list…. “Be Kind Rewind”! How could it not be? This movie makes references and homages to a variety of different films. The film is about two friends who work at a VHS rental store and accidentally erase all of the tapes. They began to reshoot all of the movies themselves, and call it “sweding” a film. Their re-imagination of the original films is very fun to watch, and after all, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. Films they “swede” include: Ghostbusters, Rush Hour 2, Driving Miss Daisy, Boyz n the Hood, Robocop, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rocky, The Lion King, and King Kong
For those who have never seen it, here is the trailer.
Who the heck are Andy and Brian?