Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Fictional Movies

No, not fiction movies. That could be anything. This week, the Roundtable goes meta, as we look at the best fictional movies that only exist within other movies or TV shows.

Since Dick came up with this brilliant topic, we’ll let him lead things off:

Dick Ward

  1. ‘Terminator 2’, Starring Sylvester Stallone – The Stallone version of the Terminator appears in ‘Last Action Hero‘, when our hero Danny tries to prove that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a movie star and not just a regular guy. It’s a little confusing. Danny takes Arnold to a video store and shows him a poster for ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day‘, only to find Sly Stallone gracing the artwork. Not only is it a funny moment in the film, it’s a really interesting casting suggestion. I’ve grown tired of the self referential governor and the flurry of awful movies he’s responsible for. If we could just take the good, or even the decent, movies he was in and recast them, I think I’d find them far more watchable. Stallone in ‘Terminator’ may be heresy, but at least the man can act! Even taking my dislike of the buff Austrian into account, I fully approve of his role in the highly underrated ‘Last Action Hero’. If nothing else, I’d like to hold it responsible for helping us, as a people, grow out of our muscle-bound action man phase.

Drew Taylor

  1. Mant!‘ – My favorite movie-within-a-movie has got to be ‘Mant!’, the phony 1950s horror film depicted in Joe Dante’s underrated masterpiece ‘Matinee’. What makes ‘Mant!’ so wonderful – besides the fact that it stars Cathy Moriarty as a woman who falls in love with a man who has (thanks to the atomic-age threat of radioactivity) changed into a half-man/half-ant monster – is that it isn’t a spoof so much as a loving homage. ‘Matinee’ is fashioned as a kind of unauthorized biography/celebration of schlock film producer William Castle, who gave us the original ‘House on Haunted Hill’ and ‘The Tingler’, among other gems. ‘Mant!’ falls perfectly into that wheelhouse. Not only is it an arms race allegory, but it also serves as a combination of two classics from the period, ‘The Fly’ and ‘Them’. Oh, and in perfect William Castle fashion, at every showing of ‘Mant!’ the theater rumbles and a man dressed as the titular character stumbles through the aisles, scaring impressionable teens mid-embrace. ‘Mant!’ may be silly, but Dante and his collaborators were very serious in their love and appreciation for all things William Castle.

Mike Attebery

  1. Patrick Stewart’s “Exhilarating” Dream Project in ‘Extras’ – I was pretty disappointed in Ricky Gervais’ follow-up to ‘The Office’, but the short-lived series did provide one of my favorite TV moments related to a fictional film project. During a scene in which Gervais’ desperate wannabe actor slips into Patrick Stewart’s trailer to hustle his way into the business, we get a glimpse of Stewart’s seldom-seen deadpan comic side. As the famous ‘Star Trek’ captain discusses the importance of writing your own material, and describes his own dream project – a script in which he’s able to make random women’s clothes fall off so he can “see everything” – the gleeful look in his eyes as he imagines the real world possibility of telekinetic clothing removal is pure comic gold. Check it out for yourself!

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

  1. Action Doctor‘ – I just finished watching ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World‘ for the eight-hojillionth time, so my pick is one of the flicks featured in that: ‘Action Doctor’. “The good news is…you are going to live. The bad news is he is going to kill you. Check your pulse on May 19th.” Maybe I’m just a cheap date, but between that and a shot of a guy with a stethoscope outrunning an explosion…? They could count on my eight bucks.

Junie Ray

  1. The Dueling Cavalier‘ – I’ll start out with some classics I’d like to see, such as ‘The Dueling Cavalier’ from ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. Of course, I’d like the first version with the Lina Lamont voiceover saying things like, “I canned stan it.”
  2. Aged in Wood‘ – Another standout would be ‘Aged in Wood’ from ‘All About Eve’, just because I’d love to see another Bette Davis movie.
  3. Various ‘Extras’ Movies – For modern, I’ll take my picks from the TV show ‘Extras’. I can’t recall whether any of the movies they worked in had titles. I’d like to see the holocaust film with Kate Winslet playing a nun, a performance that was destined to win her an Oscar. I’d also like to see Samuel L. Jackson star as an American cop in England – or it could be played by Laurence Fishburne, as Maggie couldn’t tell the difference between them. Perhaps it could have been called ‘Fish out of Water’. I’d also be interested in an Orlando Bloom courtroom thriller.

Josh Zyber

There are so many, many possibilities here. Where do I even start?

  1. James Cameron’s ‘Aquaman’ – ‘Entourage’ spent the better part of two seasons following pretty-but-vapid leading man Vincent Chase hit the big time in a mega-budget superhero action epic directed by none other than Mr. ‘Titanic’, James Cameron (appearing as himself). Cameron was very game to make fun of his reputation as a control freak perfectionist, and his obsession with underwater filmmaking. This story arc is the high point of the entire series. And I’d still rather see Cameron make an ‘Aquaman’ movie for real than the damned ‘Avatar‘ sequels he’s actually working on now.
  2. Dragonfly‘ – Not the (real) Kevin Costner supernatural flop of the same title. I’m talking about the super-cool ’60s spy/sci-fi adventure flick featured within Roman Coppola’s ‘CQ’. The meta-movie’s a campy retro homage to Euro cheesefests like ‘Barbarella’ and ‘Danger: Diabolik’, complete with bouncy jazz score and silly special effect models and miniatures. The DVD of ‘CQ’ offers a bonus feature that assembles all the snippets of footage seen in the feature into a short reconstruction of ‘Dragonfly’. The story is too fragmented and doesn’t make a whit of sense, but then I seriously doubt the full-length movie would have either.
  3. The Purple Rose of Cairo‘ – “Isn’t that a real movie?” you ask. Well, yes, but Woody Allen’s existential fantasy takes its name from the film-within-the-film, a Depression-era “White Telephone” drama about fabulously wealthy socialites that our heroine Cecilia (played by Mia Farrow) wishes so hard could be real that they actually step out of the theater screen and become real for her. That sounds like a ticket price well spent to me.
  4. Rochelle, Rochelle‘ – ‘Seinfeld’ is a treasure trove of fake movies. A pretentious indie art film about, “A young girl’s erotic journey from Milan to Minsk”? I’m pretty sure that John Duigan has directed this for real a couple times over, hasn’t he? Other great ‘Seinfeld’ gems include ‘Prognosis: Negative’, ‘Checkmate’, and ‘Ponce de Leon’.

We know you’ve got some great ones too. Throw them at us!


  1. This is hard, as most movies I can think of that have other movies in them are actually real movies. There are a couple that come to mind.

    The Roger Rabbit shorts, from Who Framed Rogger Rabbit.

    The Itchy & Scratchy movie, from The Simpsons Movie.

    Terrance & Phillip, from South Park (that being said, I think the shorts shown in the show are about all I can handle)

    That’s about all that come to mind at the moment.

  2. Action Doctor, I LOL’d at that one as I just watched Scott Pilgrim myself, fantastic movie by the way and his performance was hilarious, great movie all around, one of the best of the year

    As far as the topic goes, I cant think of anything right now, I also loved the Stallone Last Action Hero one as well, IMO thats a highly underrated Arnold flick

  3. Jane Morgan

    ‘Untitled Douggie Brown Prison Picture’ written and directed by David Mamet.

    A buddy film, a prison film, Douggie brown, blah, blah, some girl… Action, blood, a social theme.

    • Alex

      Incidentally, it’s kind of fun when watching Seinfeld (or anything that contains a fictional film) to try to identify the fictional movie’s footage. For instance, I remember “Chunnel” in Seinfeld was actually footage of “The American President”, but you could only see the bottom quarter of the image with Jason Alexander standing in front of it.

  4. Shayne Blakeley

    “Swamp Sex Robots” from Degrassi Jr. High

    “Coupon: The Movie” From Mr. Show

    Mel Gibson’s remake of “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” from The Simpsons

    Speaking of The Simpsons, every Troy Mcclure movie, especially “The Erotic Adventures of Hercules.”

    • I can’t believe we got this far without a mention of Troy McClure.

      The President’s Neck is Missing
      Christmas Ape
      Christmas Ape Goes To Summer Camp
      Leper in the Backfield
      The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel

  5. motorheadache

    I want to see McBain’s newest flick mixing action and comedy entitled: McBain: Let’s Get Silly.

    “Don’t you hate how men always leave the toilet seat up?… That’s the joke.”

  6. Shayne Blakeley

    Also, the actual video in “The Ring.” I never understood why they didn’t release a copy of that video with the movie, it’s way creepier than the movie itself.

    • EM

      The cursed video in fact has been released as a hidden extra on the DVD. At the main menu, go up from the first menu item (or down from the last); the cursor will disappear, at which point you can select. The cursed video will play for about two minutes; unfortunately, on the DVD, you can’t adjust the tracking, and my attempts to pick the fly off the screen have been unsuccessful. After you are returned to the main menu, a telephone rings…

  7. EM

    Right on, Drew! When I was reading the preview paragraph on the main page, “Mant!” was foremost on my mind. I understand the “Matinee” laserdisc contained a cut of “Mant!” (as much as possible)—I would love to see a special edition DVD or (better yet) Blu-ray that included that.

    While I don’t believe it‘d really be my kind of movie, I do have a soft spot for “les Cousins dangereux”, a French film loved by George-Michael Bluth on “Arrested Development” (according to the trailer: “It was a love between two cousins that the world thought was wrong—but it was the world that was wrong!”). This was later turned into a reportedly inferior American remake (“Dangerous Cousins”) that I would imagine was as artless as “Love, Indubitably”.

  8. Callenby

    When I saw the recent adaptation of “Get Smart” — with its incredibly lame gags, bad action sequences and astoundingly cheap musical score — I thought that somehow one of the Seinfeld universe’s fake movies had crossed over into the real world. Its lousiness was a parody of action comedies.

    For a real fictional movie instead of a fake fictional movie like “Get Smart”, I would like to watch (perhaps just as a rental) “The 3” from “Adaptation.”

      • Josh Zyber

        True story: When I saw Adaptation in the theater, one of the trailers that played beforehand was the John Cusack thriller ‘Identity’ – which is basically ‘The 3’ made into a real movie.

  9. Patrick A Crone

    Okay this is a bit of a cheat. Anyone who has watched 30 Rock regularly knows the Will Farell TV movie ‘Bitch Hunter’. It’s popped up a few times during the 4th season of the show

  10. Speaking of 30 Rock I’m partial to Tracy Jordan’s oeuvre. Highlights include ‘Who Dat Ninja’, ‘Honky Grandma Be Trippin’, ‘President Homeboy’, ‘Death Bank’ and ‘A Blaffair to Rememblack’.

  11. EM

    Another film apparently along the lines of “les Cousins dangereux” and “Rochelle, Rochelle” is the steamy arthouse flick “le Banquet d’Amélia”, which Buffy and Angel saw in the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” episode “Enemies”. The film was not quite what they expected from the title: Buffy expected it to be about food, although on the other hand, as Angel reminded her, there *was* a scene with food. Apparently one or more scenes also depended on the involvement of a woman’s kimono.

    According to John Landis’ œuvre, there are numerous films called “See You Next Wednesday”, and I have yet to see a single one!

  12. BambooLounge

    Sure, Baz is supposedly working on this already, but I want to see Scorsese’s Great Gatsby from Entourage…yeah, I’ll take all the Scorsese I can get (fictional or real).

    And let’s not forget Planet of the Apes: The Musical…Dr. Zaius Dr. Zaius Oooooooooo Dr. Zaius!

  13. Definitely the Superman/Batman movie that would have come out in 2010 if not for that pesky virus destroying 99+% of human life on earth in “I Am Legend.”

    Were they going to be on the same team or fighting against each other? Or maybe both? I’d pay to see that one.