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Meta Movies: Subtle Spoiler Alerts and Self-Referencing

I love it when movies are so well done or interesting that they beg to be re-watched.  Sometimes a movie’s plot, acting, and execution are such that revisits are merited to soak it in.

Sometimes you even find a movie is so good that it earns a place in your exclusive in-home collection and you have annual viewings.  For me, movies like The Fly (Goldblum’s version), Man on FireThe Thing, and Jaws fall into this category.

There are other movies that you revisit to see what you’ve missed.  Now that you know the ending, you start from the beginning to scour for the subtle clues that support it.  Movies like Memento and The Sixth Sense come to mind.

And then there are movies that spoil themselves in a single, unassuming scene or in which a single line of dialogue is so tremendously ironic that you can’t help but see its ramifications throughout the film.  You hear about these scenes or lines and revisit the movie to see the truth of them.  Here are three such moments that might just provide an “a-ha” moment for the viewers!

[divider]Self-referencing Movies[/divider]

1) Jurassic Park.

[divider]Self-referencing Movies[/divider][divider]Self-referencing Movies[/divider]One of the more well-known meta moments: Dr. Grant’s seat belt troubles upon arrival to Jurassic Park.  This early in the movie, it is very unassuming and appears to be nothing more than a play at comedy, but after the rest of the plot unfolds you find that this scene actually spoils a major plot point!

According to the island’s chief scientist, Dr. Henry Wu, all the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are female so that the park can easily manage populations.  Later, Dr. Malcolm suggests that “Life finds a way,” and yet another doctor (Dr. Grant) stumbles across a clutch of hatched eggs while wandering the wilds of Isla Nublar.  So what does this have to do with seat belts?

As the helicopter descends, you’re treated to a montage of everyone safely buckling themselves in with the proper combination of the male and female ends of a seat belt.  All except Dr. Grant who finds himself saddled with two female ends which he makes work anyway, a prelude to the evolutionary shenanigans afforded the dinosaurs by the DNA of hermaphroditic frogs.

2) Jurassic World.

I’ve already unpacked this one a bit here, but World is very self-aware when it comes to its content.  The reason the Indominus Rex is engineered is because park attendance is down because apparently dinosaurs have lost their “wow factor” (an actual quote from the movie).  We, as a viewing audience, have already seen dinosaurs.  We needed something new; something we hadn’t heard about in biology or could see fossilized in a museum.  We are the absentee park goers of Jurassic World, ya’ll.

3) Tucker and Dale vs Evil.

If you have yet to watch this movie, please do so now.  Its streaming on Netflix currently and is absolutely hilarious because of its exaggerated dramatic irony.  Tucker and Dale are just two rednecks trying to fix up their vacation home (which looks much more like the stereotypical scary cabins-in-the-woods of the horror genre) when, from their point of view, a bunch of college kids just start killing themselves all over their property.  The POV of the college kids is radically different, though.  From their perspective, these two rednecks have kidnapped one of their friends with malicious intent and are successfully killing off the would-be rescuers with their every ill-fated attempt.

But Tucker and Dale are as harmless as could be.  And the college kids aren’t a part of some sort of suicide cult like the redneck friends believe them to be.  So what is at work here?

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To quote Captain from Cool Hand Luke: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.

And now to quote Allison from Tucker and Dale: “I just think so many of the problems of the world are caused by a lack of communication.

The trouble is that Tucker and Dale aren’t terribly eloquent, shouting the ambiguous (but well-intentioned) “We’ve got your friend!” after rescuing Allison from drowning, for instance; a line that is interpreted by the college kids as aggressive and threatening, not of heroism.

And the college crew is lead by Chad, a psychotic frat boy with a hillbilly chip on his shoulder, who believes that all hillbillies are murderous and should be dealt with in kind.

There’s even a scene in which Allison stages a sort of peer mediation between Dale and Chad explaining that “It’s all just a big misunderstanding, we will clear it right up.”  She was the only character who was not a victim of dramatic irony.  She knew both sides and could operate within reason.  Imagine that!

What other movies have similar meta moments or ironic lines of dialogue?  Share them in the comments!