Friday, August 26, 2011

Movies Where People Pretend to Play Themselves

Hello Mrs. Madigan. Arnold Braunshweiger.” – Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger) trying to pretend to be Arnold Schwarzenegger, Last Action Hero

Cameos by well known people have been in movies for many decades.  Sometimes those cameos are funny precisely because of who the person is.  An example is Bing Crosby appearing as a disappointed executioner in the Bob Hope comedy My Favorite Brunette (1947.)  Sometimes the cameo is even the person playing themselves, such as Bruce Willis in Ocean’s Twelve (2004.)

Every now and then, though, an actor or actress takes a role as themselves that is a lot more than just a cameo.  The plot in all of these is that they are playing an exaggerated, or even completely fictional, version of themselves.  Probably the most well known movie example is Being John Malkovich (1999.)  Jerry Seinfeld would famously do the same thing on his eponymous TV show.

You can find my posts for these movies here:

You’ll notice both Harold & Kumar movies are here.  The third one is coming out late in 2011.  Here is the trailer for it.

On to the reviews…


  1. One that comes to mind for me is Ocean's Twelve where Julia Roberts' character pretends to be Julia Roberts when Bruce Willis mistakenly takes her for the Pretty Woman star.

    I think Malkovich does it best though from the ones you have listed. NPH would probably be a close second for his work in the first Harold and Kumar. Loved the first one, hated the second, actually looking forward to the third.

  2. I agree with you on Julia Roberts in Oceans 12. Unfortunately, I have an additional, self imposed constraint, and that is that I would also recommend the movie to others. I liked Oceans 11 quite a bit; Oceans 12 and 13 not enough to recommend.

    I have some categories where I can think of at least three movies that fit, but not three movies I would recommend.

    I'm looking forward to to the third Harold & Kumar movie, too. I saw the trailer when I was refreshing my memory on the first two and I laughed quite a bit at it, especially the part where they made fun of the whole 3D movement.

  3. Yeah, I'm not sure how I feel about movies in which stars pretend to play themselves. I do however, like cameos. Although Being John Malcovich was pretty darn good.

  4. Crosby also appeared in Hope vehicle The Princess and the Pirate. Virginia Mayo is running at Bob Hope at the end of the movie but runs past him and ends up in Crosby's arms instead. It's pretty cute.

  5. The movie 'Adaptation' (i think by same director as Being John Malkovich) another great example of blurred realities. Read the book, 'The Orchid Thief' then watch the movie.


  6. @msmariah - I think it only really works in comedic roles. You may have noticed that the only non-comedic one I had was Wings of Desire. Even then the idea that Peter Falk was a former angel was more fanciful than serious.

    @Danny - Thanks for the tip. I've seen several Crosby movies, but I think the only Hope movies I've seen are some of his road pictures with Crosby.

    @JunkBot - I loved Adaptation as well. One of the things I like about it is that I got to describe it to people as "a movie about a screenplay about a book about an orchid thief." Yes, I'm easily amused. Thanks for becoming a Follower. I'll check your blog out when I get a chance.

  7. @JunkBot - I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but there was no option to type in a name and when I chose Google Account it told me I didn't have authority to access that page. I don't know if you'll ever see this, but here is what I tried to post:

    "I live in Maine. It's in the extreme northeast corner of the U.S. I'm not sure if you have 'yard sales' around Canberra. If not, you'd go nuts here. Most weekends you can drive around suburban and rural areas and people will have objects out on their lawns they are looking to unload....umm I mean help find new homes for. Some people spend their mornings both days just driving from one to the next looking for deals.

    Hey, I've got roughly 7,500 comics from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Any interest? Just kidding. For what it would cost to ship them half way around the world you could probably buy your own plane and come pick them up yourself."