10 Best Movie References In Arrested Development


Mitch Hurwitz’s Arrested Development is jam-packed with jokes. Almost every single frame of the show contains some kind of sight gag or callback, and the dialogue is full of wordplay, idiosyncratic character moments, and sharp pop culture references. The show has references to musicians, hit TV shows, and a ton of beloved movie classics.

From Tobias’ Mrs. Doubtfire-inspired Mrs. Featherbottom alter ego to George Michael’s dorky “Star Wars Kid” video to Lucille 2’s obscure reference to the theme from New York, New York, Arrested Development is full of jokes aimed at the cinephiles in the audience.

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10 Tobias Sings The Theme From New York, New York

When Tobias hits the town with Buster to meet some women, they bump into Lucille 2, played by Liza Minnelli, at a karaoke bar. Minnelli starred alongside Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s musical romance New York, New York. After the movie bombed at the box office, Minnelli’s theme became a lot more famous from the cover version that Frank Sinatra recorded a couple of years later.

This episode of Arrested Development has an obscure nod to the song’s chart history. When Tobias sings the theme from New York, New York at the karaoke bar, Lucille 2 says, “Everyone thinks they’re Frank Sinatra.”

9 Love, Indubitably

In the world of Arrested Development, Love, Indubitably is a romcom favorite. Released by Tantamount, the movie studio where Maeby cons her way into a job, Love, Indubitably is a parody of Hugh Grant romcoms like Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and of course, Love, Actually.

According to the poster, Love, Indubitably stars a charming British actor named Grant Hughes and was helmed by the director of Pardon Me, It Seems I’ve Fallen in Love.

8 Moses Taylor

Rob Corddry guest-starred in a couple of episodes of Arrested Development as People’s Choice-nominated actor Moses Taylor, the star of the hit detective drama Wrench and an avid pro-gun activist. In the world of the show, the actor’s gun advocacy sparked a widely circulated rumor that he “hunts people.”

The character is a parody of movie star-turned-five-term president of the National Rifle Association Charlton Heston. The name Moses Taylor is taken from two of Heston’s most iconic film roles: Moses in The Ten Commandments and Taylor in Planet of the Apes.

7 Puppets Like Frank

When Wayne Jarvis’ case against the Bluth family is disrupted by evidence supplied by the tape recorder inside Gob’s puppet Franklin, Jarvis says, “Why do there have to be puppets like Frank?” This line should sound familiar to David Lynch fans.

In the surreal neo-noir masterpiece Blue Velvet, after encountering the sadistic pimp Frank Booth and having his faith in humanity shaken, Jeffrey Beaumont wonders, “Why are there people like Frank?”

6 Mistaking Oz For The Wizard Of Oz

George Michael is reluctant to visit his grandfather in prison, because he’s been terrified of jails ever since he accidentally watched an episode of HBO’s Oz as a child. In a heartbreaking but hilarious flashback, a young George Michael dons his little Tin Man hat and puts on what he thinks is a showing of the classic Judy Garland musical The Wizard of Oz.

Unfortunately for his young, impressionable eyes, the scheduled programming turns out to be an episode of the brutal prison drama Oz. The violence in Oz is difficult for adult viewers to stomach, let alone young, naive George Michael.

5 The Sound Of Silence

The later seasons of Arrested Development make frequent use of “The Sound of Silence” from the final scene of The Graduate. After the movie’s classic Hollywood happy ending, the somber tone of the Simon & Garfunkel track kicks in as the camera lingers on Benjamin and Elaine worrying about their future, wondering if that happy ending will last.

The opening lyrics of the song – “Hello, darkness, my old friend…” – play in Arrested Development whenever a character is left alone with their thoughts at a crucial juncture in their arc.

4 Method Actor Thomas Jane

Lindsay feels like a philanthropist when she and Tobias take a break from their marriage to date other people and she starts dating a homeless man. But this homeless man turns out to be movie star Thomas Jane.

Jane is an intense method actor who’s been sleeping on the streets to get into character for his lead role in a broad family comedy called Homeless Dad – and he’s only doing that movie so the studio will let him make a darker, grittier, more personal passion project about addiction titled Junk.

3 Michael Moore Lookalike

In the critically acclaimed Bush-era Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, there’s a pointed scene in which Moore confronts Congressmen who voted to declare war on Iraq and asks them to disprove their hypocrisy by enlisting their own children in the U.S. military.

In Arrested Development, Lucille is confronted by a Michael Moore lookalike who’s shooting a parody of Fahrenheit 9/11 for Jimmy Kimmel’s talk show. Much to the Kimmel crew’s surprise, Lucille agrees to enlist Buster in the military to teach him a lesson.

2 Mrs. Featherbottom

Inspired by Mrs. Doubtfire, after Lindsay kicks him out of the house, Tobias adopts the alter ego “Mrs. Featherbottom” and pretends to be a British nanny and housekeeper so he can spend time with his wife and daughter.

This storyline puts a fun twist on the familiar premise as no one is fooled by the disguise. All the Bluths can tell it’s Tobias, but they don’t say anything because he’s getting the housework done.

1 George Michael’s Lightsaber Video

Every time one of the Bluths records something onto their one and only videotape, the viewers are treated to the Star Wars-inspired lightsaber practice that George Michael can never live down. George Michael’s iconic lightsaber video is a reference to the “Star Wars Kid” video, one of the earliest videos to go viral on YouTube.

Much like the “Star Wars Kid,” George Michael privately filmed himself using a stick as a lightsaber. When the video got out, it led to unending humiliation. His classmates dub him “Star-Dork.”

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