5 Movie Jokes You Missed If You Only Speak English

Everyone who learns a foreign language eventually has this moment when they realize, "Oh my God! I can now curse in public whenever I want!" People who work in movies and television are no exception and doubtless constantly struggle with, say, wanting to name a fictional character some non-English equivalent of Shitdick von Yogurtcannon. But seeing as that might technically count as juvenile cultural insensitivity, most bilingual filmmakers compromise and season their work with fewer overseas curse words and more actually funny foreign-language jokes, like how ...

#5. Star Trek: The Next Generation Is Full of References to Silly Anime

CBS, artshock/iStock/Getty Images

Saying that there's an anime nod in Star Trek doesn't really mean anything on its own, because the two are really just mediums through which you can tell all sorts of different stories, both serious and stupid. Consequently, having one reference the other wouldn't really be a joke per se, unless you had a more serious Star Trek series reference a cartoon about big ol' floppy boobs, which totally happened in an episode of The Next Generation.

And not just because that set looks like a giant nipple.

In the episode "The Icarus Factor," the Enterprise's first officer, William Riker, has to deal with personal issues concerning his estranged father that he thinks can only be achieved by whaling on him with a stick. Hence Riker challenges his father to Anbo-jyutsu, a made-up Japanese-esque martial art played in an arena with the Japanese character for "star" written in the middle and the words "Ataru" and "Ramu" beside it. There is also a Japanese banner in the back that reads "Urusei Yatsura." I'd make a joke about how that translates to "tits and ass," but it wouldn't actually be a joke.


Together, all that Japanese writing forms a Voltron-like shout-out to the anime series Urusei Yatsura, which features a) the character for "star" in its name, b) two protagonists named Ataru and Ramu (aka Lum), and c) weird shit like this:

Fuji TV
A philosophical piece, then.

In Urusei Yatsura, aliens invade Earth and challenge humanity to a game of tag between a randomly selected human (the eternal loser/pervert Ataru) and the alien princess Lum, who, by the way, totally can fly. In the end, Ataru manages to catch the distracted Lum by stealing her bikini top, but he pays a horrible price for it. Due to a misunderstanding, the defeated Lum thinks that Ataru has proposed to her, which she accepts, and she now wants to spend the rest of her life playing "hide E.T. in the closet" with him, because Japan.

It's funny enough to see a cartoon like that being referenced on Star Trek: The Next Generation, a show that explored complex themes of intelligence, diplomacy, and the human condition, but bizarrely, the series also mentions one more anime that mainly explored the nether regions of cosmic strumpets: Dirty Pair, the story of two anthropomorphic sets of breasts named Kei and Yuri who work as bikini cops in space. I ... I need you to stop and think about that for a few minutes.

You can see Yuri's name written in Japanese on the side of the Anbo-jyutsu arena.


There actually are references to the show in at least five TNG episodes, including an element called keiyurium, the only fictional substance named after someone's masturbation material:

Nippon TV
"No, honey! It's ... research! Y-yeah, research for my new show!" -Gene Roddenberry, probably

#4. Mulan's Fake Name Means "Eye Candy"

Disney, Buena Vista Pictures

Disney's Mulan is the story of a young Chinese girl pretending to be a man to take her elderly father's place in the army. But let's face it: On the whole, Mulan was about as Chinese as Tank Man T-shirts manufactured in independent Tibet, starting with the movie's most high-ranking characters being voiced by Americans of Japanese descent and ending with Eddie Murphy playing a particularly chatty Pokemon.

Disney, Buena Vista Pictures
And let's not even mention how the Huns' portrayal was on par with that of black people in The Birth of a Nation.

However, there was still one genuinely Chinese (or rather Cantonese) thing about the movie: a joke that occurs when Mulan, disguised as a man, arrives at a military camp, where the unthinkable happens and someone asks her for her name.

Disney, Buena Vista Pictures
(Come on, come on, what do men like?) "Uuuhm, my name is ... Barbecue ... Boob-Truck ...?"

The name she ends up giving them is "Ping," and if you speak Cantonese, that apparently was a pretty hilarious joke. See, Mulan comes from the Fa family, thus making her full (fake) name "Fa Ping," which means "flower vase." But the term is also used to describe a woman whose only real skill is to stand there, look nice, and "Don't you worry your pretty little head 'bout it none," just like an actual flower vase. Or, in other words, "eye candy."

I don't think Disney's ever confirmed that this was an intentional joke, but it definitely would play nicely into the movie's narrative of Mulan trying to be more than a pretty face and make something out of her life. Pfft, women. Am I right, guys? So it is very well possible that in that scene, a Disney princess had basically introduced herself as "Hugh Jass" or "Peter Phile."

Disney, Buena Vista Pictures
Also *sigh* yes, Fa Ping does sound like "fapping." Get it? Masturbation! HAHAHAHAHA ... ha ...

#3. There's a Jerry Maguire Joke in King Kong ... in Morse Code

Universal Pictures

Disclaimer: If you object to me calling Morse code a language, please state your case in the comment section for a chance to win a horrible Paint drawing of a penguin.

Unless you're filming a Paris Hilton biography, it's near impossible to make a story about a horny monster rampaging through the streets of New York sound in any way serious or believable. Surprisingly, though, that's exactly what Peter Jackson did in his version of King Kong, which isn't to suggest that the original was a comedy or anything like that, but on the other hand ... this:

Turner Entertainment, Warner Bros.
"So, you get sacrificed here often?"

In Jackson's movie, everything was made darker and edgier. Kong was made more threatening, the fauna of Skull Island more lethal, and the island natives more feral and deranged.

As a result, there wasn't a lot of room for laughs in the 2005 remake. Oh, they were still there, it's just that they had to be hidden away in a brief scene where the ship Jack Black's film crew is traveling on receives a Morse code message ordering Black's arrest for embezzlement, theft, and, while they're at it, Shark Tale.

Universal Pictures

Except that's not what the message really said. According to people in the know, the Morse code beeps heard in the movie actually spell out "SHOW ME THE MONKEY."

That's right, a movie that features brutal death scenes like this ...

Universal Pictures

... also includes a 10-year-old reference to Jerry Maguire. And that's funny and all, but even more so when you realize that the two movies are actually kind of similar in that they both feature smooth-talking, con man-esque "geniuses" sucking others into a world of madness with the power of their fiery personalities. But, wait, if Jack Black is this movie's Tom Cruise, then would that make Kong the equivalent of Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character? That's racist, movie. Super racist. Christ, even pointing that out made me feel like I need a shower.

Universal Pictures
Kong disapproves.

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Cezary Jan Strusiewicz

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