Mel Brooks was a master at breaking the fourth wall for comedic reasons, and his most famous example might be from his 1974 epic Blazing Saddles. In the climax of the film, the characters all get into a massive brawl that eventually spills off the set and into the sets of other movies. The final shootout between the hero and the villain takes place in front of the Chinese Theater in Hollywood where Blazing Saddles is playing, and where the characters watch themselves on screen.
Commenting on the gross over-commercialization of Star Wars, Spaceballs depicts characters flaunting and playing with the film's own tie-in merchandise. The villain plays with his own toys, the Yoda character run a merchandise shop out of his cave, and, in the film's most metaphysical moment, several characters watch a VHS tape of the movie, eventually fast-forwarding to the very scene they're in at that moment.
Laurence Olivier's film version of Shakespeare's Henry V features a brilliant wall-breaking conceit. The film begins as a backstage drama, wherein we witness actors putting on Shakespeare's play at The Globe. As the play/film continues, however, the stage elements begin to melt away, and eventually we're no longer on stage, and just watching a movie.
No one likes a metaphysical prank better than arthouse giant Alejandro Jodorowsky, whose midnight freakout The Holy Mountain features a cadre of interplanetary beings who go on a spiritual quest together (amongst many, many other things). At the film's end, Jodorowsky, eager to leave us with a grin, commands, from on screen, to pull the cameras back and reveal that it was all just a movie after all.
One of the best films ever made, Ingmar Bergman's Persona uses film as a weapon to fight off reason and present the abstract as a new language. The film's very first shot is a projector lamp firing up, revealing the artificiality of what we're about to see. If that's not enough, Bergman and his photographer, Sven Nyqvist, also appear at the film's end, filming the characters as they disperse. It's a movie, friends. The artificiality is part of the story.
Charlie Kaufman's Oscar-nominated animated film features a customer service author who seems to have fallen in love with a plain-looking woman while on a business trip away from his wife. The film is animated, and we're constantly aware of the little seams in the character's faces where their mouth parts are removed and replaced during the animation process. Throughout the film, however, the characters become aware of those seams as well...
Michael Haneke made the same film twice, once in German and once in English, to illustrate the way audiences consume movies. In both versions, a pair of white-clad ruffians invade the home of a bourgeois couple to torture and main and perhaps kill them. In a bizarre twist, when something doesn't go their way, the ruffians grab a remote control, rewind the film itself, and undo the previous actions.
One of the funniest and wittiest films of the 2000s, Shane Black's comic noir featured a post-credits scene wherein the two lead characters, played by Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer, address the audience directly, talking about how everyone turned out. Kilmer apologizes for cussing too much.
Monty Python's comedic masterpiece, still often regarded as one of the funniest films of all time, takes every opportunity to comment on it's own cinematic self. The narrator refers to certain scenes by number. Modern day policemen seem hot on the trail of the ancient characters. King Arthur evades an animated monster because the animator has a heart attack. And the ending is to die for.
Joe Dante's super-wacky follow-up to his already-wacky horror comedy plays like a live-action Warner Bros. cartoon. For much of the film, we are presented with a straightforward tale of evil critters who take over a high-tech New York highrise. But about halfway through, the film sputters and breaks, and we see that gremlins have also invaded the projection booth. An usher then enters the theaters and entreats a patron, Hulk Hogan, to shout the creatures back into restarting the film. Oh yes, and Leonard Maltin is killed by gremlins while reviewing Gremlins.