Top 10 Best Impressions in Movies
Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best Impressions in Movies.
For this list, we’re looking at film scenes in which actors pulled off highly impressive and entertaining celebrity impersonations.
Which imitation left the biggest impression on YOU? Let us know in the comments!
#10: Eddie Murphy Does James Brown
“Another 48 Hrs.” (1990)
Given his arsenal of impressions, it’s no surprise Eddie Murphy went on to incorporate some in his big screen outings. And with Murphy’s take on James Brown serving as perhaps his most crowd-pleasing, thanks to a wonderfully weird Saturday Night Live skit involving a hot tub, it’s fitting the actor chose to send-up the Godfather of Soul in the sequel to 48 Hours. While leaving lockup in a prison bus, Murphy’s Reggie Hammond is shown listening, and singing loudly to, Brown’s “I Got the Feelin’”. It’s an entertaining moment in its own right, but the fact that our protagonist is so oblivious to the impending trouble ahead makes it that much funnier.
#9: Steve Coogan & Rob Brydon Do Michael Caine
“The Trip” (2010)
What happens when you enlist two comedic actors, both revered for their celebrity impressions, and have them play fictionalised versions of themselves on a restaurant tour of northern England? Why, you get The Trip… and some really great on-screen impersonations of course! Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon showcase an abundance of imitations in this BBC series turned film, including the likes of Sean Connery, Liam Neeson, and Woody Allen. But, it’s the duo’s back and forth battle over how a proper Michael Caine impression should be done, that takes the cake! Arguing the accuracies of where Caine’s voice “comes from,” the pair’s expertly nuanced cadences make the clear winner of this fight – the audience!
#8: Dana Carvey Does Al Pacino
“The Master of Disguise” (2002)
A film titled The Master of Disguise starring a master of impressions is naturally going to be littered with impersonations galore. And sure enough, Dana Carvey’s titular character, Pistachio Disguisey, manages to slip his way in and out of a plethora of masquerades over the course of the film. One of these is a man named Mr. Peru, but he’s clearly meant to be Al Pacino’s Tony Montana - Scarface himself. The scene sees “Peru” cause a distraction at a party where, among other things, he hassles a waiter and displays acrobatic feats while dancing the Conga. Polarizing as the movie may be, one would be hard pressed to dismiss Carvey’s transformative talents here! HOOOYAAAHHH!
#7: Michael Winslow Does Bruce Lee
“Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment” (1985)
Thanks to some remarkable vocal abilities, actor Michael Winslow more than earned the moniker “The Man of 10,000 Sound Effects.” And rarely did his talents make a bigger impression than in the Police Academy film series, where, as officer Larvell Jones, Winslow uses his audible imitation skills to deceive criminals. A particularly memorable example occurs in the comedy franchise’s second go-round, where Jones fights off a couple of crooks by impersonating the legendary Bruce Lee! Not only copying Lee’s movements, the actor uses his magical mouth to replicate the signature sound effects and questionable “dubbing” found in martial arts movies of the time. Talk about an impression with some kick!
#6: Paul Rudd Does Robert De Niro
“Knocked Up” (2007)
Sometimes the best impressions are the most unexpected! This was definitely the case with Paul Rudd’s mimicking of Robert De Niro in the hit comedy Knocked Up. On a double date, Rudd’s character takes part in a random discussion about having “water break” on Robert De Niro’s shoes. And while Seth Rogen provides a rather bland impression of the actor, Rudd follows it up with a shockingly flawless one. This isn’t the only time a De Niro impression served as a scene stealer - Zac Efron, Dave Franco and others put forth their best efforts as the Oscar winner in the film Neighbors. Yep, the Robert De Niro impression = the comedy gift that keeps on giving!
#5: Bill Hader Does Jabba the Hutt
“It Chapter Two” (2019)
What better way to improve on some lighthearted ribbing than to turn it into a full blown impression? IT Chapter Two proved to be a surprisingly funny horror sequel, and this moment is an undeniable highlight. Early in the film we see the “Losers Club” reunite over dinner at a Chinese restaurant. It’s here that Richie, played by the multi-talented Bill Hader, begins to playfully poke fun at his childhood pal, Eddie. This leads to a quip about marrying Eddie’s (ahem) rotund mother. Richie tops it off with a pitch perfect impression of Star Wars baddie Jabba the Hutt. The gleeful reactions from Hader’s co-stars seem fairly genuine, and audiences couldn’t help but laugh along with them - the impression was THAT good.
#4: Jim Carrey Does William Shatner
“Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls” (1995)
Much like the first instalment, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls utilizes star Jim Carrey’s physical gifts to deliver a variety of spoofs and parodies, including a memorable opening sendup to the film Cliffhanger. But, it’s in a takeoff of the Twilight Zone's infamous "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" that sees Carrey’s imitation abilities shine brightest. And so, just as the 1963 William Shatner starring episode went, Jim’s Ace Ventura plays up seeing a horrifying creature on the wing of his plane - one that only he notices. The comedian’s Shatner impersonation is comically over the top here, only adding to the wonderful Carrey-infused outrageousness!
#3. Robin Williams Does Barbra Streisand
“Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993)
Robin Williams has many uproarious performances to his name. One of his most celebrated showcases, however, comes as a divorced dad who imitates a female housekeeper in order to spend quality time with his kids. The film is of course Mrs. Doubtfire, and Williams is at his gut busting best here, providing a large helping of improvised impressions along the way. And while his character, also a freelance voice actor, famously references all the “voices” he can do, it’s his unexpected breakout into song as “Barbra Streisand” that will give your abs the biggest workout. In the midst of choosing his new look, Williams is given the “Babs” ensemble, one that the comedian takes full advantage of with a brief rendition of “Don’t Rain on My Parade”!
#2: Jim Carrey Does Clint Eastwood
“The Mask” (1994)
Was there ever a film more tailor-made for an actor than The Mask was for Jim Carrey? At the height of his career, this mega blockbuster saw Carrey play a meek bank clerk who transforms into a manic superpowered-antihero. Naturally, Jim went all out with a skilfully cartoonish performance, incorporating plenty of pop culture sendups - one of which being the comedian’s long standing Clint Eastwood impression. It’s near the end of the film that "The Mask" brings out Eastwood’s classic line from Dirty Harry, right before bringing out some rather big guns! Carrey also dusted off his impersonation of the grizzled actor in Bruce Almighty, this time as a “sign from God.” Well, it is a heavenly impression after all!
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Jason Segel Does André the Giant
“I Love You, Man” (2009)
Regina King Does Tina Turner
“Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous” (2005)
Bill Murray Does Richard Burton
#1: Robin Williams Does Jack Nicholson (& Many Others)
Robin Williams not only brought the laughter in live action films, but he also changed the game for animation voice acting. Essentially a living cartoon character himself, it’s little wonder the actor/comedian proved a match made in heaven for Aladdin’s Genie. As the big blue guy, Williams got to sing, ad-lib, and of course, provide madcap impressions. And while the funnyman seamlessly transitioned between impersonations of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rodney Dangerfield, Groucho Marx and many others, it's perhaps Genie's transformation into Jack Nicholson that is remembered most fondly. With the animated character taking on Nicholson’s appearance, Williams nails his distinct speech pattern, giving way to one very memorable motion picture impression!