Martin Scorsese has built a career on crime films. The legendary director has directed box office hits including Taxi Driver and The Wolf of Wall Street. Goodfellas, one of the biggest movies of his career, was released on September 19, 1990, and served as the foundation for crime dramas that came after it like The Sopranos.
In addition to inspiring movies and shows like it, Goodfellas has also been the subject of many homages and references in pop culture in the three decades since its release. Here, we’re taking a look back at some of the most memorable Goodfellas shoutouts.
Ashanti did a modern take on the ‘Goodfellas’ story
It might be hard to believe that an R&B singer like Ashanti could pay tribute to a movie about Italian-American mobsters. But that’s exactly what she did in the music video for her 2002 single “Foolish,” with the help of Empire star Terrence Howard.
It’s a modern take on the Goodfellas tale and is told from the perspective of Karen Hill as opposed to her crime boss husband Henry, who was played by Ray Liotta in the film. The video hits several key plot points of the Goodfellas story, including the rise of the Lucchese crime family and the disintegration of the Hills’ marriage.
‘Community’ had a ‘Goodfellas’ tribute episode
Cult classic sitcom Community dedicated a whole episode to the Goodfellas motif. When the episode quickly devolves into a plan for a mafia-like insurrection in the university cafeteria, Abed (played by Danny Pudi) takes on the persona of Henry Hill and references Ray Liotta’s opening monologue: “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be in a mafia movie.”
“Contemporary American Poultry” is filled with references and nods that can easily go over viewers’ heads, made even harder by the Scorsese-like montages and filming styles. Goodfellas‘ Lufthansa heist is substituted for chicken deliveries, and the episode even features a unique Community version of the famous “Layla” montage.
‘Animaniacs’ created a kid-friendly version of ‘Goodfellas’
The late ’90s classic cartoon Animaniacs taught kids a lot of things, whether that be the countries of the world or the plot of Goodfellas. The recurring “Goodfeathers” segment is entertaining kids’ story about three street-smart pigeons and their adventures around “New Yawk.” They all sported the thick accents and diverse personalities that Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro, and Ray Liotta did in the original movie.
Among other things, “Goodfeathers” referenced things like Pesci’s “Funny how?” tirade from Goodfellas; the birds even spend a lot of their time talking while perched on an old statue that resembles Martin Scorsese.
‘Swingers’ heavily referenced ‘Goodfellas’
The 1996 comedy film Swingers drew inspiration from Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece released a few years earlier. Much like Henry Hill and his friends, the three aspiring actors in Swingers are trying to claw the way to the top of the heap; the difference is in this case, it’s the world of Hollywood.
At one point in the movie, Jon Favreau’s character references the iconic Steadicam shot from Goodfellas that follows Henry Hill and his future wife into the depths of the Copacabana. The scene is immediately followed by a recreation of Scorsese’s famous sequence.