7 Movies Based on a True Story (That Are Complete Bullshit)

We don't ask a lot from our movies. A nice story, maybe with some sex, violence and Batman thrown in.

But sometimes a movie comes along and takes on special meaning because it's based on a true story, and so we watch with rapt attention knowing that some real dude lived through all the awesomeness on screen. But if you're going to go with the "Based On A True Story" tag, all we ask is that you make the stories sort of, you know, true. You can do that, right?

Not if these movies are any indication.

#7. The Pursuit of Happyness

The Hollywood Version:
Chris Gardner is a hard-working man with a pain-in-the-ass wife and an adorable little son boasting one of the greatest afros we've ever seen on a child. All Gardner wants to do is make enough of a living to provide for his son.

Through what we assume is black magic, he solves a Rubik's Cube in record time, wowing an employee at Dean Witter and he apparently passes the only test needed to qualify a man to become a stock broker. He toils for months, sleeping in subways and churches with his son at his side, but in the end it all pays off when he claims the one and only opening at Dean Witter, crying tears of joy and getting jiggy wit it in the streets of San Francisco.

In reality ...
Gardner did get a chance to show his stuff in the Dean Witter training program (though we're sad to report his acceptance had nothing to do with solving a colorful puzzle game). But, as the more honest book version points out, he apparently wasn't quite the father the film made him out to be.

First, he was so focused on getting a job and earning his first million that, well, he actually didn't even know where the hell his son was for the first four months of the program.

Chris, Jr. was apparently living at this point in time with his mother, Jackie. Did we mention that the boy had been conceived when Gardner was still married to another woman?

In addition, instead of being arrested just before his big interview due to parking tickets ... well, it seems that Chris was actually arrested after Jackie accused him of domestic violence.


"That's right son, you gotta keep that pimp hand strong."

Don't get us wrong, Chris did indeed get his life turned around after landing the job as a broker. There were just some things in Gardner's past that they couldn't quite bring themselves to have Will Smith do on screen. Like selling drugs (as Gardner admits he did briefly), or doing cocaine with his mistress, with little doses of PCP and a hearty helping of Mary Jane tossed in for good measure.

Adulterous sex? Cocaine? Neglecting your child for months at a time? It says something about the man that he didn't drop the pursuit, despite having pretty much found happyness already.

#6. 21

The Hollywood Version:
Ben Campbell is a math genius excelling at MIT, home to some of the brightest young minds on the planet as well as a really smart custodian. He catches the eye of Kevin Spacey, appearing in all of his "phoning it in" glory, who recruits young Ben for the MIT Blackjack Team. At first, it all seems harmless enough, as they play just to learn the age-old art of card counting.

Once they get good enough, Spacey whisks the team off to swingin' Las Vegas to give their new talent a try in a real world setting. Of course, things don't go quite as planned (typical), and after a severe beating at the hands of Cowboy Curtis, Ben learns some harsh lessons about life and love before tromping off to Harvard Medical School.

In reality ...
If there's anything we can learn from 21, it's that Hollywood won't give an Asian man a starring role unless it calls for someone who can do karate while getting berated by Chris Tucker.

In fact, 21 gives us perhaps the greatest whitewash in recent Hollywood history--a broad, sweeping stroke of Caucasian across the majority of the cast.

The real MIT Blackjack Team was almost totally Asian, but you'd never know that from the film. Even Kevin Spacey's character was based in part on an Asian professor, who has been known to dress like a woman in order to sneak into casinos. Apparently, a transvestite Asian math genius isn't as interesting as Spacey in the "just make sure the check clears" stage of his career.

But hey, at least they did cast a pair of Asians as members of the Blackjack Team. Naturally, in sticking with current Hollywood trends, they were made into goofy loser sidekick types, while the white kids handled all of the heavy intellectual lifting. Not since Mickey Rooney's performance in Breakfast at Tiffany's has Hollywood treated Asians with such respect and dignity.

#5. Lean On Me

The Hollywood Version:
Joe Clark is a bad man. And we mean that in the best possible way, as in "don't fuck with him." When Paterson, New Jersey's Eastside High School found itself on the brink of being taken over by the state due to piss poor test scores, Clark was brought on board as principal to right the sinking ship.

And right it he did, by fighting expelled students in the hall and throwing chains and padlocks on the doors. After all, if Joe Clark was going to go out in a blaze of glory, he was going to take as many students with him as possible. In the end, thanks to a hip new school song and the bullying ways of Principal Clark, Eastside saw a meteoric rise in its test scores and everyone celebrated by joining together in song, as inner city ruffians often do.

In reality ...
Apart from the fact that the test scores never really improved, or that state takeover had never actually been threatened, or the various ways they fudged facts just to make sure the audience was aware that Joe Clark enjoyed putting foot to ass, it's pretty close to the real story. That is to say, a man named Joe Clark did serve as principal at Eastside High for a short time at the end of the '80s.

The biggest goal of the filmmakers was apparently to make Clark as menacing as possible, giving him a bullhorn with which to more loudly crush the spirits of students and faculty alike, and having Morgan Freeman spend the entire film wearing such a fierce scowl that you'd swear someone just shit in his punchbowl.

Here's the punchline to the whole thing, though: One year after Clark resigned and less than two years after the film's release, the state came in and took control of the school. And since they weren't actually threatening to take over in the first place, we're forced to assume they got the idea from the movie.

#4. Rudy

The Hollywood Version:
It seems that back in the '70s, there was a plucky little football player who dreamed of nothing other than playing for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Unfortunately for young Rudy, his support system consisted of people who went out of their way to point out his flaws, of which there were many, and let him know repeatedly that dreams are the main ingredient in the devil's pudding.


"Son, how many times I gotta tell you, goals are for chumps!"

Thankfully, Rudy's best friend from back home got blown right the fuck up in a freak accident, inspiring him to play football for some reason. And play he did, no thanks to the evil scheming of Notre Dame coach Dan Devine, who only allowed Rudy on the field after the entire team threatened to walk out otherwise.

In reality ...
The real life Dan Devine was actually the one who insisted on playing Rudy in his final game. Hell, even when the movie was being made, Devine gave the filmmakers permission to turn him into the film's villain in order to help Rudy, who he considered a good friend.

Devine sounds like one helluva guy, right? So naturally he was repaid for his kindnesses by being turned into the Snidely fucking Whiplash of college football (sans mustache), and forever being remembered as the crotchety coach to whom winning football games was more important than anything. Anything other than ensuring that Rudy's dream would die.


Devine was the father of the vaunted "tied to train tracks" defense

By the way, ever wonder who saw Rudy play that day and got so inspired he just had to make it into a movie? Nobody. It was Rudy himself who spent a full decade trying to convince studios that his life was so awesome it deserved a movie, before one of them finally relented. That's the spirit, little guy!

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