Sci-fi visionaries like Jules Verne and Gene Roddenberry get all sorts of credit for predicting the future via fiction. But you know who doesn't get credit? Weekend at Bernie's.
As it turns out, lots of movies turn out to be prophetic, seeing even the most ridiculous plot points turn into real headlines months or years later.
While Idiocracy is often cited as the under-appreciated Mike Judge film that is most likely to come true, Office Space already has. After performing poorly at the box office, Office Space became a massive hit on DVD, inspiring many a wage-slave to rip their apron off and tell their boss to kindly go fuck himself.
The films protagonist, played by Ron Livingstone, takes office rebellion a little further than that and decides to rip off the company he works for. His scam involves stealing fractions of pennies from financial transactions that would usually automatically be rounded up to the nearest whole dollar. The idea is that the company would never miss such small amounts but that over a long period of time the pennies would add up.
The Real Life Event
Michael Largent, a 22-year-old who had presumably never seen the second half of Office Space where the scheme goes to shit, decided that this sounded like a pretty neat idea. In 2007, Largent used an automated script to open up 58,000 accounts with online brokerage firms. Once the account was opened, the firm would send micro deposits of a few cents to verify that it had opened properly. Soon Largent had gained $50,000 as well as the attention of the FBI.
Jennifer Aniston is only vaguely relevant to this story, but is also incredibly attractive.
Largent was bad at choosing source material. He stole the idea for his criminal conspiracy from a comedy about a failed crime, and opened his accounts under the names of cartoon characters including Hank Hill and Rusty Shackelford. He was eventually caught when the Patriot Act required the brokerage firms to take a closer look at the identity of their customers, and they presumably noticed one of them was named Spongebob.
Largent later said "that he needed the money to pay off debts" and stated that this was "one way to earn money," proving that he was unskilled at generating aliases and defining the word "earn". Instead of following the plot of a carefree comedy, Largent wound up spending his best years imitating the darker, more prison-rape themed scenes from Shawshank Redemption. Speaking of which...
Starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption tells the story of Andy Dufresne, an innocent man in jail who splits his time between filling out the guard's tax forms and getting gang raped; his only solace being that all the horror is narrated by the soothing disembodied voice of Morgan Freeman.
One night, a depressed Robbins retreats into his jail cell with a length of rope, leaving Morgan Freeman's voice to worry that Robbins is going to hang himself. The next day, the prison warden opens up the cell, finds it empty, smashes the place up and looks behind a poster of Raquel Welsh to find--SPOILER WARNING--Gwyneth Paltrow's severed head.
Oh, wait, sorry. He discovers a hole in the wall through which Robbins has escaped. Robbins has in fact spent his decades in jail meticulously chiseling himself an escape route in preparation for one day becoming a heavy handed metaphor for the human spirit.
The Real Life Event
On December 15, 2007, the cells of Otis Blunt and Jose Espinosa were opened at New Jersey's Union County Jail and found to be curiously lacking in Otis Blunt and Jose Espinosa. What the cells did have were two posters of what the newspapers called "bikini clad woman".
The prison guards looked behind the posters and discovered a hole linking the cells to each other and another hole in the external wall, linking the cells to the outside world.
The two inmates had spent the previous weeks chiseling away at the wall with a length of wire. They then crawled into one cell, covered the holes with the posters and piled blankets under their bed sheets to make it look like they were sleeping, an idea so rudimentary, they had to steal it from a Baby Sitter's Club novel.
They then escaped through the hole, climbed a fence and parted ways, one of them going to Mexico City, as in every jail break film ever, the other going to hide in a nearby basement, as in being a fucking idiot.
Not that it mattered; the guy in the basement was caught a month later, the criminal in Mexico the day after that, presumably while sanding his boat on the beach.
They were brought before a judge and charged with third-degree escape, to which they hilariously pleaded not-guilty. We don't know if they were convicted or not, but we expect the prosecution's evidence was along the lines of: "Here is the defendant in Mexico City, here is an empty fucking jail cell. The prosecution rests."
Three Kings featured Ice Cube, Mark Wahlberg and George Clooney before they were bankable movie stars, and the guy that directed Being John Malkovich before he never acted in another film ever again. Somehow they came together to make Three Kings one of the best war movie of the past 15 years.
It tells the tale of U.S. soldiers who stumble upon a map to a fortune in Kuwaiti gold. Still hungry for some action after the boring-as-far-as-wars-go Operation Desert Storm, they head out on a rogue mission to steal that shit.
The film hardly had the makings of prophecy. The screenplay was dashed off in seven days when John Ridley, a former writer for the TV show Martin, decided to see how quickly he could write and sell a script. Oh, and the Iraq War was already over when the film was released in 1999, and it's not like we were going to have another one of those, right?
The Real Life Event
Fortunately for the movie's chances at achieving Cracked.com immortality, and unfortunately for thousands of Iraqi citizens, America re-invaded Iraq in 2003, and after a few weeks, easily took Baghdad. A few days later, in a baathist cache in Baghdad the Third Infantry Division stumbled upon a cement shed filled with metal boxes. Inside each metal box was $4 million in cash, over $320 million in total.
In a situation like this you might expect the soldiers to steal the money. Instead, the brave troops alerted their major, locked the money away and went back to protecting Freedom and spreading Democracy. For about half an hour, and then they started frantically searching the area for money that they hadn't yet reported.
That night Staff Sergeant Matt Novak, First Sergeant Eric Wilson and Specialist Jamal Mann broke into a similar looking building and, sure enough, found it stocked with 50 metal boxes bursting with $200 million in hundred dollar bills. They stuffed some of the cash in their pockets and hid the boxes in a canal and a palm tree to recover later. Their plan was flawless, except that the palm tree wasn't the most inconspicuous place to hide the money. As the major who found it said: "Well my God! You walked right across the street, you know, 20 feet away, in this palm tree, and there's a wad of cash stuck in the fork of a tree, you know."
Ha, seriously! It's almost as if the soldiers hadn't planned an end game, accomplishing the first step of their plan, and assuming everything else would just fall into place...
The China Syndrome is the story of journalists who discover safety concerns at a nuclear power plant. The film starred Michael Douglas, an Oscar winner who went on to provide hope to old dudes everywhere by having sex with Catherine Zeta Jones, and Jane Fonda who went on to provide us with orgasm postponing mental images by having sex with Ted Turner.
In the film, after witnessing a near meltdown, Douglas and Fonda convince Jack "anxious but lovable" Lemmon to the blow the whistle and expose the risks of nuclear power to the world.
But seriously, though, let's get a preemptive "Cheers" for disproportionately attractive spouses.
The Real Life Event
Upon The China Syndrome's release in 1979, the nuclear power industry criticized the film as an irresponsible act of fear-mongering. As if to prove that they were the authorities on irresponsible acts that incite fear, just 12 days after the film's release, a poorly built Nuclear Power station scared the shit out of the state of Pennsylvania.
In the early hours of March 28th, 1979, alarm bells began going off in the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. Nuclear technicians ran around panicking, the reactor began to overheat and the media began masturbating.
Sure enough, within a few hours high radiation levels were being found and an evacuation of the nearby area was quickly ordered.
It was later discovered that very little radiation had in fact leaked out and that nobody was at risk of turning into mutants. But America has never let an absence of any real threat ruin a good panic and the nation spent most of 1979 freaking the hell out about the dangers of nuclear power. The effects were devastating for the mental health of the local community, but it was all aces for Hollywood. The China Syndrome, capitalized on the similarities between the two events and swept up at the box office.
Jane Fonda went on to become an ardent anti-nuclear protester; to the extent that nuclear physicist Edward Teller blamed her for causing his heart attack, saying: "You might say that I was the only one whose health was affected by that reactor near Harrisburg. No, that would be wrong. It was not the reactor. It was Jane Fonda. Reactors are not dangerous."
Jane Fonda, you may now officially add your name to the list of people indirectly harmed by Three Mile Island, because you just got burned!