The Ridiculous Premise
Jim Carrey, never afraid to go back to the same well twice, made two movies about the wacky hijinks and life changes of a guy who arbitrarily can't say certain things. First there was Liar Liar, about a divorced lawyer who couldn't lie because of a magic spell accidentally cast by his son. Then, 11 years later, there was Yes Man, about a divorced banker who couldn't say the word "no" because ... a seminar told him not to?
Could you say no to General Zod?
Yeah, the second one kind of makes less sense than the one that had the magic spell.
The film is actually based on a guy in England named Danny Wallace who vowed to spend six months without saying "no" to anyone, all because he ran into a random guy on the bus who told him, "Say yes more."
The experiment didn't exactly go the way the movie version did (probably because of all of the rewrites it takes to turn a true story into a Jim Carrey film), but not because Wallace chose to half-ass anything. For instance, because Wallace couldn't say "no" to a clear scam offer, he went to Amsterdam to claim the millions he was told he had won in the Spanish lottery. (Surprise: There was no money.)
But after a while, it didn't seem to matter somehow.
Over the course of six months, he did wind up saying "no" twice, once to another round of beers and once to a woman asking for sex. He turned the girl down because he was in love with a woman who lived in Australia. They didn't think their relationship could work, but through the power of "yes," the two saw each other several times, fell in love and are now married. The same as how in the movie, Jim Carrey wound up with Zooey Deschanel. We're assuming Danny Wallace went on to open a detective agency specifically for pets.
The Ridiculous Premise
We previously called out the stage and film classic 12 Angry Men on its wildly illegal criminal trial. Specifically because the film -- which is about a jury wrestling over a murder case with seemingly slam-dunk evidence -- involves one juror turning the whole case around by basically taking the investigation into his own hands. He even buys a knife similar to the murder weapon, to prove a point.
"This has a point."
It's the kind of "who cares what rules we break as long as we catch the bad guy" B.S. that you see in every crime or courtroom drama on TV. In the real world, however, rules matter. If you try to pull something like that, the whole case gets thrown out.
In Sunderland, U.K., a man was put on trial in the murder of a cabdriver back in 2008. Just as in the movie, one juror decided the defense team just wasn't doing a good-enough job.
During a recess, this juror snuck out of his court-appointed hotel room and visited the crime scene. He took pictures, did his own measurements and researched forensic techniques. He even questioned a witness. And make no mistake, England has strict jury-conduct rules, just like everybody else.
Plus on lunch breaks they hunt down Scottish people, just like any other civilized nation.
But rather than throw out the case, the judge did just what a Hollywood judge would do -- he accepted the evidence, and the murderer was found not guilty because the juror proved the prosecution's case was "fatally flawed."
"He's not actually dead, for one."
The Ridiculous Premise
The fourth Die Hard, aka The One With Computers, aka The One Where McClane Just Flat-Out Becomes a Superhero, involves hackers infiltrating computer systems nationwide. They take over everything from the FBI mainframe to the power grid, shutting down communications and wiping out electricity on the whole East Coast.
It may be the silliest example of Hollywood's recent trend of treating hackers like magicians and computers like magic wands, as if a few clicks on the keyboard could let a roomful of geeks completely cripple a superpower.
"Well, there goes China."
Hell, the franchise should have just gone back to that thing where somebody fakes a terror attack to cover a heist. It's more believable, right?
"I know this has something to do with robbing that bank downtown, but I'll be damned if I can remember how."
In 1997, the Joint Chiefs of Staff authorized a "no notice" cyberattack exercise called Eligible Receiver. A team of 35 hackers, called the Red Team, were hired to pose as North Korean operatives. They were ordered to attack the Pacific Command Headquarters and a bunch of secondary targets, including the Pentagon.
They got in with ease. They did it by guessing passwords through trial and error, and if that didn't work, they just called and asked for access. Once inside the system, they created accounts for themselves, deleted official accounts, reformatted hard drives, scrambled data, shut networks down, read sensitive emails, disrupted phone service and "generally raised merry hell." And we're not talking about just annoying some IT staff and replacing people's desktop wallpaper with inter-species porn -- the hackers gained the ability to deny the Pentagon the ability to deploy forces. How is that possible!?
Eh, war. What's it good for?
But, you may say, these are hackers hired by the NSA, and this was a worst-case scenario of top-end operatives using the best hacking tools the NSA could provide. It's not like Anonymous could mount this kind of operation from their collective basements. Right?
As for the whole "shutting down the power grid" stuff, during mission debriefing, NSA officials found that the rest of the country's infrastructure was just as vulnerable as they made it look in Die Hard, and a similar attack could easily crash the power grid and damage the country's money supply.
We doubt we'd notice much of a difference.
Fortunately, the warnings sounded by Eligible Receiver were heard, safeguards were implemented, and U.S. government computers became impenetrable targets. Just kidding. A year later, 200 government systems were hacked, including those of the military, NASA, the Department of Energy and freaking nuclear weapons laboratories.
The part about there being a John McClane to save us, that's real too, right? Right?
He will rise again!
If you like crass humor mixed with your intelligent observations, purchase our book.
For more real-life situations that could make the silver screen, check out 5 Real Bank Heists Ripped Right Out of the Movies. Or find out where Tinsel Town gets it wrong in 5 Things Hollywood Thinks Computers Can Do.
And stop by Linkstorm to learn about how 4Chan is actually a microcosm for life.
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