The Story You Saw: Stand and Deliver
Jamie Escalante (played by Edward James Olmos) is a cockeyed, leather-faced optimist who thinks he can turn around Garfield High School, an academically troubled school in Los Angeles, by getting his students interested in math. After facing the standard resistance put up by high school students in an '80s movie led by the guy from La Bamba, Escalante eventually wins them over.
"Woooooo. Neither one of us is ever going to be in another good movie."
He teaches them advanced-placement calculus their senior year, and all of the students pass the rigorous AP exam, giving them access to a better future. When the Educational Testing Service calls bullshit, Escalante's students retake the test and destroy it a second time.
The Unpleasant Epilogue
Things at Garfield High went pretty well for a few years. Any student who could spell "AP" was allowed to take calculus with Escalante. Soon he and two other teachers had calculus classes with over 50 students, far past the 35-student limit set by the teacher's union. Escalante was faced with the choice of closing his open-door policy or allowing even more teachers in on a piece of the lucrative AP market. Neither of these appealed to him.
"According to math, I believe the correct answer is 'Fuck you.'"
The premiere of Stand and Deliver in 1988 only made things worse. Escalante was soon receiving in-class visits from celebrities like President George H.W. Bush and then-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Evidently this drove the other teachers into such insane fits of jealousy that they wrote Escalante hate mail and threats.
"I'm a math teacher. Death threats come with the territory.
Escalante and another calculus teacher got fed up and left Garfield in 1991. Pretty soon the passing rate for the AP exam dropped into the single digits, and the school was worse off than before.
The Story You Saw: Julie and Julia
Julie Powell is a 20-something who helps families of September 11th victims claim their benefits. Naturally, this makes her feel that her life has no meaning, because all of her other friends are successful businesswomen. So to search for more purpose than helping those affected by 9/11, she decides to blog about cooking all 500+ recipes in famous chef Julia Child's cookbook.
"I think the most rewarding part of my day was teaching a 9/11 widow to make a good roux."
Julie's excessive devotion begins to cause concern among her friends and family. Even her super-supportive husband eventually gets fed up and leaves for a short while, which may be the first time in history a man has left a woman because she cooks too much food. Somehow Julie's blog gains traction, she mends her relationships with her husband and family and a literary agency decides to purchase the rights to her incredibly unremarkable story.
"We want just the right level of over-saturation to bring all the moms in."
The Unpleasant Epilogue
As we saw above with Erin Brockovich, fame changes people. While Julie was portrayed in the movie as a spunky and relatable 20-something looking for meaning in her life, the real-life Julie changed quickly when her book was accepted for publication. Just before her book came out, Julie repaid her incredibly supportive husband by having an affair.
What separates this from your run of the mill "newly famous person goes though sexual partners like buffet items at Golden Corral" is that Julie at least had the decency to admit to her affair ... in her next book, Cleaving, a title that in this context suddenly sounds disturbingly sexual.
And/or downright homicidal.
In the book, Julie goes on to disclose that another one of her hobbies is sadomasochism -- sex involving significant pain and/or humiliation. And who among us isn't immune to bouts of self-punishing sex with random strangers? Even her husband, Hollywood's depiction of an unrealistically supportive and perfect mate, doesn't survive the book unscathed. When he found out that his wife was having an affair, he decided to fight fire with fire and embarked on one of his own, which makes a sequel to Julie and Julia virtually a guarantee. And considering how popular super dark and gritty sequels have become, we will probably watch it.
The Story You Saw: How Stella Got Her Groove Back
Stella Payne is a 40-something stockbroker and divorced mother who doesn't have time for anything in her life but work. Convinced by her friends that she needs to relax, they all take a vacation to Jamaica. While there, a Jamaican native named Winston Shakespeare (go back and read that again -- this is actually his actual name) is attracted to Stella, and she falls for him despite the fact that he's only 20 years old and probably just looking for someone to touch his boner.
"And then can I get a ride home? My RA hates it when I'm back past 11."
Shockingly, he's still interested in Stella after the two are intimate, and they develop a real connection.
Stella returns home, but she can't manage to get Winston off her mind. The two continue to correspond, and eventually Winston crashes a funeral to prove his love to Stella, because that's how you do that. In a completely unexpected turn of events for a romantic drama, the two lovers break up for a short while, but have a miraculous last-minute reconciliation at the airport and presumably live happily ever after.
And Whoopi Goldberg happens, because it's the '90s and sass is required.
The Unpleasant Epilogue
If we learned anything from How Stella Got Her Groove Back it's that a 20-year-old is capable of having a mature and fulfilling relationship that's not based on sex. This is still technically true for the real-life Stella, author Terry McMillan, who wrote the book on which the movie is based. See, her real-life Jamaican lover based their relationship not on sex, but on a love of getting the fuck out of Jamaica by any means possible, even if that meant faking interest in an American tourist twice his age.
No one with that beard is looking for true love.
That's what McMillan is alleging in court documents related to the couple's extremely bitter divorce. But that fact alone isn't why the couple is separating -- as it turns out, Jonathan Plumber, the real-life Winston Shakespeare, is actually gay, which explains the hot pink sleeveless shirts and all the dancing.
"Jesus Christ, Whoopi. I swear to Jah I will get a restraining order."
Plumber is firing back at McMillan, claiming that she's homophobic and trying to force him back to a tumultuous Jamaica as punishment. If that weren't enough, Plumber is also trying to take millions of dollars from McMillan by invalidating their prenuptial agreement, though to be fair she did earn most of that money from the book and subsequent movie based on their feigned relationship.
"It would have been easier just smuggling marijuana."
So if you're a middle-aged lady on vacation in a foreign land and you get approached by a striking young local, just know that he possibly sees you as nothing more than a green card dispenser, especially if you look like you and he looks like Taye Diggs.
Michael Cooney can be contacted at Mikey.Cooney@gmail.com. He writes articles and sketch comedy.
For more stories we're glad Hollywood didn't tell, check out 6 Movies Based on a True Story (That Are Also Full of Shit). Or check out some stories that should definitely get the blockbuster treatment in 5 Soldiers Whose Horrific Injuries Only Made Them Angry.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see the happy-go-lucky beginnings of SWAIMbot (that are actually grotesque and frightening).
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