5 Absurd Movie and TV Premises That Actually Happened
How often have you heard someone casually compare their life to a movie, like when they say "That date turned into a scene from Eraserhead" or "This pizza-topping selection is my personal Sophie's Choice"? Of course, we know they're exaggerating -- when someone says their morning commute was "literally like the movie Speed," we mentally translate it to "The driver ran a light," not "A crazed ex-policeman placed a weirdly specific explosive device on the bus and I made out with Keanu Reeves."
However, there are people out there who can honestly say that one day their lives turned into something straight out of a Hollywood writer's deranged imagination ...
Kick-Ass 2 Stuntmen Heroically Save Woman at Comic-Con
Kick-Ass was that movie where a bunch of normal people (and Nicolas Cage) decide to dress up as superheroes and fight crime. The film did well enough to warrant a disappointing sequel that was basically just a regular superhero movie with more F-bombs -- the scrawny protagonist from the first one is now a beefed-up crime fighter, and Hit Girl is pretty much Batman with pigtails.
And Jim Carrey is in it, the mark that a superhero franchise has jumped the shark.
A much more faithful recreation of the spirit of the first movie came not from the actors, but from the stuntmen. While Kick-Ass 2 was being promoted at the annual Comic-Con in San Diego last year, a distraught woman staying at a hotel near the convention stood on her 14th floor balcony and threatened to jump.
While most people tried to help the woman by heroically whipping out their phones and recording her lowest moment, three stuntmen setting up a scaffold for a Kick-Ass 2 party across the street rushed to her rescue like freaking Power Rangers. They ran across a busy highway, scaled a security fence, and convinced a security guard to let them into the building (presumably just by flexing their pecs and ripping their T-shirts).
Each revealing a red S, for "Stuntman."
After racing up to the 14th floor, they entered the woman's room and sneaked up behind her without being noticed. Seeing that she was just seconds away from leaping down onto the largest congregation of nerds in the Western Hemisphere, one of them quickly grabbed her around the waist ...
We blurred her so it looks like they're hugging.
... while the other two expertly placed a harness on her and pulled her back.
The old reverse-bungee maneuver.
It's like something out of, at the very least, a live-action TV drama -- you can practically hear the A-Team theme song while watching the footage. In fact, the rescue was so flawlessly executed that some witnesses mistook it for a publicity stunt, but nope: The woman was upset over a breakup and had been drinking, and these regular guys decided to step the fuck up and save her. Besides, why would the studio promote Kick-Ass 2 with a stunt so heroic and cool that it makes the movie look like shit in comparison?
Suburban Mom Leads Massive Pot Operation, Like in Weeds
In the Showtime series Weeds (aka the show people were calling Breaking Bad a ripoff of when it appeared three years later), Mary-Louise Parker played a soccer mom who, after finding herself husbandless, starts dealing pot to maintain her family. Or at least that's how it started, because as is often the case with these things, the show got more and more fantastic as it went. Nancy's increasingly lavish lifestyle is full of rich, handsome suitors (including the mayor of Tijuana, with whom she lived in a mansion), noisily slurped iced coffees, and an eventual rise to the upper echelon of drug smugglers. Unbelievable, right?
They eventually planned to grow pot on Mars, but the show got canceled in 2012.
Actually, it's not so unbelievable for Andrea Sanderlin of Scarsdale, New York, because she kind of lived it. Both Nancy and Andrea were single moms with three kids (a toddler, a teen, and a 20-something). They both lived in wealthy suburban neighborhoods, and they both worked with babies: Nancy ran a maternity store in Season 4, and Andrea designed baby furniture. Oh, and they both directed an enormous marijuana operation from a large warehouse.
Like in the show, Sanderlin apparently got into pot growing to support her kids and then just kept raking in the bucks. She drove around in a Mercedes SUV (one of three vehicles) and dwelt in a huge Spanish-style mansion (Spansion?), although she apparently dipped into her product more than once, as the house had more bathrooms than it did bedrooms. Sanderlin often pimped a giant-ass diamond ring bought for her by her own Latin lover. At the same time, she posted on weed growers' message boards as Andi68, which is just begging to get a visit from the feds.
Andi69 was a cop offering sex for seedlings.
A few days after the DEA started following her, Sanderlin led them right to her operation, a massive two-room warehouse. The authorities found a sophisticated grow room and seized over 2,800 plants, which we're told would amount to an ungodly amount of nickel bags. In her home, they found $6,000 in cash and books on how to grow marijuana plants and how to launder money.
Better Off Ted and Hewlett-Packard Can't Recognize Black People
The short-lived ABC sitcom Better Off Ted took satirical stabs at the office-working culture (thus breaking new ground for American comedy) by showing the ridiculous ideas implemented by the R&D department at the fictional Veridian Dynamics corporation. For instance, in one episode, Veridian decides to go green and installs some energy-saving measures around the office, like motion detectors that switch the lights off whenever all employees leave the room. It works like a charm, except for one small drawback: It can't detect black people (which, granted, wouldn't be a problem in most sitcoms).
Wait, hold on! There's a black guy! Neatly set down over there.
It turned out that the sensor operated by reflecting light off of human skin, and it only worked if it was shining against the pale, milky flesh of a white person, creating a potential PR nightmare for the company. While most viewers chuckled at the preposterous situation (then promptly stopped watching the show and got it cancelled), Hewlett-Packard apparently said, "Hey, there's an idea."
In a YouTube video posted by two co-workers, they exposed a small glitch in the state-of-the-art webcams HP installed in their computers: When a white employee stood in front of the computer, the webcam would automatically zoom in on her face and follow her as she moved around ...
This seemed cool before we learned that the NSA hacks webcams.
... but, as soon as a black employee sneaked into frame, the camera slipped on its Klan hoodie and staunchly refused to detect his face.
The NSA skips over dark skin. Who knew?
They tried this over and over, with the same baffling result. As the YouTube video went viral and Hewlett-Packard received allegations of digital racism, the company quickly explained that the webcam has difficulty recognizing "contrast" in low-light situations -- such as, you know, a black face on a regular office background. And sure enough, when more foreground light was added in a separate test, the webcam's attitude toward black people became much more open-minded. If nothing else, we learned that, like Veridian Dynamics, HP's webcam division apparently doesn't employ black product testers.
The Hockey Team Based on Slap Shot Ends Up Living Slap Shot's Plot
The 1977 hockey movie Slap Shot starring Paul Newman (best known for his fantastic salsa) told the story of a ramshackle minor league hockey team, the Charlestown Chiefs. When Newman's player/coach character, Reggie Dunlop, learns that the team will soon fold due to the town's problems, he hatches a crazy plan: He plants a false story that the Chiefs are soon packing up and moving south. It inspires the team to the playoffs and an eventual championship, which they win by playing what Dunlop calls "old-time hockey."
In old times, the South bought men and watched them bleed.
The Charlestown Chiefs were based on the semi-legendary Johnstown Jets of Pennsylvania -- in fact, the movie was shot in Johnstown, with many real Jets players pretending to bust heads in the same arena where they'd busted real ones. In a sad coincidence, the Johnstown Jets folded the year the movie came out ... but that's not what this entry is about.
You see, 11 years after Slap Shot debuted, another real hockey team was founded in the same city as a tribute to the film: the Johnstown Chiefs. They played in the same arena as the other Chiefs, used the same colors on their jerseys, and remained connected to the movie world by appearing in Van Damme's Sudden Death (playing the Pittsburgh Penguins).
Not to be confused with Rock Hopper, Van Damme's upcoming penguin 3D family film.
Another thing they had in common with their celluloid counterparts: they lost a lot. Team owner/coach Neil Smith tried to keep the team engaged with the locals' love for old-time hockey, but the losses kept piling up, and the finances kept falling into the red. In 2010, a rumor came up claiming that the Chiefs were moving south. If it was a ruse by Smith to boost the team's morale, it backfired, because they lost their final game and moved 500 miles south to Greenville, South Carolina. Yeah, that's the difference between real life and sports movies, we suppose.
To recap, the Johnstown Chiefs hockey team, which was based on a movie hockey team that falsely stated it was moving south and was itself based on a real Johnstown minor league hockey team that folded the year the movie came out, ended up moving south for real, due to the same problems shown in the movie. Man, someone should make a movie out of that.
The Dog from K-9 Busts Drug Lords, Gets Shot in Fiction and Real Life
Of the two major motion pictures in the man/dog buddy cop subgenre to come out in 1989, K-9 (the non-Tom Hanks one) has the amazing distinction of being the earliest by three months while also managing to look like the cheap ripoff.
It even starred a shoddy John Belushi knockoff.
In the film, Jim Belushi plays a San Diego cop who's got a bunch of underworld drug dealers out for his blood, so naturally they partner him up with a drug-sniffing German shepherd to watch his back. The unlikely pair get off to a bad start (the dog poops on Belushi's carpet, Belushi sleeps with the dog's wife, etc.), but during the final act of the film, the canine officer takes a bullet for his human partner, saving his life.
The dog lives, J-Bloosh is unharmed, and the movie ends -- or at least it did for Belushi, because the dog continued living pretty much the same plot in real life. K-9's most talented actor was a true police K-9 before he went after the glitz and glory of Hollywood. His name was Koton, which sounds like a maxi-pad for she-robots, but he was actually kinda badass. A member of the Kansas City Police Department, Koton had a pretty remarkable career before and after his Tinseltown stint. In 1991, two years after K-9 was released, Koton packed up his duffel bag, called it quits in the movie industry, and returned to active police duty. All told, he racked up 24 felony arrests.
That's 168 in dog stats.
Just like in the movie, Koton helped bust big-shot drug dealers: In October of '91, he found 10 kilos of cocaine, worth approximately $1.2 million. Koton did not have much of a chance to revel in this success, because he's a dog, and dogs forget things almost instantly, and also because tragedy struck a month later. Once again, he was shot in the line of duty -- however, because this is the real world and heroic officers don't always pull off miraculous recoveries, Koton sadly did not make it. But hey, at least he didn't have to appear in the sequels.
Related Reading: There are some questions movie plots never bother to answer: like how do all those heroines have perfectly blowdried hair? Real life occasionally outdoes horror movies. Case in point: the 20,000 bees that invaded this poor woman's house. For a look at some movie plots that could have been solved via text message, click here.