Comedies That Were Inspired By Depressing Real-Life Stories

Comedies That Were Inspired By Depressing Real-Life Stories

If the 10,000 Transformers sequels didn't tip you off, coming up with fresh new movie ideas can be a pretty tough job. So, occasionally, Hollywood screenwriters have taken inspiration from/cheated off of real-world events. Oddly, it turns out that some flat-out comedies began as true stories that really weren't funny at all. 

Thanks to a little movie magic, these depressing incidents were transformed into comedic gold, to the enjoyment of audiences everywhere who didn't bother to Google the grisly details after the credits rolled.

The Longest Yard Was Inspired By A Real Game … Played By Nazis

The only Adam Sandler football movie in which he doesn't do a grating voice that makes you want to cram pillow stuffing into your ears, The Longest Yard tells the story of a prison football game played between the inmates and the guards. It was, of course, based on the 1974 film of the same name starring Burt Reynolds, Eddie Albert, and Burt Reynolds' mustache. 

While The Longest Yard is an original story, it was seemingly inspired by a 1962 Hungarian film called Two Half Times in Hell, about a soccer game played between the Nazis and a team made up of Ukrainian prisoners of war, all to celebrate Hitler's birthday. And it was based on an actual historical event known as the "Death Match." While many of the specific details aren't fully clear today, in the movie version, at least, the game ends in far bleaker fashion than in the Adam Sandler version.

And speaking of the Sandman…

50 First Dates Was Probably Based On A Real Woman Who Had Been In Two Horrific Accidents

For those who thought that The Wedding Singer didn't have enough debilitating brain injuries, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore re-teamed for 50 First Dates, a romantic comedy about a woman who can't create any new short-term memories – kind of like Memento, if Memento had more godawful Rob Schneider-based hijinks.

The movie reportedly took inspiration from the case of Michelle Philpots, who developed anterograde amnesia after suffering injuries in "two vehicle crashes," meaning that she "wakes up every morning believing it's 1994." Unlike Barrymore's character, she also had "frequent seizures," and sometimes her memory was erased "each minute," not just after going to sleep like in the movie. Which, admittedly, sounds even less funny than anything Rob Schneider did. 

30 Minutes or Less Borrowed Heavily From a Real Life Tragedy

In 30 Minutes or Less, Jesse Eisenberg plays a pizza deliveryman who gets jumped by two goons in masks – they strap a bomb to the poor guy and warn him it will explode if he doesn't rob $100,000 from a bank in 10 hours. Which, to be fair, is a way more generous deadline than the title suggests.

The story bears a striking similarity to the case of Brian Wells, a 46-year-old pizza guy who was forced to rob a bank back in 2003 after a bomb was forcibly strapped around his neck. In stark contrast to the movie, his getaway was quickly interrupted by the cops, who detained Wells until the device exploded, killing him just minutes before the bomb squad arrived. 

Unsurprisingly, Wells' family weren't super-thrilled that the abjectly tragic death of their loved one had been turned into a mainstream action-comedy starring the Facebook movie guy and Kenny Powers, with his sister telling the press: "It's hard for me to grasp how other human beings can take delight and pride in making such a movie and consider it a comedy." 

Sony defended the movie claiming: "Neither the filmmakers nor the stars of 30 Minutes or Less were aware of this crime prior to their involvement in the film," adding that "The writers were vaguely familiar with what had occurred and wrote an original screenplay that does not mirror the real-life tragedy." 

Operation Dumbo Drop Should Have Ended With Two Dead Elephants

Back in the days when the Walt Disney Company thought that the Vietnam War was the perfect setting for a family comedy, we got Operation Dumbo Drop, all about the U.S. military's heroic efforts to replace a small village's elephant, which had been brutally murdered by the North Vietnamese Army.

While it's perhaps not a shock that the studio that gave us The Little Mermaid didn't accurately represent one of America's most horrendous military shitshows, even the true story it was supposedly based on was, in reality, way worse. For starters, the elephant was brought to the village, not because another one had been murdered by commies, but in order to be put to work in a new sawmill, hauling lumber out of the jungle. There were actually two elephants transported by the U.S. military, but unfortunately, they were "pygmy elephants" and "too small for hauling timber." 

Not long afterward, one elephant died when it "developed some intestinal problems, probably from what they were feeding her," while the other "died a few weeks later of a broken heart." Try turning that into a joke for 10-year-olds, Denis Leary.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this). 

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