As chairman of the Movie Truth Police Council, I am pleased to announce an exciting new phase in our mission of combating movie misinformation. We will no longer limit ourselves to films based on true stories — historical dramas, biopics, Woody Allen movies in which Woody or a Woody stand-in hits on a woman half his age and the like.
Yes, we're finally listening to the voices (mostly in our own heads, but still ...) and expanding our aversion to exaggeration to the mysterious realms of fiction.
Before I elaborate, let me assure you: This evolution will not interfere with the council's continued devotion to holding filmmakers accountable for deviating from the literal truth. Did Alan Turing compulsively separate his peas and carrots? No, he did not, as we repeatedly reminded the makers of "The Imitation Game." Did Stephen Hawking's father actually make his own wine? Yes, he did, though it tasted thoroughly disgusting, a significant piece of information nowhere to be found in "The Theory of Everything."
But we also strongly believe that in this modern era of realistic CGI and soul-baring indie dramas, every kind of movie should be subject to a thorough truth-sifting. Besides, those fact-based Oscar-type movies come out only ... what? ... four months a year? What do you expect us to do with the rest of our time? Scrutinize politicians? Have you heard the things that come out of their mouths? Hoo-boy, rigorously fact-checking all that would take a lot of work!
Now, obviously, we can't expect make-believe movies to not take the occasional flight of fancy. We gladly accept it on faith that Bruce Banner's pants must be made of some kind of special elastic so they don't rip open every time he turns into the Hulk. Thank you for that, and where can we get a pair? But that doesn't mean we stand idly by as filmmakers flaunt a blatant disregard for reality. Here are a few examples of things we've seen recently that, with just a small tweak here and there, could better correspond with the world as we see it.
"It will probably win best picture at the Oscars," star Vin Diesel says of the latest entry in the gearhead franchise." We think he's right, though we just have a couple of issues with small fictions the movie presents.
The scene: Our hero, "Dom" Toretto (Diesel), tails rogue special forces assassin Deckard Shaw (Jason Stratham) into an underground parking garage. They slam their cars into each other in a high-speed, head-on collision and survive, though Dom is the worse for wear and almost dies from a Deckard beatdown until ninjas descend on ropes and spray bullets everywhere and save the day.
Analysis: $5 to park in downtown L.A.? During the day? We don't think so!
The scene(s): Cars parachute from the sky. Cars plunge off cliffs, land and keep on driving. And one super car crashes through windows, sailing from one Abu Dhabi skyscraper to another and then another, like Doc Brown's DeLorean.
Analysis: "Cars can't fly," Brian (Paul Walker) tells his son minutes into the movie. And yet clearly they can! That line is obviously wrong and should be removed to avoid audience confusion later.
Based as we are in Southern California, the Movie Truth Police Council knows all about earthquakes. In fact, we're writing this from underneath a solid oak desk right now, wearing a miner's helmet ... you know, just in case! So we can say with absolute authority that everything in this coming disaster epic is spot-on, with the exception of one quibble.
The scene: Paul Giamatti's Cal Tech seismologist warns about the 9.0 earthquake: "Even though this is happening here in California, you will feel it on the East Coast."
Analysis: (Spoiler alert!) The people on the East Coast don't feel a thing! Either this is yet another case of a scientist not knowing what he's talking about or our man at Cal Tech is speaking metaphorically (something, admittedly, we're not exactly comfortable with), meaning, "You're not literally going to feel this earthquake. But you will feel it in the sense that it's happening in California, the center of the universe, and, quite possibly, because of this disaster, the Kardashians and two of the 'Real Housewives' casts will have been wiped out, and that you will feel, people. That you will feel."
'While We're Young'
The scene: Well ... it's the whole movie. Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts play a stuck-in-a-rut, middle-age couple suffering fallout after becoming friends with a much younger, more confident couple (Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried) who are into hootenannies and artisanal ice cream.
Analysis:Although the film is faithful to the basic facts about just how insufferable millennials can be, it soft-sells the countless ways that Brooklyn-based millennials annoy us. Last time we stepped foot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, some guy — who, get this, had his T-shirt tucked into his pants — steered us to a "public house" where they sold only "craft" beer served in Mason jars. So excuse us if a dude who likes typewriters and board games is your worst nightmare. We've been to hell, and its fires were fueled by brisket marinated in root beer.