There is a reason why so many films are based on actual events, and that's because nothing is more entertaining than real life. Especially when your life involves risking everything to take down America's impenetrable big banks, and you walk away a millionaire. The Big Short not only features a powerhouse cast including Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Steve Carrel, and Ryan Gosling, but it is also based on the revolutionary true story chronicled by best-selling author Michael Lewis (The Blind Side, Moneyball).
Directed by comedy director Adam McKay (Step Brothers), The Big Short is full of "OMG!" moments and belly laughs as it follows four average Joes who band together to bet against America's supposedly flourishing economy in the midst of the housing bubble of the early 2000s. Yes, I said AGAINST America's economy, and they do this all on their own with no backup plan. They work from the inside out to hit the banks where it hurts and avenge the fraud done against the unsuspecting public. I'm sure we all know someone whose life took a drastic turn during the collapse of the economy and the housing market, and it's pretty incredible to watch what a few everyday guys who saw it all before it happened did to fix it. It's non-stop, hilarious, unbelievable, and ALL TRUE!
That's what's so amazing about adapting real events for film! It seems too crazy to be real on the big screen, but what's even crazier is IT'S ALL TRUE! Real-life demons, self-made millionaires, and way more cinematic staples aren't as fantastical as you think. Some of Hollywood's most insane and successful films happened in real life, and some you may wish had just remained a fantasy. We are willing to bet you didn't know these Hollywood blockbusters were actually based on true events and not fiction at all!
What it's about: After a hottie dies from a brutal shark attack off the coast of New Jersey, three men set out to capture the gigantic great white shark terrorizing the waters near a small New England tourist town.
How it's real: Jaws is actually based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name, which chronicles the mysterious shark attacks off the New Jersey Coast in 1916. Five people were ripped to shreds before the shark was reportedly caught with a stomach full of flesh and bone.
Well, thanks to Finding Nemo, we now know sharks are just misunderstood, right?! For all we know, Bruce (the name affectionately given to the Jaws shark, and also the shark in Finding Nemo) was just going through an emotional time or had a complex about his teeth, and the movie just rubbed it in his face!
2. 'Catch Me If You Can'
What it's about: Tom Hanks is an FBI agent tracking the master of all frauds, 18-year-old Frank Abagnale, played by Leonado DiCaprio. Frank has done what we all secretly wish we could, cashing millions of dollars in fraudulent checks by posing as a super handsome Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and more.
How it's real: Frank Abagnale is as real as Leonardo DiCaprio still not winning an Oscar. Yeah, I said it. This kid really did cash millions in fake checks while evading the FBI—until he got so good the FBI decided to use him to help catch other frauds.
3. '50 First Dates'
What it's about: Henry (Adam Sandler) sets out to make Lucy (Drew Barrymore) fall in love with him, even though she can't remember anything from the previous day due to short-term memory loss. When the two do end up falling in love, Henry makes a tape for Lucy to watch to help her remember everything that's happened every day since they met.
How it's real: So get this, there is a REAL LIFE woman who wakes up every day without any memory of the day before. Michelle Philpots was in a motorcycle accident that left her with brain damage resulting in short-term memory loss. Her husband uses their wedding album to remind her they are married every day, and she has a wall of Post-It notes to fill in the rest!
I'm not crying, you're crying! Okay.... I might be crying... A LITTLE!
4. 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (and its sequels)
What it's about: Indiana Jones, the fearless archaeologist-turned-crusader, participates in countless adventures across the world, searching for historical riches before they get into the wrong hands. He may or may not pick up a lady friend or two on the way.
Why it's real: Indiana Jones himself is loosely based on a character Charlton Heston played in Secret of the Incas named Harry Steele. In turn, Harry was based off of Hiram Bingham III, a Yale professor who discovered the actual Incan ruins in Machu Picchu!
What it's about: Two darling young murderesses, Roxie and Velma, become overnight celebrities as they create a heart-stopping media circus around their trials for fame and attention, and hey, I bet ya you would've done the same!
How it's real: In the 1920s, reporter Maurine Watkins wrote Chicago based on her Chicago Tribune stories of Belva Gaertner and Beulah Annan, who were actually accused of murdering their lovers, all for booze and jazz! The two sat on Murderess Row together while the media had a field day about their rivalry.
"He had it coming, he only had himself to blame. If you'd have been there, if you'd have seen it..."
Hey! It turns out real people were there and did see it! Who woulda thought?
6. 'American Hustle'
What it's about: Two con artists are forced into participating in a sting operation for the FBI against corrupt politicians and businessmen, and it makes for some serious drama for their families (and some pretty hilarious Jennifer Lawrence moments, which are always welcome).
How it's real: The 1970s sting operation known as ABSCAM actually happened! By the time it reached trial, over 15 corrupt politicians and business men were convicted.
Unfortunately, Jennifer Lawrence was not a part of it. Too bad, because this girl makes everything better, am I right?
7. 'The Exorcist'
What it's about: A priest is sent to help exorcise a seriously bad-mouthed young girl he believes is possessed by the devil. Tons of vomit and name-calling later, the demon leaves her body, but it doesn't end so well for everyone else.
How it's real: The movie is based on a book about a REAL exorcism of a 12-year-old boy referred to as Roland Doe. Two priests attempted to exorcise the boy from demonic possession, and let's just say it wasn't pretty.
And, back to my happy place now.
8. 'Nacho Libre'
What it's about: A Monastery cook named Nacho becomes a luchador to help raise money to feed orphaned kids, despite the monastery's ban on wrestling. The combination of Jack Black, spandex, and Mexican-style wrestling is pure genius.
How it's REAL: So, basically Jack Black's spandex-clad Nacho was based on a Mexican Catholic priest named Fray Tormenta ("Friar Storm"), a.k.a. Rev. Sergio Gutiérrez Benítez who, for 23 years, supported a Catholic orphanage as a Lucha Libre wrestler!
No word on if Jack Black looked better in spandex.
9. 'The Big Short'
What it's about: Four men decide to fight dirty against the big banks and the United States government during the housing and credit bubble in the early 2000s, and they end up being some of the few to walk away with a profit. Also, it's worth noting that Steve Carrel, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, and Christian Bale all star in the film. Enough said.
How it's REAL: The film is inspired by the true events detailed in a New York Times best-seller by Michael Lewis about these same exceptionally fascinating men. All four of the movie's stars play characters that are based on actual people who have an intimate knowledge of this recent crisis. They saw the demise of the market from the inside, took a gamble, and came out on top while the big banks fell to their deaths.
So, lesson of the day: in order to become a millionaire, do the opposite of what people tell you to do and take a risk. Note taken, I start tomorrow.
The Big Short's real and not-so-distant inspiration exposes the real American Dream in the midst of so many people losing theirs. These days, it's all about taking astronomical risks in real life and proving that anything is possible if you trust you gut and work your booty off! What these guys went through to stick their necks out for people on the brink of devastation is insane, and it's absolutely a story America needs right now.
I guess real life is more exciting than we think, especially when we are busy watching it on the big screen.
What are your favorite movies that are based on actual events?