40 Things Movies Just Keep Getting Wrong About Real Life
Aside from the popcorn, there’s one thing that most people head to the movies for, and that’s to escape. It’s true – no one wants to see their daily commute up on the big screen. But the glaring mistakes that just won't quit suggest it’s about time directors paid a little more attention to the real world. So next time you’re settling in to watch that box-office sellout, just count how many of these ridiculous inaccuracies you can tick off.
40. Gun silencers aren’t quiet
In John Wick 2, Keanu Reeves’ eponymous hero and Common’s baddie are able to exchange gunfire in a crowded New York station without anyone noticing. Yes, in this strikingly quiet action scene, the characters’ firearms are fitted with silencers that make them quieter than a mouse. Such weaponry doesn’t actually exist in the real world, though. A gun with a silencer will still make a considerable noise and certainly one that’d be heard by even the loudest commuters.
39. Grenade explosions aren’t that spectacular
Here’s another movie cliché that few cinemagoers will know is based on complete fabrication. When a grenade goes off in real life it doesn’t result in a spectacular fireball like you see in countless action movies. In truth, visually they can be something of an anti-climax.
38. Parking in big cities isn’t easy
Remember the finale of rom-com The Five-Year Engagement when the two lovebirds are able to park right in front of Alamo Square? And on a glorious day, too. If only finding a space in a real-life big city was that straightforward. It usually takes pretty much five years to find somewhere to leave your car in San Francisco.
37. TV reporters can’t get that close to a story
Courteney Cox’s Gale Weathers spends most of her time in the first Scream movie getting a little too close to Ghostface for comfort. The nosey newscaster somehow manages to park herself right in the middle of the action whenever another murder has taken place. In real life, though, she’d be escorted away from the scene by police within seconds.
36. Sharks’ sense of smell has been exaggerated
Jaws may have scarred you so much that you never go into the sea beyond ankle height. But have all of those wasted beach trips been for nothing? Well, maybe. Sharks can’t actually pick up on a single cell of blood when they’re miles away, as claimed in the Steven Spielberg classic. According to studies, their sense of smell is confined to around 50 meters.
35. Gunshots can’t send you flying
If you’ve watched the film Martyrs, you’ll remember the scene when a man almost goes flying through the air after being shot at close range. It looks pretty cool on camera, for sure. But if you’re familiar with Isaac Newton’s third law of motion – and who isn’t? – you’ll know that in reality being hit by a bullet is much less of a spectacle.
34. Social workers take pride in their appearance
Mariah Carey received critical acclaim for appearing much dowdier than her usual glamorous self in the hard-hitting drama Precious. But it’s fair to say that many social workers didn’t appreciate her dressing down for the role. Carey’s disheveled look only played into the stereotype that no one in the profession owns a hairbrush or iron.
33. Accountants aren’t socially inept
Remember playing Ghostbusters as a kid? Remember anyone volunteering to be Rick Moranis’ character Louis, though? Well, that’s because like every other movie accountant, he was a bumbling and socially awkward buffoon. In reality, though, those in the profession are usually much better communicators. After all, they regularly have to convey information that might not be to their clients’ liking.
32. You don’t get a guaranteed phone call when arrested
As shown in the likes of Kingsman: The Secret Service, cinema’s criminals are always allowed a phone call of their choosing when arrested. But you might not know that this is purely a movie invention. Though you’re allowed to contact your lawyer when in trouble with the law, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get to speak to your nearest and dearest, too.
31. Crimes scenes shouldn’t be contaminated
You’d expect a forensics expert to know that the last thing you do is tamper with anything at a crime scene. But this doesn’t seem to stop even the most experienced investigator from doing so on the big screen. Take Angelina Jolie’s Amelia in The Bone Collector, for example. The character may have spent years in the field. But she thinks nothing of getting trigger-happy with a nearby rat while inspecting a murder site – and ultimately adding some more DNA into the mix.
30. Chloroform can’t knock you out in seconds
Ah, the good old chloroform method. In the likes of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, all any aspiring kidnapper has to do is place a cloth filled with the toxin over their victim’s face and they’re instantly putty in their hands. But there’s a reason why medics don’t use the drug to knock patients out. Rendering someone unconscious with chloroform is a much longer process than Hollywood suggests.
29. You can’t enhance every bit of footage
In movies like Enemy of the State even the grainiest bit of CCTV footage can magically be made crystal clear by forensic experts. And within a matter of seconds, too. Sadly for real-life crime-fighters, though, even the most advanced digital enhancing technology can’t make a dot look that much less of a dot.
28. You need to use more force while doing CPR
It seems as though most Hollywood actors could do with taking a CPR training course. Because whenever a character tries to resuscitate someone, they don’t use the necessary force. If you only see them making light compressions, as Bethany does to Alex in Jumanji for example, then in real life the victim would be a goner.
27. Car tires don’t screech that much
Sure, if you’re competing in a Fast & Furious-esque street race, then your car tires might screech a little when the flag waves. But according to Hollywood, almost every journey, no matter what speed or surface, can produce the same noise. Take Dr. No, for example, in which the tires of James Bond’s Aston Martin somehow manage to screech even when they’re moving on gravel. In real life, of course, that just wouldn’t be possible!
26. Hair never stays in place that easily
Yes, Hollywood stars are supposed to always look more glamorous than us mere mortals. But when they spend their screen-time single-handedly fighting off an army of villains, it wouldn’t hurt for them to have at least one hair out of place. Look no further than Scarlett Johansson in Black Widow, who always looks like she’s just stepped out of a salon after her latest battle.
25. Working in fashion isn’t always glamorous
In films like The Devil Wears Prada the fashion industry’s presented as a glamorous dreamland where everyone’s dolled up to the nines at all times. But the reality is that you’re more likely to see somebody working in sweatpants than in the latest Donna Karan. An insider told BuzzFeed, “The glam part probably makes up to two percent of the job.”
24. Corsets don’t hinder your breathing
Watch any period drama such as Gone with the Wind and you’ll no doubt see a woman struggling to breathe while being fitted with a corset. Yet this old-fashioned item of clothing is very rarely tied as tightly as portrayed. And it wouldn’t hurt your back, either, as corsets aren’t worn on skin that’s bare.
23. Lifeguards aren’t lazy
According to films like The Sandlot, lifeguarding’s the cushiest job around. All you have to do is sit on a chair, top up your tan and occasionally glance at the pool to check nobody’s drowning. In real life, though, lifeguards are constantly on their feet. And even worse, they have to deal with a whole lot of bodily fluids, too.
22. Hacking isn’t easy
Judging by films like 1990s cult favorite Hackers, most computer hacks can be carried out quicker than you can say “triple encryption.” Yes, forget hours of painstakingly cracking digital codes. In the movies, you can break through the most secure firewall in a matter of seconds by simply bashing a few buttons.
21. You can’t climb through ductwork
We can’t get too annoyed about this movie cliché. After all, Die Hard probably wouldn’t be half the action movie it is if Bruce Willis didn’t save the day by climbing through ductwork. In real life, though, John McClane would have fallen through the ceiling in no time as air ducts aren’t designed to take an adult’s weight.
20. You can’t hear a conversation in a noisy room
Anyone who’s ever been to a busy bar or club knows that it’s impossible to have a conversation there without screaming “what” at least half a dozen times. Not in the likes of The Social Network’s opening scene, though, in which Mark Zuckerberg finds out that he’s been dumped amid a bustling crowd. Yes, no matter how high the decibel level is, movie characters can always hear the other person word perfectly.
19. Meteors are ice cold
Whenever you see a meteor hurtling towards our planet in a disaster movie such as Deep Impact, it’s always as a blazing fireball. But if you know your astronomy, then you’ll already be aware that only the trail behind the apocalypse-causing body of matter is burning. The meteor itself would enter the Earth’s atmosphere in the same state it hurtled through space in: freezing cold!
18. Cutting your own hair is hard
Ever tried cutting your own hair armed with nothing but a pair of kitchen scissors? Then you’ll know that the result usually has you running to the nearest salon incognito to get it fixed. But not in movies such as Yentl, in which characters without any professional hairdressing experience can miraculously put Vidal Sassoon’s finest to shame.
17. Cops don’t need to read you your Miranda rights
Movie cops always make a habit of reading out a Miranda warning whenever they’re making an arrest. Even when they’re simultaneously throwing the suspect around, as Murphy does to The Dragon in RoboCop. While Miranda rights do need to be read at some point during the process, this usually occurs at the police station and not at the point when the cuffs come out.
16. Bridal store employees can actually be nice
Okay, so the bridal shop scene in Bridesmaids wouldn’t have been as hilarious if the consultant had been less hoity-toity. But still, you can understand why those in the business feel aggrieved at their snooty on-screen reputation. One such worker insisted to website BuzzFeed that bridal stores are far more interested in making their clients happy than encouraging them to fork out for the costliest outfit.
15. Stalking isn’t romantic
Remember that scene in Love Actually when Andrew Lincoln’s character doorsteps his best pal’s girlfriend with a series of giant cue cards? It’s presented as highly romantic in the festive favorite. But is there anything more inappropriate than declaring your undying love for someone when their partner’s just yards away? And let’s not even get started on the creepy job he does as a wedding videographer.
14. Traveling through stars would actually be much darker
One of the most magical moments in Star Wars occurs when the Millennium Falcon whizzes through a tunnel of stars. But in reality, Chewbacca and co. wouldn’t have experienced such spectacularly bright visuals. NASA once staged a physics presentation to show that when traveling at the speed of light your surroundings are completely drained of light. All you’d be able to see is a tiny dot converging in the direction you’re heading.
13. Heart attacks aren’t always that dramatic
In a 2005 poll a significant number of people admitted that they didn’t instantly seek medical attention after witnessing or experiencing a cardiac arrest. And that’s because they hadn’t even been aware that the problem was a cardiac arrest! Watch the likes of Jack Nicholson’s character in Something’s Gotta Give, though, and you’d think that the main giveaway was dramatically clutching your chest. But its symptoms can often be a lot less obvious.
12. Guns can’t open locked doors
As shown in the climactic scene in Ghost, doors bolted shut are no problem for anyone carrying a gun in the world of Hollywood. Simply fire your weaponry at the pesky lock and you’re free to go on your merry way. Of course, the MythBusters team have proven that only a high-powered kind will do the necessary damage. And SWAT teams who use this method need to wear complete face and body protection to avoid getting struck by shrapnel.
11. Hailing a cab is never that easy
In 13 Going on 30 Jennifer Garner’s Jenna manages to stop a cab in a bustling Midtown simply by whistling. That’s almost as far-fetched as a teen suddenly waking up in a fully-grown woman’s body. As anyone who’s needed to call a taxi in a busy city will already know, the sound of a whistle would be drowned out immediately.
10. People say goodbye on the phone
Hollywood’s screenwriters don’t appear to be the most polite bunch. You’d consider it highly rude if someone finished a phone conversation without bidding farewell first. But in the likes of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Armageddon and pretty much every other movie to feature a call, no one offers a goodbye, au revoir or cheerio before hanging up.
9. You can’t go through a broken window unscathed
In the 1980s classic Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy’s Alex Foley is literally thrown through a glass door by some burly heavies. And yet the wisecracker manages to get up with barely a scratch on him. It’s the same story with most Hollywood window smashes, during which injuries, blood and screams are very rarely witnessed.
8. Courtrooms aren’t the place for big emotional speeches
Who can forget the “You can’t handle the truth” scene in A Few Good Men? It made for great cinema, of course. But anyone who’s sat through even the juiciest of cases will know that the courtroom isn’t a place for big dramatic outbursts. Yes, it’s fair to say that most judges don’t take kindly to grandstanding speeches or raised voices.
7. Therapists can’t get involved with clients
The Prince of Tides may have picked up seven Oscar nominations. But it didn’t exactly portray the therapy profession in the most ethical light. In real life, Barbra Streisand’s psychiatrist may have been struck off for forging a relationship – and ultimately a marriage – with the brother of one of her most troubled patients.
6. People usually finish their meals
One of the most common pet peeves about movies is the fact that no one ever finishes a meal. In fact, in films such as Wedding Crashers entire banquets go completely untouched as characters slowly push food round their plates while never actually taking a bite. Hollywood’s waste budget must be through the roof!
5. People don’t just watch TV for the news
The binge-watch doesn’t appear to be a thing in movie-land. The only time you’ll see a television on is for a news report. And it’s always one that conveniently aligns with the film’s plotline the moment the remote is pressed. See, for example, in Watchmen when President Nixon’s important speech commences as soon as Ozymandias’ stack of TVs are all switched on.
4. Most car chases would have to deal with traffic
It’s funny how most Hollywood car chases take place outside of rush hour. You never see the likes of Matt Damon having to deal with a queue of vehicles when trying to evade his pursuers in the Bourne franchise, for instance. Of course, we’re impressed with how the character manages to deal with oncoming traffic, steep stairs and underground car parks. But we’d like to see how he tackles being boxed in by three lanes of stationary cars, too.
3. Body armor is supposed to work
In the movies, someone wearing body armor somehow seems even more likely to meet their maker than someone who’s entirely unprotected. Yes, the likes of helmets and bulletproof jackets are essentially rendered useless, particularly in action films. Take The Fifth Element, for example, where the police force kitted out in bulky protective gear are dispatched with ease.
2. No one makes a full breakfast everyday
For most of us, it’s hard to summon up the motivation to pour some cereal and milk into a bowl before work. But in the movies, characters think nothing of getting up at an ungodly hour to create a breakfast feast of juices, pastries and every type of egg imaginable. Take the protagonist’s sister in Love, Simon, who can somehow put Guy Fieri to shame before starting the school day.
1. Coffee doesn’t instantly sober you up
No matter how drunk a character may be, all it takes for them to get sober on-screen is a cup of strong black coffee. Remember the drunk Santa scene in Miracle on 34th Street, for example. If only it was that simple in real life – caffeine doesn’t actually affect the level of blood alcohol in your system in the slightest.