Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Based on True Bullshit

I've been following The Exorcism of Emily Rose for a little bit now -- ever since I noticed it getting high ranks on the IMDB Moviemeter (which tracks web visitor interest in various films) well prior to release. Normally only the big movies crack the top ten prior to release, such as movies with Harry Potter, hobbits, X-Men, or Spiderman in them.

The premise sounded good to me: what happens after The Exorcist, when the police and courts want to know why they've got all these corpses lying around and the prime suspects say "well, you see, Satan was hanging out in this girl..."?

The film came out this weekend and did about twice as well as expected, which may indicate that IMDB's Moviemeter is a better indicator of audience interest than one would expect from such a blunt-object polling tool. My other suspicion is that the film's success might rely a bit on its "religious faith on trial" theme. There's definitely an audience out there that would like to see snotty rationalists get shown up in court by proving that Satan really is working in the world.

I caught it today and liked it. I was hoping it'd be more courtroom-y and less Exorcist-y and that turned out to be the case. Almost all the supernatural stuff was put into flashbacks as recounted by various people -- thus you're left wondering if they're just imagining things or the ghost business was real.

There's one big caveat though... They played up the based on a true story angle way too much. First, they open the film mentioning it, plaster it in the ads, then, in one of the worst offenses, have these little blurbs at the end of the film telling us what happened to the various characters after the trial finished.

Those characters don't even exist. But, and correct me if I'm wrong here, if you claim your film is based on a true story and include after-the-film blurbs isn't there some implication that those blurbs are not like, say the blurbs at the end of Animal House, but instead historically accurate blurbs?

I imagine many people will be wondering why I'm just now figuring this out, given the accuracy of award winning biopics such as A Beautiful Mind -- but for those films the historical blurb was accurate and I'm willing to accept that the contents of the movie part is juiced up for dramatic purposes. Though, even in those cases my patience is wearing a bit thin.

I'm thinking the MPAA should include a Bullshit Rating, maybe something like the following:

  • DB -- Documentary Bullshit: Mostly true but includes some interesting interpretations of fact according to documenter's political leanings.
  • BB -- Biopic Bullshit: events that can be looked up in Wikipedia are accurate (according to Wikipedia) -- everything else made up to sound juicy, unless doing so would expose us to legal action, in which case they're made to sound not juicy.
  • PF -- Pure Fiction: We're making this stuff up, or pretending to make it up when we're actually just changing the name of that drunk crazy guy we knew in our twenties.
  • BoTB -- Based on True Bullshit: We're making it look as much as possible like we're saying this is true, but really we just made this stuff up and figured that if we found some random actual event in the world that vaguely resembled it we'd make a lot more money.


Anonymous said...

ha!..good one

Grubber said...

I am thinking I could use the BOTB in my adaptation!! I like that one! ;-)

Scott the Reader said...

Animal House wasn't a true story?

No wonder I couldn't find that blonde chick working the Universal Studios tour.