What obscure personal knowledge do you have that makes certain movies laughable?

Every so often there will be a movie about something I know a lot about and it will be unintentionally amusing due to the multiple errors. What are your specific skills that make movies laughable? And what movies are they? Where do they go wrong?

For instance, I know a ton about rowing and most movies that have rowing (there aren’t many) are really funny. It’s always obvious they just taught the star how to row and he’s usually awful. Examples are:

The Skulls - the coxwain is huge and the rowing race is obviously not goign very fast. Plus the hero rows a beginner boat at the end.

Oxford Blues - the big race at Oxford is in a single boat? Real races are in eights.

Boy in Blue - actually not that bad, Nicolas Cage must have actually trained pretty hard for this.

Mods, I wasn’t sure whether to put this here or in Cafe Society since I’m asking about general knowledge and movies. Please move it if you think it’d be more appropriate elsewhere…

As a knitter, I swear to you, even after the apocalypse comes, I will remember how to purl.

In exchange for food and defense from the roving hordes of flesh-eating mutants, I will be delighted to knit you sweaters in stockinette stitch. I might even remember how to do cables and stuff.

Costume designers in post-apocalyptic movies seem to like to use garter stitch, where you knit every row and never purl. The like it a lot. I guess they think it looks rough and primitive. For examples, see Waterworld, The Postman, and No Escape. (The last wasn’t really post-apocalyptic, I’ll grant you, but I didn’t want to make it look like Kevin Costner was the only offender.)

Mazes and Monsters - Pfft. No group of gamers is that good-looking. Believe me, I know.


In Medicine Man with Sean Connery, he injects an extract directly into a machine that then immediately, IIRC, spits out the exact chemical formula and provides a 3d image of the molecule. For anyone who has actually conducted lab work to determine the identity of a compound, this is hi-fucking-larious.
There is so much wrong with it, I’ll just say that most compound identification is typically done by either comparison with other chemicals using chromatography which requires time and chemicals and solvents, or by using a Mass Spectrometer which breaks the molecule up into parts that generate a signal based on the mass of the resulting bits, which gives you a clue about what the pieces of the compound look like, so you can reconstruct them into a theoretical structure, and it sure as hell doesn’t generate any pictures. BTW, Mass Spectrometers are usually so expensive that the idea of having one in a hut in the middle of the rainforest is also pretty silly.

Mrs. Doubtfire is a lousy movie in a lot of ways, particularly so for the scene at the beginning where Robin Williams is seen post-syncing dialogue for an animated cartoon. Cartoon voice tracks are always recorded first (or have been since at least the 30s) and the animation drawn to match.

**Listen To Me ** - “starring” Kirk Cameron is supposedly about college debate. Since I coach debate, I know that the writers have no freaking idea what they are talking about!

I also know that the writers of The Simpson’s did do Speech & Debate in high school. Their portrayal of Homer and Marge in Speech Class was dead-on! :smiley:

Any reference to the National Security Agency’s mission, employees, technologies, or, for that matter, offices are hillarious to me.

However, I can’t tell you why.

Let’s see -
Flashdance the routes she took at times around town just didn’t fit, especially when she took the incline up the hill and got out back at the bottom. And for her audition, the view from out the windows while she was dancing didn’t match the view she would have had from the building she was shown going into.

Navy movies - I’ll always hear one or two things that just wouldn’t happen, but that list is just far too long to go into (besides, I take it for granted that I’ll always find an inaccuracy in there somewhere, and don’t even bother keeping track anymore.)

Well, if knowing German is obscure, does pausing the movie during Euro Trip when he gets the email asking him to com see Mike in Germany count? (The one that begins with “Ich war ein trauriges Mädchen…”)

Other than that, I’ve never seen a saxophone held correctly outside of movies about music.

I’m neither a nuclear weapons person nor a general physics geek, and although my Dad was both, it wasn’t supper table conversation when I was growing up for a variety of applicable reasons; but I still know enough to find myself either giggling or rolling my eyes at the various movies that portray nuclear weaponry…

ooh, they’re threatening to drop the bomb, it’ll blow up on impact! :eek:

ooh, he’s got the side panel open, he’s got to cut the right colored wire or instead of decoupling the detonator, the juice will complete the circuit and kablooie, and the nuclear advisors on the conference call say there’s no other way to disarm this device! :eek:

ooh, he’s got a nuclear weapon sufficient to blow up London there in that computer bag! :eek:


You’re trying to get my attention, aren’t you, tremorviolet?

I mean, first there’s your post in this thread.

Then, this OP? :eek:
For me it was the movie Pearl Harbor. I just found the whole thing offensive - to have exactly one viewpoint character who was an actually SAILOR seemed pretty goddam Hollywood. Combine that with making up shit about Army Air Corps pilots to get ‘heros’ and ignore REAL heroism, like the story of the USS Nevada… <fuming>

Or a frigging love triangle with plot holes you could drive the whole of Battleship Row through! (Hmm… French resistance sympathizer fisherman picks up Brit/American flyboy in the frigging Channel, and they take the poor schmuck to the OCCUPIED territory, instead of going the extra miles from wehre they pick up the bozo to frigging England? When the damned flyboy splashes in view of the white cliffs! WTF!!! Just how MUCH wine had been consumed that day on that fishing boat? Oh, and let’s see, some flyboy DOES come back from the dead - and he’s not allowed to send a telegram to his fiancee…)

Not to mention some of the worst CG I’ve ever seen - Zeros flying through smoke, without ever affecting the way the smoke billows? WTF? Bombs going off on frigging Spruance-class Destroyers? It’s not like it’s hard to find Fletcher class tin cans: Check the Greeks and Turks, or the mothball fleet in Norfolk, fer chrissakes.

<huff, huff, huff, huff>


excuse me…


Like I said, may I email you? <sheepish grin>
For another movie that kicked me right in the willful suspension of disbelief: The Truman Show. When Truman tries to leave by driving out of the town the reactor has an accident and they’re ‘cleaning up the contamination’ in silvery suits. I know exactly what those silvery suits are for - they may even be used in nuclear plant accidents, but not because of contamination hazards: Those are called steam close approach suits, and are designed to prevent heat from cooking an operator before he can close an important valve. Sure they’ll prevent contamination - but regular cloth anti-C’s are just as effective, and a hell of a lot more comfortble to work in.

Well, even a rudamentary knowledge of things like biochemistry and virology make movies such as Outbreak completely absurd.

Just about any movie where they get information from a computer. They type in windowed displays and the windows change, or they point and click when they’re using a DOS text box. In The Matrix, when Neo hits the escape key and, surprise surprise, the text box doesn’t change. How about ctrl-C? How about closing the freaking window?

Or whenever people are being stalked or they’re stalking somebody, and they say the stalker needs to stay upwind so the stalkee can’t smell them. Um, that’s backwards. Think of wind as a river, instead. If you’re upwind, people downwind can smell you. Thanks!

Or in The Competition, when Amy Irving’s coach bullies the conductor of the symphony into going ahead and changing the program at the last minute by saying, “C’mon, you did this concerto a month ago. You should be up on it.” Lady, at the SF Symphony’s level, they’re up on all the concerti. They can walk in and play any dang piece in the entire repertoire because they’re professionals. Just because your darling precious primadonna soloist has to practice for six months to get one (1) piece of music ready to play doesn’t mean everybody else does, too.

Although it’s too easy a target for many technical errors, “Crimson Tide” provided an outburst of laughter from a co-worker and I during what was supposed to be this really intense scene.
Aside from having (coincidently) been on board the actual USS Alabama, since my co-worker and I both worked on passive sonar systems for submarines at the time, the scene where the Akula shoots the torpedos was just too hilarious. Not only did it depict the sonarmen of the Alabama as about the worst sonarmen in the service, but when they showed the “sonar display” which depicted the torpedoes (down to their shape) in relation to the Alabama, it was more than we could handle (you can determine that they’re coming at you, and how fast they are doing so. But actual distance is tough to estimate passively).

Other things:

  • the scenes of the missile tubes were from a different class of missile sub.
  • I have no idea where the layout for the MCC came from - not a Trident.
  • The one scene where the crew members are dancing with the boombox drives me crazy. At any given time, about 1/3 of the crew is asleep. It’s pretty unlikely (I never saw it) that a crew’s sleeping quarters would be occupied with a group that are all on the same watch cycle. Even so, the neighbors would complain.


  • the punching bag scene was not unreasonable (I used to play with one on the USS Florida)
  • and jogging around the boat as Denzel did is fairly common. But he could have picked a far less crowded deck. Or used one of the treadmills.

P.S. No, I wasn’t in the Navy. Just got to go on a few rides.

I have an elementary school knowledge of mathematics and have been in the same room as a computer. I hadn’t thought these were obscure, but they are apparently too obscure for any movie maker to have heard of them.

Doesn’t this violate the first commandment of the boomer, anyways: Thou shalt be a hole in the water, radiating no-think.

Ahh… tech rep. Ever have nucs telling Thresher stories in the mess?

(Yes, I have a small problem with the idea of a ship that sinks on purpose. :smiley: )

I try to ignore glaring errors in movies, especially sci-fi. I’m not a scientist, so I go with the flow. There’s only one movie where I specifically recall being outraged about a complete perversion of history.

In Ever After, the prince takes a big dive down a hill to rescue a tube belonging to Leonardo Da Vinci. Da Vinci opens the tube and pulls out a rolled-up Mona Lisa.

The Mona Lisa was painted on wood. It bugs the hell out of me every time I see the movie.

Very good point, but they weren’t supposed to be realistic. They were supposed to be actors. In this case the incongruity is done on purpose (probably), so I don’t think it counts.

P.S. I thought “Pearl Harbor” was a wretched movie too, and I don’t even really know that much about the actual historical event.

And it’s especially galling to see the complete mess some actresses can make with a spinning wheel, which I can use.

and don’t get me started on swords :rolleyes:

I was a table top role player for many years and I can honestly say that I got EVERY joke from Mystery Men

From the “wiping the floor with you” first fight to the puns abounding.

I miss that time of my life, but getting a married will do that to ya :smiley: