11 Things That Are Way More Exciting In Movies Than In Real Life

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Vote up all the ways movies are more fun than reality.

If movies were like our day-to-day real life, why would anyone want to see them? These 11 things that are way more exciting in movies than real life totally romanticize even the dullest jobs and activities. 

Imagine being a private investigator who needs to stake out a client’s wife to see if she’s having an affair. It could be exciting if the PI can catch her in the act, but most likely, that private investigator will sit around in the car all alone for hours wondering where he is going to go to the bathroom. 

Think being an astronaut is as exciting as it looks in Apollo 13 or Gravity? In real life, astronauts have to spend a lot of time just figuring out how to brush their teeth or shave in zero-gravity. How about being a spy like James Bond or Jason Bourne? In real life, spies usually don’t even carry a weapon, and they certainly do not have a license to kill.

Make your voice heard. Vote up all the ways movies are way more fun than reality.

  • 1
    121 VOTES

    Going On A Stakeout

    Going On A Stakeout
    Photo: Beverly Hills Cop / Paramount Pictures

    What It’s Like In The Movies: Almost every crime movie has at least one stakeout scene. The detective/private investigator/private citizen discreetly parks outside of their target's home or workplace... and then just waits. In a comedy like Stakeout, hilarious banter between mismatched buddy cops Chris (Richard Dreyfuss) and Bill (Emilio Estevez) fills the time. Bill even falls in love with the person he is observing. 

    There are usually fun snacks, like in Beverly Hills Cop. In Point Break, Pappas (Gary Busey) asks Utah (Keanu Reeves) to get him two meatball sandwiches. Rush Hour, 48 Hrs., Lethal Weapon, and The French Connection (and a million other police movies - both comedy and drama) all feature stakeout scenes.

    In the movies, at some point, something exciting will happen. The mismatched detectives will land on a conversation that helps them get to know the other so that they can become friends. When the person being watched finally appears, that means it's time to follow them or take pictures or discover some incriminating piece of evidence to crack the case. The stakeout scenes may start with some level of boredom, but in the movies, they will always bear fruit.

    What It's Really Like: Stakeouts aren't all about eating snacks and trading witty banter. It's hard work

    From International Investigative Group:

    "Detectives in real life train for years before conducting a stakeout to make sure that they do the job right. You’ve got to blend in like a chameleon for hours at a time with no sleep or food to see as much as possible without being spotted yourself. It’s a tall order and should be taken very seriously."

    Detectives/private investigators have to do a lot of leg work like figure out how they are going to conceal themselves. The number one necessity, believe it or not, is not a meatball sandwich. It's having a pee bottle.

    "Well, you have a wee bottle. I use an orange-juice bottle, actually. Then there's number twos, and in the early days, I had a little toilet-type thing," revealed a private investigator from Lyonswood Investigations, in Australia. "But now, if I really need to go, I just go. You just hope that when you come back, nothing has changed. I've heard of people blowing jobs because they went to the toilet."

    Other items of importance include someone else to have with you so that you can take turns sleeping/looking out, cell phone, digital camera, adaptor, dark clothing/change of clothes, and a solid cover story. 

    Then, there is the boredom. A person on a stakeout is staring at the same thing, for hours on end, and just waiting. "You stare at a trailer for 8 hours through two lots and some bushes until your shift relief. Sometimes you might see something. Mostly you just watch the owner go out for lunch and come back home. Make notes," wrote Redditor Moonthrower.

    121 votes
  • 2
    128 VOTES

    Being An Archaeologist

     Being An Archaeologist
    Photo: Raiders of the Lost Ark / Paramount Pictures

    What It’s Like In The Movies: Archeology studies history by analyzing artifacts and other remains often by excavation. Hollywood blockbusters like the Indiana Jones series, The Mummy series, National Treasure, and the Tomb Raider series make it appear like all archaeologists are out to discover some long-lost treasure.

    Movie archeologists are often seen polishing off these treasures carefully with a brush. These digs are always exciting. Most of these stories are adventure movies loaded with conflict and sexy characters in leather hats.

    They always take place in exotic locales around the world. For example, the Indiana Jones movies are set in Peru, Egypt, Paris, India, and China.

    What It’s Like In Real Life: Believe it or not, archaeology isn't about traveling to some exotic place halfway around the world in search of treasure. "Since Indiana Jones, people will ask, 'What are you finding?'" said Dr. Bill Kelso, who is the director of research and interpretation at Historic Jamestowne. 

    In fact, archaeology is rarely about finding artifacts. "I think that they think archaeology is finding objects that you can pick up and hold," Kelso said. "It takes a while before they understand that, 'Hey, this post hole is the most exciting thing I've seen, and you can't put it in a bag and put it in a museum.'"

    As for archeologists only traveling to places like India and Egypt, that's a movie myth as well. There are plenty of sites around the United States where archaeologists can go to explore. 

    "Anytime there's development, like if they're going to build a new road, they'll send archaeologists in to make sure there's nothing of cultural significance there, like Native American sites or an old homestead that could be important," said Chelsea Rose, who is a member of the Southern Oregon University research faculty. "In fact, most archaeology in America just happens on the roadsides."

    When archeologists do their digging, it's not all about using tiny brushes to clean the dirt off their finds. "It's not unusual for some archaeological excavations to look more like a construction site than this so meticulous brushing off with paintbrushes," said Tony Boudreaux, a sociology and anthropology professor at the University of Mississippi and director of the University's Center for Archaeological Research. "You're just as likely to have heavy equipment moving dirt and people walking around wearing hard hats. But, in some cases, the excavations that you're doing very much require you to go very slowly when you're dealing with delicate, sensitive remains."

    As for the constant excitement level, movies get that wrong as well. Yes, of course, there are aspects of archaeology that have moments of excitement. But, it can also get pretty dull. The excavation itself is typically a long process. Archeologists are tasked with putting together a complicated back story. They have to figure out how long an artifact has been around and how it got there.

    128 votes
  • 3
    116 VOTES


    Photo: Skyfall / Sony Pictures Releasing

    What It’s Like In The Movies: Movie hackers are often depicted as nerdy outcasts of society who work underground in shrouds of secrecy. They have a mysterious rock star quality to them despite their dishevelment. 

    These hackers can always just sit down at a computer and quickly type a few keystrokes. The computer screen spurts out a bunch of mysterious code and whammo - the hacker is in! It does not matter whether they are hacking into a major university to change a grade or into the CIA, mere seconds is all it takes to break any code. 

    In Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, a gigabyte of RAM from a laptop on a moving train is enough to hack a military satellite. In Swordfish, Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman) hacks into the Department of Defense in about one minute. In The Core, Rat (DJ Qualls) uses a gum wrapper to hack into a cell phone. In Skyfall, Bond villain extraordinaire Silva (Javier Bardem) hacks into MI6's system in less than a minute with a beautiful display of graphics.

    What It's Really Like: It's not that hacking into corporations and government servers is impossible. In July 2021, the State Department, the Department of Homelands Security, the Pentagon, and several Fortune 500 companies were compromised by Russian hackers.

    The biggest thing that movies get wrong is the time it takes to do so. In reality, hacking takes hours - perhaps even days. It's certainly longer than a few quick movie seconds. For example, Popular Mechanics estimated that the 2018 Equifax breach, which compromised 143 million user data records, would take a few days to do one small aspect of the hack, like download files.

    The gigabyte of RAM used in Under Siege 2 wouldn't help a hacker crack code at a faster rate. Jobson's hack in Swordfish would have taken a lot longer than one minute. That amazing display of cool graphics in Skyfall is nothing more than movie pageantry. Moreover, those movie hackers quickly punching in code at blazing rates of speed doesn't happen in real life. Code needs to be precise, it's very complicated. One wrong slash or dot will result in failure. 

    Plus, hackers aren't all underground nerds with dark pasts. They don't all walk around with hoodies and sunglasses. Those are movie archetypes, not reality.

    116 votes
  • 4
    106 VOTES

    Courtroom Trials

    Courtroom Trials
    Photo: A Few Good Men / Columbia Pictures

     What It’s Like In The Movies:

    "I want the truth."

    "You can't handle the truth."

    A Few Good Men's famous courtroom clash between Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) and Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson) makes for tension-filled cinematic gold. However, it is a far cry from the ho-hum proceedings typically found in a courtroom. 

    Movie fans are more than familiar with the way that Tinseltown handles its courtroom drama from movies like The Verdict, Legally Blonde, Primal Fear, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Liar, Liar. Those movies give spectators the impression that witnesses always need to take the stand, lawyers convince their clients to lie under oath, attorneys throw shade at judges all the time, emotional outbursts are common, surprise evidence finds a way into the trial, and the insanity defense is a common plea.

    What It’s Like In Real Life: You know the Hollywood story: an emotional or dimwitted witness takes the stand and a savvy trial attorney coaxes them into admitting the truth. This sort of thing rarely, if ever, happens in real life. Witnesses are prepared for questions that the opposing attorney is going to ask. And if the lawyer throws out a curveball, they can always plead the fifth amendment and by law not be forced to answer the question.

    The law may appear malleable on some levels. However, one aspect is completely uncontested. It is against the law for an attorney to push a witness or their client to lie under oath.

    In movies, lawyers are always arguing or throwing shade at a judge all willy-nilly. Why would a real-life lawyer ever risk alienating a judge? Common sense dictates that the man or woman wearing the robe is someone a lawyer wants on their side. Also, a judge can toss a lawyer in jail or smack them with a hefty contempt fine.

    Additionally, defense lawyers do not want to know if their client is guilty or innocent. Most of the time they did the crime, that's why they're on trial and there's a case against them. Defense lawyers are hired to represent a client regardless of their innocence. Better off that they don't know anything that would cause them to pass judgment and perhaps subconsciously affect their performance. 

    As for the totally awesome battle between Kaffee and Jessep, those kinds of emotional screaming matches are not commonplace in real-life courtrooms. If they were, scalpers would sell tickets for trials. The whole surprise witness or bombshell piece of evidence trope is also totally fictional. There is a legal process called discovery. Under the law, both the prosecution and defense have to provide a list of witnesses and hand over all evidence to their opposition.

    Finally, the insanity defense is as common in Hollywood storytelling as opposites falling in love. The truth is that it's only used about 1% of the time. It's almost impossible to prove that the perfectly fine defendant sitting in the courtroom during trial was at one time insane enough to commit a violent crime. Plus, if the defense attorney somehow manages to prove insanity, the client is not let go to roam the streets. They are immediately sent to a psychiatric facility for what could possibly be a life-long sentence.

    106 votes
  • 5
    90 VOTES
    Photo: Spotlight / Open Road Films

    What It’s Like In The Movies: Movies about journalism translate well to the big screen. They serve as the frame for an old screwball comedy like His Girl Friday and a romantic comedy such as It Happened One Night. Journalism movies can also be about the hard work of investigating and telling a serious political story like in The Parallax View and All the President's Men.

    Films like Nightcrawler, Shattered Glass, and Absence of Malice show off a much more unethical and even sinister side. These reporters are willing to lie and use information that they know to be false. 

    Investigative journalism movies such as 2015's Academy Award winner for Best Picture Spotlight make it appear like an entire team of reporters are doing nothing but working on a single story (abuse in the Catholic Church) for months on end.

    A definite tried and true movie journalism trope is one where the journalist is willing to do anything to protect their single news source. Everything rides on getting information from that often mysterious source.

    Finally, movies need to have a villain, or at the very least create as much conflict as possible. That means making the editor one of the "bad guys." Think about Perry White from Superman. He's definitely fair, but he's also a hard-ass who is always yelling at Clark Kent.

    What It’s Like In Real Life: Journalists need to report the truth. In fact, The National Union of Journalists holds the press to a strict set of ethical standards. Not every journalist and news organization abide by those standards (as seen in the movie Shattered Glass). 

    A journalist (or large team of reporters) doesn't typically work on a single story for extended periods of time. Spotlight is a true story and required a special amount of research and investigation. However, reporters typically have to cover several different stories, especially in this day and age of a 24-hour news cycle. 

    Unlike All the President's Men, which tells the Watergate story from the Deep Throat source, reporters need more than just a single source. In fact, at least two sources are needed to make sure the information is true. 

    As for those cantankerous editors, that may or not be the case. Bosses aren't the same throughout any single profession. Additionally, editors from large media organizations can't possibly be engaged with every single writer at every single moment of their story. There are different levels of editors, not just the big honcho editor-in-chief.

    90 votes
  • 6
    89 VOTES

    Being A Private Investigator

     Being A Private Investigator
    Photo: The Maltese Falcon / Warner Bros.

    What It’s Like In The Movies: One of the most tried and true cinematic genres is the old crime genre that features a private investigator. The usually male PI is typically a chain-smoking loner with an unhealthy drinking problem who works outside the system. He's rough and tough, often a former cop who had to hand over his badge because he could not abide by the rules.

    The film noir genre of movies sets the ambiguous moral tone with dark lighting, heavy rains, claustrophobic, dirty city streets, the femme fatale, and a hearty dose of paranoia. Think of Phillip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) from The Big Sleep, Sam Spade from The Maltese Falcon (Bogart), Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) from Chinatown, and John Klute (Donald Sutherland) from Klute.

    Those movie sleuths seem to be able to do anything they want like wire-tapping because they're not weighed down by the law. Plus, they always appear to be investigating a big-time murder or uncovering a massive conspiracy.

    What It’s Like In Real Life: Private investigators are not all men. While it's still a male-dominated world, according to PI Magazine, female PIs make up about 15% of the field. 

    Imagine if private investigators were all tough guys who don't get along with others. That would probably be career suicide since much of private investigation involves talking with a lot of different people in order to gather evidence. 

    Additionally, private investigators are not just going to ignore the written law. Just like their brothers in blue, they can't wiretap without a warrant or break into someone's house to steal evidence. That's illegal, and anything obtained illegally is considered poisoned fruit, which means it can't be used in court. 

    PIs do all kinds of work, not just murder cases. The work can be tedious, like doing background check or checking the validity of an insurance claim. It's a lot sexier if they're drinking hard, brown liquor with a dangerous dame in a dark, seedy bar, but that's just in the movies.

    89 votes