That’s right, Russell is preparing to create a film about a mop, but the director wouldn’t bring untold levels of gravitas to just any old mop. No, the director has set his sights on the story behind the QVC sensation, the Miracle Mop. The director is eyeing frequent collaborator, and now it-muse Jennifer Lawrence to star in the lead as inventor Joy Mangano, a single mother who created the Miracle Mop to provide for her family and soared to riches and “as seen on TV” infamy.
This begs the question whether the story about a mop (even an extra-fancy one) can be worth telling. Who would want to watch a film about a mop, outside of some weird floor stain enthusiast? But biopics and other films based on real events have often taken inspiration from curious places, David Fincher’s The Social Network still has people referring to it pejoratively as “The Facebook movie,” even after becoming one of the most critically acclaimed films of its day. So maybe the untold story behind the “the mop movie” does have some dramatic nectar soaked into its fibers. So what other true stories were turned into scoff-inducing film ideas, and how successful were they at the end of the day.
30 Minutes of Less
Jesse Eisenberg plays a hapless pizza delivery boy who gets a bomb strapped to him and forced to rob a bank. Incredulously, the film was based on a real event that featured a real pizza boy that had a real bomb strapped to his neck that really blew up and killed him. The film was criticized for making light of a traumatic, true to life event, even though the filmmakers denied being aware of the story before coming up with the idea for the film. The film was released to middling reviews.
Flash of Genius
In a story of invention that’s similar to Russell’s upcoming project, This story focuses on Robert Kearns, the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper. The technology for his wiper was swindled from him by Ford motor company, and made its way across the map of international car manufactures before Kearns, in a scenario that was very David vs. Goliath, sued Ford and escaped legal fees by reading up on the ins and outs of law himself. He took big auto to court and won, and Flash of Genius turned out to be about way more than just some guy tinkering with windshield wipers in his garage.
This film is about a runway model form a well-to-do family that uses her privilege in the upper echelon of society to become of all things, a rough and tumble bounty hunter. The film, which starred Keira Knightley, was panned by critics, and the odd-ball nature of the story probably didn’t help it’s cause.
Pain and Gain
Michael Bay’s Pain and Gain chronicles the story of the Sun Gym scandal, where gym rats that kidnapped, tortured, and extorted a rich member of their gym. Similarly to 30 Minutes, the film was criticised for containing comic sensibilities that made light of very real events which ended in the murder and torture of several people. Survivors of the real plot have accused the film of turning the violent offenders into heroes. The film did have its share of fans, though reception from critics was decidedly mixed.
Another instance of a peculiar invention getting the big screen treatmen, Hysteria, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy, focuses on Dr. Mortimer Granville’s creation of the vibrator, and the struggle of the femenist movement way back in a time when women were still being diagnosed with psuedo-scientific and deeply chauvanistic conditions like “Hysteria.” The film received a mixed reception from critics due to tone issues.
In this Steven Soderbergh film, Matt Damon plays Mark Whitacre, an rising executive in a food processing company that was embroiled in a scandal where the company and it’s competitors were price-fixing the food additive lysine. Whitacre becomes an informant for the FBI, but his hidden mental illness and his own involvement and culpability in the organizations crimes threaten to unravel the investigation. The film was positively received by critics who praised Damon’s performance, but some took issue with the film’s depiction of mental health issues.