10 Movie Biopics That Were Far Too Easy On Their Subjects

Playing it safe is always a boring choice.

A Beautiful Mind Russell Crowe
Universal Pictures

The biopic is dead. We've stopped examining people's lives with any insight. Now, biopics are seemingly there to list the accomplishments of "great" men and (sometimes) women.

As a result, we get pandering greatest hits achievements all sanctioned by the real people, and if not, they rarely complain. The dead are getting lionized, often for little more than shrewd business decisions that never bothers to focus on what once made biopics great: it's never what they did that made them interesting, especially if they're corporate - it's how being human complicated the process.

No two-hour film could easily encapsulate a life, but simply focusing on the notable scandals and their pop culture iconography isn't even trying. A biopic that depicts an ordinary day-in-the-life of our popularly revered would likely be more revealing than a laundry list of best-ofs.

Try as they might, however, it is not possible to explore the complex inner-workings of an individual mind while at the same time reducing them to one central conflict. But that's often what dramatic fiction requires.

Here are some of the biopics whose subjects deserved a harsher treatment.

10. Remember The Titans

A Beautiful Mind Russell Crowe
Buena Vista Pictures

There's no shortage of inspiring sports movies that tug at the heartstrings. And there's no shortage of them that successfully work, but Remember the Titans is especially manipulative.

Set in 1971's integrated T.C. Williams High School in Virginia, it pits newly appointed coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) against his own team of black and white students and a demoted assistant coach (Will Patton). Boone was legendary for his efforts to treat all players equally, regardless of colour. This lead to plenty of bureaucratic infighting, concerns about just who will be honoured in the Hall of Fame and other matters that often reared their head when systemic racism was challenged.

The film is fondly remembered, particularly Washington's stellar turn in what would be a staple for his career: the sage, stern father figure. There are few actors who can sell righteous outrage as believably without turning the role into a villain.

Unfortunately, according to former players, Boone did indeed treat every player equally regardless of colour...that way just happened to walk the line between coaching and terrorizing.

George Paspatis, who played on the team under Boone's tenure, spoke out after the film was gaining attention. Paspatis was a kicker a year after the events of the film took place - and a year before the entire team mutinied in protest of Boone's fascistic treatment.

Paspatis then clearly laid out a fundamental problem with uplifting sports dramas and biopics in general: "I don't think the movie should be more important than the truth."


Kenny Hedges is carbon-based. So I suppose a simple top 5 in no order will do: Halloween, Crimes and Misdemeanors, L.A. Confidential, Billy Liar, Blow Out He has his own website - thefilmreal.com - and is always looking for new writers with differing views to broaden the discussion.