Much has already been made about the liberties Hollywood took when translating Ben Mezrich's nonfiction book Bringing Down the House into the surprise-hit MIT card-counting thriller 21 (for instance, in real life, the book's protagonist — played onscreen by Jim Sturgess— was actually Asian and never had hot, athletic sex with Kate Bosworth). Now, doubts are being raised about the accuracy of House itself, with the Boston Globe's Drake Bennett blasting Mezrich who he says, "appears to have worked more as a collage artist, drawing some facts from interviews, inventing certain others, and then recombining these into novel scenes that didn't happen and characters who never lived."
Among other, more minor alleged inventions, House — which carries a disclaimer explaining that names, locations, and other details have been changed, and that some characters are composites — includes scenes in which the film's heroes smuggle cash through airport security inside laptop computers, hollow crutches, and Velcro bags strapped to their bodies; the real people those characters were based on claim that never actually happened. Also, in the book, the students are trailed by a private detective with "narrow ice-blue eyes" who beats up one of them in a casino bathroom. According to the real-life inspiration for the beating victim, this never happened either.
For his part, Mezrich says "The idea that the story is true is more important than being able to prove that it’s true," but whatever — going forward, it's probably safest to assume everything you read anywhere is completely untrue. Unless you read it on Kanye West's blog, obviously.
House of Cards [Boston Globe]
Is “Bringing Down the House” a Fraud? [Paper Cuts/NYT]