Film’s Top 10 ‘Identity Fibbers’…

Friday sees the release of Adam Sandler’s latest film offering Just Go With It, a tale of a plastic surgeon who invents a soon-to-be ex wife in order to get women. Apparently, there is just no greater turn on, than an unhappily married man…

Anyway, Sandler’s character meets a girl but to keep up the lie, he ropes in his manager (played by Jennifer Aniston) to pretend to be his divorcee. As you can imagine the lies escalate, and somehow, everyone (including his assistant’s kids) ends up in Hawaii for a weekend “that will change all their lives”. Confused? So were we, but it got us thinking: fake (or mistaken) identity is a theme that pops up in a lot of movies. And with so many out there, it is only right that a comprehensive list of the top ten be established once and for all.

Without further ado, here are our top 10 identity fibbers (naturally, Sandler appears in it)…


10. Tom Ripley – The Talented Mr. Ripley

This 1999 psychological thriller is a story of mistaken class and education. Wealthy shipbuilder Herbert mistakes struggling pianist Tom Ripley for a Princeton graduate and friend of his son Dickie, and asks him to travel to Italy to persuade Dickie to return home and help run the family business. Tom responds by doing what you’d naturally expect: no, he doesn’t reveal his true identify like a normal person – he in fact goes along with the charade and ends up in a bit of a sticky situation. An award winning film, which reminds us that once upon a time, Jude Law was actually considered to be a good actor (with an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor to prove it)…


9. Chuck And Larry – I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry

One day, a film exec said: we need Jessica Biel in her underwear, innocently encouraging a man to ‘cop a feel’.

And thus, the plot for I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry was born, featuring two straight Brooklyn fire-fighters who pretend to be a gay couple in order to receive domestic partner benefits. There’s really not much more to it than that. Other than the fact that they get found out, and Biel’s new ‘gay best friend’ Chuck falls in love with her, which complicates things slightly…


8. Judy Barton – Vertigo

Hitchcock’s 1958 psychological classic tells a complex tale of false identity. In short: a man hires a detective to follow his ‘wife’ (in fact a woman he gets to pretend to be her) in order to cover up her death. The detective follows and falls in love with the ‘wife’ but watches helplessly as she falls to her apparent death. Distraught, he later follows a woman in the street (the fake wife, now in her normal guise) and notices that she bears an uncanny resemblance to his dead love. They begin a relationship but inevitably things end tragically, teaching us once and for all that if a man approaches you and asks you to pretend to be his wife, just say no!


7. ‘Josephene’ & ‘Geraldine’ – Some Like It Hot

Long before Robin Williams et al were slipping on their stockings in a bid to pose as women, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon were ‘ladying’ it up in 1959 for Some Like It Hot. Witnessing a gangster massacre, the pair run for their lives and join a band heading to Florida. Trouble is, it’s an all girl group; cue their transformations into ‘Josephine’ and ‘Geraldine’. Keeping the men on their toes, is of course ukulele player Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) who both fall for and attempt to woo. A gender bending classic.


6. Eliza Doolittle – My Fair Lady

Another case of class and mistaken identity: cockney mucker Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn, as if you don’t know) is taken in by snobby phonetics professor Henry Higgins, who agrees to a bet that he can take a flower girl and fool high society into thinking she is one of them: ‘a lay-deee’. Cut to one of the best loved moments of film, where a refined and elegantly turned out Eliza loses herself momentarily at a horse race, and shouts, ‘c’mon Dover, move your bloomin’ arse!’


5. Brian – Monty Python’s Life Of Brian

In the legendary Monty Python’s Life of Brian, it is less a case of forged identity, and more a case of mistaken. In a plot that caused controversy and accusations of blasphemy at the time of its release in 1979, Brian Cohen (played by Graham Chapman), is a young Jewish man born next door to, and on the same day as, none other than Jesus Christ. Naturally, he gets mistaken for the Messiah which causes all sorts of bother…


4. Josh Baskin – Big

This 1988 comedy starred a youthful Tom Hanks as 13 year old Josh Baskin, a boy who is granted his wish to be big by a ‘Zoltar Speaks’ fortune telling machine (although let’s be clear – Hanks plays the older version of Josh and not the kid version… that would just be weird). For those that watched it as kids back in the day, it will be forever remembered as the film that:

a) made you want, more than anything, to be able to play Chopsticks on a giant foot-operated keyboard just like Josh.

b) had you sniggering when ‘grown-up’ Josh fondles the, ahem, ‘lady lumps’ of his fellow toy executive, prompting your mother to press fast forward on the remote (nope, just me?)

c) saw you memorise the lines of the “down, down baby, down, down the roller coaster” rhyme that Josh and Billy sing (forget The Mighty Boosh, surely this is the earliest televised performance of crimping?) All together now: ‘I read it. I said it. I stole my momma’s credit. I’m cool. I’m hot. Sock me in the stomach three more times.’


3. The Queen – Snow White And The Seven Dwarfes

The wicked Queen in Snow White is surely the ultimate in evil disguisers. Consumed with jealousy and a desire to be the fairest in the land (yes kids, it is indeed beauty, not brains, that is most desired in this life), she drinks a potion that disguises her as an ‘old hag’, and tricks poor Snow White into biting into a poisoned apple. What a witch…


2. Phillip Morris – I Love You Phillip Morris

The extraordinary story of real-life con artist Steven Jay Russell was simply destined to be immortalized on the big screen. A married man, he commits fraud and on his release, finally admits to his homosexuality and leaves his past life behind. However, with a new boyfriend and extravagant lifestyle, Stephen finds that he just can’t keep from forgery and fake identities. Nicknamed ‘Houdini’ for his multiple escapes from prison, he did everything from fake his own death, to collecting magic marker pens to dye his prison uniform green – the same colour of the prison’s medics – and walk out unnoticed.


1. Daniel Hillard – Mrs. Doubtfire

One of Robin Williams’ career defining roles (in comedy at least) saw him don a prosthetic mask and weirdly realistic rubber body to transform himself into Mrs Doubtfire, a fictional nanny that his character Daniel creates, in order to be able to see his children. Fusing messy divorce with comedy and featuring future Bond Pierce Brosnan, the film was rated number 40 on Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies of All Time. In other equally prestigious awards, I rate it for Best Use of The Aerosmith Classic ‘Dude (Looks Like A Lady)’.