Let’s Go To The Movies

Looking at my past few blogs, I realized I got into a rut of focusing on accounting standards. It’s time for a switch to something a little less heavy and what better time of the year than the end of the summer movie season to talk about some fun movies that included an accounting bent.

“Look Who’s Talking” – Do you remember Mollie’s (played by Kirstie Alley) job – yup, she was a CPA. And how many of us have wanted to wipe a dirty diaper on a client’s desk who was being ridiculous in their demands? Well, Mollie did it! Ahhh! The satisfaction.

“Schindler’s List” – While a movie about the Holocaust can hardly be inspiring, at least the accountant (played by Ben Kingsley) found a way to use the system to overcome the worst of the evil and save over 1,100 Jews by helping get them deemed as “workers essential for production.”

“The Untouchables” – All of the shooting and action couldn’t hide the fact that it was the accountants putting together a case on tax evasion that finally put Al Capone (played by Robert Di Niro) away. As the saying goes, nothing is certain but death and taxes.

“Catch Me If You Can” – Bank fraud anyone? Frank Abagnale (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) outsmarts everybody until he finally goes too far and gets caught. Two points. Somehow Frank studies like crazy for two weeks and passes the bar exam. I’d like to see someone do that on the CPA exam. And in the end, Frank turns good and develops many of the anti-fraud mechanisms banks used for decades to thwart fraudsters. As I’ve told people for years, in order to audit for fraud, we all have to think like a fraudster. Frank absolutely proves that.

“Shawshank Redemption” – While Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins) was technically a banker and not an accountant, it was his skills as an accountant that made him indispensable to the warden in cleaning up that river of dirty money. Not only does he help get the bad guys in the end, he helps a lot of other people along the way – just like many of my colleagues in the profession.

There are many more movies with accountants – “Ghostbusters,” “Midnight Run” and “The Accountant” to name a few. One common theme is that the accountant rarely, if ever, is the bad guy. Lawyers, businessmen, politicians and everyone else are star bad guys in movies, but never the accountants. We just do our job and, in the end, help the public. At least Hollywood got that one thing right!

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