Sunday, July 15, 2007

The romantic comedy I've always wanted to write

As I fly home from Seattle I am reminded of my idea for a romantic comedy screenplay.

You know the old third act convention -- GIRL goes off to the airport to fly away for good, to marry Ralph Bellamy and ruin her life. GUY realizes he loves GIRL and rushes to the airport. Start the clock! He’s driving like a madman. She’s leisurely strolling to her gate. In the time it takes her to walk twenty yards he drives twenty miles but that’s okay, he’s on “Jack Bauer” time. He parks right in front of the terminal. Races in. She’s at the ticket counter with two people in front of her. He’s leaping over people like OJ. Just as she’s about to enter the jetway he arrives. They embrace, declare their undying love. The end.

My movie would start with GUY realizing he loves GIRL and heading off to the airport. She’s looking at the TV monitors trying to figure out which of the many concourses her gate is at.

He is stuck in terrible traffic.

She is wondering where the fuck is K-26 and how come the direction arrows say concourses A,C,G are one way, B,K, H, D another, E still a third and why there’s no F?

He’s now approaching the airport. There’s construction blocking two lanes. This is the weekend they’ve decided to repave the main thoroughfare. And just for fun, they’re backing in a cement mixer so all traffic is held.

GIRL’S flight has been delayed. It says only 15 minutes but how can that be when the plane isn’t even there yet? Could the major airline be lying???

GUY’S car is inspected after waiting at a checkpoint. The Hummer before him with a gun rack got waved right through. He’s asked to open his Kia trunk.

GIRL realizes if she wants to eat anything on the long fight she needs to buy it. So she gets in long line at the CHILI’S TOO take out stand.

He can’t leave his car unoccupied at the terminal. Only people allowed to get really close to the terminal in these terrorist prevention times are cab drivers, none of whom have first names shorter than 38 letters. GUY has to find a space in one of the parking structures. There are none.

The woman in line ahead of GIRL is asking questions about the chicken pesto wrap? Is it white meat? When was it made? The girl at the counter doesn’t speak English.

GUY parks in a handi-cap zone. Fuck it. He races for the terminal. The parking structure elevator is out of order.

GIRL begins her two mile trek to her gate.

GUY can’t get past security unless he has a ticket. He races to the ticket counter.

Oops. Gates K20-26 are in a different concourse than gates K1-25.

To avoid the long line, GUY goes to First Class desk. There are still three people ahead of him. No biggie except there is only one agent serving First Class passengers. The other line moves faster.

GIRL wanders through the maze of concourses.

GUY reaches the ticket agent. Is given flack for being in the first class line. He’ll buy a first class ticket for GIRL’S flight. Sorry. Sold out. There are no more seats on any flight to her destination. He’ll buy a ticket for ANY flight going anywhere. There’s room on the Tokyo red eye. He’ll take it. First Class only. Shit! He waits as she gets approval for his card. It’s denied. He gives her another card.

GIRL reaches her gate. Flight still delayed. Why? One rep says bad weather. Another says equipment problems. Could the major airline be lying???

Now that GUY has spent his grandmother’s inheritance on a flight he doesn’t intend to take he races to security. Another long line. People are practically stripping down to their underwear.

GIRL’S flight finally arrives. They have trouble getting the jetway to the plane. It’ll only be another few minutes. Scheduled time for her flight was ten minutes ago although the airline maintains that time still stands.

Because he’s flying one-way he’s singled out for extensive examination. He has no luggage, which is mighty suspicious. He could be hiding something. What, he wonders, if he has nothing to hide it in?

GIRL stands in long line at ticket counter.

GUY’S car is towed.

GUY is asked a series of questions. The thought here is that terrorists who would think nothing of blowing up a jumbo jet with 200 people aboard would not tell a fib to a TSA agent.

GIRL reaches the ticket agent and learns her seat is double-booked. This is the new airline policy. They fear that businessmen who book reservations cancel thereby leaving empty seats. So the policy is to double book. The solution is not just put people on stand-by for the few vacant seats. No, it’s to inconvenience those people who did dutifully make their reservations and give the airline their money way ahead of time.

Now GUY is trying to figure out where Gate K-26 is.

GIRL and the other passenger assigned to her seat play game of chicken over who will agree to take a later flight. They’re offered a voucher for a free trip anywhere in the US. GIRL knows that there are only a certain number of seats allotted for these vouchers and they’re always full. So the voucher is essentially worthless.

GUY races to her gate.

GIRL is about to step into the jetway.

GUY reaches her gate. He calls to her. She spots him. Tears in her eyes, she almost swoons when she sees him. An alert siren sounds. The terminal is being evacuated. Bomb scare. Mass confusion as everyone tries to leave. Closing music swells as they embrace and are trampled. The end.

Hopefully it’s not too sentimental. But I’m sure Nora Ephron will find just the right balance. Watch for my movie coming to a theatre near you…or maybe as part of some major airline’s in flight entertainment.

ANTICIPATED LOGIC PROBLEMS: Why don't they have cellphones and just call each other or why doesn't GUY follow her later? GUY ran out of the house so fast he forgot his cellphone. Ralph Bellamy had justice of the peace waiting with him at GIRL'S destination to perform the ceremony at the baggage carousel. All these and any logic problems will be deftly explained in the script by one of the many writers the studio gets to rewrite me...and then each other.

Fly carefully!


Rob said...

Pretty damn funny, but I'd have them getting run over by one of those overgrown golf carts carrying people too lazy to walk.

I always found airport security to be humorous. It's the one place where my penchant for being a smart ass would get me in trouble.

I remember the questions they used to ask pre 9/11. "Did anyone pack these bags for you?"

"Yes, some guy with a flowing beard named Abdullah, handed me these, and said it would be helpful if I could get it to 30 virgins waiting for him in Las Vegas. He told me that they were Mickey Mouse fans, so he bought them a clock. That's the ticking you hear in there."

I remember taking a flight 9/11/02 and seeing an 80 year old woman less ethnic than a Denny's in Des Moines getting wanded all up and down her body by security. At the same airport, a continuous announcement swore that joking about security was not funny and would be subject to arrest.

My favorite experience was in a Texas airport where the music was turned up to 11, making it nearly impossible to hear someone five feat from you, much less our announcements. Our ticket said we were flying out of gate 15. We were standing along the wall watching the gate when everyone at gate 15 got up and moved to gate 16. The time for our flight approached and went. We went to Gate 16 and asked when the flight to Louisville would be leaving. "Huh? Sir, that just left. Are you Rob M and Greg K?"


"We've been paging you for the past 10 minutes."

"We couldn't hear it over Celine Dion and Michael Bolton."

So our luggage boarded and we didn't. Rather than that send up a red flag, the plane went on its merry way.

Continental was nice enough to issue us vouchers that had absolutely no value to take a flight on another airline. Of course, we didn't discover this until we were 14 miles away at the next terminal. We spent an extra $2000 that day to get home from the business trip. We did get bumped to 1st class though.

The jackasses from Continental then said we could use

When we explained that we'd been standing along the wall a

Anonymous said...

Does anyone think that flying doesn't suck? I have to take a flight across the country in a few weeks and I'm dreading it.

On a more positive note, just saw "Knocked Up" again for the second time and loved it. It such a well written and acted film. Moving too.

Cathy Fielding said...

My family and I are about to go to Hawaii for a LONG overdue vacation. I haven't flown since well before 9/11. Yikes. Long lines, limited toiletries/liquids, extra security, crowded flights, flying with two pre-teens that can't get along for five minutes at a time... perhaps I should reconsider. Staying home and blowing up a plastic wading pool is sounding better and better.

Anonymous said...

I'm still one of the few people I know who legitimately enjoys flying. Maybe it's because I don't do it all that often, but I just don't mind it that much. And I've flown post 9-11, it's not a huge deal. Just be at the airport 1 1/2-2 hours ahead of time in case there's a wait or something.

Anonymous said...

I would have GUY driving, leaping, running like a maniac, doing everything to get to the gate; cut back and forth between him and GIRL as she is about to board her plane. Then we finally see that GUY actually went to the wrong airport.

It's more realistic.

Mike Rinaldi

Anonymous said...

Brilliant Ken!
Those cliche' airport scenes make me nuts for the same reasons. Only thing missing is the obligatory standing ovation the airport crew gives the couple upon embrace. What the @#$?

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem I've got with your scenario is that old Ralph's gotta be pretty ripe by now.

Hume Cronyn's much fresher.

Grubber said...

I'm kinda like the idea that since he leaves his car in a the disabled spot, they track his rego, get his picture, use the facial tracking software in the airport to find him, just as they are going to embrace, thirty security staff tackle him and drag him off to Gitmo for 20 months.

That's just the opening scene. Once he is released, he has to start all over again, but this time he is now a declared security risk and is not allowed on any flights. The love of his life is a flight attendent and is hardly ever not on a plane. How does he get that girl? No idea, the kids woke me up at 4am today.

shaz said...

How bout they flip it on its head and have a airport dash episode where someone rushes to the departure gate because they just cant let them get on the plane without telling them how much they hate thier guts ?
"Brad thank god i caught you in time i just couldnt live with myself if you left without knowing just how bad your breath stinks in the morning ..have a nice life "
I mean i cant think on anyone i know whos ever left a marriage proposal to a departure lounge so why is there always that obligatory airport declaration of love episode in most sitcoms ive ever seen ?
Jeez friends built half a season around just such scenes and i still think if i saw ross gellar running towards me in an airport id have launched my case at him and ran like hell .

Anonymous said...

If you want to make it a sure hit, just name the guy (or even the girl for that matter) Harry Potter. The holes in the plot and logical mistakes won't matter. You can blame them on the magic of love.


brian t said...

I thought the Friends ending was bolted-on, but they did try to be a little original: sending Ross to the wrong airport, then having Rachel tell him to "get bent" so he thinks he's "lost" her. (I'm assuming everyone's familiar with what happ6ened next, or doesn't give a rat's proverbial...)

Oh, and if you think flying from an American airport is bad, just try changing at Heathrow. The famous British tolerance of queues has its limits..!

The Curmudgeon said...

Will anyone replace Ralph Bellamy -- ever -- as the Guy Who Doesn't Get the Girl?

And, crutnacker, the story I heard is that they were wanding that 80-year old because the caught her with knitting needles. They were afraid she'd knit up an afghan. (Is that joke old enough that it may be responsibly recycled now?)

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken, did you really come up with this by yourself? I am positive that I saw exactly this story, scene-by-scene, in an early episode of the second season of Boy Meets World....

Anonymous said...

I have just stolen this idea and sold it to Fox for millions of dollars. MILLIONS, I tell you!

Rachel Hauck said...

Awesome scene. V. funny!

Wish I'd read it before my closing airport scene. But it wasn't a "rush to" scene. Just an "I wasn't going to say goodbye, but here I am, saying goodbye."

But still... ;)