Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Romantic Comedy I Always Wanted to Write

This is my idea for a romantic comedy screenplay.  It's registered so don't steal it...

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!


DyHrdMET said...

beautiful...I'd pay to see it.

Jeffp said...

Hey Ken -- did you see this article about John Ratzenberger and what he said about preventing studio interference on Cheers? Have not heard you mention this technique in your blog.

Studio Exec #2 said...

That sounds great! I love it! It's perfect! I'm having a few ideas for some minor tweaks, though:

How about we make him an counter-terrorism agent, and there's a bomb in her carry-on that nobody has spotted (including her?). It's not just a race for love, it's a race for love AND counter-terrorism.

No, wait. Better yet, she's a willing terrorist, but he still loves her... Maybe she's only doing it because she's been forced into it by her overbearing family, and the ending of their relationship sapped the last of her resistance. (Brainwashed?)

That way we can have a car chase with big explosions on his way to the airport, as he takes out her family members one-by-one. That'll be a great crowd-pleaser. (Don't worry, she'll forgive him by the end of the movie.)

In fact, forget making him a government agent, he's just an average Joe taking out the terrorists. A blue-collar worker who saves America and gets the girl! People love that stuff.

Also, I'll need to know there's at least some titties in there somewhere. You're probably thinking, "the TSA scanners will take care of that", but I think we'll need an actual love scene. Does the Chili's have a bathroom they could use? You can figure it out.

Wherever they do it, if you can make it so their love-making somehow disarms the bomb, we definitely have a deal. (If that's too hard, try making it so that an American flag is used in disarming the bomb.)

Final thought: Give her a mentally retarded brother. We'll release it January... I smell Oscar!

DanTedson said...

(I actually looked for the Like button on Studio Exec #2's comment.)

I know you're thinking romantic comedy, but all I could hear the whole time reading this was the ending music from Ferris Bueller, as the two siblings race each other home. He's Ferris, she's Jeanie (every action she takes brings her closer to getting on the plane and works against him), the airport's Rooney. I'm not sure who the little old lady driver is. Let's say she smelled of gin and make her one of the pilots.

jbryant said...

I think Studio Exec #2 is a ringer. No studio would release an Oscar bait movie in January.

Danielle Solzman said...

I'd pay to see that in a heartbeat...and audition as well.

Howard Hoffman said...

Epic. Another 13 minutes and you'll have a feature.

Mac said...

Very nice, but you don't have a planeload of passengers applauding when they embrace, which I think you'll find is compulsory.
You can expect a visit from the rom-com police.

LizM said...

Two more tweaks. Blend in an ode to it's a mad, mad, mad, mad world with a reference to the big treasure (in this case GIRL) being "undah the big dubya" or similar older guy friend who wants to help him find the girl and eeks out the clue just before dying of a heart attack.

Second, before film closes with hero and heroine going off into the sunset, cut to movie in a movie with two obnoxious know it all girl/boy morning after movie critics taking apart the probabilities ("Why would she return to a guy who owns a KIA?" and "If he has enough credit score to purchase a one way first class ticket to Tokyo, why is he driving a KIA?") type of snark.

Studio Exec #2 said...

Hey Ken, some important questions about plot and character have come up. I hope you can give me your feedback ASAP.

Firstly, what car do you think our hero drives? Something new, slick and expensive to take down the terrorists, right? And I imagine he'll love talking about how reliable, low mileage, luxurious it is? (I'll let you choose the adjectives, don't want to step on your toes.)

Also, what phone do you think he owns? From your synopsis I pictured the new iPhone. (Which is a bonus for you, because you can use those big screens to show lots of vital story stuff, right?)

Actually, I was thinking our hero has really expensive tastes all round. Impressive watch, clothes, huge TV, latest laptop, etc. Of course, to stay true to the character, he'll have to have a lot of credit cards in order to pay for them...

So if you can work in a scene about how much he loves buying things on his Mastercard (or Visa; I'll let you know), and how reasonable the rates are, it will help make him more believable.

I'm getting my assistant to FedEx you a few store catalogues to help get your creative juices flowing. (I've circled the products I think will really help the storyline and characters.)

I need your ideas ASAP, so please be quick.

Also, I'd like your thoughts on casting at some point. No rush on that, though.

Getting excited!

cshel said...

Loved it! My favorite part was the girl in front of her in line at Chili's Too (is there really such a thing?) asking questions of the server who doesn't speak English.

Powerhouse Salter said...

I imagine it getting pitched as a holiday episode of THE SIMPSONS -- with guest voices Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.

Breadbaker said...

I loved it because of its realism. I enjoyed Love Actually until the point where the boy gets around the security to do this scene in its usual form. I've been through Heathrow security; they've got to be kidding.

The Chilis Too scene is also pitch-perfect, although the counter person doesn't have to not speak English. Just have her not speak foodie. "Can you tell me which balsamic vinegar was used in the vinaigrette?"

May I suggest that when one of them gets to the front of the security line, a half-dozen airline personnel, half of them pilots, cut in front of her or him, and have 4 oz. liquid bottles with them, stopping the line entirely?

emily said...

I love Studio Exec #2. He gives great note.

Mary Stella said...

Unfortunately, Ken, someone is already filming this story idea for television: Real Victims Traveling Via Miami International.

Loosehead said...

And why, when that clever young lady at the computer, has finally narrowed down all the left-handed males between 25 and 35 who live in West Cleveland, do Hotch and the team have to go to the guys home when a quick phone call would surround the place with cops in a couple of minutes.
Same for Horatio and the two young guys who do the physical stuff like chasing the suspect, only for Horatio to teleport himself to where the suspect will be.
Repeat for Gibbs, who allows DiNozzo and McGeek to do the chasing.
PHONE AHEAD guys, and let the people in uniforms get there much quicker than you ever could.

Harold X said...

While the whole Ratzenberger interview recommended above by JeffP is well worth reading, here's the pertinent quote:

Cheers and Pixar also share at least one other similarity – the artists are in control. On the former, says Ratzenberger, "They wouldn't allow any studio executive into the writers' room. There was a piece of tape in the hallway outside and if any studio exec crossed it the writers would just get up and walk out. The studio understood that the writers were sacrosanct."

Studio Exec #2 said...

Bad news I'm afraid, Ken. I just got back from the focus group and they hated your terrorism idea. They weren't even interested in the titties. I don't want you think this reflects negatively on you, though. We're still prepared to give you another chance, provided you're willing to go back to the drawing board.

What we learned is that our key demographic loved Transformers 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean, so what we need is some way for you to stay totally true to your original idea, but also include robot pirates from outer space. Also Justin Bieber (another gem we learned from the group).

Accounting think we've hit upon something really special here, and I do, too.

I look forward to reading your new outline. (Just send it to my assistant by Monday morning.)


purplejilly said...

hahaha - that's hilarious! and would be well - enjoyed by anyone who has traveled on a plane recently :)

Ben K. said...

Some variations:

-- Tom Hanks finally reaches the jetway, but Meg Ryan is actually waiting for him at the top of the Empire State Building. When he doesn't show up, she goes home with Barney Stinson.

-- Tom Hanks finally reaches the jetway and reunites with Meg Ryan. But it finally matters to her that he's the jerk who ruined her family business, especially since his own bookstore chain has also gone bankrupt because it couldn't compete with Internet sales, and he's not even rich anymore. She can't believe she gave up Greg Kinnear for this jerk.

-- Tom Hanks finally reaches the jetway, but, like the audience, he can no longer recognize Meg Ryan.

Tom Hanks finally reaches the jetway, where Julia Roberts is waiting, but the teenage audience has no idea who these old people are. Luckily, Colin Hanks shows up just in time to sweep Anne Hathaway off her feet. But the teenage audience has no idea who these old people are, either. Luckily, Jesse Eisenberg shows up just in time to sweep Emma Watson off her feet, and the movie makes $300 million.

Johnny Walker said...

Haha, very good.

zxcv said...

"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."So you're noting how ironic it is that cab drivers get to linger at the terminal since they might be actual terrorists because they're those brown guys with long names who are Muslim (but more likely Hindu)? Wow, Ken. So much for your Day Of Atonement.

Paul Duca said...

Of course, I can't buy any of it....because I DON'T believe love conquers all, much less makes your life complete and your existence meaningful.

The only man to have the right idea was David Addison on MOONLIGHTING...."Love is something you say very late at night to someone you will probably never see again, so you can get to the good stuff"

Mac said...

Re: "cab drivers .. might be actual terrorists because they're those brown guys with long names who are Muslim (but more likely Hindu)?"

He's not arguing that they are likely to be terrorists - that wouldn't make any sense.

He's pointing out how ludicrous the security theatre is. People get taken off flights because they have the wrong colored skin while being near people who use the toilet too much (No - I'm not making that up) ... and yet it clearly isn't a risk because the same 'security' protocols ignores the same information when it's too inconvenient to follow.

Anonymous said...

This is a random comment that kindof "The Prince & Me" which is an old so-so Julia Stiles romantic comedy I always loved that when the GIRL is at the airport buying her "last minute I'M IN LOVE" plane ticket she has friends with her and they're all putting different amounts on their credit cards so that she can afford to buy the ticket. I always appreciated that little bit of realism.

HogsAteMySister said...

Throw in a couple of cavity searches and at least one TSA tasing and this will be totally realistic.

Oh, don't forget the lesbian-getting-kicked-off-Southwest-airlines scene. And she needs to be smokin'.

Pat Reeder said...

I hardly ever fly, thank God, but my wife had to go to LA a few months ago. Being a worrywart, I signed up for the email bulletins from Virgin Airlines, so I'd be notified if anything about the flight went wrong or it was running late.

The night she was to arrive home, we had the worst weather of the year in DFW: severe storms, tornadoes, etc. I got to the airport, and the plane wasn't there. Nobody was on duty that late to tell us what was going on, and there was nothing on the video screens except a claim that it was "on time." It stayed up for about half an hour past landing time, then just disappeared. Over two hours later, the plane finally arrived. Everyone was traumatized: it had circled so long because of the weather, it ran low on fuel. Instead of sending it to Austin, away from the storms, they sent it to Oklahoma City to refuel, into the center of the tornado outbreak. On the way back, the flight was so terrifying, one passenger was screaming in her seat the whole way.

When I finally got her home about four hours late, I checked my email. No bulletins, just a reassurance from Virgin that the flight was "on time." Then, three weeks later, I looked at Virgin's website. That flight was still listed! And it was still labeled: "on time."

It kind of makes you wonder why the email bulletin and airport video info systems even exist. And where are those movie-style systems that are always accurate and updated to the minute?

Mike Botula said...

You realize, Ken that Homeland Security, which monitors every computer keystroke in the world, knew enough about the plot to register the idea before you could. My suggestion is to scrap the whole idea and resign yourself to the fact that some federal plagiarist has already cut his studio deal.

By the way, my grandparents came to this country, crossing the Atlantic, in steerage. From their description of the journey, it was a hell of a lot more compfortable than airline travel is today.

Carol said...

I'd watch that movie.

Ken, I thought you'd find this interesting, if you haven't already seen it, what with you being a comedy writer and all:

C W Magee said...

You can't get through security with a ticket to Japan unless you have a passport.

Alternative ending has Bellamy meeting girl at the airport with a peck kiss and asking, "Is that your ex who got arrested on TV?"

Mimi said...

I love the idea, even though I'm the first to get choked up by these "happy" endings. Just change the last scene, let the girl finally tell him "I'm sorry, love, but you know, you are my best friend and I love you but just not like that..." I always waited for one of these weak rom-com women to stand by their first decision and not fall for the goofy best friend :)

Mike said...

OK. Here's a more far-fetched version:

Boy meets girl on internet. Boy arranges to fly to meet girl, but is unable because the airport is snow-bound. In frustration, boy sends private tweet, threatening to blow-up airport unless it reopens.

Tweet is discovered by routine security search. Boy is arrested, charged with "menace", convicted and fined $5,000. Boy appeals and loses. Now with criminal record, boy loses job.

No, wait. It all happened.