Monday, December 7, 2009

Pause Button

SHORT STORY MONDAY

In the mid-nineties I'd been bitten by the Hollywood bug after being an extra in the film Iron Will. I pitched a screenplay concept to then-Disney producer Robert Schwartz and he encouraged me to write the script. Three screenplays emerged, but my Hollywood dreams dissipated in the process. Here is the first part of an outline for one of the other movie ideas I'd developed.


PAUSE BUTTON
Outline for an Original Screenplay
by Ed Newman



CHARACTERS

Doctor Roland (Rollie) Michaels
Obsessed with Time
Judy Michaels • Wife
Competent, patient, source of stability

Rhonda Michaels 17 Destined for Ivy League School
Lisa Michaels 4
Birdey, the Cat
Edith Gordon 35 - 40 Rollie's Sister - Klutz
Buzz 15 Borderline delinquent
Zoomer 15 Borderline delinquent
Donald Gordon 40 - 45 Edith's Ex


ACT I
When movie opens, a zany inventor -- ROLLIE MICHAELS -- and his longsuffering wife JUDY are expressing frustration at the problem of getting everything done that needs to get done -- like paying bills, fixing the leaky faucet, and getting the house straightened up before Rollie's sister Edith & sons arrive. "Wouldn't it be great if Life had a Pause button so you could stop Time and get everything done that you've always wanted to get done?" Rollie says this precisely because that is what he has been working on in his inventor's studio.
(2 min)

A survey of the house introduces us to daughters RHONDA (16) and LISA (4), and BIRDEY the Cat. We become acutely aware that this is not a normal house. Books, magazines, and gizmos all reveal a singular preoccupation with the concept of Time.

Much to the annoyance and displeasure of the neighbors next door, Birdey the Cat likes to tease their pit bull. (4 min.)

Rollie's sister EDITH and her two teenaged sons, BUZZ and ZOOMER, are driving toward Atlantic City on their way to the Michaels. The boys are quite juvenile for their ages. Edith's aim is for her sons to get a glimpse that an education can have value. It is a last ditch effort to stave off their utter delinquency. (5 min.)

Rhonda and Mom are trying to straighten the house. Lisa and Bogey are playing with a computer. The cat is lounging lazily.

Rollie is in his studio working on his theory that Time is not a perception of the mind, but rather an actual objective entity. He chief preoccupation is with stopping time and finding an answer to the question, "How does internal time consciousness occur when we travel sideways in time? The room is filled with very sophisticated and complicated equipment and the walls specially treated. The walls are cluttered with complex time models, and various accordion-like models.

Rollie pushes the Pause Button on a VCR-like panel. (8 min.)

Rollie leaves the room and finds that EVERYTHING is stopped. The whole world, everything outside the room including his family, is in a freeze-frame. After reacting with shocked awe -- Rollie pays bills, balances checkbook, fixes the faucet, notices that sister Edith was just pulling in the driveway (though currently frozen) and so he finishes straightening the house for Judy and Rhonda. (10 min.)

Rollie un-stops time. Judy is baffled that the house got straightened so quickly, the bills paid, etc. But the company arrives before Rollie can explain. It is apparent by Judy's reactions that the drop-in visit by Rollie's sister was not at a good time and that these are not her favorite people.

Rhonda gives Buzz and Zoomer a tour of the inventor's mad-cap house. We learn that the Michaels' daughter Rhonda has a boyfriend and is college bound. We also learn the Edith's ex-husband lives in the neighborhood. (12 min.)

Rollie explains to Judy how he stopped time. He also calls his mentor, Dr. Rheinholdt, and is talking to him on a portable cell phone as he leads Edith and Judy to his studio. But when he gets to the room, Rhonda is in there showing off her dad's stuff to Buzz and Zoomer. Lisa has also simultaneously wandered in, with the cat in her arms, when...

Buzz pushes the Pause button -- "to see what would happen". When he sees Rollie, Judy and Edith standing there, Zoomer jumps, startled, accidentally yanking a bundle of cables from the wall of equipment. Dr. Rheinholdt's jabbering voice is instantly stilled, as is all Time outside the room. Unfortunately, the machine is broken. Distress. (17 min.)
Rollie, Judy and Edith, inside the room, react with alarm. Rollie connects the cables and says it wasn't so bad as he first feared. He thinks that everything will be just fine again if they all come back inside the room. The sound of car wheels squealing lets us know that it won't be quite that simple. The teen delinquents are off to paint the town red. (20 min.)

The Michaels family has a mission: To find the runaway teens and bring them back. But how? Think like a teen. (23)

Buzz and Zoomer don't know where to go first. The casinos? A Triple-X strip joint? Shopping? The boys head for the casinos. Adventure-City! Slots forever! Other people's money. How can this be anything but Fun, Fun, Fun, the boys think. (27)
CONTINUED
Copyright 1995 ~ Ed Newman

3 comments:

Mike Savage - Savage Press said...

Hey Ed, love reading your blog. Didn't Adam Sandler do something like this? Maybe you have an Art Buchwald/Coming to America suit possible. Nice reference to Macomber. A great bit of storytelling. Thanks for the images of the Mayoral Feed. Keep up the great thinking/writing.

Mike Savage - Savage Press said...

PS: Like the portrait with the glasses.

ENNYMAN said...

Yes, I know. The Sandler flick came several years after I wrote this. Hence, if a movie gets made based on Pause Button story here, this will come off as derivative, I suppose. All in all, it was fun noodling the idea, "What if life had a pause button?" which I have thought about many a time.

Glad you liked the guy with glasses... thanks for the visit.
e.