Come on in, Mr. Spielberg. Have a seat. Here’s the script I was telling you about. Read it over and tell me what you think.
SS: All In? What’s it about?
Mr. Big Shot Producer: It’s about a college football team, that fires its coach, because they have this thing going on with their hated rivals, who are, like, these giants of college football. But then they hire this guy nobody wants because he had a losing record. It gets nasty before he even coaches a game, but then he wins a national championship.
SS: Why “All In?”
Pro: It’s catchy. Football coaches love to create an us-against-the-world mentality.
SS: I dunno. This whole rags-to-riches theme has been done to death. Let me guess. They win every game until the championship. Then their star player gets hurt, but he somehow wills his team to victory. And the movie ends with a freeze frame of the coach kissing the trophy. And they allllll lived happily ever after. Theeeee end. Forget it, Ned. I don’t do fairy tales.
Pro: But you’ll do Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning fighting aliens? You’ll do dinosaurs? You’ll do time travel?
SS: Got me there, Ned. So talk to me about this script. I suppose they look like they’re going to lose every game but somehow find a way to win.
Pro: Well, yyyeah, but …
SS: And their star player is like the best player ever. He has an arm like John Elway, but he’s bigger and faster and does things that make even the greatest athletes drop their jaw and go, “Did I just see that?”
Pro: Well, yyyeah, but there’s more.
SS: More? Just how much hokey can it get?
Pro: He’s going to have a little bit of a checkered background. Nothing serious. Just enough to reveal his clay feet. And then, just when everybody starts paying attention to him, he’s going to find himself at the center of a storm.
SS: Go on.
Pro: There will be allegations that he cheated, and this whole big investigation that could cost him everything.
SS: Lemme guess. And then he starts playing bad because of all the pressure.
Pro: No, no. Just the opposite. The more pressure he’s under, the better he plays. Better than anybody has ever played. He starts setting records that are just totally ridiculous.
SS: So it’s like football becomes his respite.
Pro: Exactly. You could say it’s his cocoon.
SS: That was Ron Howard.
Pro: And now this is your chance to one-up Opie.
SS: OK, if we’re going to do this, let’s do it right. They’re going to have the big showdown with their hated rivals. And they’re going to get way behind and all hope is lost. And then one play -- one impossible play -- is going to lead to another, which will lead to another, and another.
Pro: Look, Steven. Let’s not get carried away. Let’s make this at least somewhat plausible.
SS: I made people believe a rabbit could talk, for cripe’s sake. Let’s go with this. These allegations with the quarterback just won’t go away. But we can’t make him obviously guilty, or nobody would like him. But we can’t make him obvious innocent. We need to let the audience half some doubt and feel conflicted about him. Like Will Smith in “Hancock.”
Pro: Will Smith! Yeah, perfect! And Robert Downey Jr. can play the coach. Now, we need a twist. Let’s have them play another game and just blow them out, so all of a sudden they look almost invincible. And then that will set up THE game of all games. The big championship. But instead of a blowout, it comes down to the wire. Just like before. Oh, and I forgot to mention. There’s another beast of a player on defense. Just like the quarterback, you’re not really sure about him. But nobody can block him.
SS: So two freakishly talented players on one team. Boy, Ned, you’ve got some imagination there. OK, they win the game on the very last second. So Will Smith is going to run, like, 138 yards for a touchdown? Or throw it with his eyes closed and his knee two inches from touching the ground and the receiver catches the ball with his left pinky and comes down with one shoelace in bounds for a touchdown?
Pro: Naah. I do like that part about two inches from touching the ground. Let’s work with that.
SS: Deal. Just one more touch. The stadium will look like a spaceship, and after the game it will fly off from the desert into outer space.
Pro: Stop it, Steven. This isn’t another one of your otherworldly stories, remember? Just a good, ol’-fashioned fairy tale.
-- Guerry Clegg is an independent correspondent for the Ledger-Enquirer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org