Hollywood Fantasy Draft: Taking History

I’ve been participating in a wee game over at Anomalous Material called Hollywood Fantasy Draft. Simple rules; you pick your director, you pick your stars, and then you pitch your movie idea. It’s been fun! Here’s my rough pitch, written on the back of a napkin in some L.A. eatery. Sort of.

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Taking History

(Time Bandits 2)

Directed by Terry Gilliam

Written by Richard Lamb’s insane twin

Starring: John Cusack, Jodie Foster, Paul Giamatti, Angelina Jolie, Brian Cox, Audrey Tautou, Sir Ian McKellen

Logline: Who needs dwarves?

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Cast and Characters

John Cusack is Kevin, the boy who travelled with the dwarves in Time Bandits. Now a day away from turning 40, Kevin has moved on as best he can. He lives in New York and suffers only minor personality disorders as a result of his experiences. Mood swings, depression, the urge to check his closets every night, paranoia, nightmares involving the combustion of his parents, that sort of thing. No biggie.
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Jodie Foster is Sally, Kevin’s boss at the museum where he is curator. She is bookish, a little awkward, but clearly finds Kevin fascinating. They have had a connection for a while but never really pursued it. Sally is passionate about her museum but sometimes a little too reserved.
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Paul Giamatti is Leonardo da Vinci. Master painter, sculptor, inventor and all-round smart-ass. Da Vinci has forgotten more about everything than most people will ever know, but he still can’t get that damn smile right.
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Angelina Jolie is Cleopatra VII, last Pharaoh of Egypt. She is beautiful, smart and will kick your ass if you so much as look at her the wrong way. A little flattery will go a long way, though. Nice nose.
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Brian Cox is King Henry VIII. Big guy with a big appetite and a love for the ladies. Like the Tudor era’s Barry White, but without the singing voice and white suits. Just don’t flirt with his girl.
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Audrey Tautou is Joan of Arc. She’s angry for God, but she can get away with it because she’s angry in a cool accent. Not big into campfires, but give Joan an army and she’ll give you a crown.
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Sir Ian McKellen is Moses – God’s PR agent and go-to guy. Miracles not a problem. Oceanic crossings made easy. Just do as you’re told.
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The Plot

It’s been 29 years since Kevin’s adventures through time and space with a bunch of thieving little dwarves, which ultimately resulted in the explosion of both his parents after they touched the burnt Sunday roast which was, in fact, all that was left of the being known as ‘Evil’ ™.  Kevin never lost his fascination with history, and now works as a curator in a modest museum, a quiet and peaceful job where he has limited contact with the outside world, which is probably for the best.  His only real interaction is with the museum’s Director, Sally, a bookish woman who finds Kevin fascinating, if only in the way most people find tsunamis and earthquakes fascinating; that is, from a safe distance. Still, the two of them have an awkward connection and are both trying to find a way to pursue it.

Meanwhile, their museum is on the rocks and attendances are dropping. The artifacts are lame since all the best stuff ends up at the bigger museums. Kevin and Sally need to come up with a way to draw in the crowds. Preferably a plan that doesn’t involve spending money.

On the morning of his 40th birthday, Kevin wakes up to find a rolled up piece of paper next to him on the bed. Next to it is a badly scrawled note which reads ‘Happy Birthday brat, from Randall’. Kevin unrolls the paper and recognises it straight away; it’s the map of space and time that the dwarves used to pilfer their way through history. After running around his apartment to check all the cupboards and closets and finding nothing, Kevin determines that his old friend has left him a solution to his problem. Of course, Kevin uses the map. The problem is, no-one ever really told him how to use it properly. The apartment shakes as Kevin opens a hole into black space and leaps through, throwing the door to his apartment wide open.  The last thing we see is Sally, bottle of wine in hand, taking a tentative step into the apartment.

Florence, Italy, 1505

Kevin lands with a thump in the cluttered studio of Leonardo da Vinci. He hears voices and carefully peers from behind a table to see the master standing at a canvas. Before the canvas sits a familiar looking woman, hands crossed. Kevin notices some loose sketches on the table and grabs them, inspecting them more closely. They are preliminary sketches of the Mona Lisa, currently being painted in front of him. Something is very wrong, however. Her gappy, gormless smile is hideous. Kevin leans forward to get a better look at the subject of the painting. That’s her smile! She’s missing half her teeth! Da Vinci is cursing in Italian and Kevin can see that the mouth remains unpainted. What a find these sketches are! Kevin sticks them in his bag, rolls out the map, studies it for a second and opens a portal to his next destination, kicking over an easel as he goes. Da Vinci turns around to see the hole in the wall of his studio.

Egypt, 31 BC

Kevin finds himself appearing in Cleopatra’s bed chamber during the middle of the night. Unfortunately, the Queen wakes up to find Kevin helping himself to a few juicy artifacts and raises the alarm, expertly knocking him to the ground with a flying kick and then holding him in a headlock until the guards arrive. Kevin is arrested, the map and his bag confiscated, and he’s thrown in a cell. A few hours later, the cell begins shaking and Kevin is astonished to see Leonardo da Vinci land with a thump in his cell. Surprisingly unperturbed by his sudden journey through space and time (he claims it merely proves a theory he devised in the bath last Saturday), da Vinci immediately begins demanding Kevin return the stolen sketches. Kevin points out that a few stolen doodles of the ugliest smile in history are the least of their problems. A point confirmed when the guards arrive to bring them before the Pharaoh.

Cleopatra, who was expecting one prisoner rather than two, demands that da Vinci explain how he got into the cell. The grand master seems to be far more interested in Cleopatra’s face, framing it in his hands and exclaiming that he has finally found his answer. Da Vinci takes a pencil and scrap of paper from his pockets and begins sketching Cleopatra, offering her a stream of fawning adoration. Completely won over by the wily Italian, she smiles, enigmatically. Da Vinci claps his hands with joy, sketching away. Kevin, meanwhile, is using the distraction to retrieve the map and bag. And a few choice trinkets, too. Job done, he tells Cleopatra that he can show her how da Vinci got into the cell. They take her there, where the portal is still open, and make a dash for it, leaping through it.

Hampton Court, England, 1530

Arriving at the court of King Henry VIII, Kevin and Leonardo land in the middle of a huge banquet, being held to honour the Queen of Brooklynia. The fact that no-one has ever heard of Brooklynia doesn’t seem to be an issue for anyone, least of all the King, who is starry-eyed. Kevin learns to his dismay that the Queen of Brooklynia is actually Sally, who has been stuck here since going through the portal in Kevin’s apartment and doing the best she can to blend in. The King is enraged by Sally’s pleasure at seeing Kevin and flies into a jealous rage; a rage that even Leonardo’s sketching and flattery won’t temper. He challenges Kevin to a jousting match. Of course, Kevin cheats. He gets the girl, the trinkets, and the Italian Renaissance master.

Orléans, France, 1428

Not the best place for a holiday, but a great place if you want Joan of Arc’s sword. Kevin, Sally, and the Italian grand master (who simply refuses to go home), land in the middle of the siege of Orleans. After avoiding being trampled by horses, shot with arrows and drenched in burning oil, they finally manage to meet the Saint in the making.  After some desperate attempts to distract her and pinch the sword, Sally decides that negotiation is the best way forward. Joan, who has a bizarre passion for men’s clothes, agrees to swap her sword for Kevin’s Levi jeans. The priceless artifact is more than adequate compensation for having to continue his journey in his underpants.

Mount Sinai, 1440 BC (give or take)

That is, until he finds himself face-to-face with Moses in only his tighty whities. That’s Kevin, not Moses. Who is this guy, and what’s with the girl in a strange dress and the bearded guy drawing pictures? Not even God saw this one coming. Anyway, Moses has more important things on his mind than this weird guy hanging around the bottom of Mount Sinai, offering to help him with those heavy looking tablets.  He’s got laws to lay down to the naughty throng. Luckily, Kevin is there to help with the clean-up operation, after he’s tripped up Moses who then drops all the tablets. With his piece of stone commandment, the piece that says ‘…ou shalt not steal’, Kevin and his comrades make their escape before the shit really hits the fan.

New York, Present day

Having convinced Da Vinci to go home and finish his painting, Kevin and Sally return to present day New York. The Museum is saved and they finally admit their feelings for one another, albeit in a clumsy way, over a cabinet of roman coins. All they have to do is ignore the fact that the Mona Lisa, a poster of which is now hanging in their apartment, has an enigmatic smile. After all, it’s history.


4 people thought reading “Hollywood Fantasy Draft: Taking History” would be a good idea. Stranger still, they left messages...

  1. Peter Eramo Jr.

    So well thought out, Richard! This is really good stuff. What a cast too — and they all fit very nicely…no one seems out of place here. I haven’t seen the original in years, but this is so cleverly mapped out. I enjoyed reading it. Your pitch-writing is very well honed too.

    Reply
  2. Jennifer

    Beautifully done, Lambie! Time Bandits has always been one of my Top Ten films, so the thought of a sequel has me salivating. Can’t we get someone to produce it? hmmmm??

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      I’ll get on it right away! I have a few Euros left over from October. I’ll give them to Terry Gilliam and see what he can do. ;-)

      Good to see you here, Jen. :-D

      Reply

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