Race: An Abridged Script

FADE IN:

TRULY DEPRESSING DEPRESSION-ERA AMERICA

EXT. BLEAK SYMBOLICALLY DIM MIDWESTERN STREETS

STEPHAN JAMES runs past a fire in a trash can and a line of people waiting for free bread, and they nod in approval because he is a SYMBOL of HOPE, and hope is the thing with feathers, and no, wait, this is just a Hollywood sports biopic, so scratch that last.

EXT. TRAIN STATION

Before he leaves for college, STEPHAN says goodbye to SHANICE BANTON, his girlfriend and mother of their daughter.

STEPHAN JAMES
I’ve bade adieu to my supportive mom, various sibs and out-of-work dad, and now, I must take my leave of you and my adorable little girl. But I’ll send money, and maybe someday, we can actually get married. But since I’m supporting my dad and paying my way through school, it may take awhile.

SHANICE BANTON
Honey, don’t worry because I have a job, too. Plus, like 99 percent of biopic girlfriends/wives, I’m plucky, steadfast and supportive, except for the obligatory misunderstanding halfway through the movie.

STEPHAN JAMES
Got it.

STEPHAN arrives at OHIO STATE and meets his new coach, JASON SUDEIKIS.

INT. JASON SUDEIKIS’ OFFICE

JASON SUDEIKIS
I know all about the records you’ve set. I know about the time you outran a cheetah, too, even though you were hungover. They don’t impress me much.

STEPHAN JAMES
So you want to see me run for yourself. Fair enough.

JASON SUDEIKIS
No, dolt. I only care about medals, not records. I’m totally color-blind, except when it comes to getting those gold Olympic medals. The kind you can win in Berlin, interested?

STEPHAN JAMES
Sure, but since when are the two mutually exclusive?

JASON SUDEIKIS
Shut up and listen. Records can be snatched away from you in seconds by some upstart and set you on the path to becoming an alcoholic second-rate coach. Medals are forever. Spit in one hand, hold a medal in the other, and see which feels heavier first. How do you like that metaphor?

STEPHAN JAMES
Wait, aren’t you supposed to be telling me that it’s effort and hard work that matter more than winning? That there’s no “i” in “team”? What kind of movie coach are you?

JASON SUDEIKIS
The kind who is going to live vicariously through you, so get used to it.

STEPHAN JAMES
Got it.

Meanwhile US OLYMPIC COMMITTEE member WILLIAM HURT sends JEREMY IRONS to Germany to lay down the law about the upcoming OLYMPICS to a group of NAZIs including BARNABY METSCHURAT as Joseph Goebbels and MARCUS BLUHM, who’s an architect in his free time.

INT. SWASTIKA-ADORNED ABODE

BARNABY METSCHURAT
This summer, we’re looking forward to welcoming the American Olympic team to Berlin. CARICE VAN HOUTEN’s shooting a documentary on the whole thing for HITLER, and well, it’s going to be a blast. As long as you don’t bring any Jewish or black athletes.

JEREMY IRONS
I don’t agree. As a proud, incorruptible American, I believe it’s the size of the athlete’s heart not their ethnicity that matters.

BARNABY METSCHURAT
We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. Are you coming or not?

JEREMY IRONS
Maybe, but those swastikas have got to go while we’re over here.

BARNABY METSCHURAT
We’ll tone things down if you prefer.

JEREMY IRONS
We also demand non-segregated dorms for our athletes – unlike the ones we have at home.

BARNABY METSCHURAT
Sure thing.

JEREMY IRONS
And we’d like seashell-shaped soap in the bathrooms, and after dinner mints on our pillows every night.

BARNABY METSCHURAT
I’ll have to check our budget, but I’ll keep that in mind.

JEREMY IRONS
Could one of you guys at least try to inject some controversy into this subplot, please?

MARCUS BLUHM
(steps forward)
Here, have a drink. You’ve been known to dabble in architecture, correct?

JEREMY IRONS
(takes drink)
Yes.

MARCUS BLUHM
Perhaps you’ll be willing to take a look at these building plans and give me advice?

JEREMY IRONS
You’re not trying to bribe me, are you?’

MARCUS BLUHM
Of course not. Let’s drink a toast to honor, integrity and totally unnecessary subplots.

JEREMY IRONS
I can’t poss…oh, all right.

MARCUS BLUHN
Here have a slice of bundt cake, too.

EXT. OHIO STATE

JASON SUDEIKIS
You missed the last practice, what’s up?

STEPHAN JAMES
I had to work. As I’m supporting two families and all.

JASON SUDEIKIS
Yeah, well, here’s a cushy job as a page, so you’re all covered on that front. Happy?

STEPHAN JAMES
I appreciate it, but those football players over there won’t stop heckling me.

JASON SUDEIKIS
Oh those idiots. You’ll just have to tune them out. Say to yourself: I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

STEPHAN JAMES
Got it.

JASON SUDEIKIS
While we’re at it, you may be faster than a cheetah, but you have lousy form. I want you to jog around with your knees up like a show pony for awhile.

STEPHAN JAMES
Only if you play some music and get the other athletes to do it, so I don’t die of boredom.

JASON SUDEIKIS
That can be arranged.

Soon after this, STEPHAN starts winning meets and is headed to the Olympics when conflict rears its ugly head.

However, back at the OLYMPIC ASSOCIATION HEADQUARTERS, WILLIAM and JEREMY deliver impassioned speeches on the pros and cons of going to the Olympics, and the pros win!

INT. JASON’s OFFICE

A jubilant crowd is celebrating the good news.

JASON SUDEIKIS
(clearly drunk)
Hey, STEPHAN! Come and join us. Isn’t this awesome that we’re going to the Olympics?

STEPHAN JAMES
No, I’ve just been informed that if I boycott the Olympics it will make a powerful statement that America doesn’t approve of what the Nazis are doing to the Jews. And that’s true. How can I do something that makes it looks like I condone racism, even if it’s abroad?

JASON SUDEIKIS
Oh, come on. You’re an athlete, not a civil rights activist. You’re really going to throw away this opportunity?

STEPHAN JAMES
You don’t get it. I’m deeply conflicted over this moral dilemma, and you can’t possibly share my pain because you’re a second-rate alcoholic coach who missed his own shot at the Olympics. Plus you’re white.

JASON SUDEIKIS
Touché.

STEPHAN JAMES
(storms out)

EXT. DESERTED COUNTRY ROAD PRESUMABLY A FEW DAYS LATER

JASON SUDEIKIS
(leans out of car)
STEPHAN, we need to talk. Last night, I blew out my knee trying to relive a moment from my youth and realized that I’m in no position to judge you or tell you what to do.

STEPHAN JAMES
You’re using reverse psychology on me, aren’t you, Coach?

JASON SUDEIKIS
If you say so. Is anything else bothering you?

STEPHAN JAMES
Yes, SHANICE saw a photo in the newspaper of me and this overly friendly girl I met at a meet, and she’s convinced we’re having an affair.

JASON SUDEIKIS
That’s a tough one. But I’m going to take a wild guess and predict that everything will work out in the end.

INT. HAIR SALON

STEPHAN JAMES
Can we talk, please?

SHANICE BANTON
You’re not the man I thought you were. Go away.

STEPHAN JAMES
I’m a star athlete, okay? I’m going to get photographed, and some of the photos might even have people of the opposite gender in them…this isn’t working, is it?

SHANICE BANTON
Nope. Try again.

STEPHAN JAMES
Will you marry me?

SHANICE BANTON
(pretends to think it over)
Why not?

INT: MOVIE VIEWING ROOM – GERMANY

Meanwhile CARICE VAN HOUTEN shows her opening FILM FOOTAGE to a group of approving Nazis who give it a standing ovation, and everyone is thrilled except BARNABY.

CARICE VAN HOUTEN
What’s with you? Though it’s hard to tell if you’re annoyed or if that’s just your natural expression.

BARNABY METSCHURAT
I don’t like you at all. For one thing, you dress like a man. Clearly, you are over-stepping traditional gender roles.

CARICE VAN HOUTEN
Have you ever tried to get a good shot when it’s windy with a skirt on? Besides, aren’t we supposed to be on the same side?

BARNABY METSCHURAT
Originally, I thought that too, but maybe we should establish again how rotten the Nazis truly are. In case, anyone had any lingering doubts.

CARICE VAN HOUTEN
OK, so you get to be the mustache twirling villain, and I get to be the crusader for free speech, not a propagandist. Sounds good to me. By the time, this movie is over, there will be absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Nazis are swamp scum.

BARNABY METSCHURAT
At least, I have a speaking role. The guy playing Hitler only gets to scowl and grimace a lot.

EXT. 1936 BERLIN OLYMPICS – TRACK and FIELD EVENTS

REFEREE
On your mark, get set, go!

STEPHAN JAMES
(sets record)

ANNOUNCER
Wow, folks, it looks like we’ve got a real star here. The CGI crowd is going wild.

STEPHAN JAMES
(sets another record, exceeds the speed of light while doing so)

ANNOUNCER
Looks like the US is giving the finger to Hitler’s belief in Aryan supremacy. Is there anything this athlete can’t do?

STEPHAN JAMES
(sprouts wings, high fives sun, sets new record)

NAZIS
Curses! Foiled again.

CARICE VAN HOUTEN
(stage whisper)
This documentary’s gonna rock!

EXT. BACKSTAGE

JEREMY IRONS
Come on, let’s go meet the Fuhrer.

STEPHAN JAMES
Somehow I don’t see this ending well.

JEREMY IRONS
OK, so where is he? You gave all the winners nice plants, but that’s not the same as a handshake from Hitler.

BARNABY METSCHURAT
(in German)
Hitler would rather commit hari-kari and be raped by a rabid hedgehog than acknowledge that man’s win.

CARICE VAN HOUTEN
(in English)
Hitler was feeling under the weather and had to leave early. Very sorry.

JEREMY IRONS
This is pure moral outrage!

BARNABY METSCHURAT
(in German)
You hypocritical American.

CARICE VAN HOUTEN
(in English)
Have you ever heard the one about the pot and the kettle?

STEPHAN JAMES
I think something got lost in translation here. Maybe I should go get JASON. He’s awesome at metaphors.

JEREMY IRONS
We’d better be getting back now.

EXT. OLYMPIC FIELD – TIME FOR THE HIGH JUMP

STEPHAN is competing against his main German rival, DAVID KROSS, apparently the only one who’s any real threat.

DAVID KROSS
(sets record)

STEPHAN JAMES
(takes a step forward for his turn)

REFEREE
Foul! I didn’t say Mother, May I?

STEPHAN JAMES
Are you for real? Never mind. I still have two tries left.

DAVID KROSS
Wait a moment. You should take off here, if you want to beat my record, unless you plan on literally flying, in which case it doesn’t matter.

STEPHAN JAMES
What a surprise:  a sympathetic German character. Even better, this actually has a basis in reality and isn’t sugarcoated by Hollywood.
(takes his turn, breaks yet another record)

DAVID KROSS
(takes Stephan by the arm and does a victory lap)

ANNOUNCER
Wait, there’s still two more competitors to go, oh never mind, like they have a shot at winning. Go celebrate.

STEPHAN JAMES
So this is it, right? We go back home in a blaze of glory?

AMERICAN OFFICIALS
Not quite. You see, we’ve decided to make a last minute change and have you run in the RELAY RACE, instead of our two Jewish athletes, even though technically you’ve never done this event before. We’ve already taxed our hosts with all our demands, and we don’t want to add to their stress by putting them in a potentially awkward situation.

STEPHAN JAMES
I know, the last thing we’d possibly want as Americans committed to democracy is to make a racist power-mad dictator feel uncomfortable. Well, I’m going to take a stand. I’m not racing again.

JEREMY FERDMAN
We appreciate your solidarity, but we’d personally prefer that you take part and beat the crap out of those German asshats.

STEPHAN JAMES
Got it.

The Americans win yet again! And according to end notes, the real JESSE OWENS goes back home to more racism, but he does wind up with a wife, multiple kids and the knowledge that he’s HELPED SMASH COLOR BARRIERS and WILL LIVE FOREVER in OLYMPIC HISTORY. Although David’s real-life character gets sent to the front lines in World War II and dies.

AUDIENCE
So the message is that with overcoming racism, it’s four steps to the side for every step forward, plus being a decent human being in Nazi Germany could be hazardous to one’s health?

DIRECTOR
And also, as the saying goes: People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

AUDIENCE
Got it.

END

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