The Glass Castle: An Abridged Script

FADE IN:

INT: FANCY SCHMANCY NEW YORK RESTAURANT

BRIE LARSON is exchanging WITTY DINNER TABLE BANTER with her fiancé, MAX GREENFIELD and his clients.

BRIE LARSON
My dad, WOODY HARRELSON, and mom, NAOMI WATTS just got CUTEST CRASH PAD on the UPPER EAST SIDE of POSH NORMALCY.

MAX GREENFIELD
BRIE’s DAD is developing a formula for GREEN-FRIENDLY COAL BURNING, isn’t that right?

BRIE LARSON
Absolutely! And NAOMI is a charmingly offbeat ARTIST. Oh, by the way, I want to box up my LEFTOVERS, please. And my seatmate’s. And the guy’s over there who just left without finishing.

SERVER
Your pets must be in for quite a treat!

BRIE LARSON
Er…no.

BRIE leaves the restaurant and hails a cab. On her way home, she sees an INTOXICATED, HOMELESS GUY who turns out to be her dad but pretends not to. She then goes home and calls her older sister, SARAH SNOOK.

BRIE LARSON
Dad and Mom are penniless and out of control. Whatever shall we do?

SARAH SNOOK
This is news? They’ve been trainwrecks since we were born.

BRIE LARSON
Of course not, I just had to emphasize to the audience how conflicted I am. Ciao.

INT: A HOSPITAL

In the FIRST of MANY FLASHBACKS, YOUNG BRIE LARSON is being INTERVIEWED by a SOCIAL WORKER and a DOCTOR.

SOCIAL WORKER
So, you say you got THIRD DEGREE BURNS on your TORSO from COOKING by YOURSELF? And you’re what, seven?

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
Three in the book, but around seven here. But it’s no biggie – I cook all the time! On an actual stove! Unsupervised ’cause my mom gets so absorbed in PAINTING that she FORGETS to FEED ME.

DOCTOR
What’s that noise?

WOODY comes whooping into the room with YOUNG BRIE’s YOUNG SISTER and BROTHER, who is wearing a BLOODY HEAD BANDAGE.

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
(without irony)
Look, DADDY – they gave me actual food – Mystery meat and red jello – yummy!

WOODY HARRELSON
(actually tries some)
Not bad. Hey, YOUNG BRIE, did you know DR. BOURGEOIS McTWITFACE is going to use our hard-earned money to gas up his Mercedes?

DOCTOR
SIR, in my opinion, you aren’t even qualified to rear a CHIA-PET. Plus, you appear to spend more on your shirts than your kids.

WOODY HARRELSON
(lunges at him)

DOCTOR
FIRST, it’s a violation of the HIPPOCRATIC OATH to turn away a patient in need. Second, oh never mind, I know already I’m not going to win this one.

LATER ON, WOODY and HIS KIDS sneak back into the hospital to CREATE A DIVERSION in order to SPRING YOUNG BRIE. It works! They then join HEAVILY PREGNANT NAOMI in the Auto of Free-Spiritedness, and they head out into the desert for adventure.

EXT. DESERT WILDERNESS by the FIRESIDE

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
DADDY, MOMMY’s off doing hippie stuff, and I’m scared. Can you possibly try to act like a REAL DAD for once? Give me a hug, read me a bedtime story?

WOODY HARRELSON
I’ll try. See the FIRE? It’s a METAPHOR for ADVENTURE. It’s one of the FILM’s THREE METAPHORS. Understand?

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
No. Plus I thought I heard something scary in the tumbleweed over there.

WOODY HARRELSON
(real response)
Me too! Did it have big ears and pointy teeth? I know just who you mean! He scares me, too.

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
Gee, DADDY, you’re about as comforting as an air-conditioner on a sub-zero night.

WOODY HARRELSON
The BOOGEYMAN is another metaphor. He represents the FEARS WE CAN’T FACE.

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
Huh? I thought maybe it was a coyote. Thanks, Dad.

WOODY HARRELSON
By the way, you’re beautiful regardless of any scarring from the burns. See even though most of the time, I am a huge dick, occasionally I can put on my “Act like a good dad” hat.

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
This is going to be one grim movie.

EXT: ABANDONED WAREHOUSY BUILDING in the PRESENT

WOODY HARRELSON
Howdy, BRIE and this guy you’re inexplicably fond of. C’mon on in and have a drink.

They join NAOMI, JOSH CARAS (ADULT BRIE’s BROTHER), SARAH SNOOK and BRIGETTE LUNDY-PAINE (ADULT BRIE’s YOUNGER SISTER), plus a few other SKETCHY SOULS inside.

BRIE LARSON
Gee, MOM, your painting is awesome. It reminds me of the one you did while we were mixing butter and sugar together as little kids because we were literally out of anything else.

JOSH CARAS
It reminds me of the time when GRANDMA MOLESTED ME. Good times.

SARAH SNOOK
Boy, does adversity make one strong or what!

BRIE LARSON
MOM, can I talk to you privately for a minute? I’m going to get engaged to MAX, but I don’t want to tell DADDY.

NAOMI WATTS
Honey, that’s just fine. He seems like a nice young man.

BRIE LARSON
Who are you, and what the heck have you done with my REAL MOTHER?

WOODY HARRELSON
(from other room)
Hey, kids, me and MAX are gonna have an arm-wrestling contest. Come on and watch!

BRIE LARSON
Oh no. No, no, no…You’re drunk, by the way. Both of you.

WOODY HARRELSON
All the better for some more ugly family truths to come out then.

WOODY and MAX actually do this, to much whooping from the sidelines, including BRIE who yells, “Kill him, kill him,” at her HUSBAND. Finally, Max WINS.

LATER ON – SHARED APARTMENT OF FEIGNED NORMALCY

MAX GREENFIELD
Uh, honey? You seemed a little out of control tonight. I thought I even saw a strand of hair descend from your BUN of REPRESSDNESS.

BRIE LARSON
I’m fine. By the way, MOM gave us her blessing.

MAX GREENFIELD
Okay then. But you know, maybe…therapy?

BRIE LARSON
I’m FINE!

EXT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL – FLASHBACK

YOUNG BRIE and FAMILY are poolside. They appear to be the ONLY WHITE FOLKS in the VICINITY, but everyone ignores them and goes on splashing.

NAOMI WATTS
This is what my life has become? I’m reduced to showering at a public pool.

WOODY HARRELSON
You knew when you met me that I was a free spirit. What did you expect?

(raises voice)
BRIE, honey, go on and SWIM already!

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
I can’t, DADDY. Why did you bring us to a pool without any kind of shallow end or kiddie option? Have you not ever heard of water wings?

WOODY HARRELSON
(picks her up and hurls her into the water)
That’s the THIRD METAPHOR right there!

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
(once she’s finished coughing up water and recovered her breath)
DADDY, you’re INSANE.

A CONSPICUOUSLY WHITE GUY approaches.
SIR, might I suggest that you find a more humane way to teach your daughter about metaphors. Ones that won’t result in her going back to the emergency room or lifelong therapy as an adult as a result.

WOODY HARRELSON
Damn you, Nosy McRacist. Mind your own business.

CONSPICUOUSLY WHITE GUY
I’m the manager, and you’re totally drunk.

WOODY HARRELSON
(lunges at him)

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
DADDY, at this point your STUBBORN ECCENTRICITY is looking a lot more like OUTRIGHT ABUSIVENESS. Do you really have to put everyone you disagree with in a headlock? And just where do you get the money for all this booze anyway?

WOODY HARRELSON
(real line)
You can’t spend your life clinging to the side of the pool.

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
Then teach me to swim like a normal dad would. Problem solved.

INT. ENGAGEMENT PARTY at the APARTMENT of GETTING MORE STRAINED by the MINUTE NORMALCY – PRESENT.

NAOMI and WOODY have shown up to crash BRIE’s and MAX’s CELEBRATION.

NAOMI WATTS
So I thought this would be a cool time to tell you that we own a MILLION DOLLAR PROPERTY, BRIE. That won’t upset your hard-won equilibrium or anything now, will it?

BRIE LARSON
(real reaction)
?!

NAOMI WATTS
Also, WOODY and I were thinking maybe we could borrow some money off MAX. For the sake of PLOT PURPOSES.

BRIE LARSON
(real reaction)
?!

WOODY HARRELSON
So how about it?

BRIE freaks out and orders WOODY and NAOMI to leave. They are mystified at this, but eventually DO.

INT. RAMSHACKLE HOUSE in BOONDOCKS – ANOTHER FLASHBACK

YOUNG BRIE LARSON to SIBLINGS
(trying to ignore the sound of WOODY and NAOMI fighting)
Come on, let’s go play outside.

They try, but then they see NAOMI dangling from the window, which puts a crimp into their playtime. They all rush upstairs to INTERVENE.

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
MOM, DAD? what’s going on?

WOODY HARRELSON
(real reaction, starts laughing)

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
Excuse me?

NAOMI WATTS
(joins in)
Oh wow, that was hilarious. I saw my life flash before my eyes, which I’ve apparently always wanted to do. Also being called crude terms for an adult woman’s anatomy just makes me want to get closer to you.

WOODY HARRELSON
Kids, there’s absolutely nothing to see here – go out and play.

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
I guess if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere.

Later, YOUNG BRIE gathers her SIBLINGS and they VOW to STICK TOGETHER, STUDY HARD at SCHOOL, and ESCAPE as soon as they are legal, which they eventually do.

INT. FANCY SCHMANCY RESTAURANT (Possibly the same as before, but who knows?) – PRESENT

ADULT BRIE is exchanging WITTY DINNER TABLE BANTER with her fiancé, MAX GREENFIELD and his clients.

MAX GREENFIELD
…BRIE’s DAD is developing a formula for GREEN-FRIENDLY COAL BURNING, isn’t that right?

BRIE LARSON
No, he’s actually DYING from ALCOHOLISM in an ABANDONED WAREHOUSE, my MOM just accepts us because she WANTS to BORROW MONEY, and I’m not even sure I want to be engaged to you anymore.

MAX GREENFIELD
Don’t hold back, tell us how you really feel, BRIE. At least, this didn’t happen at the ALTAR.

BRIE LARSON
Now, I must go and see WOODY who I have been refusing to talk to since our disastrous dinner party, and have a POIGNANT EXCHANGE BEFORE HE CROAKS.

MAX GREENFIELD
Er, are we still ON for the WEDDING? Or should I start making cancellations?

BRIE LARSON
I don’t know, and I’m not sure the filmmakers do either. In any event, we don’t get a wedding scene. Bye.

INT. PRESUMABLY MUCH LATER – ADULT BRIE’S THANKSGIVING DINNER TABLE

BRIE welcomes NAOMI, SARAH, JOSH and BRIGETTE to come in to her HOME of HARD WON INDEPENDENCE and sit down.

BRIE LARSON
Gosh, it’s great to all be here together. Except for WOODY, but hey, he was quite a character.

JOSH CARAS
(real line)
He had his moments.

SARAH SNOOK
Like that time when he “gave” us STARS in the NIGHT SKY rather than BORING OLD STORE-BOUGHT TOYS. My character is what it is today because of him!

BRIGETTE LUNDY-PAINE
By the way, BRIE, what happened to your husband?

BRIE LARSON
I think we DIVORCED. Or something. Who cares? He was boring and bourgeois.

NAOMI WATTS
And the cycle is complete.

END

 

 

 

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Movie Review: The Glass Castle

I don’t know what this says about me, but there’s a particular stock character in Hollywood movies who I always wind up feeling sorry for – sometimes even more so than for the protagonist, as I did in the just-released “The Glass Castle.” It’s the “nice guy fiancé” role – you know, the heroine’s dream guy, who’s witty, devoted and charming, but who is destined to either be a) left literally at the altar, or b) given an impromptu off-the-cuff speech about values by the heroine, after Life Lessons about being yourself above all, dawn on her. Here, it’s Max Greenfield, who is witty, devoted and above all, quite rich, to whom Brie Larson is engaged as the film opens. However, she has not yet told her parents (Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts) who are currently squatting in an abandoned home in New York. By all measures, Max is perfect for Brie, a magazine columnist, for whom saying that she had a chaotic upbringing is like saying the Titanic sustained some water damage. In real life, this match would make it through the wedding, but because this is your typical movie, we know from the start that Brie’s issues will get in the way, and the collateral damage won’t be pretty.

“The Glass Castle” is based on the best-selling memoir by Jeannette Walls, and charts how she and her three siblings were dragged from pillar to post across the country, often hungry if not penniless, while her artist mother painted and her alcoholic father dreamed big dreams that never came to fruition because he, too, was tormented by demons. They lived in homes with no electricity or heat (when Jeannette’s older sister points this out, her dad responds, “Ignore her. She was born without vision.”) when they weren’t staying with Woody’s evil mother. But all this was temporary, according to Woody, because he was going to one day build the titular Glass Castle. At first, Jeannette (played as a girl by Ella Anderson) finds all these adventures thrilling and has the utmost faith that Daddy will come through; eventually, she realizes that she is being “parented” by incompetents and makes a pact with her siblings to stick together until they are old enough to escape. When they do manage to, their parents follow them to New York with their youngest sister. Neither Woody nor Naomi is thrilled to see their middle daughter embracing the bourgeois lifestyle. Eventually, Jeannette begins to have doubts, as well.

The movie includes most of the memorable scenes from the book: the opener when Jeannette burns herself badly enough to land in the hospital; the scene where the kids band together against Woody’s evil mother (for good cause), and one in which Woody repeatedly throws Jeannette into the water to “teach” her how to swim. This serves as the film’s central metaphor, which is pounded helpfully into the movie-goer’s cranium. The cast all does a decent job bringing the memoir to life, but those critics who have pointed out that the film tries to wrap up dysfunction with a pretty bow have a point.

Movie Review: The Edge of Seventeen

“If I ever start referring to these as the best years of my life,” a character deadpans in “Dazed and Confused,” “remind me to kill myself.” It’s a sentiment that the heroine of “The Edge of Seventeen,” might share, trapped as she is in an excruciatingly awkward adolescence. We meet Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) in a flashback as a petulant seven-year-old refusing to get out of the car and go into school, and as the years progress, things only get worse, although she does make a best friend (Haley Lu Richardson), with whom she’s inseparable – at least up until the film begins. Then suddenly, things fall apart. Or more accurately, they explode.

So what is the cataclysmic event that rocks Hailee’s world? Well, actually there’s two. First, her father dies in an accident leaving the family: Hailee, her golden boy older brother (Blake Jenner) and her flaky mother (Kyra Sedgwick) coping shakily a couple years later. Second, after Hailee’s mom meets a guy online and departs for an impromptu weekend with him (are there really single parents who do that?), Blake winds up hooking up with Hailee’s best friend.  Even worse, it isn’t just a one night stand; they actually start dating. This triggers all sorts of unresolved issues, for which Hailee has just her history teacher (Woody Harrelson) to complain to. Woody, playing a real-life Haymitch who is still convinced the world isn’t that great a place (even without the Hunger Games), is basically an adult version of Hailee’s character, but that also means that he’s able to relate to her (albeit in a caustic way) and help her work through some of her problems. But even those occasionally leave him scratching his head, such as when Hailee posts an unfortunate message on Facebook, and he can only suggest she be careful of run-on sentences in the future. Luckily, as tends to happen in these movies with odd frequency, there is a backup guy (Hayden Szeto) waiting in the wings to console Hailee – after she’s learned some hard life lessons.

While watching “The Edge of Seventeen,” I started thinking about John Hughes’ movies for two reasons. One is that this film does a similarly perceptive job of capturing the pains and triumphs of those years. Two, I wondered why the filmmakers chose to use the title of a Stevie Nicks’ song yet not feature the song in the soundtrack? I’m not sure how they could have made it fit, but it made me remember how well Hughes incorporated the title songs that lent their names to films like “Pretty in Pink,” and “Some Kind of Wonderful.” But that’s nitpicking because “The Edge of Seventeen” is excellent with or without a retro tune of the same name. And although “The Edge of Seventeen,” does have a few minor problems (such as the unfortunate chemistry between Hailee and Blake), it is a film which deserves (like many of the Hughes’ teen ones) to be watched over and over. Even people twice the characters’ ages (for example, me) can always use a reminder that 1) it’s not always about you, and 2) everyone has problems. Some are just better at pretending otherwise.

Movie Review: Now You See Me 2

When a great actor appears in a mediocre movie, I often find myself thinking back to their better ones, which is what happened in “Now You See Me 2.” It shares some similarities with “The Shawshank Redemption,” mainly Morgan Freeman in a major role, Morgan’s sonorous voiceover, a scene set to opera and a jailbreak. Both movies also take the time to dissect a character’s miraculous escape so that the viewer can see exactly what happened – or in this case, five characters. However, the theme has more in common with “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” which is about a group of egotistical individuals learning that they’re more powerful when they work (wait for it) as a team.

The opening scene (just in time for Father’s Day) features a flashback with Young Mark Ruffalo, his dad, a magic trick that goes horribly wrong, and Morgan present as someone hoping to expose the dad as a fraud. Then we’re back in the present, when we’re introduced to the various four Horsemen (only now there’s five): Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo and Lizzy Caplan, who gets to be the newbie. The FBI (headed by Michael Caine) is supposedly hot on the trail of the Horsemen, and Morgan’s character is in jail because of plot points from the last movie that are explained. However, Morgan is planning revenge. The characters wind up in the lair of Daniel Radcliffe, who also has it in for them because of other plot points that get explained – and he forces them to pull off a heist against their will – after somehow transporting them without them knowing it to China. (I’m guessing perhaps the real world version of Floo Powder was involved.) The object: a computer chip that will let you hack into any computer on the planet. (There’s a bit more to their task, but that’s the gist.)

The characters come up with a plan and end up in the lair of yet another evil genius, whose hermetically sealed top secret chamber where the card with the computer chip is gave me another flashback to the TV room in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – it’s white, sterile and difficult to extract oneself from. The escape involves a card trick, that is fun at first, but then goes on a little too long. Eventually, the characters turn the tables on Daniel, Michael and Woody’s annoying twin brother, who insinuates himself in the high jinks, as well early on. At the end, Mark obeys his conscience and gives the Everlasting Gobstopper back, and as it turns out, Slugworth has really been on their side all along. Well, not exactly, but out of the two movies, it’s the one with considerably more magic.