Author: Michael Sean Conley
Writer’s Potential: 7
Logline:When a car is stolen in small-town Texas, the parking attendants who allowed the theft to happen volunteer to go to Belize and steal it back.
Synopsis:When internationally famous rock star BILLY JOE RACINE visits his hometown (Nowhere, TX), he has the valet service at the bowling alley he owns park his car — a gorgeous and rare black Lamborghini SUV. Instead of taking his parking stub, he autographs it amid a flurry of other autographs. EDIE, a parking attendant who once slept with Billy Joe before he found success (he barely remembers her), throws away his stub while her best friend OLLIE parks the car. Later, while Ollie has gone on a break, Billy Joe returns in silence. Edie retrieves the car, and Billy Joe drives off. Moments later, Edie realizes that it wasn’t actually Billy Joe — it was an uncanny lookalike who stole Billy Joe’s car, and the tape of his latest album. Billy Joe is furious, as are his A&R reps, and the bowling alley management, and the local police.
Police get word that the SUV is in Belize, but they refuse to get it. There’s no extradition, and the Belize police feel that unless a car is stolen in Belize, it’s not a stolen car. The Belize detective who found the SUV want a $500,000 ransom to return it. They balk. Ollie, who has lost his job, decides to volunteer himself and Edie to go to Belize and steal back the car — for free. Just so long as their jobs are reinstated and they aren’t charged with a crime. The police don’t like the idea, but that doesn’t matter much. Ollie and Edie book a flight to Belize. They find the vehicle quickly (rare as it is, it sticks out like a sore thumb). They tail the thief, QUIGLEY, until he gets out at a phone booth. Ollie rams their rented car against the booth so Quigley can’t get out. They easily steal the car (they have a set of keys) — and promptly discover a WOMAN gagged and bound in the backseat.
As it turns out, this woman — MONA — is the daughter of an influential man in Belize. She also got involved with Billy Joe on his last tour. She also looks uncannily like him — like a female twin who, with the right look, can pass for him. Turns out, she stole the car herself. Immediately they’re on the run — Quigley and his goon squad want Mona, REESE (an agent of Mona’s father) and his goon squad want both Mona and the car (they’ve been commissioned to find it by Billy Joe’s A&R reps), and COLONEL SANCHEZ (a Mexican federale) wants the car for the $50,000 reward posted by the insurance company.
The bulk of the storyline follows Mona (who initially thinks Ollie and Edie want to kidnap her, too, but quickly learns they just want to return it to Texas), Ollie, and Edie on the adventure from Mexico back to Texas. During this time, there’s a pseudo-love-triangle — both Ollie and Edie are uncomfortable to realize they share an attraction for Mona. They both fear for their heterosexuality, since Mona could convincingly look like a man but in attitude is a all woman. As things develop, Ollie and Edie’s brother-sister relationship blossoms into love in its own right, encouraged by Mona.
Along the way, they have a wild trip — setting fire to Sanchez’s marijuana field, accidentally winning the $50,000 top price in an SUV desert-race, finally getting across the border and returning the Lamborghini and his tape to Billy Joe, who himself is thrilled to be reunited with his lost love. Meanwhile, there are various subplots involving Quigley, Sanchez, and Reese. Sanchez seems to be under both Quigley’s and Reese’s thumbs, Quigley himself is working for Mona’s father. It’s a wild, strange conspiracy.
Everything turns out well, though — Ollie and Edie both get $50,000 (for the race and for returning the car) and fall in love, and order is restored to Billy Joe and Mona. Quigley, Sanchez, and Reese all get their comeuppance.
Comments:This is a solid, well-written take on the Hitchcockian “innocent people accidentally stumble into something more complex than they’ll ever know” plot. The first act is loaded with surprises, culminating with finding Mona in the backseat. The rest of it is more straightforward but is still loaded with action. The love triangle allows good character insight for all three of the main characters, and it’s neither trite nor overdone. It has a nice balance. The screenplay itself does well balancing the humor of the situation with the seriousness of the jeopardy. The dialogue is tight — clever, not overly expository, funny.
The only real complaint I have is with all the reversals involving the villains. It provides a reasonable amount of character development for the villains, but all three of them never really get past the second dimension. All the odd “who’s working for whom and why” stuff just seems like complications for the sake of creating an overly convoluted storyline. It’s wild enough having three sets of villains working to catch this SUV — they don’t all need to have business relationships with one another, except for healthy, adversarial conflicts.
Another mild criticism: Mona’s seemingly endless supply of improvised explosive devices. I love explosions as much as the next guy, but it almost makes a difficult journey too easy. The author finds better, more surprising and interesting ways of getting them out of jams later in the script — why not find similarly clever ways without IEDs?
These aren’t huge issues, and even as-is it’s quite well-done. I really enjoyed it.