Amazon.com Widgets

« The Eagle of the Ninth | Main | The Whistleblower »

The Governess

Author: Don Roos & Chad Creasey & Dara Creasey
Genre: Comedy/Thriller
Storyline: 7
Dialogue: 7
Characterization: 7
Writer’s Potential: 7

Jump to: [Synopsis] [Comments]

Recommendation?

Consider

Logline:

In order to pull off a bank heist, a professional jewel thief must pose as the nanny to an architect’s family to steal his bank plans.

Synopsis:

In a Cape Cod mansion, GLORIA RAMOS (beautiful, intelligent, all business) steals an array of jewels before integrating seamlessly into a cocktail party. She tries to make her way out the door when the Massachusetts State Police, led by DETECTIVE COLLINS (50s), enter. They force everyone to turn out their pockets and purses in search of the stolen jewels. Just as Collins reaches Gloria, she causes fire sprinklers shower over the partygoers. Gloria uses the pandemonium to make her escape, to a BMW driven by JONNO (40s, charming but dangerous). They split their share, and Jonno drops her off. The next morning, Jonno breaks into her apartment with coffee and donuts. He sells her on a job — steal bearer bonds from a safe deposit box at a bank in Boston. There’s just one hitch in their elaborate plan — the conduit they intend to use to open the vault was installed after the bank was built, meaning it’s not in the plans filed with the city. Jonno produces a dossier of STEVEN BARNES, the architect who designed the bank. He offers Gloria 10% of his take if she breaks into Steven’s suburban home, downloads the updated plans from his computer, and gives them to Jonno. Gloria talks Jonno up to 30%.

Jonno drives Gloria to Steven’s house. She sneaks in but discovers tight security on Steven’s computer. Watching from outside, Jonno tells Gloria she has no time to break the encryption. Steven meets a DUMPY WOMAN at his house, while Gloria sneaks around them to escape without getting caught. She overhears Steven’s desperation to find a nanny. Gloria comes up with a new plan. Jonno helps her doctor a new identity, but she’s unsure about the plan — they’re thieves, not con artists. She fears Gloria can’t pull off pretending to be a nanny. She doesn’t even like kids. Gloria arrives at Steven’s house for an interview. First, she runs into LILY (8, cute) evading foam practice pucks shot by NICK (13). CHLOE (15, beautiful, vain) bounces down the stairs, telling Nick and Lily to shut up. Gloria stands amid the chaos, unsure of what to do, when Nick hits her in the face with a puck. Steven apologizes, scolding the children. Distracted with both work and kids, Steven gives a poor interview, but he’s impressed that Gloria comes so highly recommended by “Mr. Treadwell” (actually Jonno). He assumes Gloria’s going to turn down the job, so he’s grateful when she accepts. Steven goes to the guest house, where he works from home.

Gloria introduces herself to the kids. Left with the task of feeding them, she wonders if they have a frozen pizza. Lily tells her that Steven doesn’t like them eating pizza. Gloria observes that he’s not here. She orders a pizza, which the kids wolf down excitedly. As they eat, Gloria wanders the house, writing down any names, nicknames, any sort of information that would lead to Steven’s computer password. She asks the kids about their birthdays. The kids ask if she ever cooks. Gloria says she doesn’t, so they start wondering about her credentials. Gloria levels with them: she only needs the job for a few days, so they might as well put up with each other. They ask what the problem is — citizenship? Gloria says she’s a citizen; she just gets fired a lot, and her “agency” is giving her one last chance. The kids are still fairly uncooperative, so Gloria bribes them with cash to do chores. While the kids do the chores, VICKY KEARNS (30s, attractive but vapid) arrives. She assumes Gloria doesn’t speak English and makes various barbed insults toward the “help.” She’s looking for Steven, but Gloria tells her he’s in the guest house. Lily insists on Gloria reading her a story before she sleeps, but she pays no attention. Gloria wonders why she’s wasting her time. Lily says she wants to know the ending. Gloria skips to the end of the book, then puts Lily to bed. Lily asks her to leave the light on and the door cracked, so she’ll be able to see her mommy when she comes back. Gloria is stunned and saddened by this innocent request.

In order to convince Nick to go to bed, Gloria challenges him to a video game. She beats him, which surprises him. Later that night, Steven catches Gloria folding dirty laundry. He shows her where her bedroom is. Gloria asks if she can use a computer to check her e-mail. He gives her the password: “12345.” Gloria’s stunned. She goes into the den, logs on to the computer, and calls Jonno. She lays out the home network for him, noting that there’s a “big” computer with much tighter security, which must be the one in the guest house. She can’t access it remotely, but Steven lives there and rarely leaves the guest house. Jonno tells her they have a clock on their heist — the bonds won’t stay in the bank forever. Gloria says she’ll keep an eye on him and pounce as soon as he steps out. The next morning, she gets the kids ready for school. Chloe tells Gloria to go and see Steven for a list of daily responsibilities. Gloria goes to the guest house, but Steven’s nowhere to be found. He coms out of the bathroom and chews her out for stepping into the guest house, which is forbidden. Gloria asks about the schedule, but Steven says Chloe has it. Gloria realizes Chloe was screwing with her. She returns to the house and asks the kids what it’s going to take for them to not try to get her fired. Chloe demands $60/day, Nick $40, and Lily $8. Gloria reluctantly agrees, then drives the kids to school. She examines the “To Do” list and is repulsed — there are people to do this.

Vicky drives past the house, baffled to see vans from a cleanery, maid service, and grocery store at the Barnes’ house. After paying them for their services, Gloria peeks into the guest house. Seeing it empty, she steps inside. She hears a flush from the bathroom and runs away. At a café downtown, she and Jonno discuss his detailed plans to get into the bank. Gloria insists she’ll get the plans, but Jonno thinks he should replace her with a computer expert. Gloria says a hacker will take hours to crack the password, and they don’t have hours with the computer. The only solution is for her to either gain trust or figure out the password some other way. Jonno points out surveillance cameras in the plans, and it dawns on Gloria — a nannycam. Running short on time, Gloria picks up Lily, then has to take her to her apartment. Lily sees a dolphin fountain outside the building and falls in love. Gloria tries to leave Lily in the car, but the girl is terrified. Gloria reluctantly takes her up to her apartment, where she sneaks some cameras into her purse. They pick up Nick from hockey practice. Nick is disappointed because one of his teammates stole the puck and made a winning shot. Gloria offers that he needs to do whatever it takes to win. Nick says the only thing that will work is a punch in the face. Gloria shrugs: do what’s necessary. Nick considers it. Next, they pick up Chloe at a horse farm. They find her in the stables, engaged in some heavy petting with DEREK (19), her boyfriend. Gloria says she’ll keep the secret — in exchange for the daily $60 bribe. Chloe agrees.

That night, Lily witnesses Gloria fixing the sputtering dishwasher using her thief-trained skills with electronics. Gloria covers by saying her nanny school had a very good program. Lily wants a story. Passing through the den on the way to the guest house, Gloria finds Nick frantically trying to hide Internet porn sites. Another secret Gloria will keep in exchange for his daily bribe. Gloria knocks on the guest house door, and a frantic Steven opens it. Gloria asks Steven to read Lily a story, but Steven thinks it’s absurd. Gloria lays a heavy guilt trip on him. He changes his mind, and she uses the time away from the guest house to install a pencil camera trained on his computer keyboard. Gloria runs into Steven in the kitchen of the main house. She asks what’s keeping him so busy. He tells her it’s a bank. Gloria suggests putting in restrooms for the customers, but Steven says that’s a security problem. Later, Gloria checks the camera feed and constantly rewinds Steven logging into the computer, trying to figure out the keys.

Outside, Gloria notices a truck parked in the street. Think it’s a tail, Gloria goes downstairs with an old, heavy hockey stick. She’s ready to wreak havoc, but it turns out it’s just Chloe, making out with Derek (it’s his truck). Chloe is humiliated. Chloe accuses Gloria of not understanding her — she needs a dead mother in order to know what Chloe’s going through. She stomps into her bedroom. After thinking deeply, Gloria gets up early the next morning and fixes an elaborate breakfast. She’s decided that, for the short time she’ll be there, she wants to be the best nanny she can be. On the way to school, Chloe realizes she forgot her band uniform. Gloria says she’ll get it and drop it off for Chloe during her lunch period. The kids start fighting, and Gloria tells them all to shut up. The kids are silenced but quickly start fighting again. Back at the house, Gloria spends more time trying to analyze Steven’s password when Vicky barges in. She says she’s concerned about Steven working so hard. She thinks he needs a night out, so she wants Gloria to pass along an invitation to a fundraiser. Seeing a golden opportunity, Gloria agrees to convince him. Gloria goes grocery shopping with Chloe. Gloria confesses her mother did die when she was a child. She wants to save Chloe from the anger, confusion, and abandonment Gloria suffered. Chloe confesses that Derek wants to have sex, but she promised her mother she’d wait until she turned 17. Gloria convinces Chloe to think seriously about what’s more important — pleasing a boyfriend or keeping a promise.

That night, Nick panics because he left a take-home test at school, and if he doesn’t do it, he won’t be able to play in the big game. Gloria drives him to school, but it’s locked. Gloria tells Nick to wait in the car. She breaks into school, but Nick doesn’t wait. He watches in awe as she picks a window lock and sneaks inside. When she returns to the car with the test, Nick is stunned: he never gave her his locker combination. The next morning, Gloria has the code nearly cracked. She promises Jonno she’ll have it by tomorrow. He’s going out to the fundraiser, which will give her ample time to adjust the camera so she can get the final few letters. Gloria interrupts an argument between Steven and Chloe. Because Vicky received an injury that prevents her from attending the fundraiser, Steven wants Chloe to go in her place, but Chloe refuses. Steve stumbles on a brilliant idea — Gloria should go. Chloe agrees immediately, and Gloria can’t get out of it.

Chloe loans Gloria a dress, and her mother’s beautiful antique necklace. Gloria is touched but concerned. Steven recognizes the necklace, and he’s a little uncomfortable but is okay with it. They drive into the city, and Gloria is stunned to discover the fundraiser is for the Massachusetts State Police. Steven’s father was a cop, so he likes the cause. Gloria feels suden discomfort. As soon as they enter, she hits the bar. She impresses Steven’s wealthy friends with her knowledge of baseball and high finance. Steven is surprised and realizes he hardly knows her. He tries to get to know her better when they’re interrupted — by Detective Collins! Gloria wants to crawl into a hole. Collins can’t place her, but he knows he recognizes her, and it seems like everything Steven says is a clue. Gloria sneaks off to the bathroom, where she purposely tears the dress, then tells Steven they have to leave. They sneak out a back exit.

When they get back to the house, Steven thanks her for the evening. Steven admits he’s grateful the kids have someone like her taking care of them. There’s a mutual attraction, but they simply say goodnight. That night, Jonno calls. Gloria lets it go to VoiceMail. The following morning, Steven surprises the entire family by joining them at breakfast. He seems refreshed and relaxed instead of crazed and stressed. He promises Lily he’s going to go out back and work on the tree house he designed and intended to build two years ago. Later, Steven calls Gloria to the door. Jonno, posing as “Mr. Treadwell,” drops by, claiming he wants help with his kids. Gloria walks him to his car. He tells her she has 48 hours to get into the computer and get the plans. Later that day, Gloria fakes a migraine while the rest of the family — including Steven — go to Nick’s hockey game. Gloria repositions the camera one last time, then joins the family at the game. The family is horrified when Nick is removed from the game for fighting with another player. Afterward, Steven yells at Nick for his behavior. Nick yells back, saying a lot of hurtful things about how the wrong parent died. Gloria tells Steven it’s her own fault — she told Nick to stand up for himself.

That night, Gloria completes the password. The next morning, she tells Jonno she’s out, saying she couldn’t get the password. Jonno decides he’s going to rob the Barnes house thoroughly, to obscure the fact that he just wants the computer. Gloria tries to talk him out of it, but Jonno has to pull this job. He’s working for a crooked investment banker and some Mafiosi. Bad things will happen if he fails. To avoid a full-scale robbery, Gloria reluctantly agrees to get the plans. When she gets home, the Barneses throw a surprise party for her — even more surprising since they were going by the made-up birthdate on her fake driver’s license. Gloria is touched. After the party, she tends to the children as they sleep, lingering on Lily, whose light is off. Gloria turns it on, waking Lily. She tells Gloria it’s okay — she’s fine with it off.

That night, Steven offers to give Gloria the guest house, and he’ll move back to his room in the main house. Gloria tells Steven that’s not possible, making strong hints that she’ll be leaving soon. She retrieves the data from Steven’s computer and gives it to Jonno, rejecting any compensation for it. The Barneses awake to find Gloria gone. The kids feel horrible, and Steve is angry. He tries to track her down but realizes she’s a fake. Eventually, Lily lets slip that she knows where Gloria lives. Steven goes to her apartment, and Gloria levels with him. She tells him about the full heist plan but notes that she fell in love with the family. Gloria suggests tipping off the police, but Steven points out that they’ll know Jonno got the plans from him, and it will ruin his career. Instead, he agrees to team up with Gloria to pull off the heist together — beat Jonno to the punch. Together, they break into the bank, only a few steps ahead of Jonno, and steal the bearer bonds. Knowing what happened, Jonno visits Gloria at her apartment. She opens her safe for him. When he doesn’t find the bearer bonds, he settles on taking all her cash.

Detective Collins finds a package containing all the bearer bonds, with a note instructing him to return them to the Boston Mercantile Bank. In the suburbs, Vicky runs into a YOUNG WOMAN, clearly the new Barnes nanny. After acting typically insulting, Vicky is horrified to discover the entire family in the backyard — with Gloria kissing Steven as they all work together to build Lily’s tree house.

Comments:

The Governess attempts to put a new spin on the old comedy formula of criminals taking refuge among regular citizens. Although it’s very straightforward and familiar, the story and its characters are relentlessly likable, meriting a consider for the script.

The script’s freshest element is its main character, Gloria. Her thief background allows for some novel, amusing approaches to domestic problem-solving. More than that, though, the writers wisely gave her a background that allows her to relate to the Barneses on a surprisingly deep level. Her icy exterior is not melted by the cuteness of Lily or the rakish charms of Nick — it’s melted by empathy for the loss of their mother. The writers take similarly interesting tacks in approaching the children, who initially seem belligerent because they don’t like new people, when it turns out their grief is causing them to act out. Allowing Gloria to bond with the kids in this way makes her reversal in the third act more believable.

Narratively, The Governess is a bit workmanlike in its approach. The first act laboriously sets up the heist and Gloria’s fake position as the nanny, but the story takes off in the second act as Gloria learns about the family and life as a nanny. Her turnaround in the third act is predictable, but the writers add a twist that is unexpected — the idea that Gloria and Steven would pull off the heist to keep Jonno from succeeding. It’s a little hard to believe, but the story is so fun and ingratiating that it’s not hard to follow the writers down this path to a satisfying happy ending.

While imperfect, The Governess does a suitable job trying to reinvent an old story. Casting A-list actors in the main roles — especially Gloria — will help bring audiences to this light, entertaining comedy caper.

Posted by D. B. Bates on April 29, 2009 12:37 PM  |   | Print-Friendly  | Professional Script Coverage

Post a Comment