Author: Mark A. Altman & Steve Kriozere
Writer’s Potential: 2
A nerdy high school student and his obnoxious playboy father both fall for the same woman: the student’s French tutor.
Nerdy high school senior JOSH (18) is on the Mexican island of South Padre for spring break, with his obnoxious and equally nerdy pals STEVE and KYLE. While Kyle wanders around videotaping attractive women in string bikinis, Steve attempts to flirt with them but invariably makes an obscene reference to pornography, offending the women. Josh mostly stands with them in humiliated silence. The humiliation gets worse when Josh discovers his father, HANK, is at the same bar, doing Jello shots off a sexy local woman. It’s quickly revealed that Hank is a Joe Francis-like sleaze merchant whose highly successful Girls Gone Loco line of DVDs has made him rich beyond his wildest dreams. Steve and Kyle think Josh’s dad is the coolest. Josh disagrees. He tries to excuse himself to study for an important French exam he’ll have to take once he returns to school. Hank tries to talk Josh out of it, but Josh knows that if he fails French—as he is right now—he’ll lose his acceptance to Stanford and end up in community college. Steve and Kyle insist Josh stay with them and party the night away with Hank. A montage of photos showing all of them (except sourpuss Josh) having a night of drunken debauchery follows.
Josh returns to school, exhausted and mildly hungover. He fails the French exam. Steve and Kyle wonder why he took French to begin with, when he’s already practically fluent in Spanish. Steve realizes Josh took the class to get close to JENNY, a beautiful girl he’s had a crush on for years. Unfortunately, she’s dating COLIN, the school lacrosse star. Josh comes home angry. Hank hasn’t gotten out of bed for two days, attributing it to jet lag (even though there’s only a two-hour time difference). Hank notices Josh’s bad mood and wonders if he can help. Josh lashes out about Hank forcing him to party. Josh has one shot left—the final exam. If he can’t pass it with a B+ or higher, he fails the class. Hank declares he’s proud of Josh and that he shouldn’t give up on himself. Then, he watches TV. A traffic report by JANE HARRISON (late 30s) is on. He watches for a few moments before hurling his breakfast at the screen. It’s soon revealed that this is Josh’s mother and Hank’s ex-wife, whom Hank divorced when he caught her cheating on him.
The next morning, Josh wakes to the sound of the doorbell ringing. CLAIRE (late 20s and beautiful) is at the door. Josh mistakes her for a call girl, insulting Claire. Hank introduces her as an au pair. She’s shocked to find her chair is 18 years instead of 18 months. Hank asks if she speaks French, and when she says yes, he orders her to teach it to Josh. Claire initially refuses, but Hank points out that this will be the easiest job she’s ever had. Naturally, his obnoxious tone and rampant sexism turns Claire off, but Josh apologizes on Hank’s behalf, and Claire is impressed by his eloquence and humility. She agrees to take the job. At school, Steve and Kyle immediately want to know if Claire is hot. Jenny passes by, saying “hi” to Josh, who immediately reads way too much into the simple greeting. Steve and Kyle use the distraction to invite themselves over for band practice and video games. Josh snaps out of it, telling them he needs to study. As soon as Josh leaves, Steve and Kyle agree to show up at Josh’s unannounced. In the parking lot, MIRANDA approaches Josh tentatively. She tells him it’s her 18th birthday, invites him to her party, and pulls up her top, asking if she thinks Hank would approve, now that she’s 18. Josh says he doesn’t know, so she asks him to find out and bring Hank and his camera crew if they deem her worthy. Josh is baffled.
At home, Claire is annoyed that Josh is late. She immediately takes Josh to see Breathless, the Godard film. Claire explains that in order to speak French, he must understand what it means to be French. At first, Josh finds the film confusing, but he starts to warm up to it. Their talking annoys a patron, who shushes them. Josh insults the patron in French, but unfortunately, the patron knows the language and has an usher throw them out before the end. Josh apologizes to Claire. He asks her how the movie ends. She tells him the characters in the film had passion, not love, so they couldn’t stay together in the end. Josh thinks she speaks from personal experience, and she promptly changes the subject. At home, they find Hank desperately trying to impress Claire by cooking a variety of French dishes. Claire reveals she’s not actually French—she’s French-Canadian, although her parents are from Nice. She’s surprised that Hank has heard of Nice. He explains his ex-wife wanted to go there on a vacation, and he still sounds bitter.
Claire is impressed by Hank’s cooking. Hank tells her he once wanted to open his own restaurant, but Jane got pregnant, so he had to put the money to less risky use. Steve and Kyle show up at the house, desperate to meet Claire. Josh doesn’t want to let them in, but they convince him. The guys notice Hank flirting with Claire. Later, while playing video games in the basement, Steve and Kyle urge him to make a move before Hank does. Josh thinks they’re crazy, but they make him see that all the signs are there. Upstairs, Claire helps Hank do the dishes. She’s surprised he doesn’t have servants. Hank explains that he didn’t want Josh to grow up having everything done for him. Downstairs, Steve and Kyle discuss Claire’s body in obscene terms. Josh tells them to cut it out, and coincidentally, she happens to have come downstairs and heard everything. She says goodnight to Josh.
The next morning, Hank is shocked to find Claire sunbathing topless next to the pool. Josh is equally surprised and leaps to the conclusion that Hank is taping her for a movie. Jane arrives and demands to know why Hank hired a stripper to hang around in front of Josh. Josh explains Claire’s role in the household, but Jane is too horrified to believe it. She tells Hank she’s come to pick up her prom dress for their upcoming high school reunion. While Hank searches the attic for it, Jane tests Claire’s French. She’s impressed. After Jane leaves, Hank invites Claire to join him and Josh for a paintballing tournament. Josh wants to study, but Hank claims he planned this weeks ago. At the tournament grounds, Josh is temporarily thrilled to learn their opponents have canceled, but it’s short-lived. Hank has found new opponents: Colin, Jenny, and their jock friends. Steve, Kyle, and Hank take the tournament way too seriously, embarrassing Josh in front of both Claire and Jenny. Claire runs off, and they quickly discover she’s an excellent paintballer. She takes down all of the people on Colin’s team except him and Jenny. Hank and Josh are both impressed by Claire. They all decide to split up, with one group covering the flag and the other going after the remaining opponents. Josh strongly suggests Claire join his team, so Hank shoots him “accidentally.”
Dejected, Josh wanders through the woods. He comes upon Jenny, who mentions Miranda. Josh quickly tells her he was invited to Miranda’s party, and that he’s going. Jenny is surprised. She wonders if Josh is going to take Claire, whom she mistakes for Josh’s girlfriend. Josh rolls with that, saying she’s a foreign exchange student. Later, when Hank hugs Claire for far too long, Josh shoots Hank to stop him. Hank shoots back, and the two keep shooting each other until Josh accidentally hits Jenny. At home, Claire overhears Josh talking about Miranda’s party. Later, she gives Josh a surprise gift: a suit exactly like the one worn by Jean-Paul Belmondo in Breathless. Josh is not convinced he can wear the suit without getting his ass kicked. Claire explains this is the next step in his French lessons: he must be French. Josh agrees to wear the suit. Claire wishes him good luck at the party. He invites her along, but she says she has a date with Hank. Josh stews all the way to the party.
Hank takes Claire to a closed miniature golf course. She’s unimpressed with the location choice, but she agrees to sweeten the deal, challenging him to a game of strip miniature golf. By the time Hank and Claire are both completely naked, police arrive to arrest them for breaking into the golf course after hours. At the party, Josh drinks excessively. Jenny flirts with him, but Josh is too busy drinking to pay much attention—until she tells him he’s cute. Colin shows up and mocks Josh’s suit. Both Jenny and Miranda think Josh looks hot. Josh picks a fight with Colin, which leads to a drinking contest rather than actual fisticuffs. As Josh gets drunker and drunker on shots of bourbon, Jenny is irritated to discover Colin is just downing shots of iced tea. She tries to help Josh, but he vomits all over her cleavage. Later, Josh incoherently babbles in French about how much he wants Claire. The police, big fans of Hank’s work, let him and Claire off with a warning. Claire is impressed. Hank confesses he hasn’t had an actual conversation with a woman since he and Jane divorced. Claire suspects he was afraid of intimacy. Hank asks Claire about her romantic history, and she explains she was in loved with a wonderful, talented man who cheated on her, so she understands Hank’s fears and reservations. Steve and Kyle desperately call Hank to pick up Josh, who won’t stop speaking French and is threatening to dive off the roof. Claire has to talk him down. Josh demands to know why Claire went out with Hank. Claire says, “Because he asked.”
Claire wakes Josh the next morning to give him a disgusting hangover cure she invented. Josh gives Hank the silent treatment. When he goes to school, he’s shocked to find everyone cheering for him—he’s now a big hero. Jenny texts Josh that she broke up with Colin and asks him to be her date to the reunion party. Steve and Kyle are thrilled about this, but Josh is still hung up on Claire. Jenny and Miranda explain to Josh that they’re organizing the 20th reunion party, and the band canceled. They invite Josh’s band to play. Colin comes around, harassing Josh—who finally stands up to him. Instead of going after Josh, Colin roughs up Jenny. Josh punches Colin, then kisses Jenny. The student body applauds. Colin warns Jenny that she shouldn’t dump him if she wants to hold on to her chances of becoming homecoming queen. Josh tells Steve and Kyle about their gig. Josh and Claire do some last-minute studying the night before the French final. Hank interrupts, asking to talk to Claire. She returns after a moment to take Josh out. She tells him to bring his books. He takes her to a private beach, so they can continue studying without distraction. They converse in French. Claire asks Josh what he wants. He doesn’t know how to say it in French, so he asks her to swim. She says she didn’t bring a bathing suit, but neither did Josh. Claire strips down.
Later, Josh gets a text from Jenny saying she got back with Colin because she wants to be homecoming queen. Josh rolls his eyes and invites Claire out on a date for Friday, the night of the reunion party. Claire can’t—she already agreed to go with Hank. Josh storms into the house, confronting Hank about competing with him. He accuses Hank of being too juvenile. Claire witnesses the argument. The next morning, she’s gone. She leaves a note saying she returned to France because she doesn’t want to keep coming between them. Hank sees the note first and immediately heads for the airport. Josh sees this and is suspicious. He finds the note and confronts Hank in the driveway. Josh wants to go, but he has to take his final. Hank informs Josh that he canceled all his credit cards and wishes him luck. While Josh takes his final, Hank is detained at the airport for having a gun on his person. It turns out to be a paintball gun, and Hank realizes Josh planted it. After the final, Josh races to the airport. Steve and Kyle have made all the preparations for Josh. They paid for it by selling Hank’s Ferrari on eBay at a steep discount. After all of Hank’s delays, the father and son end up on the same flight.
In Paris, Josh steals Hank’s taxi. Hank gets in a cab and bribes the driver to follow Josh. They search the Cité Universitaire for Claire, but neither finds her. Eventually, they’re tossed out by security guards. Dejected, Josh and Hank reconvene to share their misery over crepes. At a park, they both spot Claire. She apologizes to both of them, tells them how great they are, but that she had to get back together with her ex. While Hank and Josh plead with her, they both keep shoving an annoying mime out of the way. It turns, out the mime is her ex. When they insult his chosen art, a team of ninja-like mimes come out of the woodwork and beat the hell out of Josh and Hank. Claire takes them back to her apartment to attend to them. Hank apologizes to Josh, saying he needs Claire more than Josh because the best years of Josh’s life are yet to come, but Hank’s are long past. Claire reminds Josh of Breathless—they had passion, but not love, and now it’s over. Hank and Josh thank Claire for everything. She offers to let them stay, but Hank opts to bring Jane in from the U.S. to take her to Nice. Jane takes him to a topless beach, thrilling him.
Josh returns to school to discover he has aced his final and will be going to Stanford. Four months later, he arrives for orientation. Right off the bat, he meets a beautiful French foreign exchange student and is smitten. She’s thrilled he can communicate with her in her own language. A month later, Hank and Jane arrive for parents’ weekend. Hank gets hammered with a frat while Jane waits impatiently and Josh dances with the French girl.
My Tutor aspires to be a 1980s-style teen sex comedy, which makes sense because it’s a remake of one. Unfortunately, this is a brainless, ragingly unfunny example of a genre that can be quite entertaining and endearing if done properly. The horribly inconsistent characters, unfocused story, and awful dialogue all contribute to the script’s overall failure. As written, it merits a pass.
The script’s characters are, by far, its biggest liability. Their personalities are all inconsistent, swinging wildly from scene to scene. Sometimes, Josh is the intelligent, responsible kid who is deeply respectful—almost reverent—of women. He suddenly does a complete 180 to sex-crazed horndog without any believable reason. Not even the fact that he’s 18 makes such wild personality deviations work—it’s just the writers sacrificing characterization to go for easy jokes. Josh’s arc relies entirely on Claire’s perception that Breathless will teach him how to be French, which is a bizarre turn of events considering the film is about a character who spends his life imitating American star Humphrey Bogart. The only good thing to come from this is that 0.1% of teenagers in the audience will have any idea what Breathless is.
Hank is an even worse case. He’s an obnoxious, drunken manchild who runs around videotaping underage girls taking their tops off, frequently having sex with these women—but, deep down, he’s really a sweetheart. The writers try for the limp (so to speak) justification that he felt so betrayed by his wife’s cheating, it created intimacy issues. All that’s well and good, except for the fact that he built his sleazy empire before the divorce. Whether or not he was actually having sex with his many teenage victims at the time is never said, but it’d actually be more interesting if he were that much of a hypocrite. Instead, the writers try too hard to make him a nice guy, because they finally realize—late in the script—that it makes no sense that Claire would be attracted to both sensitive Josh and lout Hank. Unfortunately, Hank works better as a stereotype. The wounded puppy dog routine would only fit with his personality if he were using it to trick Claire into sleeping with him, but this is not the case.
And then there’s Claire, the object of their mutual affection. Forget how creepy and disturbing it is for father and son to lust after and do battle for the same woman (the script certainly doesn’t notice how off-putting and unseemly this conflict is)—she’s another character whose personality is sacrificed both for lame jokes and for the lamer plot. In her first scene, she’s portrayed as an articulate, perceptive woman who sees right through Hank’s sleazy machinations and admires Josh’s kindness and sensitivity. Two scenes later, she’s sunbathing topless in front of them and acting like she can’t figure out why Josh is suddenly so nervous and Hank is leering. The writers spend the entire script pounding her into different shapes so she’ll fit the story they’ve created, and it’s never exactly clear why either characters fall in love with her. Lusting after her makes perfect sense, but the writers never develop her well enough for either character to fall for her. She’s simply an idealized woman who alternately loves old French films as much as strip golf.
The weak story is presented like awkward sketch comedy, never generating narrative momentum as it limps to the finish line. Each gag is virtually self-contained, giving the story an unfocused feel reminiscent of its inconsistent characters. The first act sets up one conflict (Josh’s need to pass his French class), the second act pushes it in another direction (Josh and Hank vying for Claire) while mostly ignoring the French class, and the third act brings it to a head as they race to France to fight for her love. In between, the writers shoehorn a lot of high school material into the story, but all of it feels like padding. The writers never make it seem important to Josh to stand up to Colin. He just does it because that’s the sort of thing that usually happens in a teen sex comedy. None of the high school subplots pay off in the third act, either. Jenny and Colin stop mattering somewhere in the second act, then disappear. This leads to a laughable resolution that leaves teen audiences with the message that they should forgive partners who cheat on them and try to make it work. The script is just too much of a mess to succeed on any level.