Spy vs. Stu

Author: Allie Dvorin & Keith Mitchell
Genre: Comedy/Thriller
Storyline: 7
Dialogue: 7
Characterization: 5
Writer’s Potential: 7

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On vacation to propose to his wife, an ordinary man finds himself competing with an international spy for his girlfriend’s love.


STU KORNHEISER (early 30s, slobbish, overweight) is a good gadget salesman for the Sharper Image. So good, in fact, that his boss decides he’ll promote him to assistant manager as soon as Stu returns from a vacation trip where he intends to propose to his girlfriend. Stu announces the big news to his girlfriend, MOLLY, who mentions that the big raise might be cause to discuss marriage. Stu changes the subject to avoid ruining his surprise, but it causes an argument. She doesn’t think he wants enough out of life. They fly to the island nation of St. Pierre and take a cab to their hotel. Unfamiliar with the exchage rate, Stu accidentally gives JEAN CLAUDE MAURICE, the cabbie, a $250 tip. In the lobby, they bump into the Macatees (BOB and BARB), a couple hellbent on selling time-shares. Stu and Molly get away from them.

In their room, Stu announces he needs to use the bathroom and suggests Molly go to the beach and catch the sunset while he’s busy. On the other side of the island, SIMON DEVINE (a roguish, James Bond-style international spy) makes a dangerous escape from an illicit sugar cane factory. He flees via portable hang-glider and ends up on the beach with Molly. He strips from his tuxedo into a Speedo, rushes over to her, and kisses her while two thugs on jet-skis survey the area. Finding nothing but a couple kissing on the beach, they disappear. Simon walks away as if what just happened is nothing, but Molly’s awestruck. Having dinner with Stu at the hotel restaurant, Molly catches sight of Simon. As Stu attempts to propose, she’s distracted and ends up excusing herself to the ladies’ room, instead spying on Simon as he talks with TANYA, a fellow agent. Simon notices Molly watching. He thanks her for her help and flirts with her. Molly hangs on his every word, especially when he mentions their kiss was part of a top-secret government operation. Simon offers to buy her a drink, which Molly accepts before reneging when Stu approaches angrily. Simon introduces himself, then drags an unenthusiastic Molly away.

The next day, Simon’s preparing to leave when he notices a newspaper headline about the sugar cane factory explosion, referring to a man named Gallini. Recognizing the name, Simon decides to stay for a few more days. Stu and Molly lounge on the beach, and Stu makes another attempt at proposing when Simon shows up, to Molly’s glee and Stu’s disdain. Simon offers them lunch at his seaside villa. Molly fawns all over him, so Stu is forced to go along with it. Simon shows them the villa, a breathtaking sight. They catch sight of his yacht, anchored in the distance for an unknown reason. Simon and Stu compare occupations, with Molly getting even more exciting when they piece together that secretive Simon is a spy. Simon asks them to help him establish a new cover so he can uncover what’s going on. Molly effusively agrees, so Simon decides he and Molly will pose as a married couple, and Stu will be their gay friend who just got dumped and was on the verge of suicide before they dragged him on this trip. That night, Stu dreams that Simon and Molly ditch him to go to a cheap motel, where he catches them having sex. He wakes with a start and sees Molly sleeping next to him. She moans Simon’s name, enraging Stu.

He goes to the bar and chats up MAXWELL, the bartender. The next morning, Simon announces he’s looking for a man named Van Netter, but he’s an enigma — nobody has ever seen him, and he may not even exist. If he does, he’s an international arms dealer. Simon drives them to a honeymooners’ polo match that he knows Gallini will be at. All three play polo; Molly has a great deal of fun, but Stu hates everything about it. Simon finally catches sight of Gallini and decides to create a diversion — by forcing Stu’s horse to go wild. Stu’s nearly killed when his horse stops on some railroad tracks and his foot gets stuck in the stirrups. Simon rescues both Stu and the horse, just barely. Molly’s impressed, but Stu fears Simon was trying to kill him. Later, Simon arrives at the hotel with a radio to listen to a transmitter he secretly placed on Gallini during the chaos. Gallini mentions something about Corral Cove and Van Netter. Simon decides it’s time for them to go scuba diving. Molly’s gung-ho, while Stu vomits off the side of the boat. He refuses to dive with them, although he changes his mind when he misinterprets Molly’s excitement over various sea creatures as excitement over Simon’s man-meat. Simon and Molly discover a crashed Chinese submarine. By the time Stu reaches them, Simon and Molly are hiding from Gallini and his thugs. Stu’s leading them right to them, so Simon leaps from the hiding spot and attacks. Gallini nearly kills Stu, so Simon saves him but cutting Stu’s oxygen tank, causing it to rocket him all the way to the surface.

Later, Stu is frothing mad. With Simon lagging behind, Stu yells to Molly that the man’s insane, while Molly defends him and gets offended when Stu mentions the sexual innuendos. Simon calls Tanya to tell her he believes Van Netter has stolen a Chinese nuclear warhead and is hiding it somewhere on the island. Tanya says she’ll arrange for backup, but Simon mentions he and Molly can take care of it. Tanya wonders who Molly is. Simon has swiped a medallion from one of Gallini’s men, which leads them to a cliff-diving tournament. Simon and Molly participate like normal people, but Stu gets jealous and angry and decides to walk down the other side of the cliff. He ends up encountering a huge snake, which causes him to fall off the cliff, belly-flopping into the pool below. On the way back to the hotel, Simon mentions a private party held by the island’s President. He only has tickets for two, so Simon invites Molly.

Stu is angry that Molly’s actually going, all decked out in a great dress Simon sent to the hotel and heading to the salon for a makeover on Simon’s dime. Stu decides he’s going to go with, so he seeks out Bob and Barb, promising them he’ll attend a seminar if they can get him into the President’s party. They agree. Simon pretends to be a developer seriously interested in turning this third-world nation into a first-world nation. PRESIDENT MALDROIT, a short man, doesn’t think he needs Simon’s help — he has plans. Simon and Molly share a dance. Tanya arrives to help out Simon and get a look at this Molly. Stu arrives wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. Molly sees him and fears he’ll blow their cover. Dejected, Stu leaves. Simon and Tanya have a heart to heart; he admits he’s been looking for someone like Molly for a long time.

Drowning his sorrows at the hotel bar, Stu complains to Maxwell about getting “cock blocked by James Bond.” Maxwell asks what that means, so Stu launches into everything he knows about Simon. Tanya and Simon arrive, and Tanya convinces Stu to dance with her. It’s a pretty dirty affair. Molly witnesses it and is shocked and angry. Seeing her distress, Stu breaks away from Tanya and tries to go after her. Simon takes advantage of the opportunity and invites Molly to spend the night on his yacht. She turns him down. Stu goes to the hotel room to use the bathroom. He gets his pants down when he notices Tanya, nude, in a bubble bath. Molly walks in on this scene and is livid. Stu goes back to the bar and blathers to Maxwell about Simon’s yacht. Molly meets with Simon on the yacht when they hear a noise — it’s Maxwell and some henchmen. Molly hides in a closet while Simon dives into the water. Simon recognizes Maxwell’s voice as Ven Netter’s. His henchmen grab Molly and take her away on jet skis.

Stu wakes up the next morning at the time-share meeting. He explodes with rage, accusing every couple in the room of having the same problems he and Molly have. Stu storms off to Simon’s villa, where he finds Simon preparing to go after Van Netter. Simon admits Molly got kidnapped, so Stu reluctantly agrees to help. They bond over their mutual affection for gadgets, then Simon leads Stu deep into the jungle. Just as Stu is asking why, they’re found by a group of revolutionaries — led by Jean Claude Maurice. They agree to help because of Stu’s excellent tip. While watching TV, Simon unravels the whole plan — Van Netter sold the warhead to Maldroit, who plans to blow up neighboring island St. Barts during a live MTV spring break special. Held captive by Maldorit and Van Netter, Molly discovers Tanya is also aligned with them.

Simon and Stu bust into another party at the Presidential Palace. They try to blend in as they sneak into the palace to rescue Molly and disable the bomb. Stu insists on going after Molly himself. Stu beats up a guard and gets to Molly, who immediately apologizes about her attraction to Simon, that she’s no longer looking for adventure in her life, that she’s okay with Stu not wanting to advance any farther than working at the Sharper Image. Stu dismisses all this because they have to leave. Guards burst in on them. Stu takes them out; impressed, Molly makes out with him. Meanwhile, Simon infiltrates Van Netter’s secret lab until he’s at the controls of the warhead. Tanya finds Simon and gets him away from the controls. The ceiling opens, lowering the missile — and it turns out Simon and Molly are on top of it, still making out. Tanya ties them all up. Later, Simon uses a hidden gun to kill Tanya when she gets too close. He breaks free and pulls Stu and Molly loose. They take out all the guards, but Maldroit and Van Netter get away. Now they’re stuck trying to disarm the bomb. Stu recognizes the design from a video game but can’t remember how to solve the puzzle, so he calls a gaming tip line and changes the bomb’s direction just before the automatic launch. They catch up with Maldroit, who is taken into custody by the revolutionaries. Simon offers Stu a job, but he declines. Simon leaves them find Van Netter. Stu and Molly finally get to relax.


This script is reasonably funny and has a decent enough plot, although the spy stuff is extremely generic (yet lacks any traces of satire or any specific movie parodies — it’s played straight, but it’s all been done). At its core, it’s a romantic comedy, so maybe the mediocrity of the spy subplot can be forgiven since, mainly, the conflict is between Stu, Simon, and Molly.

What can’t be forgiven is the fact that both Stu and Molly are, to put it bluntly, damaged. They are an extremely dysfunctional couple, which would be fine if their dysfunction were played for laughs, but the writers seem to feel like they’re behaving normally. The instant Simon arrives, Molly turns into a puddle of enamored mush, while Stu transforms into a seething cauldron of jealousy. This generate some amusing conflicts, but it’s just not believable behavior. It left me wondering how a couple that has such severe problems managed to stay together for seven years, and I’m more intrigued by this couple than anything having to do with Simon or Tanya or Van Netter. The plot is actually rife with material to allow these people to stop and examine their relationship — this perfect week, which was to end with a marriage proposal, could make them both realize how fractured they actually are. As it stands, every scene in the first half of the script revolves around Stu’s jealousy and Molly’s clear apathy toward Stu and strong desire for Simon. These could easily be tweaked to give the characters just a bit more self-awareness, enough for them to realize their relationship is doomed. Then, transitions occur when Simon inadvertently forces each character to confront their issues and make moves toward bettering themselves, retaining the happy ending.

As it stands, Stu and Molly are fairly unpleasant people, so what begins as funny turns unsettling, reaching the lowest depths of despair when Molly, upon getting rescued by Stu, immediately turns codependent and decides Stu can continue with all his problems, unabated, while she’ll force herself to change to accommodate that. A denouement like this will alienate every woman in the audience, which is problematic since it has all the earmarks of a date movie; alienating 50% of your audience is rarely a good idea.

Notice I haven’t mentioned Simon. Ironically, considering he drives both the conflict in the romantic and the entire spy subplot, he’s the weakest character, a warmed-over James Bond clone with no discernible personality of his own. Even his pleas for a more normal woman like Molly are muddled by the fact that he only thinks in terms of seducing her. Because he’s so bland, the whole second half of the script feels unfocused, because the writers lose sight of the Stu-Molly story to concentrate more on the spy antics. Giving Simon a solid reason for pursuing Molly will certainly make him more interesting, which will in turn make everything he does in the second half worth watching.

A good story can be salvaged from this screenplay, but the writers need to really dig in to these characters.

Posted by D. B. Bates on October 28, 2008 4:59 PM