How's this for 'Signs'
By Steve Wartenberg
A sneaky developer trying to take over our hero's farm; "Signs" carved into the crops pointing the way to a fishing hole and giant catfish; aliens trying to save the Earth; Mel as a wacky - and hunky - columnist based on...
I know, this one's too far fetched to believe.
A developer trying to take over a farm - impossible!
These are some of the ideas I received after I asked all of you out there to help me write our very own version of "Signs," the film M. Night Shyamalan is shooting in our area that stars Mel Gibson as a farmer who discovers strange patterns in his corn fields.
From casting calls, we know Mel has two kids and they're also looking for a really tall woman and some kids from Portugal.
Unfortunately, most of the submissions were long on character development -many of the women had Farmer Mel as the world's most caring, sensitive man, which I think is a bit of wishful thinking on their part -and short on plot.
Hardly anybody had an ending.
I'm sorry to be so blunt, but show business is a cruel business -so you better get used to it now.
Still, the show must go on. My two co-writers are the talented Bridget Fox and Mike Russo.
OK, roll 'em:
It's a beautiful summer morning, the kind that makes you glad the 202 bypass isn't headed through your backyard.
Farmer Mel, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, bustles his two kids -they're cute, but have a strange, intense look in their eyes -off to school and heads out to his fields of corn to do whatever it is farmers with fields of corn do all day in their fields of corn.
Cut to ...
Up in the air, is a colorful hot air balloon, closing in on Mel's farm.
As it gets closer, we notice the woman flying the balloon is tall -really, really tall. She's 7 feet if she's an inch -whatever this means.
Mel, who seems to know her, waves hello.
"Hunky Mel," she shouts, "what's up with your corn?"
Mel looks puzzled: "What the heck are you talking about, Too Tall Tina?"
She lands and takes Mel up in her balloon for a look-see. The only problem is, since she's so darn tall, every time she pulls the cord that makes the fire go that heats up the air in the balloon and enables it to rise, her hair catches on fire.
Mel calmly gives her a shot with the on-board fire extinguisher. Tina laughs and Mel flashes her one of his famous smiles -the one with all the dimples women can't seem to resist.
Most of this can be done with expensive computer graphics -and claymation.
As they get higher and higher ...
"What is it?" Mel asks as he looks down on his crops, which are filled with straight lines, curved lines and circle-like symbols.
At this point in the film, there will be a token and gratuitous shot of cleavage (this is Bridget's idea).
The next morning, when he goes out to inspect his fields, Mel notices some Portuguese children wandering around. How many depends on our final budget.
They have the same strange, intense look in their eyes as Mel's kids have in their eyes.
This look will be created with eye prosthetics and computers.
"Hey, what are you kids doing?" Mel shouts, more friendly than angry.
The children seem to magically disappear into the corn.
At this point, Mel bends down to pick up something -it doesn't really matter what -and the camera zooms in on his butt (again, Bridget's brainstorm).
Foam prosthetics -and possibly a butt double -will be used to enhance the effect.
Word gets out about Mel's field.
Evets Grebnetraw, the wacky columnist from the local paper, "The Instigator and The Recount," drops by.
"Look at this," Evets says, unrolling a large aerial photo of a farm in Buckingham, which has almost exactly the same patterns carved into the corn.
"Well, I'll be," says Mel, scratching his head. "What does it mean?"
"I don't know, but as sure as my editors don't understand me or my column, I'll get to the bottom of this," Evets states, the same strange, intense look in his eyes.
This look is never explained.
In fact, it has nothing to do with the plot, but will look really cool in the ads.
Mel gradually overcomes his initial mistrust and repulsion of newspaper reporters and -in a montage of scenes -the two bond, laugh, punch each other on the shoulder and eat lots of Cheerios (we have a promotional tie-in with General Mills and get $100,000 every time we show a box of Cheerios on-screen).
Finally, they unravel the mystery.
In a tense, dramatic scene -filled with tense, dramatic music -Mel and Evets discover other fields in the area with similar marking and when they line them up with the local map ...
Unbeknownst to Mel, after his wife died, the farm, which for legal -and plot -reasons was in her name, was secretly taken over by a greedy developer.
All the lines in his field are from the surveying crew, who have marked off all the streets and cul-de-sacs that will soon be Rolling Blueberry Hills Mountainside Spring Hill Farm and Field Estates -even though Mel never planted blueberries, let alone rolling blueberries.
These 54 luxury homes on 2.6-acre lots start at $989,000 -which is way out of Mel's price range.
And he has 30 days to vacate.
The Portuguese kids?
Their parents were the first to buy one of the luxury homes and, while mom and dad were talking with the developer, trying to decide on the brick or stucco fařade, the six-car or seven-car garage, and whether to order the private pet bedroom/bathroom suite, the kids were out exploring.
He and Too Tall Tina finally admit to themselves what's obvious to everyone else, get married, raise a bunch of tall, hunky kids and start a hot air balloon company that gives champagne and caviar tours of the area's luxury developments for prospective buyers.
Insert a gratuitous sex scene here (guess who thought of this?).
In the hot air balloon (I came up with this part).
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© John Lundberg / SignsMovie.co.uk 2001