This is such a happy day for those of us who know the wonderful and brilliant comedy writer, GER (a.k.a. Algernon Basiljet, a.k.a. Geraint Horwood). He has not only SOLD his first script, which is going into production THIS YEAR (called Journey to the Moon), but he now has his name on the Internet Movie Database – Geraint Horwood.
Of course, it’s the wrong name. I think he wanted to go with Algernon Basiljet, but that’s okay.
And they changed his title, too, which was The Moon Must Die! (Hence the photo at the top.)
And they want to turn it into a “musical?”
And… wait, this is now a “family” film?
And there’s some storyline about a miner who jumps onboard the spaceship? Are you kidding?
Oh, who cares!
Ger’s an official screenwriter now! YEAH, BABY!
I’ve noticed that a few critics have lately proclaimed the death of comedies. In fact, James Berardinelli wrote in a recent review, “It's not that the art of making movie comedies is dead… but that filmmakers have become lazy and contemptuous of their audiences.” I have certainly felt that way at times. But when you read a screenplay by Ger you fall in love with comedies all over again like when you were a child and you just laughed and laughed until your stomach hurt. Ger is the best comedy writer on the market right now in terms of not only the volume of jokes he can write but also the clever turning points in his stories and the wide variety of ways he can make you laugh - physical humor, visual jokes, stupidity, lies, satire, wild exaggeration, cliches, double entendres, play on words, malaprops, insults, putdowns, ridicule, etc.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with his work, he had three scripts on TriggerStreet about the misadventures of Professor Bathandler and his hapless group of Victorian explorers - Journey to the Island of Killer Dinosaurs, Dracula is Out of His Box, and The Moon Must Die. They are my favorite comedies. Unfortunately, the scripts aren't available to read anymore. However, I reviewed all three scripts last year, and below are highlights of those reviews just so all of my new readers out there can get a taste of Ger’s style.
On Journey to the Island of Killer Dinosaurs!
How could you not laugh? Like when, standing on the bow of the ship, Jock sweet talks Alice Pennywhistle about the rolling waves, the clear blue sky, the fresh sea air, and then... he suddenly pukes for a great length of time. Or when Smunk, after also trying to sweet talk Alice and then being told by Alice that she's a lesbian, responds with "No-no, I think women have got as much right to be lesbians as men have." Or when Smalls confessed that he was fired from Oxford because they claimed he "stuffed and mounted a badger in an improper manner." And then he added, "I'd only taken off my trousers to avoid getting linseed oil on them." Or when Alice, the lesbian, said, "what a queer chap." Or the bit about Barry "Fingers" Maginty (who had to change his name to Barry "Arms" Maginty because he lost his fingers in a card game and then he had to change his name to Barry "Legs" Maginty because...) Or the bit about the "swamp hens" ("What do they do?" "Peck mostly.") Or the bit about the "swamp duck" when Smalls goes off screen to kill this little duck, we hear him SCREAM, there's a BANG from his gun, and he runs wildly back to the group with his clothes torn screaming "RUN!" And then, behind him emerges an angry seven-foot duck. Or the great visual gag of the entire group climbing up a tree to escape certain death by a certain big duck only for the tree to immediately fall over and they have to start running again. Or when they come across a rippling puddle (a la "Jurassic Park") and Smalls asks, "What is it, Professor?" who responds with, "Hmm, some kind of rare jumping puddle." Or when Alice says to Smunk, "I know this is going to sound awfully silly, but... I'm afraid of the dark. Would you mind terribly if I slept with you?" Later, she tells Smunk, "Um... Timothy, you... um... seem to be poking me in the thigh." And then, of course, Smunk removes his stuffed albatross. Or after being chased by voluptuous cave women, Alice, the lesbian, says, "I hope we run into some more cave women." Bathandler replies, "Be careful what you wish for, Ms. Pennywhistle. For all we know, these women are cannibals. You may find out that all they want to do is eat you." And suddenly, Alice blushes.
On Dracula is Out of His Box!
"Evil? Ha! I'll tell you what you are, mate, you're a bloody tease, that's what you are. You sweep about with your cloak and your penetrating gaze, all mean and moody. Then when a woman asks you to flap about in her belfry, you're all, 'Sorry, love, I've got to destroy humanity...' Penetrating gaze... That's the only part of you that is penetrating."
- The virginal Petrolia, before certain death.
You know you're in for a good time when Dracula is talking to a Real Estate Agent and he's reading from a "Transylvania / Cockney Phrase Book" and after being invited inside the big scary castle, he says in his thick Transylvanian accent, "That would be... (checks book) ...smashing." Or when Dracula says to his group of vampire children, "the next stage of our plan requires the greatest subtlety..." and then one of the vampires farts. Or when Prat asks, "Do you have a crystal ball?" Bathandler replies, "That's between me and my gynecologist." Or when Flinch talked about his fiance's abductors, "Witnesses said they were very pale and had big, pointy teeth." Bathandler: "So definitely British then." Or when Dracula tells Flinch's abducted fiance, Petrolia, "I am looking for a virgin," and she replies, "Aren't we all..." Or when Watt says, "Please don't poke my octopus." Or when Queen Victoria said, "No, I said it was a cunning stunt!" Or when Jenkins had finally transformed into a vampire and just as he is about to bite Shaw, Bathandler storms into the room and shoots him. "How did you know?" Shaw asked. "Know what?" Bathandler replied. "I just found out he's been sleeping with my sister."
And finally, The Moon Must Die!
"The Moon Must Die!" is my favorite of Ger's three works of comedy. I don't have any specific reasons either. It's just the spirit of the piece, I think. It's the way the comedy clicks so well after the team reunites, and the humor really soars at times. It's the way every line of dialogue is funny in a very character specific sort of way. It's the way the characters have very distinct voices and individual thought processes. It's like a musician sitting down at a piano and picking up right where he left off on a very difficult whimsical tune and seemingly plays it so effortlessly (although we really know better).
I love the washroom scene on page 21. The team is getting ready for bed the night before the big launch, and they're all using this one washroom. First, you have throughout this scene the unknown person sitting in a stall making outrageous farting noises. This person has the worst case of runaway gas, right? Then you have the team going about its business in the washroom brushing their teeth, politely talking to each other, etc, without even acknowledging the uncontrollable flatulence going on behind them. Third, you have the hilarious interaction between the characters: Captain Jack explaining how he got tricked into this by being told he had won a publishing clearance house draw and ("I stepped off the boat expecting a cheque the size of a surfboard and some jerkwad shoved a bag over my head"); then Captain Jack had the audacity to putdown Smunk when he explained how HE got tricked into this ("I got a letter inviting me to the Suffragatte and Lesbian Pride of Britain Awards. They said I'd been nominated for best newcomer") to which Captain Jack snorts and says, "Jerk"; oh, there was Smalls' out of control spasm with his new metal arms and also Jock's mysterious hatred of Smunk ("Oh no, I love you. I love you like the pox that killed my mother."). And lastly, of course, there was the great ending to the scene where we discover who it was in the stall with all that crazy gas. It was the LAST person you'd expect – Alice Pennywhistle.
"I wouldn't go in there for a bit," she says.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007