A Shitty Idea

I was in a bar after work on Friday. They had a television tuned to CMT, and it was showing Son in Law, a shitty movie from the 1990s starring Pauly Shore. Do not worry, this is not a review of Son in Law. Yes, I will watch any movie, no matter how bad, for a long enough time to write a review, but there was no sound on in the bar, and I wasn’t watching the movie anyway. I mention it merely for context, because it gave me an idea.

On the spur of the moment, what was the shittiest movie idea I could think of?

So there I sat, whiskey in hand, and the gears began to turn.

Because of what was on the TV, it would have to be a Pauly Shore comedy. But he’s never enough on his own to pull off a truly shitty movie. There’s no rule that says a shitty comedy has to have only one comedic lead. There are more than enough classic comedies starring whole teams of funny men, much less the litany of buddy comedies. Who could star alongside Pauly Shore and make a buddy comedy fall apart in the right way? It has to be someone with a track record of shittiness that at least equals if not surpasses Shore’s oeuvre. On a stool, a few sips lighter in the glass, I knew there was only one man who would be a proper counterpart to Shore. Only one man who has been embraced by Hollywood execs yet so reviled by both the movie going public and the critical establishment. Only one man who, thinking back on the 1990s in comedy, a person could be forgiven if they confused with Pauly Shore. That man is Rob Schneider.

He’s been in my mind’s eye of late because of the NFL playoffs. CBS has been pumping his new television show hard during commercial breaks, so his coming to mind dovetailed nicely with my mental shitty movie prospectus.

The bartender at one point even said to me while Son in Law was playing, “Hey, you see Rob Schneider has a new TV show?” That sealed the deal. I hadn’t said a word to anyone about my shitty movie idea. But the guy slinging drinks saw Pauly Shore up on the tube, and his thoughts led right in the same direction as mine. How this movie, a Pauly Shore/Rob Schneider shitravaganza, has not already been made is beyond me.

Now that I had my stars, I needed a plot. A fish out of water story is usually a good place to start, but it’s just not shitty enough, despite how much time and effort Brendan Fraser has put into these flicks. Instead, I thought incompetent professionals would be a better fit for my dynamic duo of shittiness. Some profession that requires a good deal of brains but lends itself to ridicule. “Scientists!” popped into my head, followed by “Aliens!” It was coming together.

In my movie, Pauly Shore and Rob Schneider play a pair of scientists who work for SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, the group that listens to the stars to try and detect alien transmissions. They’re a couple of bumbling idiots, and their colleagues know this. That is why, instead of spending their nights listening for alien broadcasts, the two are given the day shift at the radio telescope. (Know anything about radio telescopes, and this is comedy gold.)

Despite being in a position where they should not be able to succeed at their jobs, they find that they indeed pick up a transmission of unknown origin. Picturing the scene is easy. After a half-hour of general tomfoolery, being picked on by the other staff, and admitting that they’re stuck in dead end jobs, Shore and Schneider move into caricature of serious behavior. Pressing buttons, turning dials, consulting manuals, etc. Eventually they do confirm they have discovered a transmission from another star. Now the two are international heroes.

But, a jealous senior scientist at the telescope (Josh Brolin), who also happens to be the ex-boyfriend of Pauly Shore’s love interest in the flick (a gorgeous young scientist played by Emma Stone, who is very concerned with Pauly’s lack of ambition), fakes evidence that the transmission was actually a garbled reflection of KROQ-FM off of the atmosphere.

Now the heroes are goats. They are fired from SETI, Emma Stone leaves Pauly Shore, Rob Schneider is still single (because there’s only enough room for one female lead in this dog), and the two are getting evicted from their apartment (a loft over a garage behind a house owned by Rob Schneider’s promiscuous grandmother, played by Betty White). Pauly Shore suggests the two go out on the town and really party to chase away the blues. The scene transitions and the two of them are at a bar late at night, mostly empty, and a stranger sits down next to them at the bar. It’s Al Pacino, dressed in a purple sharkskin suit and a silk headband.

Adding Pacino to the cast is a particularly brilliant move for the production. He lends credibility to the movie, and he requires no direction whatsoever. This is because Pacino needs more direction than any legendary actor working today. Without direction he turns into a screaming loony in every film he’s in. But that’s okay. The filmmakers here want Pacino to go all out. With any luck, Pacino will turn in the Colonel Kurtz of shitty movie performances.

Here, I had a couple conflicting ideas to lead the film to its resolution, and they both involve how to use Al Pacino. In one idea, he’s an ultra-secret government agent, sent to recruit Shore and Schneider into a grand conspiracy to study alien races. This path didn’t really lead anywhere. So I decided to go with Al Pacino himself being an alien, sent to Earth to meet the two men who discovered the existence of his people. The mission is to pave the way for a meeting of the two civilizations. What better starting point than with the discoverers of such profound knowledge?

The two confess to being a pair of idiots, but that doesn’t bother Al. He points out just how many great discoveries have been made by accident, and urges the pair to embrace their destiny. The rest of the movie is spent getting revenge on Josh Brolin, winning back Emma Stone, and restoring their reputations. End with a shot of Pauly Shore marrying Emma Stone, Rob Schneider boarding a spacecraft to travel to the stars (wearing the same outfit Richard Dreyfuss did at the end of Close Encounters), and Al Pacino deep kissing Betty White.

The title of this project: Out of This World.