Thursday, November 05, 2009

Citizen At-Large (Two Disc Special Edition) (2009)


Normally, I’d have deemed this movie “rental-worthy”, but the audio commentary alone sets this flick apart. Truly a classic. Check it out. . .

Citizen At-Large (Two Disc Special Edition) (2009) The hilarious misadventures of an ill-prepared, middle-class white male caught in a struggle between perception and reality. Now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Cast: Countless B-List celebrities
Director(s): Warren Fillbergh, Niles Moore
Screenwriter: Rick Rantamaki
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Features: With Audio Commentary – Rick Rantamaki (Writer) – Warren Fillbergh (Director) – Kip Girard (Voice-over)
Runtime: 214 minutes



[Fade-in with sound of alarm clock beeping]

Hand reaches from beneath the covers and blindly swats alarm clock. It’s 4:30AM.

[Begin rapid montage]

Feet land on floor. Eyes are rubbed with both palms. Rise and stretch. Shower door opens. Shower handle turned. Brushing teeth. Shaving cream. Hair mussing. Buttoning shirt. Tie shoes. Kiss sleeping wife.

Tuck-in and kiss sleeping child.

Retrieve bottle of water from refrigerator. Grab keys and cell phone on counter.

A silhouette stands before an opening garage door.

Water bottle is set into the center console. Turn of the key. Dashboard illuminates.

[Begin “Life of Illusion” by Joe Walsh]

Pickup truck pulls out of driveway and onto the street beneath the glow of a streetlamp.

[begin opening credits]

Pickup truck winds though various streets and onto freeway. Traffic is heavy and sluggish. Truck follows several exits leading to airport as daybreaks.

Pickup truck pulls up to a parking lot gate and rolls down the window. A hand reaches out and snatches a ticket and the gate rises. The truck enters an ocean of parked vehicles and crawls through a succession of camera angles as it prowls multiple levels of an airport parking deck, no empty spaces are available.

A WOMAN, leading the way with her keys, has a MAN in tow, who’s struggling with multiple, matching, suitcases. The truck stops at the sight of the couple weaving their way through rows of vehicles, then follows.

The truck stalks the couple to their vehicle, which is located at the long-term parking lot - almost out of sight of the airport. The MAN fumbles with the baggage as he crams them into the trunk of the car.

RICK: (muttering) “Come on,” (looks at his watch, it’s 6:45AM) “Scheez.”

[Both vehicles in frame]

WOMAN: “Where’s my lip balm?”

MAN: (while forcing another bag into the trunk) “Maybe. It’s. In. Your purse?”

WOMAN: “No. I just had it out.”

RICK’s grips the steering wheel tighter. He draws in a deep breath and closes his eyes.

RICK dashes through frame.

Terminal is busy, but not crowded. RICK runs up to a vacant check-in kiosk and proceeds to scan his ticket. The kiosk emits an alert tone.

KIOSK: [with robotic voice]
“Ha, ha! Foolish mortal! Did you think you could thwart the system?!”

RICK: “What?”

“You’re too late for your scheduled flight.”

RICK: (looking at watch) “What?! The flight doesn’t depart for another hour!”

“I don’t care how long it took you to park in our grossly overfilled parking labyrinth. Go stand in that long line with those fools who insist on bringing WAY too much luggage. And, while you’re waiting for our lethargic airline representative to reschedule your flight, you can think about getting to the airport a lot sooner next time. Ha ha ha! Thank you for flying with us.”

RICK grabs the kiosk and shakes it angrily.

[Freeze scene]

VOICE OVER: “That’s me and this is just a typical Monday.”

[soundtrack lowers]

RR: Is this thing on?

[an unknown voice clicks in, “We’re recording.” click]

RR: Uh, hi… hi everybody, I’m Rick Rantamaki… I’m the screenwriter for “Citizen At-Large.

WF: And I’m Warren Fillbergh, the director. We’re also expecting Kip Girard, who provided the voice-over for this film, to show up any minute, but since we only have the studio ‘till noon, we’ll have to start without him. So. . . Rick, I understand you’re a virgin in the realm of audio commentary.

RR: Yes I am, Warren. . . please be gentle.

WF: I’ll try.

RR: You know, when my agent called about this gig, my initial reaction was to fake an illness.

WF: No kidding?

RR: Yeah, I figured; there’s no way I can go on and on about this movie without driving someone insane. . . namely myself.

WF: Ah, it’s not that bad; I do these all the time. Besides, the only people who listen to DVD commentaries are out-of-work actors and prison guards.

RR: Heh. . . yeah, you’re probably right. I tend to blow things out of proportion.

WF: Just think of it as an afternoon of watching movies with friends, except they don’t mind when you talk over the action.

RR: And those guys over there with the headsets aren’t government informants.

WF: Does paranoia run deep in your family?

RR: Only on my parent's side.

WF: Okay. . . perhaps we should focus on the movie then, eh?

RR: Oh yeah, the movie. . . you know, this is my first opportunity to see it. I didn’t realize you guys recorded the commentaries before the movie even hits the theaters.

WF: It’s common practice nowadays.

RR: Huh. Well, this opening parking lot sequence. . . uh. . . helps build tension, which most travelers are, uh. . . familiar with. . .

WF: Sure, and an interesting note about this particular scene is that Jacob Wagner, the actor playing the lead character here, never drove a vehicle before in his entire life.

RR: What?! Are you serious?

WF: Yep, he grew up someplace where the use of automobiles was prohibited.

RR: What, is he Amish or something?

WF: I think. . . or maybe he’s from Brooklyn, I don’t remember.

RR: He must’ve picked it up pretty quick, though; maneuvering around in a tight parking lot like that. . .

WF: Actually, he’s not the one driving.

RR: Oh, that’s his double?

WF: No, no, that’s him behind the wheel. He’s one of those “method actor” types who insists on “being in the moment” – you know how actors can be. So, we had to disguise the stunt driver as a passenger seat.

RR: But this film is loaded with road scenes, wouldn’t an actor with driving experience made filming easier?

WF: Well, yeah, but in order to find someone to play this part – which, I was informed this morning, is the character who’s is supposed to represent you, right?

RR: Yeah.

WF: We needed an unknown actor who could also come across as a naïve oaf who’s constantly surprised by the world around him… and women would naturally avoid.

RR: Uh-huh.

WF: Yeah, well, we couldn't find one. So, the makeup department was forced to recede Jacob's hairline a bit and provide him with an overbite appliance before we finally achieved the desired “look”.

RR: Yeah, I. . . I see. . . ah. . . perhaps we shouldn’t dwell on the casting details. . . uh, this. . . this movie is based on my book, “Mental Notes: From the Brink of Reality”, which, I believe is still available through most major book outlets.

WF: Really? Huh. I never heard of the book.

RR: Wh-

WF: I never knew there was a book.

RR: You didn’t know there was a book?

WF: (undecipherable)

RR: It spent 14-weeks atop the bestseller list for, “American Literature for the Clinically Insane”. It’s prominently listed in the opening credits. How could you NOT know about my book?

WF: Well, as a rule, I don’t read much.

RR: You, you don't read— c'mon, even if you haven’t read it, surely you’ve seen me pimping it on the talk show circuit last summer.

WF: I don’t watch much TV.

RR: Really? And the morning radio shows?

WF: I find them distracting.

RR: I. . . I’m stunned. I. . . I don’t know what to say.

WF: What’s the big deal?

RR: What’s the big deal?! You’re telling me that you agreed to direct a movie based on a book you’ve never heard of?

WF: Yeah.

RR: Written by a guy you’ve never met?

WF: I wouldn’t say that; we met in the lobby.

RR: I meant before today. We’ve never met before today.

WF: Well, since you put it that way, then— Heyyyyyy Kip! Glad to see you could make it.

KG: Sorry I’m late fellas, but I passed the studio three times before I realized my GPS was in my other car.

RR: Hi there Kip, nice to finally meet you.

KG: Uh, hi. . . and you are?

RR: I’m Rick. . . Rick Rantamaki. . . I’m the screenwriter. . . the guy who wrote the book. . . the guy you represented with the voice-over. . .

KG: Ohhh. . . huh, y'know, I thought you’d be much shorter.

RR: Why’s that?

KG: I dunno. I see you guys started without me. Have I missed anything?

WF: Not really. Well, Rick here was just talking about some book he wrote.

KG: Oh, you wrote a book? That’s lovely. Does anyone mind if I take the last croissant? I haven’t had a bite to eat all morning.

WF: No, no, go right ahead.

RR: It’s not just some book, it’s the book this movie is based on.

KG: Really? What’s it called?

RR:Mental Notes: From the Brink of—”

KG: Never heard of it.

RR: Jeez, alright already; I get it. Nobody’s read my book.

WF: There’s no need to get bent out of shape, Rick.

RR: Huh? Wait a minute. . . I’m not saying I don’t appreciate your efforts Warren, but why? Why would a premiere Hollywood director, such as yourself, with a slew of box office hits, who can pretty much choose any screenplay, opt to invest his time and resources in a screenplay he knows absolutely nothing about?

WF: Look Rick, I don’t know what preconceived notions you have about the film making process, but let me tell you, here in Hollywood, nobody reads screenplays.

RR: What? Really?

WF: Really. Screenplays are NOT what fuels movie productions, concepts are. Your book, however “wonderful” it may be, was reduced to a concept. Its premise, its texture, the narrative format; all of it was basically concentrated down to a few lines of text. Those lines, those few measly lines of text, are what swayed the studio executives to fund this production. So, although we’re required to inform the audience the movie is based upon your book, in actuality, this film only slightly resembles your book.

RR: Resembles my book?

WF: Yeah. When the studio green-lights a concept, they feed it to their own screenwriters who then adapt it to accommodate whatever interests the studio is currently trying to satisfy. We like to call the process, rehydration.

RR: Huh, I had no idea.

WF: I know it sounds a little harsh, but you’ve got to consider how many screenplays are out there. If we took the time to read them all—

KG: We wouldn’t have anytime to lavish ourselves with awards.

[both Kip and Warren share a laugh]

RR: Has it always been this way?

WF: Pretty much.

RR: So, the box office hits of the past are the result of rehydrated screenplays?

WF: Yeah, most of ‘em.

RR: Even the classics?

WF: Even the classics.

RR: Like… “Citizen Kane”?

WF: Rehydrated from a screenplay about the delusions of traveling snow globe salesman.

RR:Gone with the Wind”?

WF: Rehydrated tale involving a frustrated stable girl and a talking horse.

RR: A talking horse?

WF: With a mustache, like I said, it's not verbatim.

RR: How 'bout “The Wizard of Oz”?

WF: Boy, has that concept gotten some mileage. It was originally rehydrated from a screenplay about a group of disenfranchised dwarves trying to establish a commune within the confines of a dairy farm. Can you believe that? A dairy farm. It was rehydrated again as, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and yet again for the movie, “Top Gun”… except they reduced the mob of angry dwarves down to a single midget – who was a natural at flying high-tech jet fighters in unrealistic combat scenarios.

RR: No kidding. I guess that explains why this gunfight scene is in the movie… ‘cause that’s NOT how I got through airport security.

WF: The studio needed an action film for the Holiday Season.

KG: [in his voice-over tone] “In a world where Holiday Magic and Madness collide with ultra-flashy over-the-top pyrotechnical stuff—”

RR: This is nothing like the screenplay I wrote. I mean, c'mon, shoving aside little old ladies just to get to the head of the Starbucks line is completely out of character. . .
and I don’t even drink coffee.

WF: The sponsors love this kind of stuff, Rick. It’s what they’re paying for.

RR: Unbelievable. . . well, then what becomes of the original screenplays?

WF: I think they used to toss them in a landfill just west of Hollywood, but nowadays, in order to be eco-friendly, screenplays are spooled onto tiny rolls, given a spritz of lavender and hung in the bathrooms.

RR: Wha—

KP: Oh yeah, I can lose myself for hours in an MGM stall.

RR: Really?

KP: Yeah, I can’t tell you how many times my legs have fallen asleep in there.

RR: Uh, okay, so. . . uh, why am I even here?

WF: Ha, yeah well. . . the lead actor was unavailable.

RR: The Amish guy?

WF: Yeah, seems he’s busy on the set of “Good Will Flaunting”.

KG: Awww. Jacob’s not coming? Man, I wanted to find out if those stories about his wild escapades on the set were true.

WF: Kip, you’d be amazed how popular that guy was with the ladies.

KG: [again in his deep voice-over tone] “In a world… were innocence and desperate Hollywood sluts collide—

RR: Y’know what, you guys should continue this without me.

WF: Huh? Wait–

RR: No, no. Aside from the concept, I obviously had nothing to do with this film.

WF: But, there’s still 138 minutes left. . .

RR: Can someone please validate my parking?

KG: [still using his voice-over tone] “In a world where parking is free. . .”

WF: Nobody walks out on an audio commentary, Rick.

RR: Well, this'll be a first. Maybe this’ll boost DVD sales. Best of luck guys. [door closes]

Damn writers!

KG: [voice-over tone] “. . . and the Oscar for best film commentary goes to. . .”

WF: Ah, shut up Kip! Somebody get me Lawrence Fishburn on the phone.


© Copywrite 2009 Rick Rantamaki

1 comment:

Leeuna said...

Hahaaa! This is hilarious...and so true. I don't think there has been an original concept in a movie in decades. And the books are almost always way better.