The following is a fictional recounting of a meeting between the parties involved with the making of the 1991 crap fest, The Last Boy Scout, starring The Expendables’ Bruce Willis*. All dialogue is a creation of the Rental Rehab reviewer’s imagination. Views expressed belong solely to the reviewer and should be read only by people who have imbibed the better part of a six pack.
Warner Bros. Executive (with a thick, Texas drawl): OK. So tell me about the plot of this again?
Writer 1: Well, sir, it’s a story of two cops—one of them played by Bruce Willis and the other played by someone who is not Bruce Willis.
Producer: We were thinking one of the Wayons brothers.
Writer 1: They’re forced to work together, even though they don’t really want to. And stay with me, cause it gets a little zany here, but they’re nothing alike. They’re polar opposites. For instance, one of them is really into classical music and sushi, but the other one…
Writer 2: He’s totally a metal head and he’s got this sweet axe that he always busts out when he’s chasing a bad guy and he’ll just start shredding, like, a monster riff, which will kind of lull the bad guys—they’re all those really dumb henchmen who kind of wait around for the good guy to make a move—into letting him kick their asses.
Writer 1: Yeah. And, so, they’re forced to work together, as we said. But here’s the thing, not only are they partners, but they’ve also been framed for—
Exec: Stop right there. It’s 1991, people aren’t going to pay to see another mismatched buddy cop comedy. Come up with something else.
(Writer 1 and Writer 2 exchange a nervous glance and shuffle some papers around, murmuring to one another.)
Writer 1: Well, we could make one of them an alcoholic who lives on a beach or a houseboat or something.
Exec: Stinker! What else you got?
Writer 2: What if one of them was a dog?
Writer 1: (getting panicky): Shit….what about a romance writer and an adventurer?
Exec: Jesus Christ. An adventurer? Are you fucking shitting me? Make one of them a disgraced former Secret Service agent turned private dick and the other one a disgraced former NFL quarterback. OK. What else?
Writer 1: Um, alright. I guess that will work. These two join forces when they are charged with trying to protect a stripper who looks a lot like a young Halle Berry with a mushroom haircut. The guys meet for the first time at Halle’s strip club. Eddie Griffin works the wheels of steel at the joint, it’s all really edgy, you’re gonna love it.
Exec: Does she show her tits?
Writer 2: Well, no. But it will be your standard garden-variety strip club scene, so there will be gratuitous flashing of breasts.
Writer 1: Oh yeah, and don’t forget about that hot tub scene earlier in the film. I think we could probably get some boobies in there, too.
Writer 2: Now, it’s important to note that even though Ms. Berry is playing a stripper, this is really a nice girl we’re talking about here.
Writer 1: Yeah. Real heart of gold. I mean, she gets blown to absolute smithereens within the first 15 minutes of the film, so fuck all if it matters, but she wears chaps. So that’s pretty cool.
Exec.: (shaking head): Alright. What else?
Writer 2: Well, Bruce Willis’ character has a really rough home life. Like, this very contentious relationship with his wife. She’s cheating on him with his fat best friend, even though he has a nasty fucking mustache. And his daughter is all “Dad; you’re dumb.” Really drives home just how alone this man is in the world, you know?
Producer: I’ve been wanting to ask you about his relationship with the two women in his life. They seem a little hateful to me. I mean, here’s a guy that saved the President at one point, right?
Writer 1 and Writer 2 nod emphatically
Producer: Well, then, why does the wife always refer to him as a fuck up? I mean, I know it was Carter, but that seems a little extreme.
Writer 2: He, uh….(shuffling papers)…he has an alcohol problem?
(Everyone at table murmuring and nodding in agreement)
Producer: Wow. I think that will be really powerful. But here’s the other thing. The daughter is old enough to be wearing makeup, right? Bruce is talking about how she’ll probably get pregnant soon. So why does she play with this stuffed cat hand puppet and carry it everywhere she goes? Isn’t she maybe too old for that, to the point where it’s a little unsettling, like she’s one of those creepy dead-eyed children you always find in shitty psychological thrillers? Couldn’t that potentially turn audiences off?
Writer 2: She’s sassy. And strong willed…? Quirky? (trails off)
Producer (nodding): Good, good. I think this girl’s character will really resonate with the ‘tween audience.
Exec: What the fuck is a ‘tween?
Producer: It’s—well, it’s this new industry term that I’m trying to introduce to describe the highly impressionable market that exists between children and teenage consumers. I predict that in 20 years they’ll be the most powerful buying group in the U.S. So the ‘tween refers to—
Exec: Stop talking. When do they start blowing people’s heads off?
Producer (confused): The ‘tweens, sir?
Writer 1: Well, as we promised in the initial pitch, the violence commences almost immediately. That is, after a catchy little opening sequence with some song and dance routine. We’re getting some laser effects or the like to add behind the credits. Should look real sharp.
Writer 2: And there will be cleavage of course.
Writer 1: And also, we remembered what you said about making our heroes as relatable and sympathetic as possible.
Writer 2: Yeah. Good, ol’ red-blooded, American men. Men of honor. Men who stand up for the little guy. Sure, they’re flawed, but they do the right thing when it counts.
Writer 1: Exactly; our heroes are so dedicated to their self-appointed vigilante mission that they’ll go on a reckless, city-wide killing spree, splattering the blood of the guilty and the innocent alike in a nearly ceaseless reign of terror on the streets of Los Angeles – all in the quest to protect the life of a sexually abusive political miscreant.
Writer 2: U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
Exec: I’m getting all welled up just thinking ‘bout it. What about the dialogue? Here, lemme see that script again real quick.
(flips through the pages. Stops on a page, reads aloud) Dix – You don’t read much? Hallenback – My subscription to Juggs just ran out.
(flips to another page) Hallenback – Yes. There is a problem. Apparently there are too many bullets in this gun.
(flips through more pages) Dix – Say man, you ever play ball? You got a nice build. Hallenback – You a fag? Dix – Just trying to break the ice. Hallenback – I like ice.
This looks like a goddamed series of shitty one-liners.
Writer 1: Well….uh….
Accountant: Sir, I can explain that. Those lines were left over from the Tango and Cash shoot. I estimate the recycling saved a good $50K alone.
Producer: While we’re talking about efficiency, gentlemen, can we look at page 97 for a minute? The part just after the bad guy’s car has crashed into the Hollywood hills’ pool following intense car chase No. 3. I love that you got Art from The ‘Burbs to play the befuddled homeowner, really, I do, but I have to question Hallenback’s parenting skills when he leaves his ‘tween, I mean, pre-teen, daughter under the care of a strange man wearing a short silk bathrobe. Particularly when said man’s pool is occupied by a submerged car that contains the unconvincingly indestructible 90s villain who may or may not still be alive. I mean, I’m not certain the audience will be able to connect with his actions.
Exec: Oh, screw that. Is it true there’s a helicopter in this thing?
Writer 2: I am so glad you asked! Yes! There is.
Writer 1: And there’s some more explosions, and a glass gun case that explodes, and an exploding fireplace, and then later a house explodes, and a shoot-out, and a car chase, and another shoot-out and even a pony!
Exec: Brilliant. Sounds just like the French Fucking Connection. This piece of crap’s gonna bleed more money out of us than Bonfire of the Vanities.
Writer 2: Who shot who in the what now?
Exec: Forget it, you half-breed. What do you call this piece of shit?
Producer: I’ve been rooting for Made for Each Other. I really think audiences will connect with that message.
Writer 1: I was thinking of calling it Classic/Rock. Because separately, those two things mean something different, but together, they join forces to be something truly awesome.
Writer 2: Well, I like The Expendables, because they’re not exactly, like, at the top of anyone’s list. They’re like, expendable.
Exec: That’s retarded. None of those have a god-damned thing to do with the movie. Let’s call it The Last Boy Scout.
Producer: I’m a little confused as to how—
Exec: We’ll dump it in theatres the week before Christmas when everyone’s ready to blow their fucking heads off anyhow. Father of the Bride will come out a week later and everyone will forget about what a god-awful mess this was. Now get the hell out of my conference room. I have a meeting with some moron about a $75 million movie with a computer hacker that makes friends with a stranger from outer space and they choreograph martial arts montages together in order to win the heart of the popular boy and/or dance championship at school. It’s going to be fucking terrible.
Rental Rehab review by Tricia
(* While The Expendables’ movie posters feature Bruce Willis’ name prominently on the bill, IMDB.com lists his appearance as “uncredited.” The Expendables opens Aug. 13 and may or may not feature a group of rag-tag never-do-wells who overcome their differences to complete a seemingly impossible task.)