This is probably in very bad taste, but come on, that’s the fun of it: The world’s oldest person has died at age 114. This happens from time to time and it always makes the news. So it always reminds me…
About 3 years ago, I got this story idea. Now, it wasn’t a real story idea, it was more of a parody of a story idea. A “this idea is so bad and so tasteless that I will dismiss it but Will Farrell or the Farrelly Brothers or somebody will make a movie of it and end up making $500 million” idea.
A few years back I wrote a script called I Hate That Guy!, which is a revenge movie. A complete and total jerk guy is on a mission to take down a saccharinely sweet perfect saintly guy and utterly destroy him. The script is so dark and “South Park” scummy – pedophilia jokes, 106 uses of the F-word, a really offensive AIDS-joke climax – that I would not put my real name on it if it actually sold. Call me bitter, but I guess I like that kind of over-the-top lowbrow humor where people are out to destroy each other for ridiculously cheesy gain. The script was kind of like John Waters’ “Desperate People” with a heaping, steaming pile of the Farrelly Brothers’ “Kingpin” thrown in. When I heard on NPR a few years back that the world’s oldest person had died, I realized this might be another piece of the puzzle to throw in there: the “Grumpy Old Men” treatment.
Like I said, at first it really wasn’t a script idea, it was a parody of an idea. Something I would never really do. And it was pretty easy to throw in lowbrow joke moments like the Farrelly Brothers would, and fun too. After a while it became apparent that Hollywood would probably do this and make a mint, but not me. No, I am supposed to be respectable. I am supposed write intellectual highbrow puzzle movies which are clearly above this and I would never stoop so low as to do something purely for the money and… wait a minute.
The idea: A guy (the Will Farrell role) is 100 years old. He is a complete and total jerk. Bitter. And a complete failure. The only thing he has done in his entire life is… not die. So somewhere in there 10 or 20 years ago or something he decides this is his ticket to greatness: he will be the oldest man alive.
And he’s getting close. When the movie opens, some 120-year-old Mother Theresa-type in Africa has just died, and it’s all over the news. She was the oldest person alive and the world is mourning, but our hero is celebrating – he just moved up one slot. He is now the 2nd or 3rd oldest person in the world. But he knows he’s in trouble: although he prefers to sit on his ass all day and watch porn while eating pork rinds and drinking 40 oz. malt liquor, the guy just ahead of him, only a few hours older than he is (Danny DeVito?), is fit as a fiddle – he regularly finishes marathons and triathlons. Insane. Worse, this older guy is his old nemesis. They went to college together, and ever since they got in the running for being the oldest person alive they see each other and spar regularly at all those Guinness Book of World Records events. They hate each others’ guts and the trash-talking is wild. Yes, trash-talking old dudes.
Knowing he doesn’t have much time, our hero forces his son to help. The young whippersnapper is in his early 80s (I’m thinking Paul Giamatti, but maybe Jon Heder after Blades of Glory) and uses a walker, an oxygen tank, everything. But he’s the old man’s muscle, so he’s supposed to go out there and take out the current champ and everyone else on the list. Hilarity ensues.
This idea is filled with gags – 100-year-old dudes going after each other in slow-speed foot-races and wrestling each other to the ground, people getting hospitalized, etc. Kind of like “Grumpy Old Men” meets “Kill Bill,” but with product placement for Depends. I can advance the plot with that old comedic standby: the heart attack. Assassins who have to take their afternoon naps. Maybe they try to falsify our hero’s birth certificate/birth records to make him be the “oldest.” Maybe the young punk 80-something has finally had enough of the old man and decides to knock him off to increase his own chances of attaining the crown himself someday, you name it.
So… is this just wrong? Is it still a fake idea, too stupid and immature for even Hollywood? Don’t answer too quickly: I just looked on imdb and Will Farrell’s next movie – now in pre-production – is called Step Brothers, coming out summer 2008. The logline: “Two spoiled guys (Ferrell and John C. Reilly) become competitive stepbrothers after their single parents get hitched.” So there you go.
And just wait – the next time the world’s oldest person dies and you hear about it on the news, you’ll remember this idea too.