Friday, June 3, 2016

Okay, here's my pitch for the Jenga movie

C'mon, who else was realistically going to star in the Jenga movie?

It's going to happen one way or another. With The Angry Birds Movie already in theaters and a Tetris movie on the way, it's only a matter of time before Jenga: The Movie is put into development at Universal or Paramount. Someone's getting a payday out of this. Why shouldn't it be me? I want to be the one to write this thing. So here's my pitch.

The Dark Tower.
We start with a flashback to the late 1980s, when the first commercially-produced Jenga games hit the market. A severely nerdy high school kid, Wes Zwolinski (even his name means he's last at everything), develops an almost supernatural knack for the game, and his skills start to attract the attention of the other kids his age, including his longtime crush, Noreen. An intramural Jenga championship is soon organized, and Wes deftly defeats a number of opponents. In the final round, he is pitted against rich kid and bully Chas Van Landingham, who has heretofore made Wes' life a living hell. Even Wes' normally distant father, George (Stacy Keach), has shown up for the event and sits in the front row. Just when Wes seems on the verge of winning, Chas distracts him with an especially cruel taunt. Wes knocks over the Jenga tower in such alarming fashion that one piece becomes airborne and hits George right in the face. The victorious Chas exits the high school gymnasium with Noreen on his arm, while George is taken off in a stretcher, unconscious. Wes is devastated. 
Cut to the present day. Wes is now a scruffy, forty-something man played by Adam Sandler. He works in a mall shoe store owned by Chas (Jason Bateman), who treats him horribly and who is now married to Noreen (Jennifer Aniston). Wes' glory days are long behind him. He gazes at a stack of shoeboxes piled improbably high and sighs deeply, thinking of what might have been. Chas walks by and slaps him on the back of the head, causing him to topple the tower of boxes. Wes' home life is no better. He sleeps on a forlorn couch in the basement of his parents' home. George, grouchier than ever, still bears a scar on his face from the long-ago tournament incident. He criticizes Wes without mercy. In the interim, Wes has had a son named Josh with his now-ex-wife Carla (Leah Remini). Wes has a good relationship with Josh; in fact, it's the only bright spot in his life. They play board games together, but Wes won't even look at Jenga. Too many memories. 
A problem arises when Wes gets behind on his child support. (Don't judge him too harshly. He gets taken in a Nigerian e-mail scam.) He may lose contact with Josh forever if he can't raise some money quickly. He walks around his neighborhood, thinking about what to do. Just then, a flier gets carried along by the wind and hits Wes smack in the face. He studies it. It's an all-ages Jenga tournament with a whopping $25,000 prize. Wes knows what he must do. He goes into training in order to regain his Jenga skills. Having previously established that Wes' favorite show in the 1980s was ALF, the character of ALF (still voiced by Paul Fusco) becomes sort of a wisecracking mentor to Wes, appearing to him in visions. "Who the hell are you talking to down there?" George wants to know. 
It all leads up to the big Jenga tournament. An initial joke is that most of the contestants are much, much younger than Wes. But our hero carries on anyway and advances through the various rounds. Some of the opponents are very eccentric indeed, including a jumpy, bug-eyed fellow played by Steve Buscemi. Kill Bill, El Topo, and numerous Sergio Leone films are referenced and parodied during this passage of the movie. Jenga inventor Leslie Scott makes a cameo here, too. Naturally, the final round comes down to a rematch between Wes and Chas, with Wes' whole life on the line.

So what do you say, Hollywood? Do we have a deal or do we have a deal? You know how to reach me. My contact info is in the sidebar at the right side of the screen. Let's talk.