If Harold Pinter wrote “Independence Day”

 ***First, before I forget, calling all Pennsylvania peeps***

I’ll be speaking at the Carnegie Public Library this Thursday, April 16th, at 7:00 pm. I’ll also be answering questions, signing anything you want signed (um, within reason…), and hopefully reading a sneak peek from GOING BOVINE. Here’s the link:


Come on down if you can.

I hope everyone had a nice Passover/Easter/Carnage of the Chocolate Bunny Heads holiday. For some reason I cannot fathom, we decided to celebrate by renting the movie “Independence Day.” I had forgotten what an utter piece of crap it is. I have this thing with bad movies where it is like the pain of labor and I forget. Really, there is not a stereotype or cliché missed. I ended up watching with my mouth open. And it’s long. I had slipped toward coma toward the end and had to be revived with a gentle kick from the husband’s foot. 
“You’re missing vital plot info,” he joked.
“Well, it’s not exactly Pinter, is it?” I answered.

 And then I became obsessed with the idea of reinventing “Independence Day” as a Harold Pinter play. (Because I should never be left alone with my mind for too long.)

Retold by Harold Pinter

(Vivica Fox enters the kitchen where Will Smith is beating an alien. She begins making coffee with great cheer.)

VF: What are you doing?

WS: Punching the alien.

VF: Mmm. Is it fun?

VF: I was the belle of the ball.

(long pause)

WS: I’ll just…he’s not up yet.

Vivica: Two men are coming by later. They have a spaceship that could destroy us all.

(long, uncomfortable pause.)

WS: Mmmm.

(He goes back to punching the alien. Vivica makes the coffee.)


Act II
(Two men in suits, Goldberg and McCann, who may or may not be aliens or members of a secret government organization, enter and proceed to interrogate Jeff Goldblum, whom they refer to as Stanley throughout.)

G: We’ve been looking for you, Stanley.

Mc: I remember you from The Big Chill, Stanley.

JG: My name’s not Stanley.

G: Why did you make this movie, Stanley?

Mc: Terrible idea, Stanley. You were in The Big Chill.

G: Silverado. Buckaroo Banzai.

Mc: Annie Hall. A walk-on. You had promise.

G: Why are you wasting everybody’s time with the same nebbishy characterization?

Mc: Why are you doing that thing where you talk rapidly and wiggle your index finger to signify that you are smarter than everyone else and having a breakthrough thought?

G: You’ve done that before. In lots of movies.

Mc: Why didn’t you make “The Fly II”? We got Eric Stoltz instead, you tit. You bum. You whore.

G: Why do you play the same part in every movie, Stanley?

JG: I forget the other ones.

G: Why do aliens have binary code?

Mc: They’re vastly superior yet they have no firewall.

G: Why don’t they have Macs?

Mc: It’s already two hours in, you tit. You could upload the virus and save us more vaguely jingoistic speeches from Bill Pullman. Why haven’t you done that, Stanley?

G: Do you recognize Hollywood cliché?

JG: What?

G: Do you recognize cliché? Stereotype? Tired, worn-out, caca tropes?

JG: It’s late.

G: Late, late, too late for three-dimensional characterization, eh? Why must the president be an ineffective former fighter pilot?

Mc: Why do we need a single mom-stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold?

G: Is the First Lady going to die because she valued career over family?

Mc: Will the homosexual Jewish producer call his mother?

G: His accountant?

Mc: Will the homespun-maxim-spouting old man turn to God in the final reel?

Mc: Judd Hirsch was in “Taxi.” Now he’s playing a Jewish stereotype. Did you tell him to do that, Stanley?

G: Why did you do this? Why did you betray us with this movie, Stanley?

JG: I like movies.

Mc: Did you read the script, you lanky laze-about?

JG: I was married to Geena Davis.

G: Why didn’t you do a play?

Mc: Write a book?

Mc: Play the piano? You’re a musician, aren’t you?

JG: I was married to Geena Davis!

Mc: You were wonderful in The Tall Guy with Rowan Atkinson. What happened with you and Rowan Atkinson?

JG: What do you mean?

Mc: What happened to your subtlety? My God, you killed Rowan Atkinson, didn’t you?

G: Why did you kill Rowan Atkinson?

Mc: Are you French?

G: Did you like doing smart British comedy? Snogging Emma Thompson? Did you?

Mc: Did you? Answer me!

(Jeff Goldblum stands suddenly.)


Mc: He’s up.

G: You stink of sin.

(Vivica Fox enters drinking heavily.)

VF: He’ll be down soon. Who wants to play Blind Man’s Bluff with a stripper?


Will Smith takes Jeff Goldblum, whom he refers to repeatedly as his wife, to visit the aliens in their mothership. The aliens inexplicably speak in northern English accents. In the end, Will Smith decides to stay behind with the aliens while Jeff Goldblum returns to earth.

JG: You could come back. (pause) Whenever you want.

(Silence follows. Jeff leaves. Will sits in the alien command module while cradling the alien commander in a sort of Michael Bay-ish pieta. Fade on final shot of the abyss of space and silence.)


Next up: Brecht’s “Showgirls.” Fosse’s “High School Musical.” And of course, August Strindberg’s “Dirty Dancing.” 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s