REWRITE: INDEPENDENCE DAY

It’s inevitable. After watching hundreds and hundreds of movies, you start to think to yourself, “I could do that. Why don’t I just write my own screenplay?” But after a bit more consideration, I just don’t think it would work. To show you what I mean, let’s take a look at what I would do with an existing script, like say the scene from Independence Day in which Steve (Will Smith) and Jasmine (Vivica A. Fox) rush to get married before Steve has to fly off into space with Jeff Goldblum and an iBook to try and disable the alien mothership.

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First, here’s how the original script played out…

INT. SMALL GATHERING HALL

Jasmine is kneeling as Dylan tries to zip up the back of her dress.

DYLAN

It’s too tight.

JASMINE

I had to borrow it. I guess that’s good enough.

Jasmine stands, turns to Dylan.

JASMINE

How do I look?

She looks great. But Dylan only gives her the “so-so” hand gesture.

JASMINE

You’re a lot of help.

The door behind her flies open and Steve marches in.

JASMINE

You’re late.

STEVE

You know me…

JASMINE

I know, you like to make a big entrance.

Steve moves next to Jasmine, takes her hand.

STEVE

Before we do this, I want you to know I’m sorry.

JASMINE

Sorry for what?

STEVE

(serious)

I should have done this a long long time ago.

MALE VOICE (O.S.)

Do you have the ring?

As we REVERSE ANGLE we see that we are in a military CHAPEL, a large crucifix on the wall. A CHAPLAIN stands by the altar.

STEVE

You bet.

Steve pulls out the famous “dolphin” ring.

CHAPLAIN

Witnesses?

Just then the doors open and David and Constance enter taking seats on opposing sides of the aisle.

CHAPLAIN

Then let’s get this show on the road.

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Okay, I would leave the setup, nothing wrong there. But something about the dialog at the very end of the scene bugs me, something’s missing. So let’s pick up where Steve enters and see what I would have done differently…

Steve moves next to Jasmine, takes her hand. As we REVERSE ANGLE we see that we are in a military CHAPEL, a large crucifix on the wall. A CHAPLAIN stands by the altar.

STEVE

Before we do this, I want you to know I’m sorry.

JASMINE

Sorry for what?

STEVE

(serious)

I should have done this a long long time ago.

JASMINE

(serious)

You’re right, you should have.

STEVE

Wha… huh?

JASMINE

You heard me. Not only did you put me through the scientifically proven increased stress of living with someone without any commitment, but the insecurity inherent in the situation contributed to my reluctance to leave my degrading job giving lap dances to fat smelly strangers. Plus, even though you’re finally marrying me, statistics show we now have a much greater chance of divorcing because people who cohabitate before walking the aisle generally have less conventional ideas about marriage and are more open to dissolving things when times get rough. So now me and my son Dylan, who’s already lost one father, have to worry about that every day. And did I mention how the Catechism plainly states that all that premarital sex you insisted we have was “gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children.” So the whole time you felt entitled to get the milk without buying the cow, you were also endangering my immortal soul. Did I mention that?

Just then the doors open and David and Constance enter taking seats on opposing sides of the aisle while at the same time noticing the obviously stunned look on the faces of Steve, Dylan, and the Chaplain.

CHAPLAIN

(clearing throat)

Can we just get this show on the road?

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Yeah, maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think Hollywood is going to be calling me anytime soon.

David

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