Let's just cut to the chase

Kevin Cowherd

March 13, 1992|By Kevin Cowherd

The whole thing started when we were watching TV and I said the key ingredients to any good movie are car chases, serial killers and sex. Maybe a helicopter crash, too.

"What about plot?" she said. "What about character development?"

Matter of fact, I said, I'm working on a film script myself.

"What about dramatic tension?" she said.

This is how I see the film opening, I said.

I see a high-speed chase on a lonely stretch of road in the High Sierras. There's a dope dealer with 200 pounds of cocaine in the back seat of his fire engine red Toyota Supra being hotly pursued by a hard-bitten private detective in a '79 Dodge Daytona.

Suddenly an 18-wheeler loaded with refrigerator coolant bound for Kansas City appears around the bend and . . . well, that's as far as I got.

"That's as far as you got?" she said.

Well, I said, it's not on paper, but you can see what's coming next.

The driver of the 18-wheeler hits his air horn. AAOOOGAH! AAOOOGAH! The dope dealer swerves to the left, crosses the center line and just misses the truck. The private eye tries to do the same thing, but suddenly, in the middle of the road, he sees a . . . an old man walking a donkey!

"A donkey?" she said.

OK, a burro. So now the . . .

"Why isn't the man riding the burro?" she said.

Anyway, I said, the private eye is world-weary, confused and depressed, but has a heart of gold. He doesn't want to nail the old man and the burro. So he veers the Daytona back directly at the 18-wheeler, a frozen look of horror on his face. Then -- this is so cool -- he guns the car off the road, hits a mound of dirt and goes airborne toward a steep ravine -- bailing out at the last second!

The car tumbles end over end 400 feet down the ravine, only to explode in a towering fireball. And the dope dealer gets away.

End of Scene One, I said. What do you think?

" 'Designing Women' is coming on," she said.

OK, now for the serial killer, I said. The premise is that a series of brutal murders has terrorized a resort town.

This is all in my head, you understand, but I see the killer as tall, gaunt and hollow-eyed. His hair is long and stringy. He uses piano wire to strangle his victims. Which is odd, because there's not a music store within 200 miles.

"Oh, please!" she said.

There's also this, I said. The killer just happens to own a fire engine red Toyota Supra.

"So the dope dealer and the killer are the same . . .?"

Right, I said. Is that cool or what?

"And the old man with the burro?"

An innocent bystander, I said.

Now we come to the private eye's love interest, I said. She's a waitress in a coffee shop famous for its split-pea soup. She's also world-weary, confused and depressed, but has a heart of gold.

As the film progresses, she's magically transformed from a plain-looking woman in a dowdy apron into a hot-looking babe with big hair, a heaving chest and a penchant for mini-skirts.

"How do they meet?" she said.

They just do, I said. And they have lots of sex. They have sex in her apartment and sex on the beach at 2 in the morning. They even have have sex in the back seat of his Dodge Daytona, which is sort of awkward 'cause her head keeps hitting the Garfield doll stuck to the rear passenger-side window.

"A detective with a Garfield . . .?"

By the way, I said, this is safe sex they're engaging in. 'Cause we're trying to send a message here. You know, to the kids. And the message is that even a super-cool private eye with a '79 Dodge Daytona -- make it blue with yellow racing stripes -- has to be careful.

"Did they even make a '79 Dodge Daytona?" she said.

Well, I said, one thing leads to another and the private eye captures the serial killer red-handed. I mean, the guy is caught crawling in someone's window with a length of piano wire in his hands.

"You don't think that's a little . . .?"

The private eye and the waitress fall in love. He vows to quit the private eye business, although he urges her to keep her job so they continue to get a discount on the split-pea soup.

One thing is clear, though: The two are going to marry and move to this sprawling ranch he's had his eye on.

"I'm still absorbing that scene with the burro," she said.

Go ahead and laugh, I said. But you tie a few loose ends together, and that's a heck of a movie.

"I'll tell you something," she said. "When Delta Burke left, this show went straight downhill."

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