'Bridges': The Guy's Version

TO WIT

July 23, 1995|By DAVE BARRY

As a sensitive and artistic individual, I have spent a lot of time recently trying to figure out how I can cash in on "The Bridges of Madison County." This is of course the humongous best-seller book by Robert James Edward Henry Morton "Bud" Waller. It was recently made into one of the summer's top movies.

It tells the compelling story of a lonely and bored Iowa farm wife named Francesca Johnson, who is actually Meryl Streep.

One day Francesca's family goes away on a trip, and her life is changed forever by the arrival of photographer Robert Kincaid, who is really Clint Eastwood. Thrown together by fate, Robert and Francesca spend the next four days arguing about whether to launch nuclear missiles against Russia.

No, sorry, that was "Crimson Tide." In "The Bridges of Madison County," Robert and Francesca have a torrid affair, at the end of which Francesca, forced by circumstances to make the most agonizing decision of her life, turns to Robert and -- in an unforgettably dramatic moment -- says something that you can't hear because all the women in the theater audience are blowing their noses in a vast collective honk of anguish loud.

My point is that "The Bridges of Madison County" makes women cry, which of course means that they love it. It's different with guys. Guys cry only if something happens that they consider to )) be truly terrible, usually involving a third-down situation. As a rule, guys don't care for movies with a lot of dialogue. Guys become bored if a movie character speaks more than two consecutive sentences without some kind of important plot development, defined as shooting, punching, explosions, aliens, car chases, or Sharon Stone re-crossing her legs.

By this definition, "The Bridges of Madison County" contains very few plot developments and is thus not really a guy movie. This is the basis for my plan for cashing in on it. I've taken the original idea and, by making a few subtle changes, written the following screenplay treatment for a new, improved version of the movie, entitled "The Bridges of Madison County for Guys." It begins with:

Scene One

(Francesca Johnson, played by Drew Barrymore, is saying goodbye to her husband, played by the late Fred MacMurray.)

Husband: Goodbye! I'll be at a boring cow-related event for several days.

Francesca: OK!

(He drives off.)

Scene Two

(It is later in the day. Francesca is in the cornfield, spreading fertilizer, wearing a thong bikini, when a pickup truck appears. It is driven by Robert Kincaid, played by Keanu Reeves.)

Robert: I'm lost! Want to have sex?

Francesca: You bet!

(They do.)

Scene Three

(Later, Francesca and Robert are in the kitchen.)

Francesca: You have a big lens!

Robert: Thanks! I'm a photographer for National Geographic, here to take pictures of covered bridges!

Francesca: Sounds boring! Let's have more sex!

(They do.)

Scene Four

(The next morning, Francesca and Robert are driving to a covered bridge in his pickup truck. Suddenly, another truck appears from behind and rams them.)

Francesca: Yikes! Who's doing that?

Robert: Those are rival covered-bridge photographers from Life magazine! They'll stop at nothing!

Francesca: What shall we do?

Robert: I'll run them off the road, and because this is a movie, the instant their truck strikes any object, including a stalk of corn, it will explode in an enormous cinematic fireball!

(It does.)

Scene Five

(Francesca and Robert are back at the farmhouse.)

Francesca (naked): That was a refreshing shower!

Robert (looking out the window): Uh-oh! Your husband has returned!

Francesca: Oh no!

Robert: Wait a minute! His pickup truck has exploded in an enormous cinematic fireball.

Francesca: Whew! That was close!

Robert: And now Kevin Costner's dad is coming out of the cornfield, wearing an old-fashioned baseball uniform!

Francesca: What a heartwarming ending to this movie, despite the gratuitous sex and violence!

Robert: Even Bob Dole would approve!

Francesca: Given the current state of American culture, this movie actually has a chance of getting made!

(It does.)

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