It was one of those perfect nights here in Los Angeles. Ginger and her girlfriends had left, the hot tub was quiet, and the lights of downtown sparkled like Festivus-tree ornaments down the hill from my palatial pad in Echo Park. Only the occasional sound of gangbanger gunfire from Boyle Heights marred the stillness of the evening as I sat sipping my Jägermeister and contemplating the infinite void that my father, the sainted “Che” Kahane, had raised me to believe is my destiny. And then the phone rang.
“So listen, Dave,” said my agent, breathlessly. It wasn’t like her to be calling at this hour — heck, it wasn’t like any agent to be calling at this hour. As is well known, Hollywood observes strict business hours, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Pacific time, and if business can’t get done between those hours, it’s probably not worth doing. So this had to be big.
“This just might be your big chance so drop whatever it is you’re doing and fire up Final Draft, because we’ve got to hurry.”
I took this with a grain of salt. Hollywood is the land of hurry up and wait; everybody has to have everything yesterday, which means that all over this crazy town writers are even now tearing their hair out as they whip through spec drafts for their favorite producers while wondering how to make the rent — which, by the way, is too damn high. Then we turn in our work and wait months, if not years, to hear back. And, of course, the check is never in the mail.
So I was all ears. It ain’t cheap to maintain my lifestyle, even here in Echo Park, where we still march on May Day wearing red, speak Spanish to the help to show our solidarity with the coming Reconquista, and believe passionately in the innocence of the Rosenbergs, Alger Hiss, and Lindsay Lohan.
“You know what a hit Paramount has on their hands this weekend,” she said. “So I hear they’re crashing the next sequel and — amazingly — you’re on their short list of writers. You need to come up with a take, fast.”
Fast is my middle name. “When’s the bake-off?” I asked, “bake-off” being our inside-baseball, professional WGA members’ lingo for the parade of competing writers into an exec’s office, each one pitching his take on the project in question.
“This week,” she said. “ So hurry. And don’t screw this up, like you usually do. Remember — this is a straightforward popcorn tentpole movie that has to be in theaters next summer. Think teenage boy, which ought to be easy for you. In other words, girls, explosions, girls, explosions, more explosions, and girls. No moralizing. No social subtext. And absolutely no politics — unless, of course, you can help the Obama reelection effort. Got me?”
I got her. Leaping into action, I canceled the pizza delivery, ditched my doobie, shut down the phones, and fired up the computer.
And what do you know? In less than an hour, this is what I’d come up with. I’m showing it to you morons first, even before I send it to my agent, because I know that if the missing-gene brigade hates it, it’s a sure-fire, can’t-miss B. O. smash:
Transformers IV: The Quest for Fundamental Change — This Time, It’s Personal.
Act One: We open in Indonesia, where the quintessential outsider, BARRY SOETORO, thrills to the sound of the call to prayer, which as we all know is one of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset. But on this day, something special happens: following the sound of the muezzin’s voice, our hero wanders into a magical cave, wherein he spies a small airplane, a scale model of a 747 emblazoned with the Seal of the President of the United States.
Now, in addition to being devastatingly handsome, with a trim, athletic body that looks good in bathing trunks, Barry is also whip-smart, with an I.Q. that can’t be measured even by professors at Harvard. He’s also kind to children and cute kittens, blindingly well read, and fluent in more languages and dialects than Sir Richard Burton — who, as you know, was married twice to Liz Taylor, which is our way of signaling to the audience that Barry is Hollywood royalty in the making, even though, as befits a quest movie, he doesn’t know it yet.
At first, Barry is disappointed; he was so hoping for a lantern. But as he begins to play with the airplane, envisioning himself some day as commander in chief of the Indonesian armed forces, the plane suddenly expands and turns into . . .
. . . a super-cool giant robot that bears a striking resemblance to David Axelrod, right down to the sweaty comb-over and droopy mustache. This is LINGLATOR PRIME, the leader of the OBAMABOTS. “I have long awaited this moment, my son,” he says in a stentorian voice (we’ll get James Earl Jones for the v.o.) and is about to catch young Barry up in his protective mechanical embrace and fly him to greatness when all of a sudden . . .
Something wild happens, there’s an attack by flying monkeys or some such, led by another giant robot who is the spitting image of George W. Bush — IRREDENTOR, the leader of the evil DECEPTI-NEOCONS.
I’ll have to work on this a little, but the point is, there’s an obligatory action sequence with lots of explosions in the middle of which Barry meets Michelle (Megan Fox), who will make all this worthwhile. The combination of firepower and pulchritude will surely get Michael Bay to sign on as director and drive our budget north of $200 million. If you figure an A-list writer’s fee runs about 3 percent of the budget, that’s . . . almost enough for me to live on here in Los Angeles for a year!
Act Two: Linglator Prime turns into AIR FORCE ONE and Barry and Michelle fly off to Hawaii and take refuge in a place we’ll call “Punahou,” where the giant transformer schools him in the wily ways of men. Linglator teaches Barry all the tricks of the trade that he learned in a far-off place called Chicagoland, where nothing is ever quite what it seems. Amazingly, Michelle turns out to be from Chicago, too (what she was doing in Indonesia we’ll never know), and at night, when Linglator has turned back into a small 747, she guides him even deeper into the heart of the Machine, with a warning never to trust anybody from Chicagoland, including Obamabot transformers like “the Ballerina,” “Plouffie,” and “the Rezkomicon.”
Michelle points to the small toy airplane and confidently informs Barry that the real Air Force One is his destiny: for he is not Barry Soetoro, as he thought, but in reality His Serene Majesty the Emperor Barack Hussein Obama II, Lord of the Flies, Keeper of the Hoops, Master of the Greens, Bringer of Kinetic Military Action, Vacationer-in-Chief, Slayer of Osama, and Protector of the Holy Cities of Honolulu and Chicago. In other words, the Kwisatz Haderach of story and song and that David Lynch movie that wasn’t a patch on Eraserhead.
At that moment, the sneaky Decepti-Neocons launch a series of attacks — this is, after all, our second act, the “stuff in the middle,” where all the boring plot developments happen, the fireworks go off and the body count mounts. They send our heroes fleeing from Honolulu to top-secret Obamacon refuges like Occidental College in Los Angeles to Columbia University in Manhattan to Harvard Law in Cambridge, Mass. (Note to location scouts: Not Boston.) And yet the Decepti-Neocons, now commanded by the terrifying fembot, SARAHPALINATRIX, dog them every step of the way.
In fact, at one point, Sarahpalinatrix insinuates herself into the household as a Barbie doll and comes to young Barry in his sleep, whispering sweet nothings in his ear. She tries to get him to come over to the Decepti-Neocon Dark Side of personal freedom, economic prosperity, individual liberty, and other such wicked notions. He’s sorely tempted — this succubus is hot — but he’s rescued just in time by Michelle, who tells him it’s time to take out the trash and get the kids ready for the next family vacation.
And, as he wakes up he discovers that, somehow, he’s the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!
Act Three: In the third year of the reign of Obama II, the country is uneasy. Irredentor has been exiled to the vast wasteland known as “Texas,” and, thanks to “fundamental change,” the economy is in a shambles, millions are out of work, businesses are closing left and right, but all is well in the magic kingdom. Led by the MEDIASYCOPHANTS, a race of servile sub-robots whose only superpower is to transform themselves from objective reporters into Dickhalperins and back, the brainwashed populace cheerfully groans under the Obamabots’ beneficent yoke and begs for more.
On the electoral front, things are going well. TPAW and NEWTRON have blown themselves up, RONPAUL is too nutty to function, and WILLARDMITT keeps spinning in circles, hoovering up money but not posing much of a threat to the Empire.
Still, Sarahpalinatrix is somewhere on the loose in the wilds of Alaska. Another fembot, BACHMANNINOFF, has arisen in Minnesota, and there’s talk of them teaming up for a liberal misogynist’s nightmare. Worst of all, there’s talk of a new Decepti-Neocon being assembled somewhere deep in the heart of “Texas,” a place that makes Mordor look like the Riviera.
Sitting on the throne, the Emperor Hussein summons the Grand Vizier, Linglator Prime. “I thought you told me everything was jake, Jake,” he says, but the mighty Obamabot merely shakes his head.
“You have much to learn, my son,” he says. “Nobody ever said fundamental transformation was going to be easy, even for a Transformer.”
“You did,” says Barry, bitterly.
“Destiny’s a bitch,” comes the reply.
At that moment, the Resolute desk suddenly bursts asunder and transforms itself into a terrifying new weapon in the eternal war of the ’bots: GOVRICKPERRY. “Howdy,” he says, zapping Linglator Prime and moving menacingly toward Barry…
And if that isn’t the most terrifying end to a major motion picture you’ll see in the next year or so, I don’t know what is.
— David Kahane is already cashing the check, counting the residuals, and planning the next sequel on this one. You can tell him how much you’re looking forward to Transformers IVby writing to him at email@example.com. Just be sure to say you loved Rules for Radical Conservatives.