Cinco and Ken's Way to Put Off Actually Writing

Monday, March 27, 2006

Bubble Boy

Cinco here. Eventually Ken will post something. Maybe. Anyway, I was going to write a little bit about Bubble Boy. It's the second script we wrote together. We sold it in '99 as a pitch to Disney. The idea originated with the producer Beau Flynn. As soon as we heard it we loved it. We pitched it to Disney execs Todd Garner and Mark Vahradian. Vahradian loved it instantly, but Todd took some selling. However, he eventually relented.

Then we had a creative meeting with Garner. His issue: the bubble. That's right. The bubble. We had to find a way to get our hero out of the bubble as soon as possible. We attempted to explain that the whole point was that he was in the bubble, thus the title. Todd said no actor would want to spend the whole movie inside a plastic bubble, and wanted him out by the time the second act started. We begged and pleaded and got Todd to accept that maybe the midpoint was better. We couldn't understand what was supposed to happen when he was outside of the bubble. Todd suggested that he be a germophobe, constantly spraying Lysol over everything, and that he could really start experiencing life. For instance, by eating spicy foods.

What could we do? We wrote it that way. The first act remained pretty much the same through all drafts and even through production. In our version Act II began on a city bus, not a bus belonging to a cult (the cult idea was Michael Kalesniko's--although the idea of Gil and everyone being named Todd and Lorraine and most of the dialogue was ours). Slim the motorcycle guy was in the first draft and never really changed (except making him Hispanic once Danny Trejo was cast). Vegas was added much later. The freaks and the freak train, including Dr. Phreak, were in the original draft, although all of that dialogue got rewritten. The stupid town that thought immunities were contagious and tried to kill Jimmy was in the first draft.

The Indian ice cream man was, I believe, a Todd Garner suggestion after the first draft was delivered. We had him accidentally kill a cow, and took it from there. We also made it an "Ice Cream & Curry" truck. Sequences which got cut: Bubble Boy helps a girl win a karaoke contest...Bubble Boy helps a loser kid named Louis become cool at a birthday party...Bubble Boy escapes an attempted seduction by two obese sisters when they rescue him from a freezer car.

Pappy and Pippy were our creation. I can still remember the moment we came up with that scene, having Jimmy say "Pappy!" over and over as he realized Pappy was dead, cracking each other up.

I have to say, the original draft was more thematically cohesive. I know that sounds nuts, since most people think of Bubble Boy as a stupid movie, but at one point it was smarter. Really.

Anyway, Michael Kalesniko was hired to rewrite our script, and his biggest contribution was to make it more of a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World story--we had Jimmy meet people and leave them behind. Kalesniko turned it into an expanding chase. After the movie was greenlit we were brought back on, and rewrote the script, bringing stuff back, creating new stuff, but keeping the idea of the expanding chase. It led to a lot of fun stuff--like the decision to make Jimmy's mom Slim's Wildfire, one of (in my opinion) the funniest moments in the movie. Kalesniko also was able to convince Disney to keep Jimmy in the bubble all the way through the movie, the way he was in our first treatment.

But at some point the director Blair Hayes decided he was a writer and started to rewrite all of the scenes. This was halfway through the shoot, right around where Jimmy meets the freaks. He dumped all of our dialogue and wrote his own. That scene ended up having to be completely re-shot. You get the idea. The script and story started to fall apart. I feel like Blair did a great job with the first 30 minutes, but once he started rewriting Act II (although there were still good jokes here and there) the movie kind of fell apart. Act III he left alone, and I think it holds up pretty well.

Okay, that's enough for now. There's so much more to tell. Ken...?


  • Babe, love the concept, but instead of an immune-deficiency-wracked, sexually thwarted boy of the suburbs, how about making it about some young adults in the city who talk about their jobs and relationships?

    By Blogger texasyank, at 9:41 PM  

  • By the way, texasyank equals Joe.

    By Blogger Joe McDade, at 10:52 PM  

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