"The Critic"--The Live-Action Movie TREATMENT
My treatment of a film based on the underrated 90's gem, and companion piece to my fancast of "The Critic".
(Disclaimer: this fanfic/fancast counts because Jay Sherman appeared on The Simpsons, who have their own comic series, and because the TV show "The Critic" parodied a number of films/television shows that have had comic books, including Alien, Godzilla, Jurassic Park, and Star Trek. Also, I do apologize if this is a tad long.)
A year or so ago, many of you probably saw my fancast for a live-action movie based on one of my new favorite TV shows, the under-appreciated gem from the mid-1990's known as "The Critic". To refresh your memory, here is the link to it: http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fan_fic/news/?a=48896
For a refresher of what "The Critic" is about, it aired on ABC and FOX from 1995-97. The series revolved around the daily life of Jay Sherman, a 36 year-old film critic who is the host of the cable tv show 'Coming Attractions', in which he reviews the latest films to come out of Hollywood--almost all of them, in his words, "stink". My film, as per the fancast, would've featured the following actors in these roles (with some characters' ages adjusted to fit more with my idea):
-Jason Alexander as Jay Sherman, the star of our show, a film critic and host of the show "Coming Attractions"
-Robert Redford as Duke Phillips, Jay's billionaire boss and owner of Phillips Broadcasting, which airs "Coming Attractions"
-Betty White as Doris Grossman, Jay's makeup lady
-Reese Witherspoon (in a cameo) as Jennifer, Doris's assistant (she was a character from the "Critic" webtoons made in 2000)
-Hugh Jackman as Jeremy Hawke, a hunky Australian actor who's Jay's best friend, and star of the controversial "Crocodile Ghandi" films.
-Steve Buscemi as Vlada Veramirovich, the Eastern European owner of the restaraunt Jay and Jeremy frequent, "L'Ane Riche"
-Clark Duke as Marty Sherman, Jay's son
-Holly Hunter as Ardeth, Jay's ex-wife who frequently reminds him of his alimony
-Emma Roberts as Margo Sherman, Jay's younger adoptive sister
-Dick Van Dyke and Meryl Streep as Franklin and Eleanor Sherman, Jay's WASPy adoptive parents
-Lauren Graham as Alice Tompkins, a single mother from Tennessee who becomes Jay's personal assistant at the studio and later his girlfriend
-Abigail Breslin as Penny, Alice's daughter
Plus cameos from Michael Caine as the Sherman's butler, Shackleford; Laurence Fishburne as principal Mangosuthu, the head of the UN school where Marty attends (it's high school-level in my take); Jason Isaacs as the Devil in a couple of gags; and Angus McFayden reprising Orson Welles for a couple of gags.
Now, while I presented a basic fancast, I felt I should've at least presented an idea of how the film would actually play out. So, this is pretty much my first 'treatment' on this site. So now, ladies and gentlemen, I give you my film treatment of
The film is divided into three acts, each based upon an episode from the series, expanded a bit and merged into a cohesive movie.
The film's intro would be similar to the opener for the show (sans the twin towers, of course), only after Jay's toupee is yanked off of him by a pigeon, it shows him going to work, taking us on a scenic view of New York (a la Woody Allen's "Manhattan"). The music used would even be the same:
The intro ends with him getting to his dressing room, where he gets prepped by Doris (Betty White) and Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) for the day's episode.
This is based on the very first episode of "The Critic", where we're introduced to Jay, his family, friends and co-workers. Jay (Jason Alexander) opens his show with reviews of the latest films--"Fast and the Furious: Antarctic Drift", starring Vin Diesel and Tyrese Gibson, racing snow cats on the Antarctic shelf; "She Never Told Me She Was A Mime", the directorial debut of "Weird Al" Yankovic starring Zach Braff and Anne Hathaway; and Clint Eastwood's long-awaited return to Dirty Harry with "Dodge Magnum Force", where his character is partnered with a chair who drives a Dodge Magnum. Jay, like clockwork, eviscerates each movie, be it with his "Shermometer" or his list of diseases he'd rather catch than see that movie. During a commercial break, Duke Phillips (Robert Redford) pops in to let Jay know that he wants him to review a new movie called "Kiss of Death", starring Valerie Fox (Christina Hendricks), a Sharon Stone-esque actress. Fox herself comes by to convince Jay to do so, and tells him that she likes him. While speaking with his friend, Aussie actor Jeremy Hawke (Hugh Jackman), about this blossoming romance, Jeremy warns him about two things he learned in show business: never marry an actress, and never perform 'black face' at the NAACP Image Awards. Jay then brings Valerie to meet his family, made up of his adoptive parents, Eleanor (Meryl Streep) and the eccentric Franklin (Dick Van Dyke), and his younger sister Margo (Emma Roberts). Margo takes Valerie horseback riding, and while they're on the trail, Margo reveals that she brought Val all the way out there to see if she really did love Jay, or was just putting him on to get a good review for her movie. Jay himself begins to have doubts about this relationship as well, feeling things will go south if he gives her movie a bad review. He becomes more nervous when he receives the film in the mail. At first, he decides to not view it, but claim he did see it. Eventually, his 'duty' as a critic gets the better of him, and he sees the movie on his own. (It's basically a send-up of "Basic Instinct" and the like.) That morning, before going on the air to review the movie, he leaves Valerie a note, saying he hopes that she'll still be at his apartment waiting for him even if he gives her a bad review. On the air, he digs his claws into the film, saying that Valerie's performance just wasn't up to par. When he returns to the apartment later that day, Jay is surprised and relieved to see Valerie still there. Just as he's about to breathe a sigh of relief, Valerie slaps and berates him, showing her true colors. She then leaves for LA the next day. That night, as Jay and Marty (Clark Duke) watch a Seinfeld rerun, Jay bemoans how used he feels. Noticing something in Jay's mail, Marty picks it up and immediately knows what will cheer his dad up:
Jay-"I'm sitting on a volcano of rage, and I don't know where to vent it."
Marty-"Huh, whaddaya know, there's a critic's screening of the new Channing Tatum movie tonight..."
Jay (curious)-"What's it about?"
Marty-"He plays a concert cellist who-"
Jay-"TO THE MULTIPLEX!!!"
In this third of the film:
Christina Hendricks as Valerie Fox (role originated vocally by Jennifer Lien)
I picked Hendricks to play her because of her action-genre experience (Firefly, anyone?), and thought she'd have fun sending up the type of roles Sharon Stone used to play. (Fox kind of looks like Hendricks, now that I think about it...)
Act 2 (based on the season 2 opener "Sherman, Woman and Child")
A few weeks later, Jay is leaving the Phillips Broadcasting building (after having reviewed "Thundercats: The Movie", "Silent Hill: Things Get LOUD", and Jack Nicholson in "Wolf 2: The Cubs are All Right"), and it's raining. He calls for a cab, and before getting in, he notices a woman, Alice Tompkins (Lauren Graham), and her daughter Penny (Abigail Breslin), umbrella-less, carrying their groceries on the sidewalk. Feeling sorry for them, Jay offers to share the cab (after she accidentally pepper-sprays him, though it is shown he's got an immunity to it and even tastes jalapeno). Alice and Penny notice his face from the occasional glimpses of "Coming Attractions" they've seen on TV, and Jay replies how he used to have a show on ABC "for about a week". Alice introduces herself and Penny to Jay. Penny noted how Jay didn't like "Monsters Inc.", which was her favorite film when she was little; she then gives him a slight punch in the nose.
Jay-"It's all right, Rex Reed did the same thing."
Penny-"Sorry. Had a bit of a grudge, I guess."
Jay-"Aw. Rex said the same thing, too."
Alice invites Jay to come in to their apartment for a cup of coffee. He accepts, and when they get in the place, he accidentally knocks himself out on one of the hanging ferns on her ceiling. After awakening, they talk for a bit, and Alice tells Jay about her ex-husband, a country singer named Cyrus (a spoof of Billy Ray Cyrus), and how they broke up after she found out he was cheating on her.
Alice-"It was in his songs: 'My Lyin' Heart', 'Be Steppin' Out', and his album, 'I'm Being Unfaithful to my wife, Alice Tompkins. You Heard Me, Alice Tompkins'."
Alice then tells Jay about why she and Penny came to New York, and how she's always hoping opportunity will one day come knocking. Just then, answering a knock on her door, her superintendent delivers her the news that she's being evicted. Jay tells Alice that if she needs anything, she should call him. The next day, Jay asks Doris what he should do, when Duke chimes in on the conversation:
When Jay tries to do it the next day (and ends up slipping it under the wrong door, which belongs to a disgruntled postman, played by Kevin Costner in a cameo), Alice berates him, saying she doesn't want charity, that her father gave her one thing--his pride. Jay then offers Alice something else: a job as his personal assistant. Alice takes the job, and soon, things begin looking up for Jay with regards to his show. Later that night, while speaking with Jeremy at L'Ane Riche, Jeremy convinces Jay to tell Alice he loves her, after Jay begins to ramble about how lovely she is. When he arrives at the apartment, he finds Alice with Cyrus (George Strait), who thanks Jay for helping Alice and Penny. The next evening, while attending a critic's screening of "Dennis the Menace in High School", starring Angus T. Jones from Two and A Half Men, Jay asks Alice why she'd go back to someone who treated her like dirt before. Alice reveals that she's got a weakness for Cyrus's singing:
Alice-"And I melt like butter on a bagel (God, I've been in New York too long!)."
Jay begins thinking to himself of what he should do. Later that night, Alice tells Cyrus that she can't risk herself being hurt again, so she tells him to see Penny off and go, so they can both move on. Seemingly agreeing, Cyrus begins to walk out, and then starts singing and playing his guitar. Jay then pops in, accordion in hand, trying his best to out-sing Cyrus. Jay then makes a compelling argument, one that convinces Alice to overcome her weakness for Cyrus's singing and boot him out. She and Jay then become a couple as act 2 ends.
In this third of the film:
George Strait as Cyrus Tompkins (role originated vocally by Sam McMurray)
I almost thought of using Billy Ray Cyrus, but then decided that would be too obvious, so I went with another country singer who's dabbled in film (Pure Country).
Act 3 (based on the season 1 episode "Eyes on the Prize"
"Coming Attractions" reaches its 1000th episode, so a special is done. Things go awry for Jay, however, when his headlining guest, Diane Keaton, cancels at the last minute, with the replacement being Barbara Eden (as herself). The show tanks in the ratings as a result. At the reception celebrating the milestone, there is little to no attendance other than Jay, Alice, Penny, and Marty (the banner even is a "Congratulations Pee Wee Herman" modified for Jay). Duke shows up, commenting how at one time, the venue (The Drunk N' Drive Inn) would've been a third full:
Jay-"Well, I'll tell you why this happens: you've made me compromise my integrity so many times, people think I'm a joke."
Duke-"While you bring up a good point, Jay--SHUT UP."
Jay-"Sir, yes sir!"
Duke then shows footage from past episodes brought together showing how Jay is starting to repeat himself (to Jay's surprise)--"Bottom line, son, your show's in serious trouble". (At that point, a woman (Gail Matthius), mistaking Jay for Bobby Sherman, pops in and asks him to sing the theme song from "Here Come the Brides".) Speaking with Jeremy the next afternoon at L'Ane Riche, Jeremy gives Jay the business card of a personal image consultant he once worked with, Adolph Hitmaker (Jean-Claude Van Damme), saying it may help him get his show out of the rut it's (and to an extent, he's) in. Jay sees Hitmaker:
AH-"Hmmm, what to do, what to do, where TO begin..."
Jay (despondent)-"I know, you're going to tell me to lose weight..."
AH-"Don't you dare! If you want the world to love you, you must be BIG and JOLLY, like Santa Claus, or Rush Limbaugh!"
Jay-"You mean I can eat whatever I want? Wow!...Wait, you're not some quack, are you?"
AH-"A QUACK? Could a quack have escaped from a mental hospital in the Phillipines? I-don't-think-soooo."
Jay, over the next few days, (and in the movie, this would be done with a fat-suit) becomes more rotund. (A bunch of frat boys watching this remark "Whoa, check it out--Ebert ate Roeper!") Alice makes Jay see that this isn't working, so Jay goes to get a BIG liposuction. Meanwhile, things get worse for the show, as Jay finds that Duke got rid of Jay's director's chair, citing how they're cutting back after losing three more sponsors. Duke gives Jay an ultimatum to come up with some "better material". Jay tries to come up with some new material in his office while naked, feeling that it helps him think (he cites how Ernest Hemingway wrote while standing up, or how Agatha Christie would write while in the tub eating apples). Duke then shows up to fire Jay, who tries to get him to give him another chance (a tabloid photographer happens by and snaps a quick one). Duke tells him to get out, and as an incentive, throws Jay's clothes out the window. The next day, Jay goes to his agent, Bernie Wasserman (a sleazy, balding, 5-o'clock-shadowed, forgetful agent), to find another job. (He mistakes him at first for the Pat character from SNL and then Stubby Kaye. Jay, angered, by this, reminds Bernie that he stuck by him when everyone called Bernie a sleazy, incompetent leech.) Bernie (Sylvester Stallone) offers him one job, but tells Jay it might be beneath him. Undaunted, Jay accepts the job: teaching English on an early-morning cable show called "English for Cab Drivers". ("I'll take it! Believe me, I'm at the end of my rope! Waitaminute, it's not on FOX, is it?" "No." "I'll take it!") That night, Jay unearths his student film from his days at the New York Film School, and shows it to Marty, Alice, Penny, Margo, and Jeremy. He hopes this film will reawaken the reason why he got into film in the first place. The film ends with everyone, including Jay himself, admitting that it stunk. The next day, Jay goes to his aforementioned Alma mater to meet with his old teacher, a Professor Blowhard (Adam West, also mistaking Jay for Stubby Kaye), who is currently giving a lecture about the later works of Orson Welles (Angus McFayden):
Jay tells the Professor that he came for guidance:
Prof-"Jay, you weren't meant to create, you were meant to tear apart!"
Prof-"You were born to nitpick what others poured their hearts and souls into!"
Jay-"I shall! I shall!"
Prof-"Be a truth-teller!"
Jay-"I will, you pompous windbag!"
Prof-"Learn from this man, class, we should all learn to be independent thinkers!"
Entire Class (repeating all at once in monotone)-"Be an independent thinker."
Jay decides that in order to regain his prestige, he must win another Pulitzer prize. He begins working on an essay: two of his working subjects are "Chaplin, Polanski, and Woody: Three Men and a Little Lady" and "Gibson, Sheen, and Cage: Great Hollywood Cautionary Tales". In a scene parodying "The Shining", Alice and Marty pop in to see if Jay is okay, and when they see all the sheets of paper with "All Work and No Play Make Jay a Dull Boy.", they convince him to get some sleep, worried that he might go nuts. Jay does so, as do Marty, Alice, and Penny. Jay, in the middle of the night, gets up and takes a walk around the theater district of Manhattan. He ends up in a movie house showing a new film, Zac Efron and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a remake of "Gone with the Wind". While there, in a scene spoofing the pep talk scene from "Airplane!", a fellow moviegoer (Jon Lovitz in a very important cameo role) tells Jay to look no further than the film they're seeing to get inspiration. Having found it at last, Jay rushes back to the apartment and gets to work. The next morning, Jay appears on TV. Alice, Marty, and Penny end up tuning in to that channel, thanks to a note Jay left. Duke ends up watching it because of an email Jay sent, as do Jay's parents. Jay, in a parody of the climax of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", explains that instead of teaching his class how to say "He was already dead when I hit him", he's going to read his essay "The Sorry State of Films Today", which also includes a slideshow accompanying him. "Tomorrow, this essay will appear in every major newspaper and news website in America, but I'll reach more people by reading it on this low-rent, early morning cable TV show":
(The film producer in that scene, in my film, is a cameo by Michael Bay. The Pulitzer committee members are cameos by original series voice actors Maurice Lamarche (Jeremy), Gerrit Graham (Franklin), Nancy Cartwright (Margo), Tress MacNeille (Humphrey the Hippo, etc.), along with Sandra Oh and Phil Morris. Instead of Schwarzenegger, the actor is Jason Statham.)
All who are watching this broadcast are astonished by the essay, and Jay is nominated for the Pulitzer for best criticism. At the ceremony, hosted by Jimmy Breslin (as himself), Jay is declared the winner, and he accepts the prize. All in attendance cheer for him. Returning to his apartment afterwards, Jay is astonished to find Duke already there, having literally walked through the wall (a la Terminator). Duke explains that he's here to "swallow his pride, admit I was wrong, and beg you to come back to work for me again." Jay agrees to do so, on his own terms. Duke tells him he needs Jay's program to balance out his other pet project, "Survivor: Candyland". Jay gets his show back, ratings improve, and he and Alice get engaged. Ardeth isn't too happy with that.
In this third of the film:
Jean-Claude Van Damme as Adolph Hitmaker (role originated by Phil Hartman)
I put Van Damme in as a nod to a parody of him that was in a season two episode of The Critic. I thought he would be funny in this cameo. The same applies to the next guy...
Sylvester Stallone (with makeup) as Bernie Wasserman (role originated by Phil Hartman)
Stallone was the butt of many jokes on The Critic (and one of the subjects of Jay Sherman's ire), so I thought it would be so fitting to have him in a cameo in a movie based on The Critic.
Adam West as Professor Blowhard (role originated by Phil Hartman)
West actually guest-starred in "Eyes on the Prize" (Jay was going to have Meryl Streep guest on his 1000th show, but she cancelled and West was tapped to replace her), so I thought it would be funny to have him play Jay's former mentor (it'd also be the first time we hear West use a German accent).
*All celebrities I mentioned would cameo in those film 'clips', and there would be cameos from real-life critics Rex Reed, Gene Shalit, and Roger Ebert.
And that is my "Critic" film treatment, with bonus fancast! Hope you like this little addendum to my previous "Critic" fancast, and now ladies and gentlemen, for taking the time to view this--SOME OF THE MOVIE PARODIES OF "THE CRITIC":
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