Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
I love USED CARS. I love WILL FERRELL. Combine the two, and I will positively burst from glee.
Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Adam Sandler... WILL FERRELL. The torch has been passed. He’s the next great Hollywood comedic icon. Hell, Will Ferrell is the next Michael Jordan.
It bugs the crap out of me when people say stuff like that. No one is sure of anything yet. You can predict it all you want but no one can be absolutely certain about future... unless, of course, you’ve read a screenplay called AUGUST BLOW OUT. Will Ferrell is on the verge of being on the verge of absolute greatness. And after ANCHORMAN you can knock off the first verge. Icon-status is within Ferrell’s grasp if he so desires. His road is already paved should he choose to walk it... his destiny written in the script known as August Blow Out… his Oz, his balancing of the Force, his Zihuatanejo, Mexico, his official Red Rider carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and "this thing" that tells time. August Blow Out is the script that, if done right (there’s those dreaded three words) will place Will Ferrell in a category all his own… the category of One of the Funniest Damn Things in the History of Man, Ever. Because that’s what August Blow Out has the potential of being. We have the foresight now. Something must be done. It’s up to us to ensure that this fate is met. And so it is here that I begin...
August Blow Out is a screenplay written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (former head writer at "Saturday Night Live"), the same writing duo behind the upcoming Anchorman this July (which is also McKay’s directorial debut). The date of the draft I read is March 3, 2000 (revised), which means it was written well before Anchorman... which is also what scares me. Now, I understand the workings of Hollywood and that just because one project was written before the other, with the later one being made first, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll never see the former. For whatever insane reason August Blow Out wasn’t made first, be it money, some kind of stupid rights issue, or hopefully just Ferrell and McKay simply pleasure delaying and saving it for later - whatever the reason, I hope it’s a good one. Because if this movie was passed on for such ridiculousness as not meeting a certain market or demographic or it’s too this or too that, well then that, my friend, is a true American tragedy (in the world of movies, of course). This review is my plea for the powers that be to get this sucker made. It would be more than worth it. Do whatever it takes. Bring it.
August Blow Out refers to the time of the year when car prices are slashed to make way for next year’s models. The time of year that car salesmen everywhere seem to relish. The time of the year when sales records are set... and some are broken. JEFF TANNER is one of those salesmen, THE car salesman to end all car salesmen, and the record is his. August Blow Out is what he his lives for. He is the king. Picture Tanner as the aviator-wearing, mustache-growing, Burt Reynolds gum-chomping, hard-nosed type of no nonsense tough guy. Now picture Will Ferrell playing him and you understand why he was born to play this character. He has an obsession with the movie Top Gun (which is referenced to quite often throughout the script, from Tanner’s quoting it to the cars being pushed into position on the lot like fighter planes), every CD in his collection is Boston’s first album, and his continuous reading of books such as Anthony Robbins’ The Road to Excellence shows exactly what kind of mind-set this guy has and how seriously he takes his job. But no one can describe Tanner better than Tanner himself as he addresses the audience on the first page of the script, standing on the hood of his car, stuck in bumper-to bumper traffic in Southern California as he peers out at the amount of traffic he has left to endure on his way to work...
Hi, I’m Jeff Tanner and I sell cars. The only thing I love more than a finely crafted American automobile is the hot rush of adrenaline I get from selling one... Meet my car: the Ford Explorer. It’s rugged, sexy and American... like me... And just like this bad boy, Jeff Tanner is fully tricked out with all the features... I come with a confident handshake, an outstanding ass, a saddle in my bedroom, and except for some screw up by JC Penny’s, a near spotless credit report. And guess what? That’s all standard... For Jeff Tanner life is all about three things; speed, steel and gas. You think cheetahs are fast? Fuck cheetahs. My speed is American made. I’ll be honest. I’m hard right now.
And with that he gets back in his car and peels off onto the shoulder of the freeway toward PARADISE FORD, one of the top ten selling car dealerships in the country... his kingdom, where the anticipation is at an all time high. It’s the day before August Blow Out.
It’s here that we meet the other salesmen who are featured quite prominently throughout the script and pretty much worship the ground Tanner walks on. As each of the salesman are introduced, they are presented as a freeze frame photo like a baseball card, complete with statistics on the side showing weight, height, number of years selling cars, quota percentages, etc. There’s...
- GIL MCMICHAEL, the slightly balding, quietly authoritative sales manager...
- RICKY WILSON, the cool looking African American who is never without his signature greeting, a double karate chop ending in a “gotcha” point...
- BRAD STACEY, well dressed and always smoking cheap cigarettes...
- TATE GLEEMAN, the 61-year old weed-smoking, hippie-esque dirty old man...
- LARRY VINCENT, the cat-obsessed, cat-loving mamma’s boy type...
- CRAIG DONAHUE, the new guy who just can’t seem to do anything right...
- and A.J. PHILLIPS, the militant owner of the dealership who is, well...
Eighty... two. I am eighty-two years old! I was born in 1918! Every morning when I wake up I flex and then grunt “Don’t age!!!!” It’s about will and determination. My wife has posed for hustler. I promise you she is better than anything any of you have ever had. Our bedroom is wallpapered with pictures from the Kama Sutra and we make each other smile nightly. My wife and I adopted three twenty year old Korean sons. Why? Because we didn’t want to waste time raising them! They were raised by street gangs in the ghettos of Seoul. And someday they will fight each other to determine who will run this dealership when I am gone.
This guy is priceless. Heck, all these characters have the chance of being truly unforgettable. Their interactions with each other couldn’t be any better. From Tate always bugging the new guy for weed money or Larry and his constant calling his cats at home and leaving messages for them, Ferrell and McKay have done a superb job creating hilarious, differing personalities that mesh with each other perfectly. Each character has his own little quirks but they’re all united in their passion for selling cars... and their hatred of Saturns as well. And to me, that is funny. Very funny. And I don’t know why. That’s what makes Ferrell’s humor and this script so great. They make fun of those little things in life that you can’t explain why they’re funny, they just are. It’s the kind of funny you relate to because you didn’t think anyone else knew about it or paid any attention to it. But Will Ferrell does. He knows.
Once August Blow Out kicks off, we really see why Tanner is a living legend. He’s relentless. Making a sale any way he can, he tricks, forces, and inspires the customers into buying new cars. We are even treated to a fantasy sequence commercial reality that involves Tanner taking a couple by the hand and asking them to close their eyes and imagine what he describes... which I’ll say involves Tanner with a shaggy beard, a German shepherd, and some bear wrestling, among other things, that would put any Jeep or Chevy commercial to shame. And once the fantasy sequence ends we are shown what may be one of the funniest sight gags I can think of in a comedy to date. Just, yeah.
All goes well on the first day of sales, so to celebrate the gang heads to none other than... ANAHEIM; We see a glory montage of Anaheim. The city is treated like it’s New York or Paris: The convention center, a Days Inn, a strip mall, a shuttle bus, Angels’ stadium “Former Home of the Rams,” a La Quinta Inn... a Denny’s, a Holiday Inn, another Denny’s, a Blockbuster Video... You get the picture. This all, of course, is shown while Tanner is singing an overly dramatic sincere Neil Diamond-type original song about wanting to make love to the city. It’s great.
As for the rest of thee plot, without giving too much away, August Blow Out is essentially the story of Tanner trying to break his previous record of cars sold during the famed month. However, as fate would have it, Tanner hits a selling slump that pretty much triggers an emotional train wreck, affecting just about every aspect of his life, leaving him completely dejected. And if that wasn’t enough, RANDY EVANMEYER, the Alec Baldwin-type mercenary --
What’s a mercenary?
It’s a professional car salesman with no allegiance to any dealership. Some call them freelancers. I call them filthy rats.
-- is brought in to the dealership to make up for the lacking quota caused by Tanner’s slump. This story wouldn’t be anything without a Randy. He’s the perfect ying to Tanner’s yang (I can’t believe I just said that). He’s the antagonist that breaks Tanner down bit by bit as no one has done before. He’s unstoppable.
Trust me... I’ve heard of this guy. He used to operate out of Santa Monica. Legend has it, he sold O.J. The White Bronco.
That’s heavy shit.
Randy threatens to take the record from Tanner, and if that’s not enough, Tanner also has issues with his ex-wife and is trying desperately to connect with his 9-year old son, MATT, while at the same time attempting to reconcile with his own overbearing, Bible-selling DAD. So it’s up to Jeff to get his life back on track and reclaim his crown.
In the same way that Jaws made people scared to go in the water and Office Space made daily office tasks seem that much more tedious, August Blow Out gives car dealerships this newly found quasi bizarre/comical aura about them (if that makes any sense). A few days after I finished reading the script I was running errands with a friend of mine who had to go by a local car dealership for whatever reason and I swear to you it was just surreal. I don’t know what it was but it all just felt different: the way the salesman were dressed, the huge balloon-man football player thing on the roof, the goofy skinny guy with the cigarette and trucker hat hosing down a nearby car. I kept expecting Ferrell and Alec Baldwin (who HAS TO play Randy) to start harassing me any second. The atmosphere of Paradise Ford is so right on the money. The streamers, each salesman’s cubicle, the car brochers, the coffee pot, the hosing down of cars, the huge inflatable gorilla that slightly deflates every time Tanner reaches a new low in his slump… it’s all there. And it’s all made funny. They even have “Free bench press for kids under twelve!” day as a sales promotion. Yes I know, funny.
I wish I could go on and on. There is so much more this script has to offer, so many more perfectly-crafted funny-as-hell scenes. I haven’t even scratched the surface. But this is where I must leave it. I’m simply just trying to get this script known, to make people aware of its greatness, its potential. And while it does have its flaws (like sagging somewhat with the ending), when I finished reading August Blow Out, after I turned the last page, it was hands down the funniest thing I had ever read. Not the funniest script, but the single funniest thing I had ever read. There have been scripts where I’ve laughed out loud while reading them, but this was different. I was by myself, actually laughing out loud in that extremely hard kind of way, like the time in high school when my friends and I would throw tennis balls at cars at night from the Country Club golf course dressed in camo, running from the cops when Micah got stuck on the fence hanging by his pants trying to jump form the top of the port-a-potty. We were idiots then, but that’s neither here nor there. Fact is, this script must get made. Paramount, if you still own the rights to it, give us a sign. Show us that there is still hope out there. Make this movie. Do what must be done. Allow Jeff Tanner to defend his record. And allow Will Ferrell to cross that second verge into absolute iconic greatness. And most importantly... remember that cars are faster than humans.
All the best,
- THAT GUY
Thanks, man. Excellent write-up.