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Culture: Movie: Derived Work
SCU-B2   (+5, -1)  [vote for, against]
Film idea for a new take on familiar characters

Dreamworks, in association with Hanna Barbera and Castle Rock Productions, presents:


In the small community of Endicott, Texas, 60 miles northwest of Austin, something is happening. First, there was the disappearance of Chester McNair's (James Cromwell) horse, then Gary Tremaine's (Miguel Ferrer) two hunting dogs went missing. And out on Route 55, Sherriff Parker (Dan Hedaya) discovered the remains of a pig, whose body had been ripped in half, with one half lying 60 feet from the other. And now, Frank Baker (David Morse) has discovered the carcasses three of his goats hanging from the fence posts around his field, each one eviscerated and drained of blood. What is causing these incidents? Is it some natural force, a prankster, a disgruntled local, or is it an unknown force of evil?

Through mutual contacts, Sherriff Parker has been directed to MYSTERY, a group of investigators based in St. Louis, and has asked if they will come into investigate and help solve the puzzle.

MYSTERY is headed by Fred Mulholland (Nicolas Cage), a former FBI special agent who now works as a private investigator. He is able to get his hands on some FBI secret information and files with the help of his old partner, still in the force, Special Agent Jim Abraham (William H. Macy), who often goes out on a wire to help his friend.

An interest in paranormal investigation led him to form the MYSTERY group, a collection of like-minded people from different walks of life.

As well as Fred, MYSTERY consists of Daphne Leshko (Renee Zellweger), assistant professor of psychology at Webster University. Her strong interest in parapsychology has led her to get involved with two amateur paranormal investigators, "ghost hunters", (John Leguizamo, Philip Seymour Hoffman) who check out haunted houses in the St. Louis area.

Velma Desmond (Angela Bassett) is a computer security consultant with a major technology firm. She is able to use all of her extensive technical and intellectual knowledge to help solve MYSTERY's case load. She considers herself to be psychic-aware to some degree, she believes she can feel presences in areas of unknown activity. She attributes this gift to her childhood, growing up in a home where paranormal activity was not uncommon.

The last member of the group is Dr. David Bergman (Billy Bob Thornton), who heads up the advanced robotics division at GenTech, a biotechnology company. Bergman (called "Shaggy" by his friends as a sarcastic joke, in reference to his unkempt beard) has been working on a couple of pet projects, literally. One in particular is Synthetic Canine Unit - Bergman Project 2 (called SCU-B2 by the crew), a robotic dog-like device equipped with a low level neural net based artificial intelligence (voiced by Edward Norton). SCU-B2 was engineered for use in special circumstances too dangerous for humans, such as explosive detonation, front line enemy detection, and disaster rescue and recovery. It features several improvements over the original SCU-B1 prototype, which unfortunately did not survive the explosive detonation tests.

SCU-B2 is equipped with an array of sensor devices (infrared, night vision) and is able to process data and report it to human assistants using voice synthesis. It can also receive commands using speech recognition, once properly trained to the operator's voice. SCU-B2 will also be fitted with some small defensive weaponry once safety tests are completed.

Together they form MYSTERY, and in their two black Lexus RX-300's (with Missouri plates reading MSTRY1 and MSTRY2), they will travel to Endicott to uncover the truth. Bergman decides to bring SCU-B2 along for field testing. As the group investigates the Endicott mystery, their search will take them on a journey into intrigue, suspense and terror. What does the underground group dealing in black market weapons have to do with events? What does Frank Baker know about Gary Tremaine that he's keeping to himself? What do Chester McNair's ties to organized crime really mean for the town? Are these leads connected? Or is the answer something more evil? And will the group discover the real reason why Fred left the FBI?

The film opens with a intro montage of each main character at their 'day' jobs: Fred on a dumb investigation (maybe watching a cheating husband); Daphne leaving college to check out haunting with two co-workers - which turns out to have been some really silly thing all the time; Velma at work tackling a network virus problem (which she handles easily); Shaggy Bergman in testing the SCU-B2 - the dog is in rough shape, not all systems are functioning properly (a defect in the voice synthesis code is causing the speech unit to pronounce words with the R sound at the beginning; servos controlling limb and head movement are quite noisy; a number of other problems, most of which are solved [including the voice problem] as the film progresses, except for one troublesome intermittent malfunction with an important part of the unit, which, later in the film when SCU-B2 is about to perform an act that will save the group against some great life- threatening danger, creates suspense waiting to see if it fails again. Through further enhancements and testing, SCU-B2 will also become more sleek looking and less 'unfinished', and servos will quiet to silent as the movie progresses. About 2/3 into the film, the SCU-B2 will be in its completed form.

Plot points which must occur: The above mentioned one involving SCU-B2 saving the group against great danger - perhaps near the climax of the film, and the dog will sustain great damage from the event, perhaps even shutting it down; Daphne must be 'kidnapped' or somehow detained in such a manner that the group cannot find her: Velma must lose her glasses at an inopportune time. Daphne's ghosthunter associates will be involved in one part of the investigation and will discover an important clue, perhaps accidently. Though serious roles, Leguizamo and Hoffman will provide some comic contribution. SCU-B2 will be given an urgent command by someone other than Bergman and will not carry out the command as it cannot recognize the speech pattern, not having been trained to that voice. As a result something quite bad will happen (perhaps resulting in Daphne's capture). Of course there will also be some sexual tension between Daphne and Fred.

I'm still trying to find a way to work "Zoinks!" in there, but I haven't yet. It could be perhaps an error code generated by the SCU-B2 unit that Bergman planted, only he knows its cause, which becomes a plot point. And scooby snacks too.. perhaps they are SCU-B2 power units or something. (SNX as the acronym?)

If you're thinking X-Files here, yeah, that's the sort of approach. As they investigate, they discover secrets about the townsfolk that suggest motives for the actions, some of which are pertinent, others misleading.

I want Charlie Kaufman to write the screenplay.
-- waugsqueke, Mar 30 2003

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