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Untitled Project--Pilot
by Christopher Lewis (Clewis1@umd.edu)

Rated: PG-13   Genre: Family   User Review:

The Reed family prepares for the 16th birthday of Benjamin Reed. Amanda, his mother, poses a simple question--should we invite Greg?--that changes everything.

This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author. PLEASE DON'T TOUCH.



The season is fall and accordingly the weather is crisp. A
small, painted blue house sits among a cluster of other
small houses. There are a multitude of leaves in the yard,
all of which fell from the one and only tree in the
neighborhood that sits in the Reed yard. A young boy--age
15--walks on to screen from the right, wearing a t-shirt,
jeans, and a book bag. He is tall, lanky, and considerably
awkward; in fact, one of the few things he is in control of
in his life is his mind--he has made it his instrument.
There is an indelible quality about him, something that
makes people both afraid and eager to know him. This is BEN
REED. He walks into the house and the camera follows him.
The front hall of the Reed home is one of assorted decades;
there is a lamp from the seventies sitting atop a modern
table bought a month ago to replace one from the year 1988.
There are steps going directly up as soon as one enters the
house and a hallway that leads to the kitchen and the living
room. Ben goes directly up the stairs, only after closing
and locking the door and throwing his book bag to the
ground. The camera sits stoically. A middle-aged woman
enters the front room and stands at the bottom of the steps
with her back to the camera. She is dressed in youthful
clothes. There is something sad about her--something in her
demeanor that does not quite register. However, she is no
way forgettable, because of the way she makes you feel. She
is like the mirror in the morning; a reflection of what one
wants to see. This is AMANDA REED.
      (With her back to
       the camera)
Ben? Ben, is that you?
      (From upstairs)
Yes, ma. Were expecting someone
      (Pretending to
Hardly, come down when you get a
chance. We need to talk.


Ben comes to the top of the steps and the camera shows only
parts of them both; the graceful arch of Amanda's back and
the legs of Ben. Amanda turns and moves back towards the
kitchen. The camera moves to Ben's face.
The camera moves to Amanda in the kitchen with her head in
the refrigerator pulling out a gallon of milk--she takes a
smell of it and reacts in disgust. The Reed kitchen is the
center of their home both emotionally and physically. It is
where mother and son eat diner and tell each other of their
days; his schooldays and her work in a small office. The
cabinets, floor, panel, and everything else in the kitchen
are old and breaking except for the small table that sits in
the middle with three assorted chairs. There is a television
sitting on the counter--it is on and playing is She's Too
Young. .
How long has this milk been here.
She looks at the bottom of the jug.
      (Moving over the
       sink. Yelling,
God, this went bad a week ago. I
hope you haven't been drinking
this. Have you?
She begins to pour the milk into the sink; the camera is
positioned at the bottom of the sink and then comes back up
to reveal that Ben is now in the kitchen. Amanda finishes
pouring the milk out and throws the jug into the trash can.
What were you saying?
I was saying that I hoped you
hadn't been drinking that milk, I


      (Interupting her)
Not about the milk--and no I
haven't been drinking it, I saw
that it was bad three days ago.
You said that you had to talk to
Amanda takes a seat at the table and Ben joins her. They sit
next to each other rather than across.
If you knew the milk went bad then
why didn't you throw it away?
Mom, what did you have to tell me?
I just wanted to ask you what you
wanted to do for your birthday.
Oh, I don't know--same old thing
Let’s not. Let’s do something
different this year, I thought
instead of it just being you and
me and Nora we could invite over
some of your friends and I could
invite some people from work—you
know actually throw a party.
You’ve never had a party and
everybody should have a party.
Where would we have it?
Here, of course...oh, I would fix
it up, so you wouldn't have to be
ashamed or anything...I mean you
don't turn sixteen for another
three weeks. But, I'd have to know
who'd you want to invite now...so
I can know what to get.
I don't know...probably only five
or six people, not too many.


That sounds good...and should I
ask Greg to come...
Call the curtain, Mr. Miller, we
come to the point.
I just think it was time that you
talk to him.
      (Getting up from
       the table)
Why? Why should I talk to him
now...I'm sixteen, what the hell
is the point. It's not like I even
need a father, anymore.
Ben leaves the room and the camera sits on Amanda for a
moment, before pulling out to a wide shot of the entire
kitchen. She slumps onto the table and slicks her hair
behind her ear.
He wants to come!
These opening shots are played with "Here comes the Sun."
The exterior a smart, affluent looking public high school
that once within meets none of its expectations. A number of
students exit the school as the camera pans into it and
reveals a foul lobby populated with students. Some stand
around talking, others alone, and a great deal of them are
cloistered in the center in what they think can be called a
line. In the center of them is Ben and his best friend LEN,
a completely trustworthy girl of sixteen. They are matched
in both interests and intelligence. They are behind a small
table of candy, which they are selling to the students in
"line." The song ends--"It's alright"--as Ben speaks...
Candy for a dollar!
      (Handing a student
       a pack of


                       LEN (cont'd)
So are you going to do it?
      (Taking a dollar
       from another and
       passing down a
No, of course, I'm not going to
invite him, why should I? Do you
want tropical or wild berry?
      (Handing him the
       tropical skittles)
I know that, I meant are you going
to have the party.
No it's one dollar. Oh, the party,
yes, I mean it sounds like fun,
but can you believe that she asked
me that...she knows how I feel
about him. We're almost
out...should we close up?
Yeah...I guess...no, we should
sell them all.
Do you want lolipops or one peice
of candy and then you get a free
                       STUDENT (2)
What flavors do you have left?
We have blue.


Cut to Amanda walking out of her office dressed in a smart
blue dress that is far too formal for her job. She walks
over to her car--a cheap little thing that is hardly paid
for--and gets in. She begins to drive and cuts on and
playing is "Here comes the sun" sung by Ritchie Havens. She
sings along for a while before stopping at a red light
losing reception and hearing some NPR. Cut to her pulling
into a cafe, getting out of car, and going inside. She takes
a seat at a booth and is approached by a waitress. The
waitress hands her a menu.
Hi, what'll you have to drink?
Nothing, I'm waiting for
someone...oh, well I guess I'll
have a cup of coffee.
Cut to Ben and Len sitting in a coffee shop, they are
directly near the entrance and our surrounded by windows.
The light is harshly significant. A waiter is standing over
them waiting patiently.
I'll have a cup of coffee.
A toasted bagel and two packets of
cream cheese, thank you.
I'll be back with that in a
The waiter exits the scene and Ben and Len lean towards each
Ultimate fetish.
Really?...What do you want to do
after this?
What do you think?


Ben sighs to himself. Cut to Amanda as she sighs just before
walking out of the restaurant and getting into the car.
After starting the car and beginning to drive she cuts on
the radio to hear the same NPR man speaking as before. She
drives listening to it.
                       NPR MAN
Hello, and welcome back, if you
missed our first fifteen minutes
then let's recap. Today we have
with us one of the great thinkers
of American sociology and
psychology Dr. Albright Pease and
we are discussing the ritualistic
tendencies of mothers to place
their latent dreams and desire
into their children. Earlier in
the program Dr. Pease informed us
that we have, in fact, already
seen a vast majority of children
who have grown up this way, those
children often called the baby
boomers. However, just before we
left Dr. Pease was telling us that
this might still be going on.
Please go on Pease….
Cut to Ben and Len sitting beneath a display for the latest
Harry Potter book and surrounded by children who are playing
with the toys the bookstore offers. Parents stare
apprehensively at them as they flip through several teen
magazines and one Elle.
Hm, Look at that.
She shows him the article in the teen magazine.
Are you going to come?
To your birthday thing, of course,
why wouldn't I?


I don't know, I mean of course
you'll be there and my sister,
but...do you think that I should
invite Joe?
I think you should invite anyone
who you think will make you happy
on your day. That's really all
it's about.
Looking over at the Elle, Ben is looking through.
God, look how fat she's gotten
since she became a mom...
Cut to Amanda pulling into her driveway and stopping for a
moment to listen to the end of the radio dialogue before
getting out. She slicks her hair behind her ear and smoothes
out her dress.
                       NPR MAN
...Mother’s in America need to
achieve their own happiness,
before trying to do anything else.
Oh, Lordy, look at the time, well
thank you for joining us Dr. Pease
and thank you for listening and
don't forget to listen next time
when we will discuss the downfall
of mercantilism in the middle east
and middle America. And remember,
there are always good times...
Amanda gets out of the car, walks to the mailbox and gets
the mail, walks back to the door and lets herself in. The
Camera follows her in and back into the kitchen were she
sits and reads through the mail silently to herself.
Cut to the next morning and a series of shots that chronicle
Ben getting dressed: we see him showering, struggling to put
on underwear, shaving, getting dressed, and finally throwing
his messanger bag over his back and walking out of his room.
In this montage Ben's room is revealed to be plain white,
the wall plastered with movie posters and photographs that
he has taken. The main components of the room are a desk,
bed, and another table that holds too many books to count.


The camera follows him out of his room and over across the
hallway to his mother's room. He opens the door and finds
her fully dressed and sitting on the edge of her bed
watching The Today Show. Her room is, much like the house,
made up of several decades. The large dresser is from the
late seventies, the newly bought bed, and an end table that
had been a gift from one of her friends after having Ben.
However, unlike the rest of the house there is elegance to
this room; as if it were mitch-matched on purpose rather
than necessity.
I'm going out.
To work.
I didn't know you worked weekends
I do.
I don't think you should work so
It's not so much...and if I didn't
work there I'd be there anyway.
Alright, but make sure you get
something to eat--I'm working late
tonight. I made something, but I
know you won't eat it.
      (Turning to leave)
I have to go.
He begins the walk towards the stairs and the camera takes
the point of view of Amanda. Ben slowly becomes smaller in
frame until he's gone.
I'm sorry.


A slam of the front door is his response, however it is
ambigous whether he heard her at all.
Amanda gets up from the edge of the bed, struggles to find
the remote, finds it, cuts the television off and walks out
of the room. The camera lingers for a moment, before cutting
to Amanda walking down the steps, turning and walking into
the kitchen and moving towards the stove. She pulls it open
and pulls out a dish of lasagna. Placing it on the counter
she moves to find a dish to put some in. The dishes are
under the sink and she pulls out three, all of them lacking
tops. Then another...no top.
She searches for a few more and then gets up, moves over to
a pantry and pulls out a new pack. She places one dish and
one top on the counter next to the lasagna. The camera sits
in the dish cabinet as she throws the other dishes in and
closes the door.
Cut to a shot of Ben placing a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird
on a shelf. They are inside a small, quaint library. Even
though it is public there is something hip in the atmosphere
of the library. A young woman walks past him and places
another book on another shelf. She is thoroughly hip looking
and, as with most hip people, completely unwilling to
ascribe to the notion of hip-ness, all the while
discrediting the hip-osity of those around her. This is
I don't get it...
I don't understand. Why didn't you
like it?
It didn't make any sense.
Neither did Donnie Darko but you
love that.


Donnie Darko didn't make sense in
a good way; Million Dollar Hotel
didn't make sense at all.
Watch it again!
If I watch that again then you
have to watch The Godfather.
That's crazy. Million Dollar Hotel
is regular, watching The Godfather
is like having a lobotomy--a slow,
painful lobotomy.
Fine if not The Godfather than
Annie Hall.
I don't need to re-watch that, I
actually liked it. It was a real
Kafka-esque experience.
They move to another aisle in the stacks. Ben pushes the
cart full of books and they begin to put the books up as
they talk.
Fine, I'll watch it again never
and we'll never speak of that
episode of Buffy.
What episode of Buffy?
      (In a childlike
Hush, Hush, you're gonna die,
you're gonna die screaming, but
you won't be heard.
Stop it.
Hush, Hush...


Stop, or I'll never let you borrow
Funny Girl again.
Why'd you have to take it to a
dark place?
You sing about murdering me in my
sleep and me taking away Streisand
is a dark place.
Nobody, put's Babs in a corner.
How about Funny Lady?
Ew...how unlucky can I get?
I watched E.S.P.N. yesterday for
three hours.
No, I did, and do you know why--I
realized, while I have no care for
regular sports...I love the odd
Still random, but go with it.
For three hours straight on
E.S.P.N. they played people
stacking cups. Stacking cups.
That's all. And I realized that
running with a ball has no real
talent in it, but being able to
stack a cup on top of cup like
something out of a Groucho/Marx
skit is talent.
Stacking cups, talent? It's about
as much a talent as hackey-sack


Hackey-sack is a talent. Mostly,
because you have to be really
dedicated to it.
Dedicated to be a druggie.
Or Freddie Prince Jr.
My soul is an island, my car is a
Move over, I coulda been a
contender, best line ever.
Cut to them outside on Ben's break. Jean stands staring
over at the parking lot. Ben read's silently for a moment.
My mom should be here soon, God I
can't wait to get home.
You're leaving?
Yeah, it's Saturday--I get off
early. Isn't your mom picking you
Yeah, I just better call her to
remind her.
Jesus, there's my mother. Go
inside before she sees you and we
have to spend fifteen minutes of
her saying how guilty she feels
leaving you here alone and then
she makes me stay. It's a pain
haven't good parents...sometimes I
wish I was Evan Rachel Wood.
Ben gets up and runs back inside the library. The camera
lingers as Jean's mother pulls up and Jean moves to the car
and opens the door. The camera remains still.


                       JEAN'S MOTHER
Was that Ben?
No, he took off. That was Kip
                       JEAN'S MOTHER
Cut to later on that day, right before it becomes dark
enough for it to be called night. Ben exits the library and
stands off to the side and picks up his cell phone and dials
his mother's work number.
He pauses for a moment.
I need a ride.
Another Pause.
I know...I know, can you come?
Short Pause.
I'll be outside.
Cut to Amanda hanging up the phone at her small desk and
getting up. The office is empty, although it is bathed in
light and has a certain glow of fullness. She walks past a
few desks that look like hers and goes through a set of
small doors that lead to her boss’s office. It is a small,
cramped room with a desk, two chairs on either side, three
file cabinets, and a Mac. He sits importantly behind the
desk. He is a smart looking middle aged man who smiles
gently when he looks up at Amanda. This is ADAM BALDERSON.
Come in, Amanda, take a seat.
I can't Mr. Balderson, I just
needed to ask you a favor.


He nods in acceptance of her need to ask a favor.
My son needs me to pick him up, so
I would have to leave early
tonight--right now, if I could. I
could make the time up...
No, go, and put it out of your
head. You worked later than most,
go on and pick your son up.
Thank you.
She turns to leave.
It's his birthday soon, isn't it.
I heard you talking to one of the
Yes. Yes, it is.
How old will he be?
Sixteen. Good age for a boy.
I suppose.
You'll need the day off, won't
I don't know.
Is he getting to that age, when he
doesn't want to spend his birthday
with his family?
I suppose, but I should go, thank
you Mr. Balderson.


Cut to Amanda driving away from the office, she sits
thinking about her conversation with Adam and is struck with
the thought that he may be intrested in her. She smiles to
herself before having to stop at a red light. The camera the
cuts to her pulling into the library parking lot and
stopping. Ben sighs and walks towards the car slowly, he
opens the front door and gets in.
Why didn't you get a ride home
from Len?
She got off before me--I'm sorry.
No, it's alright. I just didn't
get to work as much overtime as I
thought. That's all.
I'm sorry.
He pulls from his pocket a small copy of Nine Stories and
opens it to the middle and begins to read.
I need to know if you want to
still have the party, I'll need to
take off.
      (Looking up from
       the book)
The party? Do you still want to
have it.
Do I have to decide now?
Yes. I have to know so I can take
off work.
      (Glancing down at
       the book)


      (Staring over at
Alright then.
Ben sits quietly on his bed the television is on, the camera
cuts over to reveal Audrey Hepburn dancing in the bar in
Funny Face. The phone rings and he quickly answers it,
before the second ring even begins.
Cut to NORA REED— a young vibrant girl who has escaped what
she thinks is the sadness of her life. While from the
outside her situation may seem better than that of her
brother, with some not-so-close inspection it is clear that
it is worse, because to have something and it not be all the
way there is far worse than to not have anything at
all—sitting on her bed the same movie plays on her
television. There is a similar quality to the rooms; both
are plastered with movie posters, the one being in common
being The Breakfast Club. However, similar they are there is
something feminine about Nora's. The scene cuts between them
in bed watching the movie, it switches with the dialogue.
Do you see this?
I still hate her, I mean she
always looks nice, but what is the
point of this really. It's very
cute. Yes. But as a movie it's
terrible. It's like, "Hello, I'm
Audrey Hepburn. I'm going to play
an 'ugly' bookworm and then be
swept away by people taking
pictures in my bookstore. And then
I’m going to Paris because they've
decided that I'm now beautiful.,
and now I HAVE to fall in love
with Fred Estaire because every
movie needs love. And now I’m


                       BEN (cont'd)
going to do this really ridiculous
uninteresting dance scene in a
dingy cafe where people talk about
philosophy. And THEN there's this
philosopher that I've been
obsessed with, who just wants my
va-jay-jay. Anyways, the point of
the story is that I was ugly and
now I'm not!” There's no point to
the story. At all.
Yeah, but come on you can't blame
Audrey for that. And even you
can't deny the picture with the
Well, yeah, I wanna have those
ballons babies.
What's coming on after this?
Hold on.
Ben puts down the phone and picks up remote and scrolls down
the guide, the camera reveals the next movie to be Sabrina.
He picks back up the phone, after dropping the remote. He
gives a long sigh.
Sabrina! The story on that isn't
any better.
I'm sorta with you on that. "OH
MY! I'm Sabrina! I'm in love with
that prick of an asshole my dad
drives for. And now I've come back
to France as a pro culinary artist
and now that prick that I was in
love with loves me! But no! I’m
going to do his brother." I dunno.
It's not Audrey's fault that some
writers suck.
She's so much better in How to
Steal a Million...and My Fair
Lady, of course.


So, swettie, what's going on for
your birthday?
We're throwing a party!
Well you mustered that line with
all the subtlety of Tallulah
Thank you, dahling, did you know
I'm Margo Channing?
Alright, settle down there. But
really, are you having a party?
So I'll be there.
Of course, you'll be there. What
is this?...Mom?
She just wanted me to make sure
you really wanted to do it, please
don't be angry.
I'm not angry, its just...
Just what?
I have to go...school in the
morning, call me tomorow.
The camera cuts back to an extreme close up of Nora, she
pauses for a long moment.
Yeah, talk to you tomorrow.


Ben hangs up phone, picks up remote and turns off the
television. He sighs heavily to himself as the camera pans
backwards, making Ben the smallest thing in the frame.
Cut to Amanda coming out of an elevator wearing a smart,
brown dress. She walks up a busy corridor and into the
office where she works and takes a seat at her desk. Her
desk is small and cramped. There are several pictures on her
desk of Ben and Nora as children, she adjusts one of Ben
before turning on her computer. From behind her, Mr.
Balderson approaches.
Amanda jumps in shock and then turns.
Hello, Mr. Balderson. Can I help
Have you made a decision? About
the time off?
Yes...yes, I'm going to need the
time off.
That's good, family should be
together. On birthday's and things
like that.
I suppose.
He turns to leave and Amanda returns to her computer.
However, he quickly turns around and comes back to her desk.
What time are you off today?


Early. Six I think.
      (Looking down at
       his watch)
Have you had...lunch?
Would you like to have lunch with
me later on?
Sure...downstairs you mean?
Yes. I'm going to meet you here in
thirty minutes or so.
Right here?
Right here.
Cut to Amanda and Adam walking into the lunchroom with trays
in their hands. They split in an awkward way--the camera
follows Amanda while she picks up a salad. She heads towards
the line and meets back up with Adam. His plate is populated
by a slice of pizza, a sandwich, a salad, and three sugar
      (Looking at her
Is that all your having?
      (Looking at his
Is that all your having?


No, don't apologize. That was mean
of me.
By this point they have reached the pay point, Adam motions
to pay for both of them, Amanda declines, and he insists and
pays. There is a complete silence to this exchange that
emphasizes the connection of the characters. They walk into
the dining area and sit at a small, two-person table.
Thank you for eating with me.
Your welcome. Do you usually eat
Yes, not too many people want to
eat with the boss.
I know. I eat alone to.
I've never seen you.
I eat at my desk, usually. I bring
Oh, well I guess it's my luck that
you didn't bring food today.
I did. I brought something to
eat...I just forgot.
All hail slight amnesia.
They both laugh together.
You have a daughter, don't you?
She smiles quietly to herself, before looking up to answer.
Cut to a still shot of the interior of Nora's apartment. It
is a cluttered, but large room full of chairs and assorted


objects, including art hanging on the floor rather than the
wall, two guitars, a drum, and several red cups. It is
almost a completely typical college apartment. The door
opens and Nora enters wearing a blockbuster shirt, hat, and
pair of jeans. The camera follows her on a steadicam. She
throws her hat onto the couch and plopping down next to it
for a moment.
Alex. Did you get soap? We needed
She looks over at the table, gets up, and looks at the fully
made dining room table, including a centerpeice, plates, and
napkins. She shakes one of the plates for a moment.
Are your parents coming over? If
it's one of mine than I'd have to
kill you, because you had every
oppurtunity to call me so that I
could drive my car into a ditch.
So who is it anyway. Did you get
the soap?
She moves back into the living room area and notices on top
of one of the chairs the answering machine is sitting
blinking red. She stares at it for a moment.
Did someone call?
She presses the button and from the machine comes a blaring
voice of an overly tall man. Nora does not simply stand and
listen, she moves a few chairs to the side, collects several
cups, moves some of the art, and then rests on the couch to
listen to what is left on the message. The voice is her
father's, RICHARD.
      (Voice only)
Hey there, nail. Where have you
been hiding yourself? Just calling
to ask you if your coming over
this weekend, because me and your
brother's are going down to
Virginia, I figure you wouldn't
want to come, but just calling to
tell you not to stop bye...because
we won't be here. Cool?
Nora gets up from couch, moves over to the machine, and hits
delete quickly. There is subtle anger brimming underneath.


      (Throwing her hat
       back on her head)
Alex, I'm going out to get some
She exits and the camera sits for a moment in the same
position it had to establish the shot, before ALEX--a short,
thin guy of twenty-two, who is starkly gay--comes down from
Nora? Nora?
Cut to Ben and Len sitting underneath a tree in blaring
sunlight, there is something dreamlike and calm to the
shot—completely different from the rest of the pilot. They
are both resting against the tree. In Len's lap is a book
and in Ben's is a small notepad and assorted peices of
paper. He is wistfully writing away as Len speaks to him.
And then, I was all like what
exactly do you think the whole
point of getting married is if you
still can't tell people. Of
course, I didn't say that to him,
because we're not supposed to
Not supposed to know...the whole
damn school knows.
Yeah, but mostly because we told
half the school and then that half
told the other half.
Well...yeah, but that's enough of
that nasty nazi robot and his
Len picks the book up closer to her face and then removes
it. She stares over at Ben. He is shaking his head in
Another spliced comma or split


The wrong form of there four
times, although I applaud his
consistency of suckitude. Also,
none of this is actually coherent.
And I quote, "The basketball
(spelled incorrectly) team went to
the b-ball championship (three I’s
not two) on the fourth and fought
against the other school." What is
that? And then it mysteriously
ends on a note of, "One Love."
Well...A plus for effort.
      (Leaning back
       against the tree)
Uh...I hate that phrase. It didn’t
really think about until just
then, when you just said it, but
really think about what it means.
It basically means, "Hey, you
tried your hardest, but completely
failed in all aspects but your
I think your taking it a bit too
You know what else really bother's
      (Laughing slightly)
The last episode of Point
No...Well, yeah...but...no. In
"The Philadelphia Story" they make
you really feel like Katharine
Hepburn is horrible, but really
she just won't settle. She's just
like, "Lemonade. No thanks." But
you're asked to find that wrong
and find the alcoholic Cary Grant
all fun and awesome, with his
mysterious first name.


That is so random.
Really? I don't think so, we were
talking about Klein and then like
how bad these papers are which are
just as bad as the delightful, but
chauvinistic script to The
Philadelphia Story.
And Nathan Lane was in "He Said,
She Said" with Kevin Bacon.
Cut to Amanda and Adam standing outside of an elevator in
silence, the doors open and they walk in, Amanda first and
then Adam. They stand opposite together; the elevator is
bathed in artificial light.
This was...fun.
How convincing.
No, I really did have fun. It's
just I can't do that thing, were
one person says something nice and
then you respond.
      (Laughing slightly)
You mean accept a compliment?
Yeah...it's stupid...I know, but I
just can't. I never could.
Life shoves irony in our face


That a woman...
The elevator doors open.
      (Walking out of
       the elevator)
so worthy of compliments doesn't
know how to handle them...goodbye,
Amanda Reed.
Amanda walks into a grocery store, grabs a cart, and moves
over to the aisles. The camera follows her as she walks up
and down the aisles and places things into her cart. After
two aisles of silence, from behind her Nora enters. She hugs
her mother and the kiss affectionately on the cheek.
      (Peering into the
Oh, know, he won't like those at
all. Or those. And what are
those—gold forks and knives. I'm
sorry are you shopping for Truman
      (Taking the cart)
No one. Here let me do this.
She rolls the cart away and then moves back towards her
mother with an empty cart. There is a smile on her face.
Amanda matches it with a smile, as well. Although, there is
something forced about it.
All better.
      (As they begin to
       walk down the
I don't think there was anything
so wrong with what I had.


It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't
Oh. Have you spoken to him yet?
What did he say?
Just what I thought he would, he
saw right through everything and
said yes, he wants to have the
So he said yes...for sure? Because
I'd hate to buy this stuff and
then not throw a party.
Yes he said yes.
They move to the next aisle. Amanda reaches for a yard of
sterotypical banner. Nora moves to stop her.
I already got banner for the
hallway, it's says, "Oh, Lordy,
Nate's forty."
What sense does that make? Is that
a joke?
He'll get it.
I hope so, because this isn't a
joke...this is
something...something special.
Something that Ben deserves.
Mom...it's just a party.
They move to the next aisle.


How are classes?
They're fine, no better or worse
than they should be, I'm pretty
happy with my Muet class.
Oh, well, make sure you work hard.
I will, listen, have you heard
from my dad?
Not lately, no. He hasn't called
No, he called and told me not to
come over this weekend, because he
was leaving town. Weird?
Not really...considerate,
You think? Oh, well, I mean I
wasn't planning on going over
there, but...I don't know.
Did you call him?
Nora begins to walk faster and strolls the cart into the
next aisle. Amanda walks faster behind her.
How many people are coming?
I don't know...he hasn't even told
me how many of his friends are
coming. If any.
There's something wrong with him,
something wrong...he's off. Do you
know what's wrong with him?


I asked him if he wanted his
father to come and he overreacted.
You know how...dramatic he can be
about those things.
You asked him that? Seriously?
No, don't you start in on me...I
just thought it was time we all
stop pretending one day I just
woke up pregnant. He has a father.
      (Like a lioness)
No. He does not have a father. He
has someone who comes around when
it is good for him, that's not a
father. That's nobody. He is
nobody. Ben is right to not want
to see him. God, what were you
Nora walks off once again to the next aisle and Amanda
follows after her only after a heavy sigh of anger.
I was thinking that...oh, God, I
don't know what I was thinking. I
just...I see his unhappiness. I
see it everyday and, I have to
pretend not to, because to not
pretend—to tell the truth—would be
making him worse. So, yes, in a
moment I decided to tell the
truth. I decided to open up and
try to fix his unhappiness.
Because that it is what I am meant
to do…that is what we are meant to
do. Family heals unhappiness. But
just like everything else, I
failed, I failed at making
Oh, Mom, you really missed the


Tommorow, though, everything'll be
better once the party is over.
Scene ends with them pushing the cart into the next aisle.
Scene opens with a Doric shot of the Reed front hall,
several people, and teenagers walk into the house including
Len and Jean. The camera follows them further into the
house, right before walking into the kitchen they turn into
the parlor. The house is better decorated, bright and well
designed. It is clear now that the home is not beautiful
because of laziness, not because of lack of style. In the
parlor is a long table with salad sitting in the middle and
assorted multi-colored bowls. Overtop of the parlor is a
banner stating, "Oh, Lordy, Nate's Forty". It has no
meaning. The camera stays with the teens. With Len and Jean,
are two boys, CHARLIE and ANDREW. They are both cut from the
same cloth, in fact, from a far it is hard to distinguish
between them. The main difference is Andrew is closer to Ben
than Charlie.
This is nice, I thought it was
gonna be depressing.
No reason.
Are we the only young people here?
God, I hope not...
Where the hell is Ben?
I know, it's only his party.


If I know the Reed family, Ben is
upstairs getting a rapid fire list
of how things are going to go from
his mother.
Cut to Ben on his bed placing his right converse on his
foot, the camera reveals Amanda standing over him. It is
clear through the look on Ben's face that she has been
talking to him for the duration of the time it took him to
get dressed. He begins to tie up his shoe.
...and after you thank everyone
for coming, you should walk around
to my friends and thank them for
coming, most of them are giving
you money so they'll hand it to
you. TheN after all of that is
done you can go and talk to your
friends, but not for too long,
because we want to cut the cake
before it’s too late. And, I want
everyone to sing the song before
the cake comes out. Okay?
      (Getting up)
That's fine. Is Nora here?
Um...she called and said that she
would be late, but she will be
She didn't even ask for me?
She was busy...
I did see Len come in though, just
a second ago with Jan.
      (Laughing slightly)
Sorry...it's so hard to follow you


      (Walking out of
How hard could it be, I only have
like four good friends.
Cut to Ben walking down the steps, dressed better than
usual, but not in a suit. Standing at the bottom of the
stairs are Len and Jean, as well as Charlie and Andrew. They
applaud heavily as he walks down, which he responds with a
small bow. They stop as he reaches the bottom of the steps.
Thanks for coming.
Don't get morbid on us.
Yeah, you'll bring the whole
youth-y morale of the party down.
It's not that bad.
Not that bad? Most of these people
were our age when Lincoln was
You mean Kennedy?
Whichever one slept with Marilyn
Yeah, and then he cut someone's
balls off.
Can we not say balls around the
potential cacoon-er's.
They're not that old.


That one is, he looks like what I
imagine Laurence Olivier would
look like if he were alive.
Like Hamlet.
Wasn't Hamlet fat?
Alright. I can't take no Hamlet
talk during my birthday.
Amanda begins to walk over to them.
Get thee to a nunnery quick, dost
mother approaches.
Ben walks up the stairs quickly, just as Amanda arrives at
Len, Jean, Charlie, and Andrew.
Where's Ben?
They all hesitate for a moment.
He went to the bathroom, Ms. Reed.
      (Smiling slightly)
Alright, tell him...tell him, I'm
looking for him.
We will.
Amanda walks away briskly. The camera rests on the foursome
for a moment.
She's so weird.
The camera finds Amanda among the people. She is standing
with a group of her friends from work; there is something
overtly happy in her demeanor.


I have to go find Ben, I'll bring
him over, he knows how much you
want to meet him.
She walks past them and into the kitchen. There are a few
sparse people, whom she passes by with little interest,
throwing a smile or nod their way. She goes out the backdoor
to there house and sits for a moment in the small patio
couch they have.
Cut to Ben and Len sitting alone on the top of the steps, it
is clear sometime has passed since the earlier cut.
I think it's almost time for your
Really? How can you tell?
Your mother's coming over to get
Amanda walks over the bottom of the steps. There is an
exhaustedly happy look about her.
It's time for the song and then
I'll bring the cake out. Oh,
hello, Len.
Hello, Ms. Reed.
Is Nora here?
Not yet.
Just as she finishes Nora comes in wearing a blue dress,
similar to the one worn by Amanda earlier. She moves quickly
over to her mother, kisses her slightly on her cheek, and
then stands next to her smiling upwards to her brother.
Happy birthday, bug.


Amanda walks away slowly and then Len slowly gets up and
walks down the stairs. Nora walks up the steps and takes the
seat directly over her brother. He leans his head back over
her lap and she caresses his hair.
Thank you.
Look at everyone dressed up...
And all for me.
How does it feel? Sixteen?
A little heavier than fifteen, but
the same.
That's to be expected. This is so
weird. Isn't it weird.
She strokes his head softly once more.
Yeah, it is...
Cut to Amanda speaking to a woman about the same age as
herself. The woman is distinctly more attractive and dressed
so. It is clear from Amanda's laughter that these two share
some private jokes. The woman is LAURA SCOTT.
How is he?
Oh...he is...fine. A little worse
for the ware, but...fine.
It's just, it doesn't seem fair.
It doesn't seem right.


Well of course it's not fair; of
course it's not right. But it is
not about what's right or fair. If
it was then it wouldn't be this
way, nothing would be the way it
is. I learned a long time ago that
it's not about being happy; it is
not about feeling like you have
gotten what you deserved. It is
about giving what you can. Always.
I've done that...and I can't--I
won't--regret that.
Well, yes, but that's so totally
      (Laughing slightly)
Yes, yes it is.
Ben and Nora walk up behind them slowly. Ben places his hand
on his mother's left shoulder and she breezes it off without
really allowing anyone to see. There is a moment of
connection between Nora and Laura to leave it alone.
I'm ready.
Are you?
Without being told, everyone begins to gather around the
large table. Amanda, Nora, Laura, and Ben stand at the front
of it. Surronded, Ben sighs deeply as the launch into the
singing of the song. The camera reveals the faces of Amanda,
Len, Nora, Jean, and finally Ben as the song comes to an
      (Shouting from the


Yes, tell us, what does it feel
like to be sixteen and have
everything in front of you.
Um...okay. What does it feel like?
It feels...the same. And I know no
one wants to hear that it's the
same, but really it is. And it
always is. Like unless you’re
Kelly Clarkson or Teri Hatcher or
something, than one year is no
different than the next. I mean
things change, but we don't. We
don't change. Not over a year.
It’s sad really--when you think
about it. Cause, you know, you are
a year older and that's so much
time. A year. 365 days. 525, 600
minutes, but no...that's not
enough. So yeah, I don't feel any
differently. Just the same old
feelings and you expect to feel
different...so it hurts. God it
hurts, because you feel the same,
and there is nothing you can do
about it. The truth is the only
ones that matter are like your
sixth birthday, cause you never
really remember the first five, at
least I don't, and then like your
twenty-first cause you know, it's
all like, "Hey, I'm legal and
stuff." And then after that, it's
pretty much the same I think. But,
uh, don't take it from me, because
after all I'm only sixteen, so I
haven't had a twenty-first or all
those ones after it. So I don't
really know. And I barely remember
my sixth so that's shot to hell. I
think it was power rangers...the
theme, of my sixth birthday. Yeah.
Power Rangers. Power Rangers
everything, cake, hats,
tablecloths. Remember Len? You
came dressed as the pink ranger
and I thought; boy my best friend
is the pink ranger. And that's why
it matters, the sixth, because of
those memories, because you can
look back and think for one


                       BEN (cont'd)
day...I knew the pink ranger. Not
Amy Jo Johnson, the pink ranger.
How cool is that? But, yeah, I'm
rambling now right, so, uh...yeah.
Congrats. To me.
The scene comes to an end with a paned shot of the table and
everyone in silence after Ben's speech. It is completly
Cut to Amanda in the kitchen pulling the cake out of the
refrigerator and placing it on the table, she takes a knife
and begins to slice the cake into pieces. Ben enters and
stands at the door quietly for a moment. He walks further in
as she continues to cut the cake into slices, all the while
never really dividing them. The camera should interchange
between wide shots, close up character shots, and shots of
the knife cutting the cake.
I hope you don't mind me cutting
the cake first, it's getting late
and we need to move it along. You
can hand out the pieces. I
wouldn't have to do this if I
could've found you.
I don't mind you cutting the cake
at all.
Shot of Amanda cutting into the cake.
Okay, then.
Why, what?
Why did you ask me if he could
Let's not talk about this, there
are people in the other room.


Shot of Amanda cutting into the cake.
I don't care about people. Tell
me, you must've known it would
ruin it for me.
Because...because I think it's
time you stop pretending that you
don't have a father.
Who's pretending?
Shot of Amanda cutting into the cake.
I know that he's my father, as
much as I know that haven't spoken
to him in eight years or seen
Then why not change it, change
your anger into something
good...something you could
actually use.
No, that was for him to do--for
years he could've knocked on that
door and he didn't, and the minute
it's closed he wants in. No.
Shot of Amanda cutting into the cake.
Yes, he wants in now, why can't
you let him in?
When did you become such an
endorser for him--he left both of
us you know.
How dare you? How dare you bring
that up?
She cuts the cake and places the knife back into the sink.


I'm sorry--all I know is that if I
could have my father in my life
and I didn't, I would do anything
to reach out to him...anything.
There is no greater love than a
parent can have for their child
and maybe you don't understand
because you don't have children,
but one day you will. If you cut
him out of your life one day you
will wake up and be incredibly sad
that you denied yourself a great
love and that you caused someone
the greatest pain you can cause.
And I don't want you to feel that
way, because it hurts...and I
don't ever want you to hurt.
I don't understand. You don't
understand! You have a father--you
have poppy--but, you standing
there speaking to me about pain.
You will never understand my pain.
You will never understand what it
feels like to always have an empty
side to your goddamn family tree;
you will never understand how much
it hurts to watch other fathers
pick their children up; and you
will never understand what it
means to resent your best friends
because they have it all.
He exits the kitchen and the camera follows him out, he
bumps into Nora.
Sweetie, what's wrong?
Ben exits and the camera follows Nora into the kitchen where
she finds her mother on the verge of a breakdown.
What's going on?


He's right--I will never know his
pain. Help me wrap this cake,
people can just take it home.
Cut to a Doric shot of Ben's room. The door swings open and
Ben enters. The camera sits in a high angle shot, as if from
the ceiling, like a person peering in rather than being
apart. Ben breaks down in the center of the room and sobs
uncontrollably. Several moments pass and the phone rings.
And rings. And rings. And rings. Ben gets up and answers the
phone, after a moment of listening...


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