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Serenade to a Cuckoo (short film)
by Daniel Vallancourt (californiasun@frontiernet.net)

Rated: R   Genre: Comedy   User Review: ***1/2
A short about four friends spending a night together filled with nonchalant gambling and engaging in various conversations and witticisms.


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.



INT. BAR ROOM - NIGHT
                                                            
We start off with BLACK, and the song "Serenade to a Cuckoo"
by Jethro Tull starts off our escapade. We CUT TO THE SCENE
from BLACK, we are in the perspective of a piece of
furniture. We see a dimly lit room. To the right of our PoV
sits a ROUND TABLE. Seated at the table are four men engaged
in an epic poker game, with dollar bills sprawled
everywhere—it is an evening of nonchalant gambling between
close friends
                                                            
The song continues as the dialogue begins
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
Really though, what do you call
that? If you're walking let's
say…in a hallway…
                                                            
                       TOMMY
      (throwing a dollar
       into the middle
       of the table,
       indicating
       Charlie)
Raise you
                                                            
SUPER: SERENADE TO A CUCKOO
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
…and someone is coming towards
you, so you sidestep to get out of
his way…
                                                            
Change angles. We cut away from the furniture POV, and
switch close up to John-Boy. We can see his face, what there
is of his torso that's not blocked by the table, and most of
his arms. We stay at this level of close up for the rest of
the film.
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
…and he does the same thing, and
you block each other. Then you
sidestep the other way, and he
does the same, and you kind of get
into like an awkward gridlock…
                                                            
The camera moves toward JOHN-BOY, and goes past him. It
turns around so it's facing JOHN-BOY's back and is now
pointing at TOMMY, who is across from JOHN-BOY. It now moves
away from JOHN-BOY and starts to circulate the table, so we
slowly see everyone's face and everyone's back. This mimics
Tarantino style, all in one shot conversation à la the

2.

opening scene of Reservoir Dogs or the diner scene in Death
Proof. So…the camera begins its movement…as it circles,
TOMMY looks up every so often to cast JOHN-BOY an
inquisitive look, interested in the conversation…
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
…you know? So…what do you call
that? You've got to call it
something…
                                                            
TOMMY furrows his brow, thinking, as the camera passes over
the face of…
                                                            
                       BOOG
That does happen sometimes…but you
said it, a gridlock…
                                                            
                       CHARLIE
      (frowning)
Be adventurous, Boog!
                                                            
                       TOMMY
      (smiling)
I can't think of a single thing!
                                                            
                       CHARLIE
      (smiling)
What've you come up with Johnny?
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
      (smiling, picks
       his elbows off
       the table and
       moves his hands
       in a grandiose
       manner, proud of
       his invention)
Shflax
                                                            
BOOG smiles, CHARLIE and TOMMY laugh
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
      (smiling at his
       own witticism)
You've got to call it something!
It's a human action that doesn't
have a name. It's a verb. To
shflax.
                                                            
                       CHARLIE
You made that *up*? I shflax, you
shflax, he, she, it, shflax…
                                                            

3.

CHARLIE chuckles
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
And it's not like it's a silly
made up word that means nothing:
it's given to an action that
doesn't have a name to describe
it, so shflax is a legitimate
word.
                                                            
                       TOMMY
      (chuckling)
You and I shflaxed the other day,
Boog…
                                                            
                       BOOG
      (detached,
       uncaring)
Raise you, Tom
                                                            
                       CHARLIE
      (a short stick of
       burning incense
       in his mouth
       which he
       retrieved from a
       cigarette dish on
       the table)
Greedy bastard
                                                            
CHARLIE throws in a dollar
                                                            
                       TOMMY
      (addresses the
       whole table,
       glancing at each
       man in turn)
I was watching this movie the
other day…I forget what its
called-
                                                            
Pauses, trying to quickly think
                                                            
                       BOOG
      (After a beat)
Kind of defeats the purpose of a
legitimate conversation, dunnit?
                                                            
CHARLIE casts a disapproving, yet humorous glance a BOOG
                                                            
                       TOMMY
      (continuing,
       shrugging off his
       inability to
            (MORE)

4.

                       TOMMY (cont'd)
       remember)
Anyway, I was watching this movie—
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
That's another good word: anyway.
It's the perfect transition word.
You could even start off a
sentence with it, if you wanted…
                                                            
                       TOMMY
      (a little angry at
       the interruptions)
So I was *watching* this movie
they other day—
                                                            
                       CHARLIE
      (light-hearted
       grin)
Interruptions are rude, Johnny
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
      (hopeless sigh,
       gives up his
       thought)
I forgot what I was going to say
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
Lethologica* man, fuck it
                                                            
The camera rotates to Charlie casting a mischievous, playful
and penetrating smile at John-Boy. He winks several times
and raises his two eyebrows twice in a creepily humorous,
yet clever manner
                                                            
                       TOMMY
      (looking
       inquisitive,
       deeply troubled
       by some
       mysterious
       thought)
What do you think God's favorite
movie is?
                                                            
                       CHARLIE
      (leaning forward
       in his chair, a
       boyish eagerness
       on his face,
       Charlie is always
       ready to engage
       in witticisms)
            (MORE)

5.

                       CHARLIE (cont'd)
*There's* a question!
                                                            
As CHARLIE leans forward, JOHN-BOY tries to glance at
CHARLIE'S cards
                                                            
                       TOMMY
I always thought it was something
nice like—
                                                            
                       BOOG
      (Sarcastic)
Like a Disney classic?
                                                            
CHARLIE can be heard faintly chuckling
                                                            
                       TOMMY
Well no, but I mean—
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
      (Abruptly)
Pulp Fiction
                                                            
CHARLIE laughs, TOMMY looks amusedly incredulous, BOOG takes
advantage of the situation to look at TOMMY'S cards
                                                            
                       TOMMY
      (sarcastic,
       incredulous)
Explain *that* to me!
                                                            
                       CHARLIE
      (smiling, throwing
       in a buck,
       glancing at
       JOHN-BOY)
Up one Boog
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
      (taking his time,
       John-Boy is a
       real thinker)
Well it's simple. God is a guy,
right? I mean well, the Catholic
Church portrays him as a man
right? Well look, all guys
everywhere share certain
similarities…
                                                            
JOHN-BOY's face becomes confused
                                                            

6.

                       JOHN-BOY
…who was it who said, "all you
need in movies is a girl and a
gun" or something like that?
                                                            
                       CHARLIE
Godard
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
Well he had the right idea. All
guys like that kind of gritty,
gun-play, just…suaveness that is
Pulp Fiction. All guys. So you
know… I wouldn't count God as an
exception.
                                                            
                       TOMMY
I would think God would have
something against violence and
sodomy.
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
      (Elbow on the
       table, points to
       TOMMY playfully
       serious)
You would *think*
                                                            
                       CHARLIE
See now in my opinion, I think God
would tend to like movies based
around the apocalypse and the also
like the post-apocalyptic genre.
You know I think he's pretty
interested into our input on the
things he plans to do, ya know?
                                                            
                       BOOG
      (Frowning)
If God even knows what movies are
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
It's *God*, Boog
                                                            
                       CHARLIE
If, Boog. *If*, *if*, Boog
                                                            
                       TOMMY
Don't be throwing "if's" at us,
Boog
                                                            

7.

                       JOHN-BOY
      (Acting badly
       parental)
What do you have to say for
yourself?
                                                            
All the guys are just having fun with Boog, and you can tell
he's the one that they like to poke fun at; it is also
evident that he doesn't seem to mind or care being gently
made fun of.
                                                            
                       BOOG
      (smirking)
Well listen, people need to have
options. You guys can't tell me
you've never had crazy thoughts
about things that could happen.
Like, "what if there was a World
War III?" "What would have
happened if the Nazi's had won the
war?" You know, that kind of
stuff.
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
What if…what, *what*, though?
                                                            
                       TOMMY
      (at JOHN-BOY,
       exasperated)
Shut up
                                                            
                       CHARLIE
No, I see what you're getting at,
Boog. Its like…without "if" people
would go insane. It's imagination
isn't it? "What if we evolved from
apes?" "What if the Big Bang
theory was real?" "What if the
fucking muffin man didn't live in
Drury Lane?" Yeah Boog…
                                                            
CHARLIE smiles, he understands and he's having fun
                                                            
                       CHARLIE
…There's a whole plethora of
unknown passageways the human mind
can explore, only by adding a
single additional syllable into
everyday vernacular.
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
      (giving Charlie an
       "are you kidding
       me?" look)
            (MORE)

8.

                       JOHN-BOY (cont'd)
We're playing a fucking card game,
Charlie, not contemplating the
fabric of universal thought.
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
      (Incredulous in
       response to
       John-Boy's overly
       intelligent
       rebuttal)
Excuse me Johnny, we're playing a
fucking card game.
                                                            
                       JOHN-BOY
      (slightly smiling,
       engulfed in his
       cards)
Charlie always takes it too far
                                                            
He winks at CHARLIE, who in response shoots him a wide
close-mouthed smile
                                                            
                       BOOG
      (Finally his turn
       to poke some fun,
       he's smiles
       slightly wryly,
       but mostly
       ironically)
Somehow we all find ourselves
subject to Charlie's divinity
                                                            
                       TOMMY
      (picking on poor
       Boog yet again,
       acting proud of
       his jab at
       Charlie with an
       open mouthed grin)
Look at Boog!
                                                            
JOHN-BOY makes a facial expression as it if to say "not bad"
                                                            
                       CHARLIE
      (Accepting all of
       it)
Well listen you guys…I am a
horrible, and terrific person…
                                                            
As the camera circles around the table while Charlie is
saying this, Tommy, Boog and Johnny are all listening to him
with amused looks on their faces which show their mixed

9.

respect for Charlie as well as their general affection for
their friend and his nuances. They occasionally throw a
dollar into the middle or draw a card from a deck
                                                            
                       CHARLIE (cont'd)
…and I think it's because I know
that, that I am a great person.
But I don't mean like a swell guy,
I mean a great human being. And
being a great human being, I can
recognize my flaws and embrace
them, my mistakes and accept them,
and my attractions and love them.
I believe that human life is being
constantly overshadowed by a waves
of just, conceited sadistic flair.
You can either accept and embrace
you for who you are, or live your
life fighting it for the general
perception of the greater good…
                                                            
Points a finger at the group, mocking the wise
                                                            
                       CHARLIE (cont'd)
…It's the great human being who
doesn't deny his own internal
motive.
                                                            
The group is silent for a few seconds, then, breaking the
mood…
                                                            
                       CHARLIE
      (Quietly,
       humorously, to
       himself)
Fucking card game, Charlie
                                                            
As the song comes to its climactic end, cut to black.
                                                            
*Lethologica: the inability to remember a word or put your
finger on the right word
                                                            
Copyright © 2009 by Daniel Vallancourt. All rights reserved
                                                            


THE END


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From Christopher M. Killen Date 9/9/2010 ***1/2
I read it while listening to that song, and it was a decent read. I could see it being made for a short film contest.


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