Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Genre: Dramedy
Premise: Blockhead explores what it would it be like if the real-world Peanuts Gang grew up and lived together in New York City.
About: This script got a ton of recognition about ten years ago. Just about everyone who read it loved it. For obvious copyright reasons, it never got purchased. But it ended up getting the writer, Emily Fox, a lot of buzz and started her writing career.
Writer: Emily Fox

I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of the Peanuts characters but there’s definitely a certain familiarity and nostalgia they bring to the table. Who doesn’t watch The Charlie Brown Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas specials? And with the rewarding experience I had with “The Muppet Man,” I thought another unique exploration of a childhood franchise could be fun. But man, it wasn’t until I went back and watched a few episodes of Charlie Brown on Youtube that I realized just how negative it was. Everybody’s upset or depressed about something. Nothing ever goes right. Lucy berates Charlie Brown so relentlessly, she’d probably go to jail for assault if she tried the same thing today. It's like dissecting one disaster after another.

Fox makes one thing clear right off the bat. This isn’t your Grandmother’s Charlie Brown. No. I think I figured that out on page one when we’re introduced to Lucy getting ram-rodded by some dude from behind. Okay okay. It’s not nearly that graphic (although to say I was shocked was an understatement). But Lucy's declaration of war on the world at such an early age has definitely had its effects on her psyche. Now 28 years old, she's unaware that her current boyfriend, Schroeder (you may remember him playing the piano for Lucy and repeatedly fighting off her advances), is probably gay. She’s also cheating on him with her 43 year old married with children boss. She thinks she's pregnant. And she lives with Linus, now a stockbroker, and still as cautious and pragmatic as ever (and still a virgin).

But what really blows her lid is that Charlie Brown and Snoopy are moving in with them! Lucy still can't stand Charlie Brown and lets him know right away that she does not agree with these arrangements. Charlie Brown has made his way here to pursue being a writer - any sort of writer - and because he's been a bit of a failure in life so far, he hasn't a penny to his name. Eventually Charlie’s model younger sister, Sally, moves in as well, driving Linus all sorts of crazy, and the four of these childhood “friends” try their best to coexist in New York City 18 years after we last saw them.

The whole vibe is very “When Harry Met Sally." The reason it ends up working is that the sexual tension between Charlie Brown and Lucy that’s existed since all the way back in the original cartoon, is finally explored. But not in the way you think it will be. Lucy is like a Velociraptor, tenacious and relentless in her belittling of anything that gets in her way. It’s actually fascinating you care about her so much because she’s such a raging bitch. But “Blockhead” benefits from this weird nostalgic curiosity that coats every scene. It may not be the most compelling drama. But you’re just so shocked that you get to see what happens to the Peanuts gang all grown up. Lucy getting banged was definitely the topper, but at one point the crew sits around smoking weed. It’s like if you somehow weaseled your way into The Jonas Brothers’ apartment and found them snorting coke off strippers. This stuff is not supposed to happen! (not that I’d want to sneak into the Jonas Brothers’ apartment. I’m purely using that as an analogy. I don’t own any of the Jonas Brothers’ music).

There are little nods to the comic sprinkled throughout. Linus will be at work with his boss giving a speech and when he drifts off, the boss’s words devolve into a repetitive “wah wah wah wahhhh wah wah wah wah.” All the catch phrases are used at least once. And there are probably a million references that I didn’t even catch because I don’t remember the cartoon that well. But the script does end on Christmas with Charlie buying a tiny little $15 Christmas tree and Lucy freaking out about it. I mean how can you not love that?

My one complaint was that Snoopy wasn't used enough. Granted, you’re not doing Garfield or Scooby Doo with an animated dog, but Snoopy was the most memorable character in that show after Charlie Brown. You needed to find a way to use him!

This was such a trippy journey that I have to recommend you read it for yourself. Even though I know it would never happen in a million years, God would I like someone to make this film. I have no doubt it would be an instant cult classic.

[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[ ] barely kept my interest
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: This is probably obvious, but just know that you can only sell a script based on someone else’s material to the company that owns that material. So if you write a Matrix movie, you can only sell it to Warner Brothers. And chances are, they don’t want your script because if they want to write another Matrix movie, they’ll do it themselves. In the case of this script, Emily Fox is basically damaging the brand name of the Peanuts characters (having sex, getting high) so not only will you have a hard time selling this for copyright reasons, but the estate that owns the rights to the Peanuts characters would never allow something like this to be made. I’m assuming Fox knew that going in. So it's important for you to know the same thing. Selling one of these novelty scripts isn't going to happen. But it might open a few doors.