Monday, 3 November 2008

The Case of the Crippled Comedy

It had been a quiet time at my humble little office on the outskirts of Hollywood, since I hadn't written a private eye parody in a long time. But that quiet time doing crossword puzzles online was going to be as short lived as the tenure of an NBC executive, quiet times never last when you're Furious D, private dick.

There was a knock on my door. I asked the knock who was outside, and the knock told me that I had a potential client, so I let them in.

In wheeled two stick figures, one a man with curly hair, the other a woman with her hair crudely drawn straight. I said wheeled not because of
some obscure noirish figure of speech, but because they were sharing a wheelchair. They were sharing a wheelchair because all for of their poorly drawn legs were in casts.

"What's your handle?" I asked them.

"It's on the back of the wheelchair," said the male stick figure. "People use it to push the wheelchair."

"You're an idiot," snapped the stick figure woman,
"he wants to know who we are. Man is it a stretch to believe that I would have sex with you, even for money."

"Ooh," said the male stick figure. "I'm Zack and this is Miri, and we're Zack & Miri Make a Porno."

"Oh really," I said, "and why is a movie here to see me?"

"We opened at number two at the box-office in our first weekend," said Miri, "but folks are talking about it being a poor showing."

"We need you to find out why!" said Zack. "All that negative talk is what's put us in this chair."

"All right," I said, standing up and looking nobly into the middle distance, "I'll take your case, but I first I need to take your money."


I decided to solve this case by going straight to the horse's mouth.

But the horse really didn't know why people thought a number 2 opening was considered poor, especially against a G-Rated Disney marketing juggernaut, but the horse did suggest going to see the man who made the film Kevin Smith.

For a horse he was a wise man.

Not like those lousy cows, they never know anything useful.

I drove down to Kevin Smith's place, a back-room at the Snappy-Mart convenience store in Burbank.

"Fuck off!" snapped a voice from behind the door, "I'm busy!"

"You're not busy," I said, "you're just blogging about your weight problems and watching DVDs of the old Degrassi show."

"Oh Caitlin," moaned the voice from inside the back-room, "why won't you love me."

"Just get out here," I growled, "Zack & Miri sent me to find out why they're getting all kinds of bad buzz."

The door opened and Kevin Smith stuck out his head.

"It's not my fault," he grumbled. "I had Seth Rogen, the one man outside of Adam Sandler who could carry an R-Rated comedy, and I did it relatively cheap, a number 2 opening should be just fine, even on a slow weekend."

"So why isn't it?" I asked. "It only made a third of what Knocked Up opened to."

"Ask the Weinstein Company," he said, "they handled the marketing."

"You think it's their fault?"

"Of course it's their fault," snapped Smith, "they've become philistines, they even passed on my next film Red State. That film is a guaranteed smash!"

"Is that the horror film where you have the majority of Americans cast as the monster?" I asked.

Kevin Smith nodded enthusiastically.

"I'm sure that'll sell in Peoria," I said.

"Damn right," said Smith, "now fuck off."

Smith then slammed the door in my face.

I guess I had to go to New York to find my answers.


"Hello?" I asked as I poked my head into the office of the Weinstein Co. My voice echoed down the empty hall.

A head, thin, with ragged hair poked out of an office.

"Oh my god," said the man, "a real human being!"

"Where is everybody?" I asked.

"Gone," said the man, his Armani suit worn, ragged, and covered with dust, "all gone, all left, only I'm left. And I'm still here because I can't find my keys. Have you seen my keys? I need my keys, I've been living on ketchup packets and the rats I catch in the basement."

"Where's Harvey and Bob?" I asked. "They do own the place don't they?"

The man shrugged. Then a look of glee came across his face.

"The keys to my Lexus!" he squealed as he pulled the keychain from behind a potted palm, "I found it, I'm free! Lionsgate here I come!"

Then the man scurried away, cackling madly and jingling his keys.

"Where's the marketing department?" I asked before he closed the elevator door.

"End of the hall," he said between cackles, "I'm free! Finally free!"

I went down the hall, my footfalls echoing with each step.

I knocked on the door marked "S.S. Alot-- Executive VP Marketing." It was slightly ajar, which is never a good sign in mystery stories.

There was no answer.

I opened the door.

"Mr. Alot?" I asked, "Miss Alot, maybe?"

There was no answer, and then I saw why.

A small fishbowl was on the top of the desk. The skeleton of a long dead goldfish floating on the top. A small nameplate stood at the base of the bowl, marked "Sir Swims-A-Lot, EVP- Marketing."

I wasn't going to get any answers from Mr. S.S. Alot.

Or was I?

Maybe I was?

Or maybe not?

Perhaps I might?

Or was I?

The office phone rang, and an answering machine came on. It didn't beep like an ordinary answering machine.

"What do we do to sell this movie," asked a voice.

"Spend more money," replied the answering machine, "spend more money, spend more money, spend more money."

I think I did find my answer.

Or did I?

Maybe I did?

Anway, it was...


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