"Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club": no matter how you feel about them they've reached the point of out-and-out classics. John Hughes made a hugely influential impact both in front of and behind the camera, setting the template for teen comedies that were more than just raunch fests and high concept adult comedies that found humor in the foibles of everyday life. Even though Hughes stepped away from Hollywood in the early '90s in a quasi-self-exile, he never stopped writing, as his scripts and treatments continued to make the rounds in Hollywood.
There are an unknown number of un-produced Hughes screenplays. He may never have wanted them produced. There are examples like "The Last Good Year," a period-piece set in 1962 potentially amounting to a mere glimmer in his eye, and "Lovecats," based around a song of the same name by The Cure which Molly Ringwald introduced him to. There was "Tickets," which would have gone into production had there not been another film with a similar premise ("Detroit Rock City"). The material that's getting the most attention lately is "The Grigsbys Go Broke." Last month, it was reported that Paramount was circling and ultimately passed on the story of which little was known except that it was about "a wealthy Chicago family that loses everything and is forced to move to the sticks." A full script review of the 2003 draft has gone up over at ScriptShadow, with a few tasty morsels of information.
"Grigsbys" in a nutshell, is about a wealthy family who, by way of their own greed, find themselves moving from the lap of luxury down to "Mulletville." We kid you not. The parents, Gary and Judith, are apparently quite boring in the first act of the screenplay, keeping in the shadows while characters interact around them. Once they do begin to talk they show that their true colors are those of complete jerks, and their children Wendy, 12, Damon, 11, Gracie, 4, are cut from the same bratty vein. When the family oversteps the wealth line they end up selling everything they own except a small plot of forgotten property in a neighboring town: Mulletville.
In Mulletville (sorry) Gary has to take up construction instead of running the construction business, Judith has to take a job at a department store, and the children are shepherded off to public school. Having their means stripped from them teaches the Grigsbys important lessons about honoring the values that got them to the good life they grew accustomed to, and to treat even the poorest of people with respect. A classic tale of redemption with money as the catalyst.
The main complaint appears to be that the characters reach a new level of unlikable. In the first act they're painted as impossible to redeem, which is big problem when they're the characters we're meant to sympathize with. Gracie is supposed to be a laugh riot, and as the screenplay progresses the other Grigsbys get humanized, but when all is said in done the script could use some work.
Even though Paramount have passed, the script is out there, though, and if one studio took an interest others are sure to follow. We're certain that we haven't seen the last of John Hughes on the big screen, though perhaps "Grigsbys Go Broke" isn't the place to start with posthumous productions of his screenplays. --Eric T. Voigt