The Big Idea: Come Again
In the film Bruce Almighty, Jim Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a special interest television news reporter who longs for the lead anchor job, which is eventually given to his nemesis, Evan Baxter (played expertly by Steve Carell, I might add). Dissatisfied with his life, Bruce complains to God once too often and is suddenly visited by the Almighty himself, who endows Bruce with his powers and sets him loose on Buffalo, New York.
If you’ve seen the movie, then you know that Bruce soon realizes the error of his ways and comes to appreciate the Lord. His life suddenly has meaning and by the end, he starts to appreciate the little things, including Jennifer Aniston, who plays his girlfriend.
Personally, I wouldn’t have any trouble appreciating Jennifer Aniston, so that’s the one plot point I never connected with. It certainly didn’t prevent my enjoyment of the film, though, because I watch it nearly every time it’s on television.
The sequel to Bruce Almighty focuses on Evan Baxter, Bruce’s one-time foil who now finds himself elected to Congress. In this film, God contacts Evan and tells him he must build an ark to prepare for the coming flood. Evan initially resists, but gives in once animals start following him around and his physical appearance suddenly transforms into Noah—complete with a beard that can’t be trimmed and flowing robes that replace any outfit Evan attempts to change into.
The message in Evan Almighty is, of course, that one man can make a difference and change—or even save—the world. Again, this is a movie I catch myself watching any time I come across it while channel surfing. It never ceases to entertain me, and I have loved Steve Carell since his first appearance on “The Office” all those years ago.
The movie idea that I have is kind of in the same vein as these two films, albeit with slightly more drama and more serious undertones. Yes, there will be comedic elements throughout and a thoughtful message will be delivered by the end, but my movie will lean more towards the dramatic side of the coin, at least in its final act.
Bruce had God’s powers and Evan built an ark. For my film—the working title of which is Come Again (as I’m sure you gathered from the title of this post)—the religious, Biblical event will be… wait for it… the SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST!
You think that might get people talking?
I’ll be honest. All I have so far are some general ideas, a few character possibilities and some tentative scenes in mind. Nothing about this idea has been fleshed out, despite it being locked in my head for a number of years. I can’t remember when it originated—perhaps as early as 1988, when The Last Temptation of Christ was released, or as late as The Passion of the Christ in 2004—but one or both of these films played their part and inspired me.
I’ve just been lazy in actually dealing with it, which is why I’m sharing it with you today, dear readers. I’m hoping that YOU will provide the insight I need to get this idea off the ground after first determining whether you feel it’s worthy of my attention at all. Yes, I’m asking a lot, but you have always been up to the task and I have no reason to believe this will be any different. Thanks again for being so willing to help.
Before I begin, let me first offer this brief disclaimer: I am not and would never profess to be an expert in the subjects of religion and spirituality. As my blog title indicates—sort of—I am agnostic and do not practice any specific religion. I have studied world religions before—both in college and recreationally, to satisfy my own interests—but certainly hold no academic degrees in these fields. Please excuse any discrepancies you find between my own fictional story and Biblical accounts. Instead, do me a “solid” and point them out by leaving some comments. The more accurate my depiction can be, the better, after all.
That being said, here is the basic premise of Come Again. Please excuse me if some of this drifts into the stream of consciousness, pun intended.
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. –Matthew 24:36, NIV
As I understand it—and given my limited knowledge of the Bible—the Second Coming is when Jesus Christ comes down from Heaven to take true believers and the penitent upstairs while everyone else burns down below. Granted, this is a very rough interpretation, but it covers the basics.
Consider this, though: What if God took a different approach and instead had his Son “reborn” into a human body? This would allow Jesus a firsthand view of the human experience and, in turn, allow for a more informed judgment of mankind later. By living as a human—in this case one who isn’t born with the knowledge of who he really is—Jesus can experience what we experience and feel what we feel. He can truly understand.
What came to mind next was the question of Jesus’ rebirth. The first time around was immaculate—Mary just turned up pregnant and the father turned out to be The Big Man himself. This time, though, I feel like it could go one of two ways. First, the birth could again be immaculate, only this time it’s because his mother is a whore and can’t remember who she may have been with at the time of his conception. Not knowing in this way equates to having no father at all.
The second approach would be to give Jesus both a mother and a father. Yes, God is his real dad, but he would also have a human father in his life. And since he doesn’t realize he’s the Second Coming—at least not until later in the film—this man would actually be his father, and he would love him accordingly.
Personally, I like the second option because it gives Jesus an even deeper, more fulfilling human experience. Would you agree?
Okay, let’s assume that Jesus is reborn and give him a name. I have toiled over what to call this person and tried desperately to find a name that hinted at something Biblical. The working name I’ll use for now is pretty obvious: Jay. Yes, I could also call him J.C., but I have a friend with that name and as much as I hate to say it, he ain’t no Jesus. He’s close, but those shoes are too big for his tiny feet to fill, believe me.
Of course, I did come up with some more creative names, I think. One was Lee—being short for Galilee—and I even toyed with the notion of calling him Nezra—a play on the word Nazareth. With no intention of sounding racist, this name seemed a little black to me since the only Nezras I’ve ever known have been black. It might not be a bad idea to make him black since some believe Jesus may have actually been black. Odds are he had more of an olive complexion, but who knows for sure. This would certainly add some controversy, but that’s not really what I’m after, so why go down that road?
I did consider naming the main character Beth for Bethlehem, but that would also require a change in gender. Granted, this could add a layer to the film and intensify Jesus’ human experience—having to deal with new genitalia and more attention from guys on top of everything else—but I have no idea how I’d write that one. A female partner would help since my depictions of females have always been lacking. Hell, I don’t understand women myself, much less how to write realistic women into my screenplays!
Back to Jay.
Jay is born and lives his life as any human boy would. Maybe he has a home with loving parents or a broken home with a negligent father, who knows. I haven’t really gotten that far yet. We can assume that regardless of his upbringing, Jay is a genuinely good person with a kind heart—he’s the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, for His sake. As such, perhaps he volunteers at a soup kitchen, helps others as a social worker or simply lends a hand to anyone in need. Jay is a nice guy and, whenever possible, he is always looking out for his fellow man.
I kind of envision Jay as an activist… one of those people who are sick and tired of everything that’s wrong in the world and willing to take action while others do nothing. Unfortunately, his activism comes at a cost when it interferes with—and eventually terminates—his actual career and even his relationship with his girlfriend. Jay is on a downward spiral, but somehow manages to “keep the faith”—in more of a spiritual than religious way—and that’s when it happens.
He starts to catch glimpses of who he truly is.
At this point, my ideas get a little hazy and disjointed. I have no idea where the whole “judgment of humanity” plot line will lead—which is basically the entire third act, I imagine—but I do have some scene ideas involving Jay’s awakening. The first comes in his bathroom just after taking a shower.
Jay is standing in his bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. His hair is wet and water is still dripping off of him as he stands there admiring himself in the small mirror over the sink. Steam still fills the room as Jay decides to check a different mirror: the full-length one behind the bathroom door.
The long mirror is fogged up, so Jay uses his still damp hand to wipe it clear. Just as he does, he notices a rather disturbing reflection that sends him leaping backwards in shock, nearly into the shower curtain and tub behind him. He slowly rises to his feet, never once taking his eyes off the reflection in front of him.
Standing there is Jesus Christ, complete with robes, sandals and that trademark beard. Even more, it isn’t some image of Jesus, like one you might see in a Sunday school book; it’s him made to look like Jesus.
Unable to believe his eyes, Jay immediately slaps himself across the face, shakes his head vigorously and checks the mirror again. This time the reflection is his own: a half-naked man dripping wet with a towel wrapped around his waist. Jay sighs with relief at what he thinks must be some kind of hallucination and just before the scene cuts, his towel accidentally falls to the ground.
That’s the first potential scene I came up with, but the second would come a short time later. By this point, Jay’s had some strange experiences that lead him to believe he might be Jesus reborn, but he still hasn’t accepted the fact completely. Maybe he decides to visit a friend—someone more religious who might be able to help—or to do some other as-yet-determined task, but this scene takes place in his car.
Jay is driving along, minding his own business and sipping from a bottle of water he just bought at a convenience store. Perhaps the soundtrack from Jesus Christ Superstar is playing, he’s typing out a text message on his cell phone or something else is distracting him, but Jay doesn’t realize he’s picked up speed.
A highway patrolman passing by him notices, though, and moments later Jay is pulled over to the side of the road. He knows a speeding ticket is coming his way and despite being a grown man, still finds himself nervous. To calm his anxiety—as the officer slowly approaches his car—Jay takes a few deep breaths and one more swallow from his water bottle. He kicks the bottle back, takes a few big slugs with his eyes closed and then opens his eyes to a damning realization: the water in the bottle is now red because he turned it into wine!
Try explaining that one to a cop with purple teeth and an open bottle of wine in your hand!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all I have. Granted, there are some other ideas floating through my mind—and I haven’t really devoted the proper time to this idea yet—but for now, that’s everything.
So my questions for you, dear reader, are as follows: Do you think this is an idea worth pursuing? Does it seem like a film you and others would want to see? Or is it total crap and a complete waste of time?
Remember that I am not easily offended—if you manage to offend me at all, which is hard to do—and I welcome any constructive criticism, feedback or suggestions you are willing to offer. Please use the comments section and understand that anyone who attacks me for religious reasons—because using Jesus and the Bible in a fictional story is sacrilegious or something—will have their comments removed since nothing here is intended to mock Christianity or those who follow it. To them I say simply, “Lighten up.”
And who knows? I may even toss in a poll to make responding even easier. Either way, thanks for reading about my latest Big Idea despite its excessive length and my rather verbose approach. Creativity just gets me worked up, you know?
Peace out, peeps. And be good to each other.
Posted on September 8, 2013, in Perspectives, Writing and tagged Bruce Almighty, creative writing, Evan Almighty, film, God, ideas, inspiration, Jennifer Aniston, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jim Carrey, movies, perspectives, religion, screenwriting, spirituality, Steve Carell. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.