Ramblings From an Apathetic Adult Baby

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Bathroom Defibrillator

FADE IN:

 

EXT./ESTAB. HARTSFIELD-JACKSON ATLANTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – DAY

 

INT. MEN’S BATHROOM – DAY

A maintenance man mounts a defibrillator on a men’s room wall. He boots up the machine and paces the four steps to the doublewide handicapped stall—this bathroom’s infamous “hot corner.” Completed, he steps back and sighs. He rounds the corner out of the bathroom and is handed a pink slip. A whistle pierces the chatter of the terminal.

 

INT. CONFERENCE ROOM – MORNING

A wasp-y group of older men in suits bicker around a conference table. One stares out of the massive picture window overlooking the airport. He exhales slowly, adjusting his tie clip. He steps up to the podium and the room quiets. The presentation screen behind him has a bulleted list: “Tarrington’s Law. Budget cuts. Less maintenance personnel and less emphasis on ‘clean’.” Next slide reads: “One handgun for all of Security; give the rest whistles.”

 

INT. LIVING ROOM – EVENING

A TV News reporter babbles. Below him the headline reads “Tarrington’s Law Official: Hartsfield-Jackson Guilty, Must Accommodate”. Alone, an obese man watches, rapt, from his cramped living room. His excess spills over each armrest of his Jazzy Scooter. He’s nodding approvingly and begins to slow clap. Cheeto dust haphazardly flies, lightly coating the disability check and popcorn tin magazine in the scooter’s basket. After two attempts at standing for this ovation, he concedes defeat. Beads of sweat pool on his lack of neck.

 

EXT. DOWNTOWN ATLANTA COURTHOUSE – AFTERNOON

Reporters flood the courthouse steps in downtown Atlanta. The Tarringtons and their legal team emerge. A cheer rises and flashbulbs fire as the widow and daughter toddle down the courthouse steps. The news syndicates jockey for position amidst the motorcade of parading mobility scooters tooting their horns in support. Hurried interviews follow. The Tarringtons speak through joyful tears and countless hugs. Reporters evoke inappropriate hyperbolic comparisons.

 

INT. COURTROOM – LATE MORNING

The daughter weeps on the courtroom stand. Makeup runs down her jowls. Between sobs she recalls a story about how her dad made it to every single one of her high school theater events, seeing all eight performances of Grease her freshman year even though she’d only been in the chorus—a feat not one of her friends’ parents could claim. She and the lawyer speculate on the immense amount of love he still had left to share. Tears well in the eyes of the monster truck driver seated in the jury box. The David Blaine impersonator next to him offers a tissue. The defense team and the airport executives restlessly fidget.

 

INT. COURTROOM – MORNING

A white board is propped up at the front of the courtroom. At the top of it the defense team has underlined “Free Will”, “Rational Choice”, and “America”. Below is a cartoon drawing of a bloated man and a heart with a frowny face. A doctor in a white coat is on the stand, pointing at and concurring with the unscientific diagram. The airport execs confidently nod.

 

EXT. HARTSFIELD-JACKSON ATLANTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – AFTERNOON

A chanting mob pickets outside the airport entrance. Police barricades create a narrow corridor into the terminal. Travelers and families with suitcases struggle through the rabid mass. Multiple signs read “Executed By Neglect” with Frank Tarrington’s picture. Others signs include “More Reasons to Hate Airports” and “Don’t Support Your Local Murderers.”

 

INT. NEWSROOM BULLPEN – MIDDAY

A reporter hangs up his office phone and frantically scribbles out a note. He briskly walks into the adjacent conference room. Two banners stretch across one end reading “ABC—Always Be Controversial” and “Cite Everything, or Don’t!” He quiets the room and writes “Frank Tarrington” in huge letters on the white board. Below he writes “List-y,” “Blame-y,” and “250-Word Maximum.” He examines the side of the board with the day’s articles. The ideas about the best Atlanta dog parks and favorite Halloween pasta recipes for  are kept; instead he crosses out “More Conflict in Syria” and writes “Tarrington.”

 

INT. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE – MIDDAY

An attorney sits behind his giant desk examining a legal document. The widow Tarrington and her daughter sit across from him. Between dabbing their eyes, the Tarringtons, together, polish off a box of mini muffins. The attorney puts the paper down and leans in. He grits his teeth. He gives a little shrug and the widow’s tears come faster. Her daughter tries to console her. The lawyer squirms, mouthing “I’m sorry.” The Tarringtons both continue to cry. After pondering for a few seconds, the lawyer holds up one finger, and picks up the phone.

 

INT. MORGUE – NIGHT

Frank Tarrington’s massive body is laid out under a sheet on a coroner’s table. The warped tattoo on his upper arm depicts a pizza in the shape of a heart. The coroner hands the widow a plastic bag containing the keys to Frank’s Dodge Shadow, his wallet containing six dollars and his Chili’s VISA, his flip phone, and his cigarettes.

 

INT. MEN’S BATHROOM – MORNING

Frank shuffles into the near-empty airport bathroom, strategically entering the doublewide corner stall. He unbuckles his belt and collapses onto the toilet. A tranquil instant passes as he looks up at the ceiling. He loosens his tie. His entire face starts to tighten and he emits a deep groan, like the slow bending of steel. Struggling, his breaths take on a Lamaze-ian quality. Tremors echo throughout his doughy legs. A blood vessel behind his left eye breaks and his iris gains a scarlet shadow. The breaths are coming even shorter now. His eyes widen as he stares up at the ceiling again—this time for God. He extends his right arm, readying it to knock his body back into rhythm, but instead he collapses onto the damp tile. Two packets of Metamucil tumble out of his shirt pocket along with a receipt to a fondue restaurant.

 

FADE TO BLACK.

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“Good Burger”: Harbinger of the Commodification Age

Follow the recipe, collect the checks, and churn out the marketable drivel. Modern-day directors punch the clock. Time is money; art stays absent from the equation. A craft with a calling and passion has mutated into a logarithm. In this cinematic wasteland, though, a beacon burns—a bold paragon of hope named Brian Robbins.

 

A true maverick, Robbins holds an unapologetic mirror up to civilization and begs us to heed reality. From unearthing the contemporary struggle of forgotten youth and unrealistic expectations in his gritty 1999 exposé on West Texas football culture, Varsity Blues, to 2007’s brilliantly repulsive avant-garde piece, Norbit, Robbins habitually leaves audiences reassessing their lives and choices.

 

The oft-overlooked Good Burger is no exception. Robbins’ un-sophomoric sophomore picture personifies the unending struggle between character-rich individuality and faceless corporate expansion. The audience and industry each coerced into examining what road we’re on.

 

A simple man tries to escape debt’s slippery slope while a soon-to-be-sprawling conglomerate, Mondo Burger, jeopardizes his livelihood. Caught between noble individualism and succumbing to rigid commoditization, there’s no question this fable rings close to home. Good Burger lends audiences that horrific glance into that not-too-distant future where workplaces are sterile machines filled with jumpsuit-clad burger-peddling cogs obeying military-like orders.

 

This 95-minute funk-laden treasure seems as if it erupted out of Robbins. No longer could the visionary remain silent while countless American Goliaths gobbled up Davids by the dozen. Good Burger maintains that, without intervention, we’re headed towards a dystopia where countries and states are archaic and corporations reign supreme.

 

Robbins christens small business as the final bastion of individuality within American consumerism. Value, he imparts, needs to be re-construed as originality, heart, bumbling idiots trying to repair a broken shake machine from inside said “Strawberry Jacuzzi.” Value can be bigger than just more chemically engineered meat per dollar. There’s a genuine goodness beyond the limited spectrum of cookie-cutter sprawl. That character and flavor, each and every small business’ personal Ed’s Sauce, is under constant threat of being forever squeezed out.

 

The tour-de-force crescendos into a beautiful cryptic climax. Mondo Burger tries to sabotage Good Burger by using their government connections to detain our heroes within a mental institution. From there it’s your typical farce involving a George Clinton dance number, a high-speed chase with a stolen ice cream truck, and comeuppance via exploding hamburgers.

 

Are massive corporate takedowns so demanding that one would need an equally zany, unlikely sequence to accomplish one, or is Good Burger relaying that it requires a radical event by dedicated individuals to pull of something so monumental?

 

Concession or call to action, we may never know. Robbins, though, has done his job; we are having the discussion, and that’s where all change has to start.

 

 

 

 

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