I was going to post all this business on Wednesday, but it’s never a good idea to talk about an ongoing investigation, no matter how dedicated you are to living publicly. Now that the matter has been resolved, I give you the plot synopsis of the made-for-TV movie that was my life from Sunday until Wednesday of this last week.
It Wasn’t Me! The Vytautas Malesh Story
The first thing you see is me driving down the freeway and he gets cut off by this tie-wearing jerk in a hot convertible viper. He honks his horn, but the guy just shrugs like “Hey, I’m DRIVIN’ HERE!” And I just shrug it off, because I’m a good guy. A lot of audience empathy right there. I’m played by Shia Labeouf.
So first thing is I’m getting out of the car at my dad’s house, and that’s our establishing shot – suburbs, mid-winter, sunny and cold. I’m on the phone with the incomparable _______ telling her that I will make sure to save her some pierogi, and that I will take pictures of the proceedings with my camera phone. That’s important foreshadowing – CAMERA phone, okay? The Camera is the important part.
Inside, my dad (Morgan Freeman) is making pierogi and my family is all running around being loud and what not. It’s my sister’s birthday (I’m thinking probably like Mila Kunis for this? Someone a little more age appropriate, or? What’s Michelle Trachtenberg doing these days?) so she’s opening presents and what not, and as she opens presents in the background, Shia Lebeouf is opening his mail in the foreground.
Now, start the ominous music, that sort of low-key slow one-piano note kind of thing. Now, Shia Labeouf opens one letter after another without paying attention, until he comes to one with a green band at the top – that’s got to really pop, so tell the prop guys we need an envelope that stands out, got it? Okay, so his eyes are drawn to that envelope – he’s got to open it, got to!
His face is all scrunchy with concern as he reads the letter. Cut to an over-the-shoulder shot and we can see that the letter says that he is the prime suspect in an attempted car theft.
Okay, but he’s confused, right? I mean, this can’t be him – it can’t be! So he asks his dad, who’s a 30 year veteran of the police force and is 3 days away from retirement (Yeah, this should be the dad’s retirement party too – we can do some sort of side plot where the daughter feels slighted because it’s supposed to be her party, probably give it a little teen appeal), and Shia Labeouf asks him what it means.
So the dad says one of those Morgan Freeman lines like “Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’,” or like “This isn’t going to have a happy ending.” ooh, that’s a good one – let’s use that one, it’s from “Se7en.” Run with it. Anyway, the last thing you see of the letter is a name, a Detective S, and a phone number. Shia Lebeouf reads that sort of half aloud, that mumbly “I’m reading to myself” voice, so the audience knows it’s important, and there’s a close up on his eyes and brow, right?
So there’s a family party, we can do most of that in montage. Lots of hugs and stuff, let’s give it that whole “good family having a good time” sort of thing. Make sure everyone can see there’s some drinking going on so that everybody loosens up. Okay, so later he’s talking to an uncle or a cousin, it doesn’t matter, and he gets that “light bulb look,” and he explains that he just moved back to Michigan from Nevada, and with all the confusion on the plates, well that must be it right?
(note – somewhere better than these two states, right? More dramatic? Either move back to New York from Kansas or Nebraska or something, or let’s just put the whole thing somewhere nice. Do they eat pierogi in Hawaii? Are the pierogi important? Let’s have this whole thing be a luau – it’s not a peirogi party, it’s a poi party – okay, we’ll change that before we pitch this thing.)
So the poi party wraps up and it’s the next day when Shia Labeouf calls the detective. The detective’s voice is really muffled, so you don’t know anything about him. Shia Labeouf says that he’s calling about that complaint, and the detective gives him a real once-over, real bad cop sort of stuff, talking about how they had him on video and they were calling in the print lab and all that business.
So Shia LaBeouf goes on about how he didn’t steal a car, about how he’s innocent and everything, and the detective just says something really ominous, like “we’ll see about that” okay, and that’s good because we were all talking about cameras earlier, so you SEE things that are on a CAMERA.
So Shia Labeouf starts to tell all his friends about this, and two of them totally say “Hey, maybe you got really drunk and don’t remember!” (Can we get Ashton Kucher for one of these guys? – ed.) and this totally freaks our guy out, right? Okay, it’s going to be a lot of expression stuff, but you’ve got to see that he’s really worried because maybe that poi party shows that he’s had a problem with drinking before, right?
So that night he goes into his closet and pulls out this big black duffel bag and inside is all this ninja gear, and cool batman devices like a grapple gun and whatever, and that’s in the foreground, but in the background you see a decanter full of booze, and he has this real soul-searching moment where he picks up the bottle and his hands are shaking, and you can tell he’s really fighting with it, but then he looks at a framed picture of his dad in a police uniform, right? Okay, then he can see a picture of his girl, and she’s like probably Cameron Diaz if we can get her, but otherwise some fresh-faced up-and-comer, and he dumps the bottle out – big drama, moving really fast, montage.
And he’s all dressed up in black and he’s got all this special forces training, but he kind of turns his collar down and takes his mask off and he goes into this dive bar and meets up with this lowlife, this grimey back-alley sort of guy, I’m thinking Billy Zane with a good stubble and some airbrushed tattoos, give him a chance to play the heavy.
So he’s in the bar, and he walks right up to the bad guy’s table and you can tell they have this history, like maybe they were in a war or something, and they even say like “been a long time,” and “not long enough,” that sort of banter. But all these guys come out to jump Shia Labeouf, so he goes all total bad-ass and takes them down and there’s Billy Zane and he does that sort of slow clap thing, but when Shia Labeouf asks him about stuff he doesn’t know anything except he kind of mentions a place, like a factory or something, real industrial and gritty.
So we chew up a good ten minutes of Shia Labeouf infiltrating the compound with his grapple gun, and we can see he’s that sort of good-guy action hero, like he doesn’t kill anybody but he just knocks them out or ties them up, but mostly he’s slippery and he just gets past people and they never see him.
He gets to the parking lot and he sees this guy wearing a high school varsity jacket that looks just like his. Did we write that in earlier? Okay, note to self, go back and write that in. Anyway, there’s this jacket, and also this guy is trying to steal a car, but Shia Labeouf can’t stop him because he’s all the way up on top of this building, right? So he’s like “Hey, HEY!” and the guy hears him and runs. Shia LaBeouf chases him, but the guy gets into a truck that looks a lot like Morgan Freeman’s. Write that in too, it’s important and it foreshadows things – okay, so Morgan Freeman has a truck that looks a lot like this guy;s, let’s go back and put that in.
So Shia Labeuf jumps down while the truck weaves it’s way through the parking lot and there’s ANOTHER ninja on top of the factory (does it snow in hawaii? we really need it to look cold for the atmospherics here) and they fight, but you can tell that they’re both going for the truck, and there’s this scene where they both make it down to the truck and they’re fighting in the back, doing lots of kung fu or whatever while this guy is trying to get away, and as they fight they both get thrown out of the back just as the cops show up, and they both vanish, but you know they will probably duel another day because you hear this oriental flute music.
The next day, Shia Labeouf is looking at the letter and he talks to the detective again, and the detective tells him to come in for an interview the next day, so Shia Labeouf hangs up the phone and stares off into the distance, like he’s resigning himself to his fate.
Take some time here to explore one of the sub-plots, either the thing with the retiring dad / birthday daughter or the romantic interest, something for the ladies. Maybe both if we really want that teen demo. Anyway, someone gives Shia Labeouf some good advice and he takes heart and makes a note on his calendar that he has to go to that interview, then he goes to sleep.
So it’s the next day and Shia Labeouf is all wearing a tie, very professional. He talks to his lawyer who tells him that he didn’t do anything, that he should just be calm, answer the questions directly, and not to worry. He goes into the police station and meets the detective, and holy shit – it’s Jackie Fucking Chan! So holy crap right, and Shial Labeouf is all nervous, but the detective goes “I got a better look at the tape – and now I can see that it wasn’t you. You’re free to go.” And then they shake hands and Shia LaBeouf leaves and as he leaves he sees that Jackie Chan put something in the palm of his hand and it’s one of his very own signature ninja stars, and we hear that same oriental flute music from before.
Go back and write that in too – Shia Labeouf has special signature ninja stars.
So Shia Labeouf walks out of the police station and there’s his girl standing there, and she’s like “Everything okay?” and they have some witty and sexy banter, and she’s like “Let’s get out of here – I’ve got my car,” and Shia Labeouf says “I have a better idea, let’s steal one,” and he just goes over to this super hot sports car, jumps right in, and hotwires it on the spot so that everyone can be like WHOA, HE REALLY IS A CAR THEIF! And they drive away just as some jerky lawyer stiff type in a suit with a briefcase can chase after them and be like “Hey, that’s my CAR!” and we can see that it’s the same car that cut him off earlier.
Anyway, they drive off into the sunset. Can we get “Bad Romance?” I’m totally seeing this Viper convertible driving down to Malibu and hearing that Rama oh ma ma ga ga ba ba or whatever, but I’m not married to it if ASCAP says no.
A Look Back – 20 August 2021
I am *so funny*.
I’ve actually done a few of these cheesy “fake Hollywood” sort of write-ups that I’m only marginally qualified to do owing to an early infatuation with film (I was about one signed paper away from majoring in film as an undergrad). This one is based on a few different things, but most notably a UDA investigation in early 2010.
UDA = Unlawful Driving Away. It’s not *quite* car theft, more like attempted car theft or unauthorized car usage. It’s still illegal, and it still merits investigation, and in January of 2010 I received a letter letting me know that I was a prime suspect in a UDA case.
Some of this is actually pulled directly from that investigation, to wit: I was told that I had been caught, on tape, getting into a car at a nearby parking lot and attempting to drive away in it. I was reassured that yes, it was 100% me, no doubt, and that I was the guy who lived at such-and-such address and all the rest and there’s no way it wasn’t me, so I’d better just turn myself in.
Cops – what WON’T they say?
Suffice it to say, that was all complete bullshit and they had clearly mistaken me for someone else (if any of this even happened at all). Without naming names, I was connected with somebody at the time, and that person had lived nearby and that person had a felony record, so gun to head (cops, right?) I would have to say they probably thought that I was this other person.
Still, I did go through a brief moment during which I entertained the notion that I had gotten so obscenely deliriously drunk that I had stumbled around and tried to steal a car. Drunken stumbling was sort of my *thing* back then, and I wasn’t completely ruling out the possibility that I had gotten blackout drunk and tried to steal an automobile.
So I dressed up – suit and tie and all that – and made an appointment to go see the detective in charge of the investigation to get the whole matter straightened out. This was 2010 and I was only marginally employed, so I had the time and I was actually looking forward to the experience. I mean, best case: I’m let off the hook and I have a little story. Worst case? I go to jail for a bit, got three hots and a cot, no need to keep up the job search in the anemic 2010 labor market, and I still get a little story out of it.
But then the detective calls me about half an hour before I’m meant to go in to tell me he looked at the tape again, and he’s sure it wasn’t me. This tells us a few things right away: one, I obviously didn’t steal a car, and two, there was probably no tape to begin with, and three, yes, cops will just flat-out lie to get you to confess to shit you didn’t do. In case you’re wondering, I do NOT look like the person they might have confused me with except on the grainiest, blurriest, and most useless video – video so bad that any two people could be mistaken for one another. The kind of video that provides not evidence of a crime, but an excuse for persecution and harassment.
But why Shia Labeouf? At the time, he was sort of the kid-next-door everyman action hero of the Transformers franchise, and the Transformers franchise was still sort of not the complete disaster it is today, so it was an appropriately evocative casting choice. Plus I am a Transformer.