Dear Mr. Anderson:
If you should decide to ever film a movie in South Florida, I wanna be there.
Pastel condos, mumbling Cubans, Owen Wilson serving as a metaphor for pretty drowning. The Rolling Stones’ “19th Nervous Breakdown” playing in the carefully choreographed background. Three-legged stray dogs and six-toed Hemingway cats wandering on set.
Of course I want the film to be about me. I’d co-write it with you. But I want Luke Wilson to play me. Or kinda me. Me as Luke Wilson. He did such a good job as Richie Tenenbaum and as Anthony in Bottle Rocket. Besides, we’re all crazy characters; what’s the fucking difference?
Luke Wilson (that’s me) will be recovering from his latest suicide attempt in the Keys. He will be trying to bust his fucking brains out onto the page, but writer’s block and the fact that he hasn’t been laid in over a year stifle his creativity. Sure, there’s some lesbian porn watching. One day, the women turn into seagulls, and he decides to call his psychiatrist.
The shrink, played by Bill Murray, flies down to Key West to perform electroconvulsive therapy on Luke. Right before the nurses roll him back to the ECT room, a fellow patient, played by Alec Baldwin, asks Luke what ECT is like. Luke says, “It hurts.” Alec’s eyes fill with storms. Then, Luke says, “Not as bad as the depression.
The dark clouds stay in Alec’s eyes, but he smiles.
The nurses roll Luke in his hospital bed back after Alec. Dr. Leap and the anesthesiologist prepare Luke for the procedure. Now Elliott Smith is playing in the background—the song “Pretty (Ugly Before)”—as they give him a good zap.
Is it destruction that you’re required to feel?
(That’s the question central to the movie/my life.)
His family comes to his rescue in the recovery room. Jeff Goldblum is my dad, Frances McDormand is my mom, and Jason Schwartzman, even though he’s a bit older, will play my younger brother, Tim. (Note: In a perfect world, there would be no Gwyneth Paltrow.)
After a set of ECT treatments are done and Luke is feeling better again, the family takes a cruise to Mexico, heavily influenced by the time my family took a Caribbean Cruise to Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. Luke lies out on the beach and gets a suntan. There’s a blonde girl in a pink bikini (Greta Gerwig) that haunts his periphery throughout the vacation (and yes, whenever he sees her, Neko Case’s hollow voice plays in his head). One time she slathers sunscreen on her arms and whispers in Luke’s ear, “You live a neon existence,” to which Luke responds, as she scampers away with a smirk, “I went off my lithium. Is it that obvious?”
When he tries to go swimming in the crystal clear water, he sees a startling variety of fish and sea creatures that frighten him with their beauty. He dips his legs in and inches himself into the water, afraid to make contact with the creatures, fearing that any and everything he touches, he will destroy.
Two old ladies talk loudly about a shark in the water, and Luke freaks out. He stays in the water, though. Jason Schwartzman (Tim) will refuse to go into the water on account of this gossip, and Jeff Goldblum (Dad) will almost drown. Then, a close-up of Frances McDormand sunbathing, rolling her eyes.
In town, Frances McDormand attempts to haggle with a Mexican cashier about the price of a red dress, settling for two dollars less than the original price. She wears it to dinner back on the cruise. Luke reads David Foster Wallace’s “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” and becomes bored and somewhat depressed. He visits the almost empty pool on deck and watches sunny-haired Owen Wilson, in a black sombrero, down a bottle of rum and flail in the water; it’s two in the morning, and the lifeguard’s on break.
Edward Norton (the lifeguard) returns in a skimpy red speedo when Luke shouts, “Help! Someone’s drowning.” The lifeguard tells Luke, “I just ate,” to which Luke replies, “It’s your fucking job!” Edward Norton saves Owen Wilson, and Owen gives Ed his wet sombrero as a token of his appreciation. Luke has an epiphany, which is never revealed, except through the soundtrack: Elliott Smith’s “Everything Means Nothing To Me,” which plays while a few random fireworks go off.
While his family is out enjoying the amenities, Luke returns to the porn until there’s a knock on the door. It’s Greta Gerwig, to tell him, “Even demons need love.”
Luke says, “Especially.” They kiss. Then, they fuck to Van Morrison, because it’s a Wes Anderson movie.
The family returns to Key West. They go their separate ways, citing the ultimate excuse: life. Luke begins writing an autobiographical novel, called Roman à Clef, which is also the title of the movie.
So if you like what you’ve read so far, Wes, feel free to give me a ring. I’ll be living the script. Sorta.
Amy Suzanne Parker
Amy Suzanne Parker is a creative writing MFA student at Eastern Oregon University. She is working on a book of creative nonfiction about mental illness, weather, and place, among other random subjects. Currently (and unfortunately), she lives in Gainesville, Florida.
Photo by By Jacrews7 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACaptain_Tonys_In_Key_West.jpg), via Wikimedia Commons