A few years ago I found myself engaged in conversation with a mid-level film producer whilst waiting for a train. As we stood on the platform, he enquired, possibly simply out of politeness, whether I had any good ideas for films (though the fact he waited so long to broach such an obvious topic would seem to indicate genuine interest spurred by some element in our conversation prior to that point which had enabled him to identify me as a formidable creative force.)
I had made known my disdain for much of the adapted fiction/speculative fantasy which had been produced by “Hollywood” in its near-century of underachievement, and I maintain a tenacious grip on my own works, (many of which cannot even be discussed beyond the blurb without my representatives first receiving a small honorarium as a statement of interest,) so the only option left to me was to offer this man my idea for a sequel or “follow-up” to an existing property.
The film in question was Twins, the successful action comedy romp starring a virile Arnold Schwarzenegger and the swarthy and decidedly un-Teutonic Danny DeVito. My proposed sequel was to be called Quads*.
Following a similar pattern to the original, we start with two storylines showing seemingly unrelated and diametrically opposite adults going about their daily lives. Jackie Chan is twin Hong Kong hustler urchins, partaking in hilarious slapstick petty crimes against property and occasionally the person.** The Chan brothers use their identical physical appearance and amazing acrobatic feats of violence to dumbfound the local mob bosses and maintain a degree of independence from the quagmire of organised crime.
They seem to display a preternatural intelligence which is wasted in filching dumplings from old crones who push wooden carts and wear stupid hats. It is almost as though they have some element of the more sophisticated European cultural mindset which sets them apart from their fellow slum-dwellers.
Meanwhile, Jean-Claude Van Damme is twin Belgian research scientists, as alike in the power of their minds as they are in the symmetry and firmness of their shoulders and trapezoids. These brothers’ almost telepathic bond has given them a vast shared body of knowledge from which either can draw. The Van Dammes have developed some spectacular products in their careers, from improved pest extermination devices to a handheld automated judicial device which can be used by street police officers to determine the guilt of suspects from vocal and chemical cues, thus eradicating the need for the wasteful trial element of the criminal justice system.
Their latest discovery is a rudimentary perpetual motion device, which, when properly patented and rolled out by a monopolistic supplier, could provide for all the energy needs of humanity at no current expenditure cost to the producer. Reckless rumours around the laboratory speculate that the Van Dammes plan to use the device to rip a hole in the temporal fabric of our universe and skip back and forth through time.
Of course this is ridiculous. It is not at all possible to flit back and forth through time, even with the potentially limitless power available from the invention of the Jeans-Claude. However, desperate men will believe stupid things, and none is more desperate than the tenured professor at the research institute where the identical beefcakes are employed.
Played by Jeremy Irons, the professor has become lazy and reckless after years of gaining prestige and trips to swanky conferences off the back of others’ hard graft. He has incurred substantial gambling debts and the ire of the Swiss Mafia. Facing financial ruin, public indignation, and the destruction of his “enlightened” poly-amorous, pansexual open marriage, Jeremy Irons needs cash, and he needs it fast. If only he had worked harder in the last 10 years, establishing patents, releasing tiny incremental changes to existing products to keep them under copyright protection, and speculating on the public’s insatiable desire for coffee with too much milk served in unnecessarily large cardboard cups.
If only Jeremy Irons had a time machine, he could go back in time; he could make a few shrewd investments, bet on some unsurprising sports results*** and then come back to the present day with a veritable shitload of money at his disposal.
Irons knows that he would never get his hands on the perpetual motion device with the Van Dammes around, as not only are they fiercely protective of their intellectual property, they’re also adept at totally snapping people’s necks with hardly any effort at all. The buff brothers will have to be distracted and taken away from the lab if Irons is to dance brazenly across the boundaries of time and reason.
Luckily for Jeremy, the Van Dammes have just found out that their conception was part of a utopian sperm-mingling experiment to create a specimen of athletic and intellectual perfection to give the West the edge over the Ruskies. However, unbeknownst to the Van Dammes, when the elite spooge was shoved up some hot secretary, it didn’t just result in the conception of the two fine Flemish frères.
Oh no, Jeremy Irons has discovered there were other twins quickening away in that crowded uterus. That pair got the raw deal in the jizzum lottery, ending up with all the wily, lawless, diminutive and Asian genes.**** They were promptly shipped off to Hong Kong, where any damaging impact would be restricted to a less salubrious outpost of Western imperial influence.
The Van-Dammes, still tied to outmoded ideas of fraternal loyalty as a result of their cloistered existence of permanent success, set out immediately for Hong Kong to “find themselves”, leaving the perpetual motion device at the whims of Jeremy Irons.
Just as Jeremy Irons is about to enter the temporal rip, a man clatters into the laboratory shouting for him to stop. Irons ignores the voice and steps nonchalantly toward the rift in linear chronology. The intruder tackles Irons to the floor and wrestles him away from hole in time and space. “Who are you?” asks Irons.
“I’m us,” replies his assailant…
If this was not the finest “elevator pitch” the producer had ever heard, then I can only imagine he was present in Michael Crichton’s head when the late visionary summoned up the idea for Jurassic Park. The minor mogul was so astounded by the strength of my complex splicing of hard sci-fi, mass market action comedy and neo-Randian doctrine, that he neglected to ask for my contact details before rushing to board a train which had just arrived four platforms away.
Sadly this meant I was unable to fill him in on the finer details of the remaining two and half hours of the film. Whilst I would never be so idiotic as to offer specifics to the piratical domains of the WorldWide Web, I will at least provide a loose skeleton of the immediate developments:
- The man accosting Jeremy Irons is indeed himself, from the past, sort of. Alan Rickman plays the older version of Irons, who travelled 10 years back in time to make canny investments and leveraged buyouts of companies offering pointless consumer catnip to the senseless masses of the preceding decade. However, Rickman realised that, though it is possible to flit back in time using the perpetual motion device, it is not at all possible to flit back forwards.He returned to the exact time and place where he first leapt across the eternal void to warn himself (Irons) that the journey could not be reversed. Rickman had been stranded in the past for 10 years, forced to watch humanity, and specifically his own promiscuous multi-ethnic “family”, repeat the mistakes they’d made before, terrified that intervention would create a time paradox, ending the existence of the universe.
- As Irons is working his leisure-addled brain around the schema of Rickman’s explanation, a new rift opens in the laboratory. Out strides Steven Berkoff, bearing an expression of intense determination. Berkoff informs Rickman and Irons the he (Berkoff) is them (Irons and Rickman) from the future, come back to warn them (Irons and Rickman) of an imminent threat to the very systems which hold the planet together.The Van Dammes will find the Jackie Chans in Hong Kong and partake in some international-market-friendly mostly dialogue-free bonding hijinks. Once the four men have established a close connection, the freeloading criminalistic attitude of the Oriental siblings will infect the rational minds of the Van Dammes. After securing start-up capital from guilt-ridden turncoat high net worth philanthropists, they will use the perpetual motion device to provide free energy to the planet. This will have a devastating impact on the energy extraction and distribution cartels and decimate the pension funds of countless productive participants in the economy. Irons, Rickman and Berkoff must stop this at any cost…*****
This idea is still available for development, should any producers be reading (particularly if you are in possession of the rights to the original Twins, but I’m sure we can find a way around that.) This is not a labour of love, but rather a throwaway moment of genius resulting from a heated debate on the wasteful mishandling of sci-fi ideas in mainstream entertainment – so I am willing to be flexible about fine details of the plot.
There’s still plenty you don’t know, for example, the genealogy and works of each of the 14 sperm donors; the delivery medium which transported aforesaid semen into the attractive secretary’s surprisingly capacious parts; whether Steven Berkoff is the older version of the embittered, but hardened-by-experience, Alan Rickman, or the callow and untested Jeremy Irons, who still holds a strong attachment to the deviant conglomeration he considers a family.
Although I am willing to be flexible on any number of the matters outlined above, I would ask any prospective producers to note that my fee is not negotiable.
* The title Quads is clever in a number of ways, not only is it the appropriate terminology for the circumstances outlined in the film (two sets of identical twins in the same litter), but it is also a homophone, being a truncation of both the word “quadruplets” and “quadriceps” (the extensor muscles of the leg, which would need to be especially rippling and well-developed for the back-flipping and “butt-kicking” enacted by our heroes). A lazier custodian of this franchise would likely have chosen to call a sequel to Twins, Triplets, but this is a common mistake which neglects the astonishing force of exponentiation. If film sequels followed an exponential pattern, then the advertisements could more accurately boast the latest instalment to be “twice as good/fun/harrowing as [its predecessor]” and by only the 11th chapter it could truthfully claim to be “1024-times better than the original”. The crucial role of exponential mathematics in the marketing of mainstream cinematic fayre has been ignored for too long – the organisers of the Global Marketing Conference 2012 in Seoul should be prepared to hire several extra interns, as I plan to follow through on my promise 13 years ago to each year double my efforts in applying for one of the open speaker slots to deliver a lecture on my proprietary exponential marketing model.
** I would countenance the occasional pick-pocketing of an uppity business executive who was stupid enough to wander into the slums. That’s just asking for it.
*** Although a reckless gambler, and guilty of partaking in countless nefarious pleasures of the flesh, Jeremy Irons is not an idiot and so would not succumb to what I call “The Tannen Fatuity”. Biff Tannen, in Back to the Future: Part II displays an astounding lack of foresight when he uses the Almanac from 2015 to make millions on shock sporting results. This was only ever going to draw attention to the slow-witted manure-o-sceptic. Had Tannen had the patience and intelligence to simply bet big on a continuing succession of short-odds unsurprising victories, he could’ve avoided the attentions of the mob, heartlessly slain George McFly much earlier, and shacked up with Lorraine long before she’d whelped the troublesome Marty, who would eventually contribute to his downfall. Jeremy Irons will only bet on games with an obvious outcome, but play the margins carefully, shrewdly picking a first scorer here, an aggregate scoreline there, and thus accruing more than sufficient wealth to cover his debts and support the perverse decadence of his home life.
**** In case you weren’t paying attention, these other twins are Jackie Chan.
***** This is probably the point at which Quads breaks loose from the boundaries of a straightforward sequel and enters transcendent narrative realms. Whilst the original Twins featured a roguish lawless character in the form of Danny DeVito, he was, at worst, an anti-hero and essentially pure in his motives. In Quads, the intention to release the perpetual motion technology on an open source model would seem to make the Van Dammes villainous, or at best imbecilic. The real meat of the narrative comes in the extended debate between Irons/Rickman/Berkoff and the Van Dammes, (possibly over a waterfall, or atop a volcano, or a burning train or something,) in which the ripped geniuses are persuaded that the free licensing of the device would bring about the decline of market capitalism as we know it and destroy all we hold dear. Once persuaded, the Jeans-Claude could retire to a secluded mountain getaway to invest their profits in further innovations, and, if sentimentally inclined, attempt to teach some modicum of business acumen and ingenuity to their deficient siblings. A less adventurous producer may decide they want the Van Dammes/Chans to “win” at the end by making their technology available to even the most backward corners of the globe. If so, I would insist on conscience that any sequel to such a bowdlerised version take place in a hideous trade-free dystopia where the bodies of creative individuals are literally leeched dry by the feckless masses using a series of crude and inefficient out-of-copyright suction devices. To do otherwise would be to abandon the message of my film. Besides, a sensible filmmaker would agree that the most cost effective approach to the franchise would be to bring in a whole new set of principle players for the sequel Octuplets, in line with my Exponential Marketing Mechanism™©® outlined above.