At our Ozone clubs, we often play silly or gross games, conjuring images of time spent at summer camp. However, I often lean towards activities that require a measure or two of creativity. In my bias, that often means the creation involves words.
I love nothing more than to hang pictures drawn by our elementary students and ask our teenagers to write a six word story about it while listening to oddly loud instrumental music. That has led to such gems as I have hung on my office corkboard: “Slowly leave something that is loved” and “Gazing serpent gazes at what was.”
Both of those were written about a basilisk fighting a robot, pictured in crayon.
This week we played a variation of Balderdash, the game that gives an obscure title or phrase from which the player must puzzle out meaning (or bluff very well). As I explained the goal – to either correctly describe a movie plot or to make up a feasible plot that matches the title – the students were confident. Most assured me that whatever the movie was, they had seen it.
“Ready?” I asked. “The movie is – The Hudsucker Proxy.”
As they stared, glassy-eyed, at their blank papers, I tried to help them along. “Who is the main character? Is it the Hudsucker Proxy? Or is the main character trying to find the Proxy? Maybe destroy it? Fall in love with it? Protect it?
“Is the Hudsucker Proxy a place? A spaceship? An idea? Is it in Canada? Or in King Arthur’s Court? Or on a moon of Jupiter? Maybe it’s in each of us.”
Obviously, none had heard of it. And no one was even close to the actual plot – a mailroom worker is promoted to CEO because the company’s exec board thinks he’s a schmuck. One-half of all submissions had to do with either the Hudson River or a vampire that sucked the heads of his/her victims.
In both our middle school and high school club meetings, there were some winners. These were ones with believable plots that at least tangentially involved a Hudsucking Proxy.
“Mr. Hudsucker is a jail escape artist who’s escaped from jail 20 times. And in his worst nightmare, he’s being chased by the proxyman. Despite the proxyman’s cuddly appearance, he can rip the flesh of a human with his bare hands. Mr. Hudsucker must escape from him and find his real world (not the proxy world).”
Very Inception-esque. I’d watch it. And if the proxyman looks like Mr. Hudsucker (which the definition would suggest so, though the author didn’t know it), I’d say the title is right on the money.
“A robot has to guard a dragon-princess, but he doesn’t want to. So he says to a human, ‘Hey guard this princess,’ and the human says, ‘Okay.’ Will the human do it? Will the robot get fired? Find out at the Hudsucker Proxy.”
Okay, so not even tangentially involving the HP, but I’m amazed at the fantastic cast of characters written against a mind-numbingly mundane plot.
“A hunter is attacked by a beast called a Proxy. So he has to fight back. It takes place in a dark forest where there is no sight of light! So in the end is he lost forever. But before then he kills the Proxy on mistake! But it was a good thing.”
The reversal that killing the Proxy was a mistake makes me think the hunter came to love the beast – or at least respect it. However, as in White Fang, it would never work. Also, the fact that he’s lost forever and now alone is quite disturbing.
“There are only two people left. There is no one else in the world. And they are on opposite sides of the world. The movie is about their journey to find each other. When they meet, they are brother and sister.”
Again, no HP, but the omission of how everyone on the planet died is captivating, as is the final twist that the two are brother and sister. Along with the writing, we held a movie poster competition. The poster for this plot won.
“During a normal shiny Tuesday morning, a flock of wasps takes over the world. They turn humans into other wasps and the world becomes ruled by wasps. Only one human survived the Hudsucker Proxy, and Bill Davidson will take back his land. He will have to survive these vicious wasps. He is willing to survive and he will. Watch to find out if this brave man will take back the Earth.”
For me, this is the clear winner. It includes the HP in a non-detrimental way (too many plots were horribly transfigured by jamming the HP in). It also sounds like a smashing movie trailer, with the expert introduction of Bill Davidson. And slowly enlarging his goal from “his land” to “the Earth” sets it up for a sequel.