Notes on the First Draft of Will Smith's Obama Biopic

Hey guys! This is coming along nicely. Even though we're in closed pre-production, there's already a ton of Internet buzz, and with Will on board, we expect it to be relatively smooth sailing from here on out. Wanted to get you our feedback on the draft…I think with a little--or possibly massive--retooling, this one will be guaranteed Oscar-bait.
  • We wanted the script to start off with some upbeat energy, and we’re glad to see you’ve done that. But I think we can do without the rap introductory sequence. On page 8 you’ve got Obama singing: So I’d like to take a minute Just sit right there I’ll tell you how I became the President Of the United States of America. First off, if we’re going to have a theme song, let’s get Will involved. He’s had a lot of success with that type of thing, and I’ve recently become confident that he knows how to rhyme better than you. But frankly, we thought you could accomplish the same effect with a scene of young Barack at a student rally, or maybe try replacing the “rare cab driver” character with an AIDS clinic worker. Also, we’re pretty sure Obama never said “smell you later” to anyone, let alone to George W. Bush on his inauguration day.
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  • You’ve done a really great job showing Barack’s Hawaiian roots. But after the luau, hula competition and surf camp scenes in the opening twenty minutes, do we really need Barack to wear a lei throughout the whole rest of the movie?

  • Just because we’ve got a popular black comedic actor in a sappy biopic doesn’t mean we can cut corners. Pages 56 to 72 are just the screenplay for Ray with the words “but he can see” pasted after each stage direction. At least replace the piano with a podium, something.

  • Of course, we’re all hoping that this thing will get some awards. It’s a touching portrait of an incredible man. But we also don’t want to count our chickens before they hatch. In other words, it might be a good idea to cut the in-character Oscar acceptance speech after the credits (but leave the blooper reel; really takes the edge off the assassination ending).

  • BARACK OBAMA IS NOT A ROBOT. I cannot stress this enough.

  • I hate to say it, because it was one of our favorite scenes, but Pg. 34-39 has got to go. Oliver Stone’s people said they’re definitely not cool with a W. crossover, and I’m afraid the Step it Up: 2 Tha Streets people felt the same. Obama and Hillary will just have to find some other way to settle their differences.
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  • We loved the Bill Ayers/Barack Obama camping trip and hug montage. Maybe work in some high-fives as well? We don’t want to risk being too subtext-y.

  • Now, I know you’ve got a difficult job: you’re writing the life story of a man whose greatest achievements are, hopefully, ahead of him. Nevertheless, we really think it might be a mistake to invent scenes from throughout Obama’s term during the third act.
    For example, the scene where Obama beats Osama Bin Laden in a dunk competition and sends him back to his home planet, SpaceJam (also, if you are indeed stealing the plot of Space Jam, you should know that’s not the name of the planet) may be exciting, but if it somehow turns out that doesn’t happen, it’ll really kill our DVD sales. Always be thinking ahead guys.
    And because I know what you’re going to ask, no, just putting the word “hypothetical” on the bottom of the screen won’t change our minds. It didn’t work for the Obama cloning scene (see later notes on this), and it won’t work here. This is a definite cut.

  • ”Urf?” Really? Come on guys. And I can’t believe I have to point this out, but when people talk about illegal aliens, they’re actually referring to non-citizen foreigners.

  • John McCain is much older than Barack Obama, and from a different state. It’s pretty unlikely that Lil’ McCain and Lil’ Barack would have formed any kind of childhood club, let alone a detective agency. Also, why is this scene at the end? You’re either ripping off Benjamin Button or Memento, and I don’t think we have legal clearance for either.

  • Even if Barack Obama were cloned, the idea that the clone would be a fully grown evil version of Barack is scientifically unlikely. And he almost certainly wouldn’t step out of the smoking clone chamber, “damp member aquiver (P. 108)” and say “I make this look good.”

  • When not script doctoring, Michael serves as head writer for and co-founder of Those Aren't Muskets!
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