A Movie 25 Years in the Making

For almost two years I'd heard rumors of a script called either "1977" or "5/25/1977" or something like that, written by the director of Angus (one of the coolest movies I've ever seen), Patrick Read Johnson. I'd tried looking for it before, but I am not a Harry Knowles; I cannot just ask some spy to grab me a script. That said, I finally found it (under its proper title of 5-25-77) a week ago (online, no less). I read it all this morning and, let me tell you, it's one hell of a script.

When I was first told of the story, I assumed it was something along the lines of Detroit Rock City: a movie dedicated to a select group of fans making a huge journey in order to see a concert or movie. Instead, I found myself realizing this script has more in common with Almost Famous. Both movies are autobiographical to some extent. Most of this movie, the reader is told, is true, and "the rest is even truer." Also, both convey a passion for their subject matter that seems missing in similar movies.

Patrick Read Johnson
Patrick Read Johnson
As the story goes, Johnson, when he was about 16, was given the chance to hang out with some of the guys who did special effects for Star Wars. The effects guys show Johnson a rough cut (we're talking about a rough cut that still had WW2 airplane footage in it) and from that moment on Patrick becomes obsessed with the film. Remember how hyped we were for TPM in 1999? Patrick was probably ten times more hyped for this first film than we were. The problem is, though, that he's the only one hyped. No one else knows, or cares, about Star Wars yet.

So the day comes (May 25, 1977) that Star Wars opens. From that moment on we're on a journey to see it. Obstacles keep getting put in Pat's way (a funeral, his lack of money, his lack of a car, and a girl with her fist stuck in her mouth), yet Patrick never gives up.

The best part about this script, though, is the fact that half-way through your mind stops thinking about Star Wars and becomes 100% attached to the characters. There's Patrick's mom, Janet, and I swear, I love this character. Currently Carrie Fisher is attached to star as her and I kept imagining her as his mom and it just seemed so perfect. Forget about the Fisher you know in a metal bikini in ROTJ and think about the dramatic and subtly-hurmorous one you saw in When Harry Met Sally. Then there's Pat's girlfriend, Linda, who, I swear, I would give my left arm to be with. And there's Bill, Pat's best friend, who you keep hoping will help Pat out but seems to busy partying.

The script has some great scenes in it too. There's a scene in the beginning when Bill and Pat debate the purpose of 2001: A Space Odyssey (a film which, I'm convinced, Johnson is more obsessed with than Star Wars).


The girls look over. 

(impatiently rattling)
If you're Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote the book-- and is an eternal optimist-- then Dave Bowman was sent back as The Star Child... the first-born of a new breed of man that might one day be ready to touch the stars... If you're Kubrick, who's such a realist he won't even fly-- then Dave was simply sent back as a kind of cosmic mirror held up before the Earth to say to humanity-- "This is what you are.   And this is all you'll ever be...a race of selfish, uncomprehending children." 

The girls bust up laughing-- Pat spins in time to see them shaking their heads as they peel off-- When he turns back.  Bill is staring at him.  His mouth ajar.

You are SUCH A GEEK!

The script, in many regards, reminds me of American Graffiti, which I believe was Johnson's intent. Both films feature their main characters trying to decide whether or not to leave their sleepy towns to voyage into the real world to fulfill their dreams (Patrick's being, of course, filmmaking). Also, like the script for Graffiti, this script is filled with references to music, noting with most of the big scenes what type of music should be played. It's quite a good list of songs too; I'm working as we speak on downloading them all and burning myself a soundtrack.

Jay Baruchel would be a perfect Patrick
Jay Baruchel would be a perfect Patrick
Best of all, though, I think is the family aspect of this story. Johnson has no problem showing us the problems of his family life, which brings an aspect to this script that enhances it ten fold. We get to see Pat's father, a man who's half the time drunk and would prefer Pat to go to med school. It's great to see a character like this who seems to completely dampen many of Pat's dreams; it makes for an interesting conflict.

Kristin Kreuk would kick @$$ as Linda
Kristin Kreuk would kick @$$ as Linda
5-25-77 is being developed as an independent film under the direction of Johnson and with producers Gary Kutz (Star Wars) and Fred Roos (American Graffiti). Currently, Carrie Fisher is set to star as Janet and Bob Balaban (2010) as most likely Herb Lightman (the then-editor of American Cinematographer Magazine). Christopher Lloyd will be making a cameo. "Christian Slater has expressed interest in doing a bit. Arianna and Bethany Richards will likely be in it. But the main teen leads will likely be newcomers," Johnson had said in an interview with FilmForce. Visual effects veteran Richard Yuricich (2001, Close Encounters) will serve as Visual Consultant (there are a few fantasies in this film, which I'm assuming will be what he'll be helping with) with FX work being handled by Dale Duguid and his Queensland-based PHOTON visual effects company.

Personally, I would like to suggest either Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous), Colin Hanks (Orange County), or Jay Baruchel ("Undeclared") for the part of Patrick and Kristin Kreuk ("Smallville") for the part of Linda. I can't wait to see this film; honestly, considering how small my town is and how we probably won't get a movie of this size, I imagine I'm going to end up going on the same journey to see this film as Johnson made to see Star Wars.

Nate Raymond

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Star Wars and all related elements are copyright LucasFilm. All other material copyright of Nate Raymond.