If you love escapist Hollywood action films come on a fantastical romp with me. I recently discovered “the Bayifier” a delightful little website that takes a photo of your choice (or one of three stock options) and lets you give it the full Michael Bay treatment. You can make kittens explode, add a Shia head, whatever you please and don’t forget to add some fighter jets and plenty of fast cars. If you could add text, it would create enough viral memes to explode the Internet.
A co-worker suggested I Bayify (yes, it’s a verb now) a picture. It got me thinking, “what if I could Bayify a video clip?” I don’t know if it was the eight cups of coffee I’d had that day or my generally overactive imagination, but I suddenly wanted to give entire films the Michael Bay treatment. I wasn’t commissioned to write the outline for what I’m sure will become a hit film. (Though I will happily accept royalties and an Oscar statue). I’m doing it for the love of Bay’s style of over the top Hollywood action spectaculars. Without any further ado, I present to you the pitch for the Michael Bay reboot of Casablanca.
Rick (originally played by Humphrey Bogart): Channing Tatum
Ilsa (originally played by Ingrid Bergman): Megan Fox
Victor (originally played by Paul Henreid): Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Local Sycophantic Law Enforcement (originally played by Claude Rains): Charlie Sheen
Local Warlord/Villain (originally Conrad Veidt as Major Heinrich Strasser): Tom Hardy
Rick’s Business Rival (originally Sydney Greenstreet as Signor Ferrari): Matthew McConaughey
Sam the Entertainer (originally played by Dooley Wilson): Neil Patrick Harris
Black Market Goods Dealer/Local Slimeball (originally Peter Lorre as Signor Ugarte): Shia LeBeouf
We open in modern-day Iraq in the midst of a flashback. The screen is populated with Humvees, F-22 jets, explosions and other requisite elements for a Michael Bay battle. Cut to: Joseph Gordon Levitt, photojournalist, in civilian body armor, rapidly documenting important world events with his trusty camera. He gets into a tight spot in the midst of the battle.
Cut to: a group of soldiers including Channing Tatum doing something heroic when they notice Joseph Gordon Levitt the embedded photojournalist in peril. They manage to save Joseph and foil the plans of villain Tom Hardy and his henchmen. At some point in this scene during a particularly dangerous part of the battle, fraught with fear of death, Channing Tatum will look at a picture of his affianced: Megan Fox.
Present Day: Bartender and house musician Neil Patrick Harris finds a way to impart a whole lot of exposition in an entertaining and charming way. Channing Tatum is now running a bar and cafe mostly patronized by American soldiers, contractors and expatriates. We’re not sure how he got business permits, but it’s not that important. Channing obviously understands the local hustle and is (equally important) emotionally unavailable. After his tour of duty he went home and Megan Fox broke Channing’s heart. Heartbroken, Channing went back to Iraq as a civilian contractor. When his contract expired he had nothing to go home to so he opened the bar.
At some point in here, there will be a montage of shirtless expatriates and contractors playing pick up basketball with some delightful banter between Channing Tatum and rival bar owner Matthew McConaughey. Said dude banter will provide some further exposition about local villains and politics and so on.
A shirtless Channing returns to the bar as Neil Patrick Harris is in the midst of performing the poignant strains of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis for a pretty girl with her back to the camera. Channing, glistening with sweat, is obviously upset and hurries to remind NPH that he absolutely NEVER EVER wanted to hear that song ever again, and wasn’t that made clear in the interview? As the girl turns around she tucks her hair behind her ear with her left hand, a wedding band is clearly visible. Surprise! It’s ex-fiancé Megan Fox and Channing is shocked. Things ended so badly between them; he never expected to talk to her again, let alone see her again.
Sometime after the breakup, as fate would have it, an emotionally vulnerable Megan Fox meets and marries Joseph Gordon Levitt. That same photojournalist formerly embedded in Channing Tatum’s company and now Mr. Fox is back in Iraq and investigating Tom Hardy (evil opposition military guy) but he’s gotten into some trouble. Megan Fox wants, strike that, needs Channing’s help to save her husband.
She’s tried everything else she could think of: Charlie Sheen, the sycophantic local law enforcement officer doesn’t want to be associated with helping Joseph Gordon Levitt because he’s afraid of the Tom Hardy brigade. She thinks black market dealer and local slimeball Shia LeBeouf can get important information but she can’t get in contact with him. Channing will set up the meet between Megan and Shia and then he’s out. Seriously, he’s adamant about it.
Well that was it, until it becomes clear they need Channing’s special army-style skills and know how. He’s reluctant to be in such close proximity to Megan Fox, especially when it’s revealed there are problems in her marriage. But he steps up (pun intended) to the challenge and saves the day. During a crucial moment in the rescue operation Joseph Gordon Levitt gets clued in to Megan’s lingering feelings for Channing. I’ll leave it up to Michael Bay to figure out how to fit this in between the Ferrari 458 Italia vs. Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 car chase and subsequent explosions.
As Megan and Joseph prepare to leave the country, Megan clearly is thinking about staying there with Channing. A final chaotic battle breaks out as Charlie Sheen arrives at the behest of the Tom Hardy gang to stop Joseph Gordon Levitt from escaping the country. Channing saves the day (again) and sends the couple on their way in a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport with a maximum speed of 253 MPH so they can get out of town efficiently and with great style.
Megan jumps out of the Veyron to say something drastically important to Channing, he forces out the words “Don’t – you’ll regret it.” She attempts to contradict him and that is when he utters the iconic line- “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.”
As Megan and Joseph drive away it becomes clear that Channing is no longer content with being an impassive observer of injustice and he is going to take a stand against the bad guys (I’m not sure how, but it will be poignant and possible fodder for a sequel.)
Cue credits with special song by excellent and renowned rock artist David Bowie. The end.
Melissa is a whiz with social media and is constantly connected to the big four (Twitter, Facebook, Google & Pinterest). She has been an extra in a dozen films and lives in the L.A. area.