By Jim Caple
Page 2

Does the "Star Wars" saga end with tonight's opening of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith? George Lucas insists it does, but Page 2 thinks otherwise. Lucas, after all, once hinted at a nine-part series and our spies recently slipped behind the locked gates of Skywalker Ranch and uncovered what appears to be the screenplay to a seventh movie …

[After eight commercials, a lame "indy short" for Coke, an irritating Fandango promo with those stupid paper-bag people and eight trailers for upcoming movies (three of which star Will Farrell), the movie will finally begin, 35 minutes after its listed starting time in the newspaper, with these magical words … ]

SCENE 1

[As the opening crawl disappears into the distance, we see star cruisers, TIE fighters and Interceptors zoom across the screen exchanging spectacular laser fire. Are we in the midst of a battle, is this a new rebellion? No. The camera pulls back to reveal that we are seeing the new Star Wars video game being played by someone on Luke Skywalker's pit crew.

[Luke is on the other side of the shop working on the engine of his T-16 speeder, which is adorned with stickers advertising "Millenium Hyper-Drives," "Droids R Us," "Bantha-fil-a," "Starbucks," etc. He and R2-D2 are fine-tuning the speeder for Gascar's biggest race of the year, the Wal-Mart Tatooine 500,000.

[We hear a radio playing in the shop]

RADIO HOST: "And when we come back, we'll discuss last night's game in Anchorhead, where the Wookies went into the stands and started pulling Sand People's arms off. Is this the worst incident of violence we've seen yet between athletes and fans? Or were the Wookies justified because they were losing?

COMMERCIAL: "If you have the death sentence in 12 systems and you're a die-hard Tusken Raiders fan, then the most wretched hive of scum and villainy is your home away from prison. The Mos Eisley Space Cantina has 1,332 plasma holograms and 89 dedicated satellite dishes, so we can pull in broadcasts from one end of the galaxy to the other. And let's just say we aren't too concerned about Imperial entanglements over the federation's blackout rules. Remember, between Tatooine's first sunset and second sunset, nachos are always half off."

[Luke looks up from the engine as R2-D2 sputters.]

R2-D2: Pffffttt! Thrrreeeep!!!!

LUKE: You said it, R2. It's not like the old days of the rebellion. It was more exciting back then. But don't forget, under the Empire, nachos were always full price.

[Luke suddenly senses something, a presence he has not felt since he last was in contact with his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi. He cocks his ear and listens to an almost mystic voice.]

VOICE: "If you build it, he will come … "

LUKE: What? Who said that?

VOICE: "Ease his pain … "

LUKE: Where are you?

VOICE: "Go the distance … "

LUKE: What? "If you build it, he will come?" "Ease his pain?" "Go the distance?" What the hell is that supposed to mean?

VOICE: Oops. Sorry. Wrong movie. Never mind.

[Confused, Luke looks up and sees the spectral images of Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker and Yoda appear in the rear of the garage.]

LUKE: Ben! Father! Yoda! You've all come back!

ANAKIN: Yes, Luke. We've come back. To tell you to stop wasting your Jedi powers.

LUKE: What do you mean?

OBI-WAN: Luke, the Force gives the Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together. It's like duct tape.

LUKE: Yes, I know. You told me all that in Episode IV.

OBI-WAN: Well, I guess I also should have told you that it's not meant to be used as racing fuel on the unlimited Gascar circuit.

LUKE: But Ben, there is no use for Jedi knights anymore. The Empire has collapsed. Everyone is at peace. There is no one left to fight. It's boring. The only things we have left to distract ourselves are sports. What else am I supposed to do? I can't go back to working on a moisture farm.

ANAKIN: Luke, did the Jedi knights fight the clone wars just so you could race your speeder? Did the Rebel Alliance fight bravely and destroy two Death Stars just so you could race? Did I sacrifice myself to destroy the emperor and save you, just so you could race?

LUKE: But all I wanna do is race, Daddy!

[Luke angrily tosses aside his wrench and stomps outside to watch the Tatooine double-sunset while Obi-Wan, Anakin and Yoda shake their heads in disgust.]

YODA: Some sense into his head with a tire iron he should be hit, mmmm-hhmmmmm.

OBI-WAN: Is it just me, or are you beginning to sound like Billy Bob Thornton in "Slingblade?"

SCENE 2

[It's the day of the big race, the Tatooine 500,000. Thousands line the race track, which, oddly, resembles the main drag of Modesto, Calif., circa 1962. Princess Leia, C-3PO and Jar Jar Binks are among the dignitaries in the VIP box by the finish line. And a confident Luke pulls his T-16 speeder (license plate 'THX 1138') into his slot at the starting line.

[Luke turns on his speeder's radio just as the local station finishes playing "Rock Around the Clock." The DJ follows with a long-distance dedication, though he is difficult to understand because his voice is a curious mixture of the Wolfman Jack howl and Chewbacca's growl. ]

DJ: This goes out to all the cool cats on the ice planet Hoth. Here's Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band with 'Lapti Nek.'

[Luke turns off the radio. He looks at the driver to his right and sees a blonde in a white '56 T-bird convertible. She smiles softly and says something but Luke can't tell what it is above the roar of the crowd.]

LUKE: What? What? Did you say you love me? Or did you say you're my sister? Either way, we can make it work!

[Without answering, the blonde abruptly turns the corner and drives away. Luke considers following but is jolted back to reality by the honking horn of the driver to his left. Luke looks over and sees a man in a straw cowboy hat driving a black, scooped '55 Chevy. The man has a gum-chewing woman sitting almost on his lap. He looks suspiciously like a young Han Solo).

LUKE: Han, is that you? I thought I told you never to come around here after I caught you cheating on my sister! And to cheat on her with a Bantha! Really, Han, what were you thinking?

DRIVER: Han? Who's Han? I'm Boba Falfa. Didn't anybody tell you I was looking for you? You're supposed to be the fastest thing in the Galaxy man, but that can't be your speeder. It must be your mama's speeder!

LUKE: My mama's dead!!! And I never got to know her!!!

FALFA: That's funny – because she really got around. I'm not sure if the Force was with her, but half the Federation was. Heh, heh, heh.

R2-D2: Pffffttt! Thrrreeeep!!!!

LUKE: Don't worry, R2. I won't let his pitiful little band of insults get to me. [To himself] Don't give into the dark side. Don't give into the dark side. Don't give into the dark side.

[While Luke and Falfa race their engines and glare at each other, the camera pulls back to show two humans from Modesto, Curt and Joe. They are wriggling underneath Luke's speeder and attaching a hook somewhere to the chassis.]

JOE: The way I see it, you got three choices. One, you can chicken out. In which case, I sell you to Greedo's brother and he ties your bullwhip to the back of a truck and drags you, and you don't want that right? Two, you foul up and Skywalker seals you in carbonite for all eternity, and you don't want that, either? Or three, you are successful and you join the Pharoahs with a car coat and a blood initiation and all that.

[He scoots off, leaving Curt behind.]

CURT: Wait-wait a minute! Pharoahs? I thought I was going to be a Jedi knight!

[Back to the race. Luke, Fafa and the rest of the drivers watch in anticipation as the racing lights flash down to start the race. When the green light goes on, they roar off with Falfa taking an early lead. But Luke summons up the Force to give him extra speed and he soon cruises into the lead. He passes everyone – including Arthur Dent hitch-hiking on the side of the road – as if they were riding Banthas.

[Luke crosses the finish line to win easily but something is wrong. He pumps the brakes furiously but there is no response. Curt and the Pharoahs must have cut his brake line! He cannot reduce his speed! He cannot control his speeder! He is sailing recklessly into the dignitary stand!

[Luke's speeder crashes into Jar Jar, crushing the Gungan creature against a wall. C-3PO rushes to the side of his beloved, and after a quick examination, prostrates himself in agony.]

C-3PO: Nooooooo!!!!! Jar Jar is dead!!!!!

[Everyone bursts into thunderous applause.]

LEIA: This is the greatest moment since the destruction of the Death Star! I'm going to let my ridiculous hairstyle down and party!

[As Jawas, Ewoks, Sand People, Tusken Raiders and the like spill into the streets to dance, the spectral images of Obi-Wan, Anakin and Yoda appear again. They look down at Luke and smile broadly.]

OBI-WAN: We were wrong to have doubted you. You have performed a great service.

YODA: So nuts he drove me, the most irritating SOB, now Jar Jar you have killed, mmmmm-hmmmm!

ANAKIN: You have made me a proud father, Luke. Truly, now we can join together and race the galaxy as father and son!

LUKE: All I wanna do is race, Daddy – with you!

R2-D2: Pffffttt! Thrrreeeep!!!!

[The Star Wars theme music swells.]

Epilogue:

[We see the exterior of Skywalker Ranch where a large "No Trespassing" sign hangs from the imposing iron gates. The camera pans through the gate and up through the dark mists to the main castle where we can see a light burning in a lone window. Suddenly the light goes out. The camera continues to pan up to the castle and through the window, where we see Lucas leaving his room. He walks down several staircases until he reaches the basement warehouse. It is filled with workers moving and stacking hundreds of wood crates.]

[Lucas walks down a long aisle and stops in front of a large crate covered with dust. He blows away the dust, grabs a crowbar and pries open the crate to reveal the gold chest that is the Lost Ark of the Covenant, lost for nearly a quarter century.]

LUCAS: Finally. It's all over. Now that I've resolved all the Star Wars story-lines, produced a new line of lucrative toys, arranged a fabulous new set of fast food merchandising deals and appeased the fans by killing off Jar Jar, I can turn my attention to the sort of films I've wanted to make all along. No longer must will I be beholden to the dictates of teenage boys and pathetic adult Get-A-Lifers. Now I can follow my artistic vision!

[LUCAS carefully removes the Ark's cover and reaches inside. He pulls out a thick film script and it gives off a supernaturally bright light that illuminates his maniacal grin.]

LUCAS: My Rosebud …

[Slowly, the camera pans down to reveal the title.]

"HOWARD THE DUCK 2: THE MALLARD STRIKES BACK"

[Fade out.]

Jim Caple is a senior writer at ESPN.com. His first book, "The Devil Wears Pinstripes," is on sale now at bookstores nationwide. It can also be ordered through his Web site, Jimcaple.com.


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EPISODE VII