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My Horrible Treatment For The Inevitable Film Adaptation Of That One "Save The Children From Becoming Trans Men" Book: Do It Father Of The Bride Style
You know the one I mean, I think. The book with the Kewpie-doll kid on the front with a hole through its stomach, the one that looks like a Little Golden book like the Little Poky Puppy, about saving our daughters from getting cannonballs tossed through their midpoints during the Napoleonic Wars — you know the one I mean.
It’s bound to get a movie adaptation at some point, I think — if God’s Not Dead was funded for not one but two sequels, then ROGD is going to get a streaming-only something or other, directed by some director’s kid, and we might as well all have a good time while we’re at it, and I think it ought to be shot Father-of-the-Bride style. You must admit to yourself that it works. The early-90s Uncle Buck aesthetic suits this particular brand of transphobia down to the ground (which is not to indict John Candy, of course, the patron saint of many a trans man). You can see it already, can’t you? I’m sorry for that, of course, but we might as well see it through to the end, now that we’re here.
The poster (“poster”) is a 40-something Steve Martin, affable, guileless, wearing sneakers with his suits years before Ellen stole the idea from him, arms thrown out in a shrug, face screwed up in a question mark that earns $250,000 a year. The title below him reads:
FATHER OF THE…GUY?
And so on. We open in the traditional fashion, as in both the Spencer Tracy and the first Martin versions, panning over the remains of an obviously expensive (but tasteful — well, the kind of tasteful that’s produced by someone who’s concerned about seeming tasteful, which is to say both vulgar and durable) part until we reach Steve Martin grimacing in a tuxedo. That man doesn’t belong in that tuxedo, the viewer will instinctively feel. I’d like to have a beer with that man. Sensible. He tugs off his tie — sensibly — and takes us into his confidence:
“I used to think a a transition was a simple affair. College graduation — a boy or a girl shows up to enough classes on time to receive a mortarboard, a handshake, and a gold watch. A wedding — Boy and girl meet, they fall in love, he buys a ring, she buys a dress, they say, “I do.” A tomboy climbs a tree, she wears some pants, scuffs her knees, everybody keeps their shirt on about it. A transition means a new job or a new baby or letting your mother-in-law move in over the garage. I was wrong. That’s just change. A transition is an entirely different proposition. I know. I’ve just been through one. Not my own, my daughter’s — sorry, my son’s. Annie Banks—no, sorry, MacKenzie. That’s his transition name: MacKenzie. No last name. I’ll be honest with you. When I bought this house years ago, it cost less than this blessed event, in which Annie Banks became MacKenzie. I’m told that one day I’ll look back on all…this…with great affection and nostalgia. I hope so. You fathers will understand. Sorry, mothers. You’ll have to excuse me. I’m still getting the hang of all this.”
Diane Keaton remains too, of course, as a good example of what a non-traditional woman can look like, turtlenecks and so on, rare breed and not bowing to pressure and aging gracefully, idiosyncratic style icon, fingerless gloves, becoming a mother at 50, but also deciding what kind of mother she wants to be on her own, Kieran Culkin also reprises his role as a five-year-old (“I wish I didn’t have to walk Mom down the aisle. I wish I could just be a kid.”), and we replace the wedding announcement at the dinner table, right after no one wants to go to the Paul Simon concert, with MacKenzie’s transition announcement, complete with hallucination that a four-year-old girl is breaking the news:
“I met somebody in Rome. Um, he’s an American — he’s from LA, actually, just like me. And his name’s Bryan MacKenzie, or just MacKenzie actually, and he’s this completely wonderful, amazing man — actually we have a ton in common, and we started spending a lot of time together — and, well, actually, he’s me. Which means that…I’m transitioning!”
Obviously we keep the scene where Steve Martin gets arrested for tearing apart bags of hot dog buns at the supermarket and screaming how they don’t manufacture the right amount to eat hot dogs with. Don’t change the dialogue a whit, just move things to a surgeon’s office and watch the money roll in. He’s just saying what we’re all thinking, folks! It’s just good common sense! There are hot dog buns, and there are hot dogs, and what kind of world do we live in where everyone’s swanning around, costing money, looking like Franck, and hang on a second, and when did we all get so, and another thing, and I’ve got something to say, and it’s simple math. It’s just simple math! He’s just saying what we’re all thinking — so why are we putting him in jail for it?
And who’s this smarmy little creepy? Who’s this smooth-faced hot-dog jockey, name tag covered in some gibberish like CANTON or CRALLEN — that’s not a name, son, George is a name, Chief is a name, Ref is a name — what kind of a man wears an apron and a tie at the same time, Cabbie, and who is he to tell me what to do? I am removing the superfluous buns, and if anybody in this surgical center had an ounce of common sense they’d have done the same thing twenty years ago! [Pause for standing ovation from the audience.]
GEORGE: I thought — I thought you were a feminist. I thought you thought transition meant a woman lost her identity. I thought you wanted to get a job before you — so you could earn some money, be your own person —
MACKENZIE: I didn’t think I believed in any of this until I met some of the other guys. And MacKenzie’s not like those guys you didn’t want me to date in high school. I want to be him. I’m not gonna lose my identity, because he’s not some overpowering, macho guy. I mean, he’s like you, Dad—
MACKENZIE: Except he’s brilliant.
Keep all the Franck and Howard scenes (“It’s not that I think he’s gay, Nina, my cousin is gay and he doesn’t act like that”) for the timeless sissy panic, throw in a borrowed Underworks binder for the scene where Martin tries on his old tux and rips it (“What did we spend all that money on training bras for, then, Nina?” / “Keep your voice down, George. I don’t like it any more than you do, but you’re making a scene”), throw in a Love & Basketball-style twist at the end where George finally comes around after MacKenzie beats him in a game of Horse and it snows in LA for the first time, and they get Matty to promise he’s never going to transition. One in the family is enough!!!
I predict, opening weekend — a million dollars.