A Review of the "FUNGI" Screenplay
By Duane Byrge, Hollywood Reporter*
There's a fungus among us. A slime of our time. A new kind of goo.
You don't need a "Dummies Guide to Family Summer Vacations" to know there are pitfalls, snags and foul-ups that color all family vacations. Especially families that are headed to vacation resorts that are populated by, well, the crazy kind of local slacker/wackos who make up the resort industry. And, if you've got the London Bridge as the centerpiece of your vacation destination, isn't that simply inviting mishappenstance-that things will all come tumbling down?
In this delirious coming-of-age scenario, 13-year-old Tracy, a bright and perceptively droll teen looks back at the craziness and wonderfulness that colored her defining family vacation. You don't have to have rented the entire "National Lampoon's Vacation" series to know that family vacations can get stickier than a batch of sunscreen left in the sun in the back of the station wagon.
If the Marx Bros., John Hughes, and the old-time Disney people sat around a barbecue grill to come up with an identifiable, wholesome and wacky family comedy, they might come up with "Fungi." It's both a celebration and a searing of all the wonder of family relationships and growing pains, as well as a smartly goofy pictorial of Americana. "Fungi" is a delirious, broad but easily identifiable comedy of one family's trek to Lake Havasu for some revitalization, water sports and a little romance.
Tracy is our character touchstone, a charming and perceptive young teen that, through her diary dictations, presents us with the zany and heartwarming events that were her most impressionable summer vacation with her family. Tracy is smart, with a canny awareness of personal relationships and possesses a playful sensibility like many girls of this age, she has a somewhat inappropriate new boyfriend, and of course, a snotty young brother and over-concerned parents. Families and kids everywhere will identify, including the adults who naturally, as authority figures tend to, take it on the chin.
Jam-packed with screwballs and comic authority figures, "Fungi" takes us smack dab into the middle of a great American theme resort. With the London Bridge as its centerpiece, it's more than a bit outlandish, and shall we say, tacky. In short, it's the kind of place that we middle-class types love to make fun of, but, of course, love to go at the same time.
If you liked "Beethoven" and "Flubber," or if you're an older kid at heart and can remember way back to Disney's "The Apple-Dumpling Gang" with Don Knotts and Tim Conway, you've conjured up the kind of daffy, good-natured comic spirit of "Fungi." And, in the great style of modern family comedy, just like the John Hughes films, the kids are in a bit of big-time jeopardy here. Everything is not right in River City, or, rather, Lake Havasu, in no small part due to the mercenary greed of a no-good chemical plant owner who has not only befouled the pristine lake, but he runs roughshed over the powers that be to maintain his wealth.
The powers that be in this one-industry, tourist town is, not surprisingly, a little on the daft side, including a Sheriff who must have written the handbook for the Barney Fife school of law enforcement. You don't have to belong to the Auto Club to know that garish resorts with all sorts of souvenir shops and waterfront activities attract, other that you and I, are an oddball kind of clientele. Here we've got some amorous Russian agents who, in this post Glasnost age aren't sure what to do, but they've got satellites up there and more things going wrong than you can fit into the letters MIR. Where there's Russian agents, there's also Feds, and did you say, flatfoot. Indeed, Tracy gets a keen insight into adult-style crisis management when the Feds, the Russkies, the Chamber of Commerce types all careen together in one event-filled vacation week.
It all revolves around a lot of goo, in this case the result of a meteor that has crash landed smack dab in the middle of the chemical-polluted lake. It's a comic combustion of the most dastardly order: the lake quickly oozes up with a strange and powerful Fungi, a mucus of pucus that once it encrusts you, makes you have frisky thoughts. Naturally, who is most disposed to this sort of infestation - the new boyfriend who gets the Fungi bug after he falls off his jet ski in the swamp.
Before you know it, there's so much muck and so little time. Water-sports happy vacationers are being coated with the Fungi and the medical establishment has no answers - except it can be highly contagious and, what would that do to tourism. Word can't get out, or the resort town will surely lose all - reputation and those big rubles that come in from the tourist crowd. Tourism could soon become sewerism, and where would that leave us folks to go for our next vacation.
It's certainly a "Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Resort" here as the powers-that-be try to control the damage: a roadblock is to put up with wonderful, red bikini-clad distractions. No effort is too crazy or too hysterical to keep this under wraps. How to keep folks in town when they're being infected: well, free coupons only go so far, but what if you have an Elvis sighting. Elvis is alive and well right here in Havasu City!
As crackling as a holiday grill of good eats, "Fungi" is a smart and crazy comedy jam-packed with Russian agents, beautiful women, over-stretched lawmen and action-packed slapstick. And, in between its belly laughs, it's got something to say about vacations, families and this crazy world we try to get away from in our vacations and not surprisingly, we encounter even stranger things when we let our hair down.
By Duane Byrge, Hollywood Reporter
For more information on the "Fungi" screenplay, please contact:
Gene Massey (310) 476-3668