Back-to-School Week: Ideas For Yet More Film Adaptations of Classic Novels, Updated and Set in a High School.
BY KEITH BUNIN
THE END OF THE AFFAIR IN A HIGH SCHOOL
Working title: THE LAST FRENCH KISS
Hal, the neurasthenic, dark, moody quarterback for the Arlington High Tigers, is doing the nasty on the sly with Sarah, the wild, fun-loving head cheerleader. But at the big game, the Tigers are down by two with only thirty seconds to go. On the sidelines, Sarah, in despair, prays to God: if the Tigers win the game, she’ll break up with Hal. Miraculously, Hal dashes in for a touchdown at the buzzer and the Tigers are triumphant. But he is shocked when Sarah breaks up with him at the homecoming dance. At the start of the next semester she transfers to Our Lady of Lourdes High School down the road. Hal never understands why.
ANNA KARENINA IN A HIGH SCHOOL
Working title: 10 THINGS THAT MAKE ME SUICIDAL
Though she is dating the most popular boy at Taft High, yearbook editor Angie Krauss stuns everyone when she begins going out on the sly with the mysterious and slightly shady exchange student Vincent. Eventually the pressure of the illicit affair becomes too much for her, and, after a tearful goodbye with Vincent, she throws herself under an approaching school bus.
BLEAK HOUSE IN A HIGH SCHOOL
Working title: LAME SCHOOL
The Jarndyce v. Jarndyce custody battle has been raging for so long that Pete and Wendy, the party-loving Jarndyce twins, are made wards of the stuffy Chancery Academy, a tony Vermont prep school. The twins befriend Esther, a sweet scholarship student who fears no one will ever love her because of her terrible acne. They are nearly expelled for egging Headmistress Dedlock’s house, but blackmail their way into staying when they discover that Esther is Headmistress Dedlock’s secret illegitimate daughter. Pete and Wendy’s parents spend each other into bankruptcy and the custody battle is abandoned and everyone celebrates with a keg party.
MRS. DALLOWAY IN A HIGH SCHOOL
Working title: WHAT A PROM, WHAT A PROM
Cindy Dalloway, far and away the most popular girl at Ketchum High, is buying her corsage for the prom tonight when she runs into Sherman, a trenchcoat-wearing wall person. Sherman’s ecstasy-induced ravings prompt Cindy to recall her first kiss from Ben Geller, whose family moved away to Rochester in the middle of eighth grade. She’s been going steady with class president Chad Medcroft, but now she wonders if she would’ve been happier with Ben. Just before sunset Sherman the wall person stabs himself to death with a bread knife he stole from the cafeteria. Everyone at Ketchum High is shocked but they decide to have the prom anyway. Ben shows up, back from Rochester, and Cindy is overjoyed to see him but decides she was right to go steady with Chad. The prom is a huge success.
Possible semi-sequel: TO THE LIGHTHOUSE IN A HIGH SCHOOL
Working title: TO THE MALL
A bunch of kids from Roosevelt High sit around at yearbook editor Francie Mead’s house trying to decide if they should go to the mall. Several years pass. Some of the kids have gone away to college, while others are working at local convenience stores, but the ones who remain decide to go to the mall.
THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING IN A HIGH SCHOOL
Working title: THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING IN HIGH SCHOOL
Tom is the editor of the Simon’s Rock Alternative Prep School poetry journal (“Pegasus”) and the hottest guy in the senior class. He’s slept with most of the girls in his class, but the only girl who truly understands him is Sally, the school skank. Sally and Tom are bemused by each other’s wandering ways. Tom is obsessed with Sally’s knit cap, and Sally adores Tom because he is the complete opposite of kitsch. But everything is thrown into question when shy and sensitive transfer student Tracy arrives on the scene. Tom falls in love with Tracy and tries to go steady with her, but he still feels compelled to sleep with all the other girls in the school. To further complicate matters, Simon’s Rock is acquired in a hostile takeover by nearby McTiernan Miltary Academy. The new headmaster demands that Tom recant the sentiments of his poem “Fascist Pigs.” Tom refuses, and he and Tracy are expelled from the school. With their checkered transcripts, only a cow college in the Midwest will accept them. But they find that the simple farming life is good for them, and they are deeply in love until they are killed in a tractor accident.
Possible semi-sequel: THE BOOK OF LAUGHTER AND FORGETTING IN A HIGH SCHOOL
Working title: THE MOVIE OF LAUGHTER AND FORGETTING
A series of Richard Linklater-like vignettes depicting the lives of various students at the repressive McTiernan Military Academy, culminating in rebellious student Marion Boyce’s attempts to organize a modern-dance elective as an alternative to gym class. In the final scene, the students defy the faculty by holding a dance concert in the middle of the homecoming game. School security surrounds them but the rebellious students just magically float up into the sky.
IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELER IN A HIGH SCHOOL
Working title: LET’S GET IT ON
Painfully shy sophomore Lucas Green keeps going to his local video store so he can pine for the checkout clerk, the raven-haired beauty Joyce Molinaro. Lucas keeps renting different movies at Joyce’s recommendation, but he always falls asleep in the middle of them. In his dreams he re-imagines the movies with himself as the hero and Joyce as the heroine. Little does he know that Joyce is doing the exact same thing. In the climactic moments of the film, Lucas finally gets up the courage to ask Joyce out. They sit in Lucas’s rec room and watch a video but they fall asleep in the middle of it.
ULYSSES IN A HIGH SCHOOL
Working title: LEO BLOOM’S DAY OFF
It’s June 16th, Senior Skip Day at John Jay High, and Leo Bloom is careening his way around San Diego in his father’s BMW, hanging out with his heavily pierced gal-pal Molly. They go to the zoo and the aquarium and see a Padres game, all the while attempting to elude creepy truant officer Steve Dedealus.
REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST IN A HIGH SCHOOL
Working title: SWANN’S BIG CRUSH
In the Spackenkill High School cafeteria one day, senior class president Ted Swann bites down on a peanut butter treat and is suddenly overwhelmed by recollections of his freshman year.
SUGGESTED READSList: Early Drafts of Surprise Endings
by Greg Knauss (2/23/2001)
Ulysses Sells Out
by Rebekah Frumkin (9/8/2008)
John Hughes, High School Guidance Counselor
by Christopher Pacetta (4/14/2004)
RECENTLYMcSweeney’s First-Ever Student Short Story Contest
by McSweeney's Editors (7/30/2014)
Testomania: Know Your Rights
by Janet Manley (7/30/2014)
List: Actual Unicorn Related Articles Found in Peer-Reviewed Scientific Journals
by David Ng (7/30/2014)