Cover image for Storytelling
Hope, Ted.
Uniform Title:
Storytelling (Motion picture : 2001)
[DVD version].
Publication Information:
[United States] : New Line Home Entertainment : distributed by Warner Home Video, [2002]

Physical Description:
1 videodisc (90 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in.
A story that makes light of the dark side of human behavior. Discover the truth about sex, lies and race relations in suburban America. Includes a mixture of an emotionally needy college student, a slacker named Scooby and a very dysfunctional family man.
General Note:
Originally produced as a motion picture in 2001.

Special features: rated and unrated versions of film; theatrical trailer.

For specific features see interactive menu.
Reading Level:
MPAA rating: R.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library DVD 3992 Adult DVD Central Library
Clearfield Library DVD 3992 Adult DVD Open Shelf

On Order



From the controversial director of Happiness comes another dark look at New Jersey, this time broken into two separate stories. The first is a 26-minute segment entitled "Fiction," which highlights the life of Marcus (Leo Fitzpatrick), an aspiring writer who was born with deformities due to cerebral palsy. He unsuccessfully tries to read a new short story to his girlfriend Vi (Selma Blair), and leaves her after the story is similarly dismissed by his fellow students and teacher, Mr. Scott (Robert Wisdom), a black Pulitzer Prize winner. Vi approaches Mr. Scott in a bar one night and agrees to go home with him, recalling a "fictional" account of their experience in the next class. The second segment, titled "Nonfiction," follows Toby Oxman (Paul Giamatti), a thirtysomething sad sack who gets the idea to make a documentary of contemporary suburban teenage life. Looking for subjects, he runs into Scooby (Mark Webber), a disaffected, dim young man who dreams of being a TV star. Scooby's home life is highly dysfunctional, with a strict father (John Goodman), a prim and proper mother (Julie Hagerty), a football player brother (Noah Fleiss), and a younger brother Mikey (Jonathan Osser), who continually chats up the family's put-upon maid Consuelo (Lupe Ontiveros). Consuelo is soon banished from the household due to her involvement with Mikey, becoming an outcast just like Scooby. ~ Jason Clark, Rovi



Chapter One TITLE CARD: 'Fiction' INT. MARCUS'S DORM ROOM -- NIGHT The time is circa 1985. Vi and Marcus finish making love. Marcus has cerebral palsy. MARCUS Hey, you want to hear my short story now? á VI Huh? á MARCUS (lifts a MS from a shelf by his bed) I can read it to you. á VI You mean, again? á MARCUS Well, I changed the ending a little. á VI Oh. What happens now? á MARCUS Well, actually, it's the same, but longer. I think it's better. More ... raw. VI Well then, maybe you should just read the ending. á MARCUS But it won't make any sense if you hear it out of context. á VI I think you should leave it the way it was. It was good. á Pause. MARCUS So you don't want to hear my new ending? á VI You'll read it in class tomorrow. Surprise me. á (beat) Anyway, I have to go. I promised Melinda I'd help her with her oral. She rises, starts dressing. MARCUS You're tired of me. I can tell. á VI Marcus, I'm tired. That's all. á MARCUS You've lost interest ... You hardly even sweat any more when we have sex. VI I was never much of a sweater. You know that. á MARCUS Look, Vi, I don't blame you. You feel pity now. The pleasure isn't there any more. The kinkiness has gone ... You've become kind. EXT. CAMPUS GREEN -- DAY It is bright and sunny. INT. MR SCOTT'S CLASSROOM -- DAY Mr Scott, who is black, presides over his class. Marcus is reading from his story, Vi at his side. Catherine, a stunning intellectual, sits near the teacher. The rest of the students (Amy, Elli, etc.) listen closely and take notes. MARCUS '... But when he saw her ... it was as if he could walk like a normal person. His legs didn't swing, his arms didn't spaz away ... He wasn't a freak any more, for she made him forget his affliction. No more cerebral palsy! From now on "CP" stood for ... cerebral person. He was a cerebral person.' Pause. Marcus and Vi exchange looks. AMY I thought that was really good, Marcus ... Really moving and emotional. ELLI Yeah, I thought it was really emotional, too. á AMY And, I mean, really good word choices. It kind of reminded me a little of Faulkner, but East Coast and disabled. LUCY Or Flannery O'Connor. She had multiple sclerosis. á JOYCE And Borges. He was blind. á Pause. ETHAN Updike has psoriasis. á Pause. CATHERINE Um ... Maybe I'm wrong, but, um, I'm afraid I found the whole thing to be a little trite. Its earnestness is, well ... it's a little embarrassing. And those adjectives, they're a little flat-footed. And redundant. I'm sorry, but ... Anyway, what do I know? Don't even listen to what I say. I mean ... Pause. MR SCOTT Anyone else? á No response. Catherine is right. The story's a piece of shit. You express nothing but banalities and, formally speaking, are unable to construct a single compelling sentence. You ride on a wave of clichés so worn, in fact, it actually approaches a level of grotesquerie. And your subtitle, 'the rawness of truth,' is that supposed to be a joke of some sort? Or are you just being pretentious? (beat; then checking his class book) OK. Who's next? á EXT. CAMPUS COURTYARD -- DAY Marcus, upset, rushes outside, Vi in pursuit, desperately trying to console. VI Marcus, wait up! á Marcus stops. MARCUS What do you want? á VI Don't be so upset. It's OK ... á MARCUS What the fuck are you talking about? What's OK? á VI (beat) You know he hated my story also. á MARCUS Your story was terrible! á He moves on, she keeps up with him. VI Marcus ... You'll write something better next time! á MARCUS Patronizing fuck! If you had just been honest with me in the first place I wouldn't have read it. I knew it was shit. But -- idiot! -- I believed you! VI That's not fair! I was honest! Just because I wasn't sucking up like that bitch Catherine. MARCUS Well, I sure didn't hear you voice your opinion in there when it mattered. VI I admit it -- I was scared! I was shocked, in fact, by what he said. And he's so ... convincing. I'm sorry if I let you down, but really, I still say he's just one opinion. I don't even like his books that much. They're all so ... aggressively confrontational. I don't care if he's won the Pulitzer Prize. Catherine and Mr Scott walk by together in the distance. MARCUS You just want to fuck him. Like Catherine and every other white cunt on campus. He leaves her. INT. VI AND MELINDA'S DORM ROOM -- NIGHT Melinda lies on her bed with some homework, watching Vi. VI (O.S.) (on phone) ... But, Marcus! You can't just unilaterally decide to end things. This is a relationship we're talking about! A friendship! You don't just ... Fuck you! She hangs up and enters her bedroom, in tears. VI Fuck him! Fuck him! Fuck him! ... á MELINDA Vi? Are you OK? á VI Yes. I'm OK. I'm totally OK. á Melinda rises, puts a hand on her shoulder. MELINDA You did the right thing. á VI I know that. Fucking cripple. Why do I waste my time with undergrads? They're all so ... juvenile! Uch! I just thought Marcus would be different. I mean, he's got CP! Pause. MELINDA What are you gonna do now? á VI I dunno ... go to a bar ... get laid ... whatever ... Don't worry about me. I'll be just fine ... She starts changing into a new outfit. EXT. BAR -- NIGHT Students hang around outside. Vi goes inside. INT. BAR -- NIGHT Vi walks up to the bar. VI Can I have a beer? á After getting her beer, Vi turns around and suddenly notices Mr Scott, who is sitting alone. She goes over to him. Hi. á MR SCOTT Hello, Vi. á VI What are you doing here? á MR SCOTT What are you doing here? á VI I'm sorry. I didn't mean ... I mean, I just didn't expect to run into you here, that's all. MR SCOTT Well, now you have. á Vi laughs, sort of, then blushes. VI Yeah, um, then ... are you alone? á MR SCOTT Uh huh. á VI Can I join you? á Mr Scott gestures for her to sit down with him. Gee, thanks. Well, um ... I just wanted to say that I'm really happy with the class and, um ... I know you must hear this all the time, but I'm also a great admirer of your work. A Sunday Lynching , especially ... really, um, spoke to me. God, I hope I'm not embarrassing you ... MR SCOTT You're not. á VI Good. á (beat) 'Cause I ... um ... I really agreed with everything you had to say last week about how bad my story was ... MR SCOTT That's good. á VI And I also agreed with what you said today about Marcus's story. It is a piece of shit. Pause. MR SCOTT You have beautiful skin. á VI Thank you. á (beat) So Catherine seems like she might become a really good writer. á MR SCOTT Maybe. She's OK. á Pause. VI Aren't you going out with Catherine? á (beat) I'm sorry. It's none of my business. I didn't mean ... á MR SCOTT I'm not 'going out' with Catherine. á VI Oh. á (beat) Do you think I have potential as a writer? á MR SCOTT No. á VI Thank you for being honest. á Mr Scott leans over and touches her hand. I have so much respect for you. á EXT. STREET -- NIGHT Mr Scott and Vi walk together in silence. INT. MR SCOTT'S APARTMENT -- NIGHT Vi and Mr Scott enter. He turns around and looks at her. Pause. VI Can I just freshen up for a second? á He indicates the direction of the bathroom. MR SCOTT It's over there. á VI Thanks. á INT. MR SCOTT'S BATHROOM -- NIGHT Vi enters, locks the door behind her. She looks at herself in the mirror, then notices a snapshot of Catherine: she is naked, legs opened wide. Other erotic photographs lie beneath Catherine's. VI (to herself, almost chanting) Don't be racist. Don't be racist. Don't be racist ... á INT. MR SCOTT'S BEDROOM -- NIGHT Vi emerges from the bathroom to find Mr Scott lounging on his bed. VI It's a really nice place you have. Is the rent high? á MR SCOTT Take off your top. á She obliges. Now ... take off the rest. á She does, and he looks hard at her. Finally he rises. Turn around. á She does. Bend over. á He starts making love to her, from behind. (whispers) Say, 'Nigger, fuck me.' á VI Oh, bu ... uh ... I can't say that. á MR SCOTT Say, Ni ... á VI Ni ... á MR SCOTT ... gger. á VI ... gger. á MR SCOTT Say, 'Nigger.' á VI Nigger. á MR SCOTT 'Fuck me hard!' á VI Fuck me hard! á MR SCOTT Say, 'Nigger, fuck me hard!' á VI Nigger, fuck me hard! á MR SCOTT Again! á VI Nigger, fuck me hard!! ... á MR SCOTT Again!! á VI NIGGER, FUCK ME HARD!!! ... á EXT. MARCUS'S DORMITORY -- NIGHT Lights are out. INT. MARCUS'S DORM ROOM -- NIGHT Marcus looks in the mirror, ponders his reflection. MARCUS Freak. á There is a soft knock at the door. He turns away from the mirror and opens it. Vi is there, teary-eyed, disheveled. VI Can I come in? á They embrace. MARCUS You're all ... sweaty! á INT. MR SCOTT'S CLASSROOM -- DAY Vi finishes reading her story to the class. VI '... So John flipped her around and slammed her against the wall. Jane braced herself: she thought about her mother. She thought about Peter. She thought about God ... and rape. "Say, 'Fuck me, nigger. Fuck me hard.'" John's flesh abraded her soft skin. There would be marks. She acquiesced, and said what he asked her to say, and did what he asked her to do. She had entered college with hope, with dignity, but she would graduate as a whore.' Silence. AMY Why do people have to be so ugly ... write about such ugly characters? It's perverted. I know you all think I'm being prissy, but I don't care. I was brought up in a certain way. And this is ... mean-spirited! Pause. JOYCE Yeah, well, it did seem a little affected. Like by using taboo language you were trying to shock us about the hollowness of your characters. ETHAN I think it was a little bit racist. á ELLI It was completely racist, and beyond that I felt deeply offended as a woman. As if women can only operate from experiences of objectification. SUE Totally phallocentric. á ELLI And so weirdly misogynistic. I mean, why does Jane go through with this? Is she stupid? ETHAN Hey, but wasn't this a rape? Or ... did I miss something? Because I -- I'm confused. Because if this was a rape, then why would she be a whore? CATHERINE (beat) It was confessional, yet dishonest. Jane pretends to be horrified by the sexuality that she in fact fetishizes. She subsumes herself to the myth of black male sexual potency, but then doesn't follow through. She thinks she 'respects Afro-Americans,' she thinks they're 'cool,' 'exotic,' what a notch he'd make in her belt, but, of course, it all comes down to mandingo cliché, and he calls her on it. In classic racist tradition she demonizes, then runs for cover. But then, how could she behave otherwise? She's just a spoiled suburban white girl with a Benetton rainbow complex. It's just my opinion, and what do I know ... but I think it's a callow piece of writing. MR SCOTT Callow and coy. Jane wants more, but isn't honest enough to admit it. In the end, she returns to the safety of her crippled (translation: sexually impotent) boyfriend. MARCUS This is bullshit! Her story was the truth! á JOYCE Right. á SUE It's unbelievable! á ELLI It's clichéd! á AMY It's disgusting! á VI But it happened! á Silence. MR SCOTT I don't know about 'what happened,' Vi, because once you start writing, it all becomes fiction. Still, it certainly is an improvement over your last story: there is now at least a beginning, a middle, and an end. TITLE CARD: 'Nonfiction' INT. TOBY'S BEDROOM -- NIGHT A Lower East Side tenement apartment. A Dogma '95 poster hangs above the bed. Toby, down and out and in his thirties, leafs through his high-school yearbook. He reads an inscription: 'Toby, I just know you're going to become a movie star! Please don't forget me when you make it to the top! I will always love you -- Pam.' He picks up his phone and dials. PAM (V.O.) Hello? á TOBY Hello, is this Para? á PAM (V.O.) Who is this? á TOBY Toby Oxman. á PAM (V.O.) Toby --? Oh, hi! How are you? á TOBY Oh, fine. How are you? á PAM (V.O.) Great! á TOBY Great! á PAM (V.O.) So what's going on? á TOBY That's what I was just gonna ask you. á PAM (V.O.) But ... you called. á TOBY Oh, yeah, well ... um ... I was just calling because, well, I was wondering if you still remembered me, which I guess you do ... PAM (V.O.) Yeah. á Pause. TOBY So. Look at where we are: the year 2000! Can you believe it? I mean, did you ever think we would actually make it? PAM (V.O.) Um, well, yeah. á (beat) So are you still acting? á TOBY Oh, no, not any more. No, um, I kind of came to terms with myself, I realized I had done what I had to do. And it was time to move on. PAM (V.O.) Oh. So what did you do after you gave up on acting? á TOBY Well, I went to law school, if you can believe that. á Mike, Toby's roommate and cameraman, enters looking for a towel, then goes to take a shower. PAM (V.O.) I believe it. á TOBY Yeah, well, it was really all kind of a joke -- and a rip-off, so, uh ... so I dropped out. PAM (V.O.) Oh, that's too bad. á TOBY Yeah, well, then it got me writing, so that was a good thing. á PAM (V.O.) Anything I might know about? á TOBY Well, um, I kind of let things go on this novel I'd been really into -- I mean, the whole publishing industry is totally corrupt. I mean, really, it's finished. PAM (V.O.) That's too bad. á TOBY I worked over at a homeless shelter for a while, drove a cab to pay the rent, but, I mean, that was like -- I mean, I have some dignity. PAM (V.O.) That's good. So then what do you do now? á TOBY I'm a documentary filmmaker. á PAM (V.O.) Oh? Anything I might have seen? á TOBY N-not yet. I'm hoping to get a grant for this one project on teenagers. Geez, remember when we were teenagers? PAM (V.O.) Yeah. You didn't wanna take me to the prom. á TOBY Oh, I don't remember that ... á PAM (V.O.) I do. á TOBY Well, but it was so long ago. We were so different back then ... No response. Uh, well, anyway, so I'm looking for subjects for this documentary on teenage life in suburbia. Kind of an exploration of the psyche of its mythology. I wrote to Derrida to see if he'd like to do the narration. But everything's still kind of in development at this point. PAM (V.O.) Hunh. á TOBY (beat) I work in a shoe store right now. But it's cool. I'm not ashamed. I mean, really, I have a much stronger sense of self now. And, uh, anyway, it's really very temporary. PAM (V.O.) That's good. á TOBY Yeah ... um ... so anyway, tell me. What about you? I'd heard through the grapevine you were producing movies. PAM (V.O.) Yeah. But not any more. á TOBY Oh. Tired of 'life in the fast lane'? á á No response. Yeah ... So you're um ... you're married? á PAM (V.O.) Yeah. á PAM (V.O.) Huh. Kids? á PAM (V.O.) Yeah. á TOBY How many? á PAM (V.O.) Three. á TOBY Great. How old are they? á PAM (V.O.) Eight, six, and four. á TOBY Wow, that really is great. In a few years, who knows, maybe they'll want to be in my documentary! Pause. PAM (V.O.) Listen, Toby, I can't really talk right now. Do you mind if I call you back? TOBY Yeah, sure. á PAM (V.O.) OK. Bye. á TOBY (to himself, after a pause) Maybe she has caller ID. á EXT. FAIRFIELD HIGH SCHOOL -- DAY It is bright and sunny. MR DEMARCO (V.O.) Do you have any hobbies? á INT. MR DEMARCO'S OFFICE -- DAY Scooby, seventeen, and Mr DeMarco, the guidance counselor, sit opposite each other. SCOOBY No, not really. á MR DEMARCO Any books you like to read for fun? á SCOOBY No. á MR DEMARCO None at all? How about those 'underground' comics? á SCOOBY I hate reading. á MR DEMARCO (beat) All right, Scooby, let's not beat around the bush. With your attitude, you're not going to get in anywhere. SCOOBY OK. á Excerpted from STORYTELLING by Todd Solondz. Copyright © 2001 by Todd Solondz. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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