It was a cathartic experience writing this script. And a learning one, too.
I am a Miamian. I use to say it with pride. Not anymore. I'd been meaning to write this story for close to 30-years. When I finally got around to it, I was reminded that Lolita has been in captivity for nearly 50-years. In a pen the size of a motel swimming pool. That's sick and reflects on the values of all of us living here.
Assuming long ago that no one was actually going to free her-- including myself-- I laid out a storyline that revolved around an "impossible missions" force headed by a Navy SEAL. I call him Rip Tide.
“Saving Lolita” is a cathartic action/adventure feature film where Ocean's 11 meets Dr. Dolittle.
Logline: This orca has spent 50-years in a pen the size of a motel swimming pool. Saving the world starts with saving Lolita. Or ending it through nuclear war.
Setting: South Florida, the Panama Canal, and Puget Sound today.
RIP TIDE, a 30-something Chris Pine type Navy SEAL, is an old school monosyllabic cowboy/patriot who gets things done but isn't very PC about it. We meet him as he leads an "impossible missions" force fighting for its life in retreat on a moonless North Korean beach. Machine gun bullets blow his right foot off. Tide grabs it up and, holding his bloody foot tightly to his chest, falls into unconsciousness. This memory shakes him out of his nightmare as a giant Navy transport plane lands in Miami. Now wearing a hi-tech prosthesis, he's reassigned to work with an old acquaintance down in Key Largo. PROFESSOR DYLAN MARE (a misanthropic Jeff Goldblum type in Hawaiian shirts and cargo shorts) and Tide use to train dolphins for the Navy to be suicide bombers. Tide didn't like that part and got himself transferred out of there. Now he's back and discovers three things:
1) Mare has seen the light too and no longer uses cetaceans of any form to kill themselves for Uncle Sam.
2) Mare's daughter ARIEL (a tanned Gal Gadot girl-next-door in cut-offs and work boots) is all grown up and is worthy of Tide making a fool of himself over-- and she's strong enough to put him in his place.
3) Professor Mare has learned to... talk to the cetaceans. He's invented an electronic device that allows them and us to communicate effortlessly.
Each talkative cetacean has chosen a distinctive “voice” to tell them apart. JOHNNY, Dr. Mare's wisecracking 8,000 pound orca protege, chose (among others) Samuel L Jackson's voice because of the actor's “intimidation factor,” something he wants the above water mammals he's working with to never forget he's still a killer whale at heart and will eat them without a second thought if he discovers their motives are all lies. In that regard, he has agreed to work with Dr. Mare-- and the Navy-- on one condition: if they want his help-- or the cooperation of any orca or dolphin to further his research-- LOLITA (the real-life orca “imprisoned” at a Miami aquarium for nearly 50-years)-- has to be freed first.
Freeing Lolita involves the below-the-radar loan of a Navy heavy-lifting helicopter (with the caveat that should anything go wrong with the caper, the Navy will disavow any connection with it); a nighttime assault on the Miami Aquarium (a fictional stand-in for the real Seaquarium); and the use of the world's only ocean-going solar powered e-catamaran to hide Lolita and Johnny between its hulls on their long journey to Puget Sound via the Panama Canal.
Unfortunately the heist of a 6,000 pound female orca isn't as easy at it looks on paper. Many things go wrong from the initial “assault” and “extraction,” to Lolita's pent-up 50+ years of orca lust which nearly sinks the cat on the high seas as Johnny does his best to satisfy her; to the escape through the Panama Canal where a nosy five-year-old boy aboard a yacht in front of the cat nearly blows the whole operation. To make matters worse, thanks to Russia's expertise at hacking, one of its atomic attack submarines carrying 20-ICBMs is waiting for them on the Pacific side of the Canal to hijack the Dr. Dolittle technology. When it surfaces beneath the cat, demasting and snagging it on its hulking nearly 600-foot length, a firefight ensues between a Russian Alpha Group boarding party and Rip, Ariel, and Dr. Mare. Although really outgunned, the orca rescuers are rescued by Johnny and Lolita breaching on each side of the sub, rocking it with waves that slam the Russians overboard and into the mouths of the angry orcas. As the Russians fight off the orcas, Tide, using his new bionic prosthetic foot's built-in propeller, swims beneath the waves and plants a bomb on the sub. The panicked crew dives and dies beneath the sea when the bomb goes off. Johnny and Lolita tow the demasted cat up the Pacific to the Puget Sound where Lolita is happily reunited with her pod. Rip and Ariel, standing outside the damaged cabin, kiss for the first time as orcas jump out of the water over and over again.
At the end our hero finds love and learns to respect and value a woman's input, and the world is made right at least for a moment.
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