It might shock you to hear this, but I wasn't personally invited to the pre-production meeting between director Oliver Stone and World Trade Center screenwriter Andrea Berloff. But having suffered through this hilariously bad movie—not once, but twice—I think I have a pretty good idea how the meeting went down.—CB
Oliver Stone: Okay, Andrea. You ready to kick some ideas around for World Trade Center?
Andrea Berloff: I sure am! It's such complex material—the biggest story of our lifetime. So many cover-ups, so many ideologies. I can't wait to get started!
OS: Whoa, whoa, whoa—hang on there, missy. You must have me confused with the old Oliver Stone—the one who used to like to push buttons and explore ideas. That's not me any more! No, what I'm thinking of for this one is a happy 9/11 movie. No one wants to be depressed at the movies anymore.
AB: Ohhhh-kay. I think I see where you're going with this. How about this: We start the movie with the Twin Towers falling... but we end with a picnic?
OS: Now you're talking! Everyone loves a picnic! WTC's going to be about these two cops trapped in the rubble. One of them—Nicolas Cage—is going to be a salty veteran and the other's going to be—
AB: An ethnic rookie! With a pregnant wife at home!
OS: Bingo! I can't believe you were available for this job on such short notice. So what would two cops trapped in the rubble of the Twin Towers talk about?
AB: They'd probably be like, "Hey Sarge—you have any kids?" or like, "Don't you die on me."
OS: Perfect! See, this movie's writing itself! But they should be more like, "Wheeze! Cough! Tell my wife I love her! Cough! Wheeze!"
AB: Oliver, you're so brilliant. So how else are we going to prevent the audience from getting sad or reflective?
OS: The wives are going to be key. We'll keep flashing back to their wives at home. And even though their husbands are missing and presumed dead, get this: They'll hardly shed a tear! They'll just be, like, uh, worried. Or distracted.
AB: Whoa! This just came to me! What if one of them is doing the laundry while she's watching CNN, and when she folds Nicolas Cage's jeans, she pauses to smell them—then looks off into the distance and shakes her head longingly.
OS: This is great! I just met you four minutes ago, and the movie's practically written. But I've got a curveball for you: I want to put Jesus in the movie.
AB: Like a big glowing orb or something?
OS: Andrea, Andrea—you're thinking too hard. I mean an actual Jesus look-alike, with the beard and the flowing robes and everything. But get this—he's going to be holding out bottled water for the trapped rookie. What do you think?
AB: Oliver, that's so powerful. You're a genius. But it seems like this movie has nothing to do with 9/11. It's really just a search-and-rescue movie.
OS: Hey, United 93 was a '9/11 movie,' and 14 people saw it. Two guys trapped under concrete and metal is so much more... universal. Don't you think?
AB: I can see it now. Nicolas Cage is... Baby Jessica!
OS: Boom. There's our movie. High five!