Helicopter Dad by Joel and Valerie Reeves | Script Revolution

Helicopter Dad

After the death of his wife, a grieving widower struggles with letting his only daughter live her own life or coddle her with a series of outlandish schemes to keep her close.



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After ANNIE’S (Frank’s wife’s) death, neurotic FRANK HARGRAVE, mid-fifties, becomes a "helicopter" father obsessed with VANESSA’S (Frank’s daughter’s) life as he hovers over her, which embarrasses Vanessa. Frank is stuck in the past and afraid of moving on with his life. He can't even bring himself to visit Annie's grave. On Vanessa's first day back to school, Frank rides with her on the school bus as other children watch. He even gets a job at her school annoying Vanessa as he tries to show off to her friends, butting heads with CHERYL DIGGS, the strict playground supervisor.

Years later, young adult Vanessa (19) is ready for her first day at a community college, but Frank hides in the back seat of her car. He's also gotten a job at her college as a residence hall director. Frank weaves his way into Vanessa's college life and with her friends, including her boyfriend MARTIN KOSEF. Oddly, despite Frank’s hovering nature, Martin admires Frank, sharing his interest in classic rock trivia, he encourages Vanessa not to judge her father so harshly. On Memorial Day, Vanessa visits her mother's grave, but Frank still refuses. He's not ready.

At his grievance counselor’s advice, Frank tries dating, but is badly mismatched and each date ends in comical chaos. When Vanessa becomes engaged to Martin, she tells her father that she's getting married and that she's having a medieval theme. Vanessa tells her father that he can stop taking care of her now. She's all grown up and Frank has done his job. Frank promises to try and back off. But with his bad jokes and worse behavior, Frank turns the wedding into a disaster.

Frank eventually comes to terms with his wife’s death, visiting her grave and crossing the elementary playground monkey bars for the first time in an amusingly weird metaphorical catharsis, establishing that he has finally let go of the past. He also makes amends with Vanessa and Martin by giving them a special wedding gift. He surprises them with airline tickets to Africa (Vanessa’s dream trip), which he acquires after making a substantial sacrifice: selling off his favorite rock and roll memorabilia. In a final act of good will, Frank sees his old nemesis, Cheryl Diggs, sitting tired and alone on a bench outside the school where they both work. He gets out of his ice cream truck and offers her a cone. Hinting that they may have more in common than either at first realized, they sit and talk and eat ice cream.

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2019 Quarterfinalist, SCREENCRAFT Comedy Screenplay Contest

Submitted: July 6, 2020
Last Updated: December 14, 2021

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The Writer: Joel and Valerie Reeves

Joel and Valerie Reeves are a father and daughter writing team from Northwestern Lower Michigan, living practically on the doorstep of the Traverse City Film Festival. Joel's fantasy trilogy, Of Quills and Kings , Walpole Unbound , and Dreams, Schemes and Spiny Machines , was published by Double Dragon Press. His first collection of short stories, Odd Birds was released by Scantic Press, debuting in 2019. Their screenplay, Midnight Dreary , a biographical drama about Edgar Allan Poe, was a winner in the WILDsound Screenwriting Competition. Valerie's comedy stage play was a winner in Traverse City Young Playwrights' Festival and was produced and performed at the Traverse City Opera House. Go to bio

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