Parallel Proposals by Andrea Zastrow | Script Revolution

Parallel Proposals

Wedding tensions escalate when a high-strung perfectionist comes unglued after realizing her future son-in-law is the son of her cocky, cheating ex-husband—a hunky widower whose return to her life guarantees hijinks and headaches.

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Page Count: 
112pp

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Synopsis/Details: 

NUTSHELL: TICKET TO PARADISE meets THE BIG WEDDING

OVERVIEW:
Set in Chicago, PARALLEL PROPOSALS is a fun, grounded ensemble script that centers on four intertwined couples at different stages of life — from a young, newly engaged couple to second acts and fourth chances. The protagonist is the bride's mother, who struggles to come to terms with having her ex-husband back in her life.

PARALLEL PROPOSALS explores themes of atonement, forgiveness, personal growth and new beginnings. Despite initial torment and irksome shenanigans, a rankled mother finds that an open mind and heart lead to internal peace, a cordial relationship with her ex-husband and a joyful wedding for her daughter. People can change — even that schmuck of an ex-husband!

MAIN CHARACTERS:
ELLEN SPENCER (56) – The uptight family matriarch and central character who wants life, and her daughter’s much-anticipated wedding, to be perfect. She detests her ex-husband and resents that he’ll be back in her life. An accountant, Ellen struggles to let go of emotional baggage, but is a great friend.

NEIL SPENCER (57) – Ellen’s husband, a tactful, square English professor who strives to keep everyone dignified. He loves Shakespeare and poetry. He offers wise perspectives and begrudgingly tolerates his exasperating father-in-law. Neil is the "straight man" in this piece.

BERT PORTER (77) – Ellen’s crusty, instigator father who lives above their garage. He loves cars and sports — and to provoke Neil. Carefree Bert also loves an audience! At times highly inappropriate, mild expletives are a regular part of his vernacular. Plainspoken Bert can be insensitive; however, his ability to see the big picture and offer profound tidbits gives him credibility.

MARIANA DELGADO (52) – Ellen’s single, spicy and uninhibited best friend who’s unlucky in love. She’s never been married and has no children. A saucy and bossy Latina, Mariana owns a hip dance studio but is incredibly lonely and longs to marry.

DOMINIC HOGG (58) – Ellen’s boisterous ex-husband who shattered her heart. Married three times, he's a widower who still grieves his sons’ mother (Hope Wallace) and has been unable to move on. Still a charmer with a big ego, wickedly handsome Dominic matured into a solid family man. A former racer, he now owns a successful car dealership. His sons and his business are his world.

NIC WALLACE (28) – Dominic’s levelheaded, polite but intense oldest son who is engaged to Ellen and Neil's daughter. Nic was 15 when his mother died and still carries emotional scars. An endocrinology resident, his mother’s illness influenced him to enter the medical field. Sentimental and madly in love, he wants his father to find happiness again.

QUINN SPENCER (28) – Ellen and Neil’s candid, logical daughter, who’s desperate for a peaceful wedding. The enduring drama between her mother and Nic’s father stresses her out and also gives her pause. Strong-willed but still a "Daddy's Girl" at heart, Quinn is an Assistant Fashion Buyer who frequently travels for her job.

DREW SPENCER (16) – Ellen and Neil's spirited son. He's tight with his grandfather and quite entertained by his antics. Drew and Bert love to banter, especially about Bert's beloved old car.

SYNOPSIS:
Set in modern-day suburban Chicago, ELLEN and NEIL SPENCER are delighted when their only daughter, QUINN, announces her engagement to newly-introduced NIC… until they hear the name of their future son-in-law’s father. Thanksgiving dinner hits the skids, and Ellen doesn’t know whether to scream or cry when she realizes Nic’s father, DOMINIC, is her obnoxious, two-timing ex-husband. After 32 glorious years of no contact, horrified Ellen is convinced he’ll ruin the wedding — and quite possibly her life. Quinn and Nic, shocked by the dinner table bombshell, must then break the news to Dominic, whose reaction is startling!

Ellen’s father, BERT, figures out this twist the night before and can’t wait to witness the pandemonium once she does. He’s thrilled with the unthinkable curveball since his relationship with like-minded Dominic before the divorce had been chummy. It’s far different than the contemptuous relationship he has with reserved Neil, a polar opposite academic who strives to finesse the dicey circumstances and maintain decorum. Bert is an unfiltered instigator, much to the chagrin of Ellen and Neil, but to the amusement of his cheeky grandson, DREW. When Drew turns 16, Bert takes him to Dominic’s huge car dealership, stoking the home fire and exacerbating an already-awkward situation — but it’s only the beginning.

Ellen’s saucy and bossy (but lonely) best friend of 20 years, MARIANA, vows to help her through this madness. When Ellen laments she can’t find a recent photo of “the bastard” online, Mariana suggests they take a day trip to his dealership, in tawdry disguises, in a misguided ploy to satisfy Ellen’s curiosity and her own. But that visit lights a different fire…

Quinn longs for a blissful wedding and advocates eloping to prevent a spectacle, or worse, a crime scene, but sentimental Nic adamantly refuses. When wealthy Dominic hosts an engagement party at his opulent home, his ego, charm — and bawdiness — are on full display, mortifying Nic. Ellen rightfully dreads the extravagant shindig and finds herself both aghast and riled up throughout. The obvious sexual energy between Mariana and Dominic only heightens her distress. The drama becomes too much for rattled Quinn, who questions the wisdom of marrying Nic, crushing him (and Ellen). Hell hath no fury for an incensed mother and Ellen, emboldened by liquor, openly confronts Dominic mid-party. It’s Neil who comes through by talking Quinn down.

Mariana’s swept away by Dominic’s wicked good looks and pizzazz. Their fun, romantic trip to Las Vegas only seals their bond. Convinced Dominic will hurt Mariana too, already-stressed Ellen freaks. As Ellen unravels, Neil’s frustrations peak. While he tries to remain stoic, Neil’s vulnerable side is exposed when he accuses frazzled Ellen of still carrying a torch for Dominic. He questions her happiness and how he measures up to her vivacious, charismatic ex-husband.

When Mariana hosts Quinn’s bridal shower, she and Ellen awkwardly agree to put aside their differences. Then Ellen discovers Dominic in Mariana’s kitchen and, to Quinn’s horror, their tensions and unresolved conflicts come to a fiery head, captivating the astonished guests. By now it’s blatantly clear that Ellen and Dominic were a total mismatch. (Just ask Bert!)

Once raw emotions are overt, Ellen ultimately makes peace with her past and extends a very symbolic olive branch to Dominic. She also recognizes that Mariana and the “new and improved” Dominic truly are good for each other and is genuinely happy for her best friend.

Despite complicated dynamics, as the story progresses the characters’ evolving mindsets allow for Quinn and Nic’s lavish wedding at the end to feel celebratory and joyful. Brouhaha averted, Ellen’s surprise move at the reception signals a heartfelt and harmonious new beginning.

All Accolades & Coverage: 

Quarterfinalist - 2023 Emerging Screenwriters Genre Screenplay Competition
Second Rounder - 2022 Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition
Quarterfinalist - 2021 StoryPros International Screenplay Contest
Quarterfinalist - 2021 Chicago Screenplay Awards
"Double Recommend" Stage 32 (Industry Reader) - November 2020
Quarterfinalist - 2020 ScreenCraft Comedy Contest
Quarterfinalist - 2020 Emerging Screenwriters Genre Screenplay Competition
Honorable Mention - 2020 WriteMovies Summer Screenwriting Contest
Honorable Mention - 2020 WriteMovies Romance and Comedy Award

Submitted: March 19, 2021
Last Updated: January 10, 2023

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This Script Is Loved By 4 Readers

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The Writer: Andrea Zastrow

Greetings from Wausau, Wisconsin! A former proofreader, my life in script terms is firmly in the meaty, challenging second act. A North Central Wisconsin transplant from Iowa, the new isolation inspired me to pen a story that had ruminated inside me for over a decade, which stoked my creative spirit. It’s been an exciting journey! I write character-driven stories with heart that portray complicated family dynamics—mostly drama and grounded comedy. My scripts find the emotional story, exploring themes of loss, atonement, estrangement and regret along with hope, forgiveness and new beginnings. All of my scripts have Midwest flavor, but locations are flexible. A big believer in the art of... Go to bio

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