Parallel Proposals by Andrea Zastrow | Script Revolution

Parallel Proposals

Tensions escalate when a high-strung accountant discovers her daughter’s fiancé is the son of her cocky, cheating ex-husband — threatening the “perfect” wedding (and life) she has envisioned.

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111pp

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PARALLEL PROPOSALS

GENRE: Comedy/Dramedy
FORMAT: Feature
NUTSHELL: "Valentine’s Day" meets "The Big Wedding"

OVERVIEW:
"Parallel Proposals" is a grounded, lighthearted script that centers on four interconnected couples at different stages of life — from a young, newly engaged couple to second acts and fourth chances. The central focus isn’t on the bride and groom, but the bride's mother, who struggles to come to terms with having her ex-husband back in her life.

The complex relationships in "Parallel Proposals" explore personal growth, redemption and new beginnings. Despite initial torment and vexing shenanigans along the way, an open mind and heart lead to internal peace, a cordial relationship with her adulterous ex-husband and a joyful wedding for her daughter. People can change — even that schmuck of an ex-husband!

CHARACTERS:

ELLEN (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 in her life again. An accountant, Ellen struggles to let go of emotional baggage, but is a great friend.

NEIL (57) – Ellen’s husband, a tactful, square English professor who tries 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 (77) – Ellen’s crusty, pot-stirring 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.

DOMINIC (58) – Ellen’s boisterous ex-husband who shattered her heart. He’s been married three times. A widower, he still grieves his sons’ mother and has been unable to move on. Still a charmer with a big ego, wickedly handsome Dominic matured into a solid family man. While he doesn’t regret his divorce from Ellen, he is remorseful about how it went down. A former racer, he now owns a successful car dealership. His sons and his business are his world.

MARIANNE (52) – Ellen’s single, spicy and sexually uninhibited best friend who’s unlucky in love. She’s never been married and has no children. Saucy and bossy, Marianne owns a hip dance studio but is incredibly lonely and longs to marry.

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

QUINN (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 travels for her job.

NOTE FROM WRITER: Are your parents divorced? Mine are — ever since I was three. And they literally haven’t spoken in decades! Ridiculous, right? (I turned out ok… I think.) While pondering what scenario might force them to actually speak to one another, the idea for this fun story sprang to life. Enjoy!

SUMMARY:
Set in modern-day suburban Chicago, ELLEN and NEIL SPENCER are delighted when their only daughter, QUINN, announces her engagement to NIC… until they hear Nic's father's name. 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 thirty glorious years of no contact, horrified Ellen knows she has no choice but to face her ex again. Quinn and Nic, shocked at the dinner table bombshell, must then break the news to Dominic, whose reaction is startling!

Ellen’s father, BERT, is the first to figure out the identity of Nic’s father and can’t wait to witness the pandemonium once Ellen 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 mild-mannered Neil, a polar opposite academic who strives to finesse the dicey circumstances and maintain family harmony. Bert is an unfiltered instigator, much to the chagrin of Ellen and Neil, but to the amusement of his cheeky grandson. When his grandson 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, spunky (and lonely) best friend of twenty years, MARIANNE, vows to help her through it. Despite Marianne’s prying, humiliated Ellen has never opened up about getting dumped by her ex. When Ellen laments she can’t find a recent photo of "the bastard" online, Marianne 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 Marianne and Dominic only heightens her distress. The drama becomes too much for rattled Quinn, who questions the wisdom of marrying Nic at all, crushing him (and Ellen). Incensed, Ellen — emboldened by liquor — openly confronts Dominic mid-party.

Marianne’s loyalty is questioned when she’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 Marianne too, already-stressed Ellen freaks, straining their friendship. 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 with their marriage and how he measures up to her vivacious, charismatic ex-husband.

When Marianne hosts Quinn’s bridal shower, she and Ellen awkwardly agree to put aside their differences. Then Ellen discovers Dominic in Marianne’s kitchen and, to Quinn’s horror, their tensions and past 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 Marianne 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 - 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: September 13, 2021

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The Writer: Andrea Zastrow

Greetings from Wausau, Wisconsin! I’m Andrea, a former proofreader, property manager and PTO president. A native Iowan, my journey into screenwriting commenced when I moved from Eastern Iowa to snowy North Central Wisconsin, which allowed me to finally focus on writing. It’s been both an exciting and soul-crushing journey! I’m drawn to character-driven stories with heart that portray complicated family dynamics. Grounded Comedies, Romantic Comedies, Dramas and Dramedies are the genres I find most appealing. A big believer in the art of collaboration, my hope is that a script of mine will one day connect with a creative in the industry who has the vision and power to bring it to life... Go to bio

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