Sparkler - All That Glitters is More Than Gold | Script Revolution

Sparkler - All That Glitters is More Than Gold

Sparkler
Bike stunts, booming fireworks, and a blowtorch are part of a family’s wild Fourth of July.
 
In the 1989 movie ‘Parenthood’, starring Steve Martin, his character Gil listens to Grandma whimsically recall going to the fair with Grandad. She recollects how some folks would choose to ride the safe and predictable Merry-go-Round, whereas she preferred the unpredictable and thrilling Rollercoaster. This shrewd metaphor about life is one of the many charms that made this film about the ups-and-downs and in-betweens of family so watchable and relateable.
 
Cut from a similar cloth is Rob Herzog’s quirky and amiable short screenplay ‘Sparkler’, which tells the story of Bruce and his family as they spend a blistering July 4th with his larger-than-life Floridian in-laws.
 
As evening creeps closer the family dines outside, munching pulled pork and catfish po-boy sandwiches. Well, all but the exceedingly careful and nervous Bruce who anxiously watches his daring 6-year-old daughter gleefully ride her bike, taking on stunt after stunt with reckless abandon while his po-boy sits untouched, damp and ragged in the heat and humidity.
 
Conversely, Uncle Moon, ‘a jolly bear of a man’, takes great pride in watching Lizzie’s one-woman daredevil show. Not just cheering, Moon also facilitates her fun by upping the explosive ante each time as Bruce watches on, slowly crumbling under the weight of his anxiety.
 
Bruce’s fear is further amplified after he accompanies Moon and Lizzie inside the house, and watches on as the giddy firebugs select their next set of colorful ordinances to detonate in the night sky.
 
Bruce stares harder at the fireworks. A moment crawls by before Uncle Moon points to Lizzie.
                                                                       
UNCLE MOON
You got a tough little cookie here,
 Bruce. Afraid of nothin’.
 
BRUCE
Yeah. The way she rides up and down
that ramp. Unbelievable. We just
took off her training wheels in the
spring. And how look at her…
(he swallows)
 …It’s scary.
 
It’s clear Bruce and Uncle Moon are chalk and cheese. Their worlds and backgrounds could not be more different. All they have in common is his wife Tina and his child Lizzie. In many ways they represent both sides of the Red and Blue political and cultural spectrum. If not for the bond of marriage and extended family, they would likely have nothing to do with each other.
 
This diametrically opposed dynamic also helps explain Bruce’s crippling anxiety as he watches his little girl fearlessly exults in a cornucopia of pulsating shenanigans. He can’t relate to her high-spirited audacity, so instead he projects on her his childhood fears -- resulting in a near breakdown.
 
BRUCE
But everyone here thinks I’m a
fool. I’m an embarrassment.
 
TINA
You’re being silly. C’mon back and
watch. It will be okay.
 
BRUCE
I don’t know what I’m doing
anymore, that’s what I’m getting
at. What are we all doing?
(he searches)
I love you and your family…
 
Like the fireworks he fears, the dread in Bruce is equally unstable. So, when these two forces eventually collide, the incandescent storm of cordite confetti mixed with a snot and tears is a hilarious sight to behold… beautiful in its own fierce and cathartic way.
 
There is a sly subtlety to this script that will excite actors. Likewise, a director who enjoys using the screen to explore family dynamics, personal demons, and the many contradictions of the human condition, will relish a chance to bring this ‘sparkling’ story to life.

The Script

Sparkler

Bike stunts, booming fireworks, and a blowtorch are part of a family’s wild Fourth of July.

About The Reviewer

Jeremy Storey's picture
Real name: 

Jeremy Storey, originally hails from the United Kingdom, but now resides in Seattle, WA. He first discovered the joys of writing at school, penning short stories and collaborating on comic books with his friends. Coming from a writerly family, it was clearly in his DNA to tell stories. However,...Read more

About The Writer

Rob Herzog's picture
Real name: 

My chief talent isn’t writing, it’s being afraid.
As a kid, I freaked out about spontaneous human combustion, killer bees, and the prospect of a bathtub shark attack. And the 3,600 miles between me and the Loch Ness Monster wasn’t nearly enough.
All of this youthful anxiety...Read more