As Robin doodled "Mrs. Robin Costner" all over her mental notebook, Kevin suddenly wondered if he remembered to turn the stove off.

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

The Abridged Script

Abridger's Note: Special thanks go to Mr. M. for composing the bottled messages. If improvising Nicholas Sparks impressions to help your wife write a thing on the internet isn't true romance, I don't know what is.

FADE IN:

EXT. BEACH

ROBIN WRIGHT jogs. Yes, she went by the name ROBIN WRIGHT PENN that year, but she's ROBIN WRIGHT now and PENN is an ASSHOLE.

ROBIN WRIGHT

What a sad, empty life I lead. I'm too afraid to write for the newspaper I work for, my ex-husband's second wife is a smokeshow, and now I'm taking a vacation all alone. If only a ruggedly handsome yet tender-hearted man entered my world all of a sudden.

She stops upon finding a BOTTLE and opens it to find a MESSAGE.

MESSAGE #1

"Dear Susan: I miss you and I love you. I miss you and I love you. Did I mention I miss you and I love you? The birds were singing today. They seemed to say, 'I miss you and I love you.' I saw your face in my muffin today. It was sweet, just like you. In short, I miss you and I love you."

ROBIN clutches the MESSAGE to her chest and sighs dreamily.

INT. CHICAGO

ROBIN's co-worker ILLEANA DOUGLAS sighs dreamily at the MESSAGE while their editor, ROBBIE COLTRANE, looks blank.

ROBBIE COLTRANE

So he misses her and he loves her. So what?

ROBIN WRIGHT

Don't you see, Robbie? Whoever Not You is, she found true love.

ROBBIE COLTRANE

Ehhh, that's crap. Look at what Ebert wrote today.

(reads)

"You don't just find true love. You team up with somebody, and build it from the ground up."

ILLEANA DOUGLAS

That sounds like... effort.

FEMALE CO-WORKERS

Ewww!

ROBBIE COLTRANE

Well, if you weepy broads buy this, it'll probably sell tons of books--uh, I mean, issues.

They print the MESSAGE and tons of ISSUES are sold.

ROBBIE COLTRANE

Okay, you two are on the bottled message beat full-time now.

ROBIN WRIGHT

Even though we live in Chicago, where there's tons of actual news?

ROBBIE COLTRANE

Leave it to the men, honey.

ROBIN and ILLEANA receive tons of LETTERS from WOMEN slamming their HUSBANDS for being unromantic, and then a second MESSAGE!

MESSAGE #2

"Dear Susan: I passed by a truck today. It was blue, like your eyes. It was rusty, like your beautiful amber hair. Its fenders were wide, like your badonkadonk. And it belched smoke, like you do after we bone."

ROBIN WRIGHT

Okay, we HAVE to find out who wrote these. First we'll get a typewriter expert to analyze what this was written on and narrow down where that model could have been sold. Then we'll get someone to determine the age of the bottle and cork and find the source of this sailboat-stamped stationery. And then I'll go track down that customer to... I dunno, interview him, I guess. I don't really have an excuse to go myself, except that he sounds ruggedly handsome yet tender-hearted.

ILLEANA DOUGLAS

You know, this would be pretty solid investigative journalism if I didn't think you just wanted to meet a guy. How do you know he won't turn out to be dead? Or worse, unattractive?

ROBIN WRIGHT

You really think the romantic hero will be anything less than a hunk? Maybe he looks like a slightly doughy youth pastor in real life, but NEVER on film.

EXT. NORTH CAROLINA

Using INFORMATION that no ethical BUSINESS OWNER would supply to a COMPLETE STRANGER, ROBIN finds the ruggedly handsome yet tender-hearted KEVIN COSTNER.

ROBIN WRIGHT

Hi. Uh... I like your boat.

KEVIN COSTNER

Thanks. You want to take a sail with me?

ROBIN WRIGHT

Do you just offer sails to everyone who admires your boat?

KEVIN COSTNER

Not everyone, just visibly intelligent women who are beautiful at any distance with eyes that light up when they talk and a certain confidence in the way they move.

ROBIN WRIGHT

(silence)

KEVIN COSTNER

Seriously, that's what I'm supposed to like about you.

ROBIN WRIGHT

Oookay. Sail it is.

They get out on the WATER and exchange DETAILS WE'VE ALREADY LEARNED. Nice BOAT, though.

INT. ROBIN'S HOTEL

ROBIN hears a knock at the DOOR and opens it to find KEVIN, holding her jacket.

KEVIN COSTNER

You left this on the boat. I didn't want to bring it back at first, because I'm still missing my sainted dead wife and afraid to love again.

ROBIN WRIGHT

That's an excuse to avoid basic decency?

KEVIN COSTNER

I thought so, but my father, Paul Newman, thinks I need to get laid again and fast.

ROBIN WRIGHT

THE Paul Newman? They brought HIM into this?

KEVIN COSTNER

I KNOW RIGHT? Anyway, come to dinner.

ROBIN WRIGHT

Steak, red wine, candlelight, porch, elevator music on the record player?

KEVIN COSTNER

And conversation about details the audience has already learned, yes.

They do all this and kiss ONE TIME before ROBIN leaves.

KEVIN COSTNER

Well, that wasn't so bad. In fact, I think I'm ready to love again.

(pauses)

Then again, maybe not.

(pauses)

Then again, maybe yes.

EXT. BIZARRELY FAKE-LOOKING ATLANTIC OCEAN CONSIDERING THAT'S WHERE THIS WAS ACTUALLY FILMED

ROBIN and KEVIN drink COFFEE and kiss each other on the CHEEK a couple of times.

ROBIN WRIGHT

Look, I know we're supposed to have found true love and junk, but all we've done is have banal get-to-know-you conversations and sit on your boat. Aren't we supposed to be talented enough to sell this limp squib of a romance?

KEVIN COSTNER

Nobody could do that.

(holds up paperback copy of "Message in a Bottle")

You ever sit down and read this? It takes ONE WEEK for me to say "I love you" after six years of doing nothing but grieve. One week.

ROBIN WRIGHT

(sighs)

It's time to make the phone call.

KEVIN COSTNER

Be my guest.

INT. HOME OF AUTHOR NICHOLAS SPARKS

AUTHOR NICHOLAS SPARKS watches helplessly as the PALLET SHELF he is trying to build collapses for the THIRD TIME. He answers the PHONE.

AUTHOR NICHOLAS SPARKS

Ahoy-hoy?

ROBIN WRIGHT

It's Robin. We've gotta talk.

AUTHOR NICHOLAS SPARKS

Robin, hi! How are you and Kevin? Finding "a love that is timeless and everlasting," I hope.

ROBIN WRIGHT

No, frankly, because you're trying to make it too easy. I know this story was inspired by your parents, but I seem to recall you saying something about how your father started healing himself before he met his new love.

AUTHOR NICHOLAS SPARKS

That's true, he did. But my readers like to feel like they're special enough to heal a man's heart just by showing up.

ROBIN WRIGHT

Which explains why my character is so easy to step into, I guess.

AUTHOR NICHOLAS SPARKS

Exactly!

ROBIN WRIGHT

Look, it's exhausting to be solely responsible for fixing a guy, and it's even more exhausting to believe you can. You can make your fans happy in other ways, you know. Like those missionary scenes you usually write, with all the staring and the sighing and the close-ups? They're really boring.

AUTHOR NICHOLAS SPARKS

So... you want the woman to get on top? I suppose I can allow that.

ROBIN WRIGHT

That's a start, but...

AUTHOR NICHOLAS SPARKS

(turns pale)

Don't say it.

ROBIN WRIGHT

Like you don't constantly hear it! If you REALLY care about what women want...

AUTHOR NICHOLAS SPARKS

I won't do it!

ROBIN WRIGHT

...you should have the guy...

AUTHOR NICHOLAS SPARKS

It's unmanly! I refuse!

ROBIN WRIGHT

...go down...

AUTHOR NICHOLAS SPARKS

GAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!

He runs into the SHOWER and stays there for FOUR HOURS.

AUTHOR NICHOLAS SPARKS

(scrubbing furiously)

CAN'T... GET... CLEEEEEAAAAAN!!!

EXT. BIZARRELY FAKE-LOOKING ATLANTIC OCEAN

ROBIN hangs up.

ROBIN WRIGHT

Welp, we're stuck.

KEVIN COSTNER

Ugh. At least we'll get paid.

They have a MARSHMALLOW FIGHT. Swear to God.

KEVIN COSTNER

Well, this has been fun and all, but I'm still afraid to love.

ROBIN WRIGHT

Gee, after only a few days? Are they supposed to believe you're the unreasonable one here?

KEVIN COSTNER

I think they are, even though you're the one who's blowing off work after you just had a vacation for a guy you barely know who delivers every line like he'd rather be literally anywhere else.

ROBIN WRIGHT

Yeah, but that's how you sound in basically everything.

They kiss with TONGUE, finally.

INT. CHICAGO

KEVIN comes to visit ROBIN.

KEVIN COSTNER

Well, here I am, despite knowing you for possibly less than a week and STILL being afraid to love. Amazing what the promise of standard-issue sex can do.

ROBIN WRIGHT

Yes, it can even overcome your terror at being in a large city, evidenced by your reaction to brushing against a black person on the subway. What, did you think you'd catch something?

That night, KEVIN finds his MESSAGES and the BOTTLE in ROBIN's BEDSIDE TABLE!

KEVIN COSTNER

Wait, what are they doing here instead of your office?

ROBIN WRIGHT

Um, well...

KEVIN COSTNER

I threw those into the ocean assuming there was zero chance they'd ever reach dry land, and you're using them to get wet?! I didn't even write this third one, my wife did! And someone found it? What are the fucking odds?

EXT. FLASHBACK - MUCH LESS FAKE-LOOKING ATLANTIC OCEAN

KEVIN's wife, SUSAN BRIGHTBILL, throws her own BOTTLED MESSAGE into the WATER.

SUSAN BRIGHTBILL

"Dear Whoever: Love is nice, in case you didn't know. It makes you happy in a bland, non-specific sort of way. I hope you find it with a bland, non-specific sort of man like my husband, who thinks Wonder Bread is ethnic food. Just remember, when you find it, not to express it in any observable way. And always carry with you the words: Love is bland."

INT. PRESENT - CHICAGO

KEVIN COSTNER

So why didn't you tell me about this? Were you just using these letters as an excuse to hunt me down and make me love you?

ROBIN WRIGHT

I know that sounds really stupid, but that's pretty much exactly what I was trying to do.

KEVIN COSTNER

Well, no amount of standard-issue sex is worth THIS!

He leaves. ROBIN removes ANOTHER ITEM from her BEDSIDE TABLE.

INT. NORTH CAROLINA

KEVIN and PAUL drink COFFEE.

PAUL NEWMAN

Obviously you'll never completely get over Susan, but are you ever going to explain why you loved her so much?

KEVIN COSTNER

She was perfect. In a bland, non-specific sort of way.

PAUL NEWMAN

Well, I think you should start loving Robin more than her.

KEVIN COSTNER

(actual line)

You spent one afternoon with her. You don't even know who she is.

PAUL NEWMAN

But I do know that I want grandkids soon, and she's the one person in six years who made you act, so quit your goddamn moping and start behaving like you're Paul Newman's son!

He kicks KEVIN square in the NUTS, wallops him in the FACE, and leaves. KEVIN hobbles home, where he writes a final MESSAGE.

KEVIN COSTNER

"Dear Susan: Even though you've been dead for six years, and I assume you loved me and would want me to be happy, I feel incredibly guilty about putting my penis in someone who isn't you. Please, pretty please, will you give me permission to have some nookie with someone who isn't you, because I can't love you anymore because you're dead and sex with corpses is frowned upon around here? I miss you and I love you, etc., etc., Kevin."

He bottles the MESSAGE and sails it into the middle of the OCEAN.

OCEAN

Hey, you all want to know what's more powerful than true love? ME.

(murders KEVIN)

INT. CHICAGO

ROBIN gets a call from PAUL.

PAUL NEWMAN

Kevin got drowned by a giant metaphor on his way to start loving you.

ROBIN WRIGHT

NOOOOOO!!!

END

ROBIN WRIGHT

Wait, that's it? I'm sad and then the movie's over? Aren't we going to find out what I learned?

PAUL NEWMAN

That romantic melodrama really isn't your strong suit and you'll look back at this experience and laugh once you become famous for playing a cold, bitter, manipulative shrew?

ROBIN WRIGHT

...Yeah, let's go with that.

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