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HAPPY HOUR

HAPPY HOUR
By Daniel Stuelpnagel

GENRE: Drama, Crime
LOGLINE:

A tormented computer geek in Palo Alto who killed in self-defense as a child tackles psychotherapy with a genius rookie shrink and faces a deadly showdown against his victim's vengeful brother.

SYNOPSIS:

Young Miguel Danko, 8, pranked in a Northern California forest, fights his tormentors, camp counselor Jim Stratford assaults him, Miguel fights back and wounds Jim with a machete. Seventeen years later, hunky tech-bro adult Miguel seeks psychotherapy in Palo Alto with beautiful rookie shrink Dr. Alicia Zheng.

Back in 1988, young Miguel and his folks take Jim Stratford to court in Stockton. Sentenced to prison, Jim attacks, his mom and young siblings Benjy and Laura watching. Young Miguel pulls a cop’s gun in self-defense and shoots Jim dead.

2005, Doctor Alicia listens, stunned, adult Miguel agrees to therapy. Hot mess Laura crashes the Stratford’s truck, killing their mom. At the funeral, lawyer Bart Otterbine, who failed to defend Jim in court, asks Benjy to his office to settle mom Juanita’s paltry estate.

Despite job problems, boozing Miguel finds Dr. Alicia’s analysis helpful. Benjy steals Miguel’s home address from Otterbine’s office. Miguel gets fired for cause. Benjy finds out Miguel’s family moved, forcibly obtains their new address, plans to kill Miguel. At Miguel and Alicia’s third session in Palo Alto, romance explodes. Newly-inspired, Miguel fixes up his car and video-game gear, the lovers plan a weekend camping. Benjy kills Miguel’s dad in Stockton, takes mom hostage.

Otterbine reports Benjy to the cops, they investigate the murder. The oblivious lovers head to Yosemite, Benjy eludes the cops on a parallel revenge-on-the-road journey. Cops find Miguel and Alicia. Benjy drives south toward Bakersfield;

at his word, sister Laura kills Otterbine and two others. At sheriff’s HQ, Miguel, crushed by loss, berates the cops, who search for Benjy and hostage Mom.

Miguel heads for the Death Valley showdown to sacrifice himself for Mom’s release, he buys a shotgun near Little Lake, drives east in Alicia’s car. Laura and Benjy wound Miguel, but with multiple weapons he kills the killers in a bloody showdown, releases Mom. EMT chopper flies wounded Miguel to the hospital, doctors save him. Mom’s relief outweighs her grief. Cops clean up the mess and decompress. Sunset at Paradise Cove, Miguel and Alicia celebrate victory.

HAPPY HOUR

View screenplay
Rob Dunphy

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Daniel Stuelpnagel

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Nathaniel Baker

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Daniel Stuelpnagel

I'm glad to share this story because it has so much resonance on so many levels as a heartfelt homage to California, intricate and organic locations (I lived there for two years and had some adventures myself).

The showdown buildup intrigue suspense writ small that supports the story layer of "Western" in such a subtle and evocative yet essential B Story, this is one of several layers in this piece that help me regard the literary expansion as a tapestry.

I've been haggling with this one for ten years, about 18 months of work spread out in sequences, three page 1 rewrites, seven substantive punch-ups, two dozen polishes, three dozen proofreads, it's starting to feel like it has potential.

And I'll be jumping into 2022 with a fresh hot portfolio of excruciating nonsense in comedy adventure.

Daniel Stuelpnagel

I've just posted the screenplay for this project!

Tasha Lewis

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Michael John

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Michael John

Just read "Happy Hour" read it in one sitting. Exciting, comes together nicely at the end. I think however you could have done more work on fleshing out the protagonist, made him more more dimensional. Loved the dialogue, and the clever little sound effects. You've got talent man. well done

Daniel Stuelpnagel

Michael John well thank you so much, I really appreciate that outreach and time on your part, and your comments, I wrote the first draft of that one ten years ago and it's been through a cavalcade of dedicated work and I'm glad it comes through in some ways.

Muhammad Amin Rana.

Very Nice.

DD Myles

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DD Myles

Awesome premise!! I will give it a read tonight! But here's my humble suggestion for the logline... In Palo Alto, a tormented computer geek in psychotherapy engages in a deadly showdown with the vengeful brother of the victim he killed as a child in self-defense.

Daniel Stuelpnagel

DD Myles thank you on multiple fronts for your kind suggestion, rating and interest! I really appreciate that very much, you taking the time to have a look.

Robert Sacchi

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Robert Sacchi

An unusual story line. The logline is good at peaking curiosity.

Daniel Stuelpnagel

Robert Sacchi thanks very much, I appreciate that!!

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