Welcome to Double Dare!
Christian Bale as Marc Summers
Ben Mendelsohn as Journalist Michael Crinpin
Ginnifer Goodwin as Louise Crinpin
David Krumholtz as Gersh
Jane Kaczmarek as President of Nickleodeon, Geraldine Laybourne
Catherine Keener as Tipper Gore
Linda Ellerbee as Herself (using de-aging technology)
Melissa Joan Hart as Herself (using de-aging technology)
Keenan and Kel as Themselves (using de-aging technology)
Kirk Bailey as Kevin ‘Ug’ Lee from ‘Salute Your Shorts’ (using de-aging technology)
Michael Ray Bower as Donkey Lips from ‘Salute Your Shorts’ (using de-aging technology)
Estimated Budget: $78,000,000
Estimated Box Office: $326,000,000 (Domestic), $75,500,000 (International)
The year is 1990.
Journalist Michael Crinpin (Ben Mendhelson) is bored and cynical about a life he feels is going nowhere. Michael, who once dreamed of writing cover stories for Time Magazine, has found himself in a comfortable but unsatisfying niche writing personal interest stories for Reader’s Digest. Michael’s wife, Louise (Ginnifer Goodwin) wishes he could just be happy with their life instead of being so beaten down all the time. Louise wants a baby to bring joy into their family, but Michael says what’s the point: The baby would just grow up to be yet another unhappy adult. Bleak stuff.
One day, Michael’s boss assigns him to write a story on the new children’s television phenomenon Double Dare, airing on the fledgling Nickelodeon network. Michael assumes this will be another lame story that will be immediately be forgotten by its few readers. But Michael’s oxycontin addiction won’t pay for itself, so he sets off for Orlando, Florida.
Michael arrives at Nickelodeon studios to watch a taping of Double Dare. He wanders around backstage before the show. He pops an Oxy to take the edge off. Eventually, Michael sees a 6-year-old girl, crying by herself backstage. With the oxy starting to blanket Michael in that warm, wonderful comfort, he isn’t sure what to do – but suddenly, two doors open, unleashing a blinding, beautiful white light. Out from the light, walks a man.
The man, in his early 40s – wearing a suit that should be out of place in the wacky Nickelodeon studio but somehow fits right in – approaches the crying girl, smiling beatifically. He asks her what’s wrong. The girl tells the man she’s nervous to go on TV. The man assures her there’s nothing to worry about. In fact, it’s actually quite fun. “Here”, the man says. “Let me show you.” The man then walks over to a giant chain hanging from the ceiling and yanks it. From above, an enormous amount of green slime pours down – and for a just a moment, before the green goo makes contact with the man, we see the slime form a perfect halo over his head, as if he were some sort of fun angel. The girl laughs in delight as the slime covers the man and runs off to prepare for filming, full of newfound confidence. “See, I told you”, the man yells after her.
Wiping slime from his face, the man turns to Michael, noticing him for the first time. “Hello, there. I’m Marc Summers.”
In the hour before the show, Michael begins interviewing Marc Summers (Christian Bale),the exuberant host of Double Dare. Marc is full of genuine, yet simple wisdom (“When I’m up there, watching a family try to make a giant spaghetti out of pool noodles, meatballs the size of basketballs, and a kiddie pool full of marinara sauce, I understand something true. The activity may be outrageous, but the family togetherness? That’s very, real.”) that begins to break through the hard, cynical shell Michael has around himself at all times. (In one exchange, Michael asks why the show has been so successful, to which Marc replies, “The world is a scary place. Full of things kids don’t understand. Heck, things that most adults don’t understand. But here at Double Dare, we celebrate the chaos. We give children a chance to look into the yawning abyss and scream, ‘I do not fear you!’ And that, that is why they watch.”).
After the episode taping, Michael sits with Marc in his dressing room as he signs countless bottles of green slime for sick children. Eventually, Double Dare producer Gersh (David Krumholtz) bursts through the door and tells Marc there is urgent news. Tipper Gore, wife of Vice President Al Gore, fresh off her campaign to police vulgarity in music, has turned her sights to Nickelodeon. Tipper is now lobbying congress to cut off funding to the network, due to its “deviant” effect on the nation’s children. The entire network, Double Dare included, is in danger of being shut down.
Well now, Michael thinks cynically, this hum drum story just got a lot more interesting…
Michael sits in as Nickelodeon’s top brain trust assembles to discuss how to handle Tipper Gore’s crusade. In the meeting are Marc Summers, Nick News host Linda Ellerbee, Ug and Donkey Lips from Salute Your Shorts, Melissa Joan Hart, the woman who voices Tommy Pickles on Rugrats, and All That stars, Keenan and Kel. (All actors will be played by themselves using digital de-aging technology). The group knows it must mount a public response to Tipper Gore and her cronies in order to save the network. But who to deliver the message? Who to eloquently extol the virtues of not only a television channel, but of an entire generation? Who to summarize what life can mean when humanity is reaching for heights previously unreached?
Every eye in the room turns to Marc Summers.
One week later, Michael is sitting directly behind Marc Summers as he prepares to address the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Communications. Tipper Gore sits at the head of the committee, looking evilly down at Marc. Everything is on the line.
Marc Summers begins speaking. He speaks about children. And television. About green slime and silly games. He speaks about cartoon Australian dingoes and football-headed 4th-graders. He speaks about Ren and Stimpy. In short, Marc Summers gives a speech that reinforces what it means to be human – and to have a soul. As Marc Summers orates on Nickelodeon, and on life itself, Michael notices that many members of Congress have begun to cry, no doubt thinking about their favorite childhood television shows.
By the end of the speech, the entire Senate Subcommittee is giving Marc Summers a standing ovation while Tipper Gore futilely bangs her gavel, shouting for “order!” that will never come. And to cap it all off, Senator Robertson, the 98-year-old committee chairman from Kentucky, pulls out a bottle of slime and pours it on Tipper’s head, saying “Oh, shut up, you old bag.” Everyone loses it.
Marc Summers sits in his chair, smiling peacefully. Behind him, Michael Crinpin seems to finally have shed the cynicism and OxyContin that has dominated his life for so long. Calling his wife, Michael shouts, “Honey, how about we have that baby you always wanted!” as Louise cries happily on the other end of the line
Never have we seen such a party on Capitol Hill. As the Senators and audience continue to hug each other and cry into each other’s arms, the Camera takes it all in from above, until finally, it begins zooming down… down… down.. until zeroing in on a close-up of Marc Summers face. He smiles, a single tear drops from his eye. Cut to black.
Chyron: Based on a true story
Welcome to Double Dare is the heartwarming story of a man who dared America to become its best self. The based-on-a-true-story of Marc Summers will have audiences cheering in the aisle as that most potent of drugs, 1990’s nostalgia, fills their blood stream with all the joy they can handle. Led by a likely Oscar winning performance by Christian Bale, Welcome to Double Dare is one movie that will have you DARING to find the TRUTH about life!
Exclusive Scene from the Script: