Era Present Day
Locations Missouri (Kansas City, small town)
Genre Comedy, Dark Comedy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Comedy, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Psychological Sci-Fi
After his dog disappears, a quirky man still mourning the death of his wife in small town Missouri goes searching for her but instead of finding his dog, he sees what he believes to be a flying saucer, setting him on a quest to prove to the town that it's real and he's not crazy.
ELMER'S SAUCER is a compelling sci-fi comedy with psychological and dramatic elements that explores themes of truth, community, love, brotherhood and loss in a contemporary Missouri setting. The primary Cave, Missouri setting works well as a backdrop for this particular plot as it's clearly a place where everyone is in each others business and the community is tight knit even if they don't all get along. ELMER and JAMES as the central figures, though not without their flaws, are largely sympathetic. The familial disconnect should resonate with audiences and there's something deeply tragic about a man only reconnecting with his brother (or perhaps his brother's legacy) once it's too late. The dialogue throughout feels authentic to the setting and successfully advances the plot while injecting it with a number of dramatic and comedic moments. (MARY ANN Disappeared? ELMER BARNS Right into thin air. MARY ANN Just flew off? Well, they'll do that sometimes. Just when you think you've got a hold of something, BINGO!) The sci-fi elements are well constructed, blending the familiar with something unique and still comedic, especially Billy's unique investigative inquiries. The ending is a fun yet ambiguous twist that should have audiences leaving the theater feeling satisfied even if pondering what the truth of the situation really was.
Though the script is clearly centered on a specific series of events within a fairly narrow window of time, it feels like there may be room for some additional exploration of the characters respective backstories to help the audience connect with them and understand them on a deeper level emotionally. Keeping Elmer's truth somewhat vague may be necessary to maintain the sense of mystery surrounding the major plot points but that may be all the more reason to do a bit of a deeper dive into James' experience. It's interesting to see how he develops late in the script but shining a light on his professional and familial frustrations earlier in the script could make the revelation that he technically owns part of the ranch more impactful. Even expanding Jenna's role could be meaningful, their marital disconnect is a solid subplot but fleshing her out a bit more could go a long way. While not individually significant, typos, grammatical errors and factual inconsistencies can become distracting if they accumulate and bear addressing. For example, when we first meet Elmer he's described as 65 years old yet later in the script he's referred to as 75. That would make more sense unless he and James are twins, since James is described as 65 as well. Other minor examples, P. 81. "your a" vs. "you're a" P. 91. "coctail" vs. "cocktail."
Though there may still be some room for improvement or additional tweaks, overall there are a number of positive takeaways when it comes to the long term prospects of the project. Tonally and thematically, it knows what it wants to be, what it wants to say and goes for it in a way that should resonate with fans of sci-fi comedies with strong dramatic elements that also explore the human condition. From a budget perspective, it reads as quite affordable to produce, something that's always ideal when looking to find financing for an independent feature. The core cast is small, the locations are limited and while the Missouri setting is specific, it could likely shoot in a number of cities/states/regions that are currently offering tax incentives or production rebates to the film and television industries. In terms of casting, there are several strong roles that should appeal to actors and actresses alike, most notably Elmer, James, Sam and even Mary Ann. Depending on the work done to future drafts of the script, the level of talent attached and the execution by the director there could be a range of potential outlets for the project. If it doesn't find traditional theatrical distribution, it could be a fit for a streaming or VOD platform like a Netflix, Amazon or Hulu or a direct to consumer service like Redbox.