“The twenties are pretty formative, you know?” Boyhood director Richard Linklater said recently on Jeff Goldsmith’s Q&A podcast. “That’s where you really become who you’re going to be.”
More and more, Linklater’s been hinting at a sequel to Boyhood. The original tracks the life of a boy (Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane) filmed over twelve years. At the same time, Ethan Hawke’s character (who is probably in the script as “Ethan Hawke’s Character”) struggles with the yoke of manhood and becoming a father in that time. He ultimately remarries and has another kid. He says something to the effect of “I can’t believe I’m gonna do it all over again.”
This recent semi-Oscar snub*, Richard Linklater, is just reason to dust off and go for it again. Here are some notes for the 12 early years of my proposed treatment, Manhood.
Mason packs up and meets Ethan Hawke, red Solo cup in hand, at backyard college graduation party. Some bro gets Hawke into vaping. CUT TO: bare mattress, the Marley posters have come off the wall. The college days evaporate with every last Snapchat vid. College is over. Boxes are packed. He spends one sleepless night inside. The bare walls give off a faint, unsettling echo.
Boy gets first girlfriend and then first job. It doesn’t pay well. She complains that he never takes her anywhere nice. By working through college, however, he has a reasonable student loan payment and pretty solid credit. Then one day a nice, platinum pre-approved credit card arrives. Thirtysomethings in the theater cringe in horror. This mirrors the scene in Boyhood where they played with sawblades. Sounds of girlfriend’s laughter.
First breakup with first girl he thought of marrying. Mind wanders to new women to sleep with. Tries all the creative facial hair choices she hated. Hears that someone somewhere saw his ex out and that she laughed at someone’s else’s jokes. Jealous rage ensues. Midnight shouting out windows. Nonstop Instagram stalking. Loses job.
Funemployment runs out. Where did those last nine months go? GoPro shot on a plant in the window, a time lapse of death. Sets up laptop and uploads YouTube video with roommate, “What Guys Do During Breakups.” It goes nowhere. Wakes up with first hangover. Gives self first degrading haircut (a la Boyhood) to land a better job. Shows up. Interview cancelled.
Goes to store for new microwave. Instinctively goes to the appliance furthest to the left. Cheapest, least functional. Sees on TV screen that some idiot from high school made an app that earned him a boatload of money. Looks up across the rows in the store and sees to the left every cheap appliance that ever failed him: one-speed blender, on/off switch coffee maker, plugged-in-or-not iron. Pauses. Walks down aisle. Chooses item, second to the left. It’s three dollars more. Triumph of manhood. Calls mom “just because.”
Friends from home have bought a second car. He decides between HBO Go account and Amazon Prime. Makes a big deal about doing things on time. Be early if necessary. Too old to keep blaming a sudden mass-failure of the transit system for his tardiness at work. Makes calendar of bill payments. Company closes the next day.
Methodically removes all books from shelf that have been unused since college, despite incriminating yellow “USED” sticker. Microwave fails.
Absolutely nothing happens to guys at 29. Even if you get married.
While in town on business, Mason tries to squeeze in one beer with Ethan Hawke before a work meeting. He drinks the first half of his pint while checking emails on his phone. But as he’s emptying the glass, Hawke admits that he would do things differently if he could start over now. Mason cancels meeting to make up lost time with Dad.
Makes first trip to see Ethan Hawke’s new family. All smiles. Gives “airplane rides” to his younger brothers and sister in the backyard during golden-hour light.
During Best Man Speech at former roommate’s wedding he plays their old video, “What Guys Do During Breakups.” Everyone laughs at haircuts and bad clothes. They were once so young it gives you tingles. Where does the time go? Meets pretty bridesmaid and decides not to sleep with her, but to just see where it goes, you know? Take it slow.
With the wedding happening that Friday, everyone forgot Mason’s 33rd birthday Sunday morning. Fine. He still outlived Jesus. He gets ready to leave wedding. On the Amtrak home he falls passionately in love with bridesmaid.
At their engagement party it turns out her aunt is married to Richard Linklater. He buys the rights to this post. And if not that then maybe the film option to my first book? It’s about people in their twenties struggling with manhood and falling in love. There’s an excellent role in it for Ethan Hawke’s Character.
*The “Best Supporting Actress” in every boy’s life is his mother and that was reinforced by Patricia Arquette winning the Boyhood team’s sole Oscar, deservedly so.