Ca$h Life

Keith Segal

Book Cover

GENRE

ACTION ADVENTURE DRAMA SUSPENSE/THRILLER CRIME

    Core Theme

    FAMILY/FRIENDSHIP

    TIME PERIOD

    2000s,1980s & '90s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    BOYZ N THE HOOD, THE WIRE (TV), SNOWFALL (TV)

    CHARACTER LIST

    CA$H: LEAD. WHITE. TEENAGER/YOUNG ADULT/MID-30S. WITTY, SCHEMING, CLEVER, DARING, TALENTED, INTELLIGENT.

    LIFE: BEST FRIEND/SIDEKICK. BLACK. TEENAGER/YOUNG ADULT/MID-30S. WITTY, SCHEMING, CLEVER,DARING TALENTED, INTELLIGENT.

    JUICE: BLACK. VILLAIN. 40S.

    KEYZ: FRIEND. WHITE. YOUNG ADULT/MID-30S.

    LACE: FRIEND. ASIAN. 20S.

    SMOKE: VILLAIN'S SIDEKICK. BLACK. 30S.

    Logline

    A basketball star is brought down by his own hubris, puts his life back together, and then becomes embroiled in a plot to steal from Los Angeles' most notorious gangster.

    Genre

    Action,Adventure,Drama,Suspense/Thriller,Crime

    Target Audiences

    Age: 13-17,18-34,35-54

    Target Gender: Universal,Male Leaning

    Setting

    Chicago, Los Angeles

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Starting Description

    Two gangsters looking to start trouble approach a few unsuspecting teenagers, after a heated basketball game, tension ensues, followed by murder. Where a unbreakable familial bond is formed.

    Ending Description

    As Los Angeles most notorious gangster threatens to kill everyone they have ever loved, a family with the help of a few unexpected friends come together to bring him to justice.

    Group Specific

    The author has not yet written this

    Pitch Adaptation

    Starting on the gritty streets of Chicago two kids are brought together through a violent encounter with two hardened criminals. As we follow them through High School and later college we are brought into the high paced world of college sports, gambling and drugs. Where they are brought down by their own hubris, costing them a shot at their dreams of playing in the NBA. They end up in southern California, running a sneaker store, coaching an AAU basketball team, and enjoying life. When an a tragic accident occurs, our leads have no other choice but to turn to the criminal underworld to solve their problems. After a daring robbery of Los Angeles most powerful gangster they are able to save the life of a loved one. Unfortunately this throws them into a dangerous life or death situation when the gangster comes to retrieve what is rightfully his. Along with the help of some unexpected friends our leads bring him to justice. A faced paced thriller, that brings you right into the story, as hip hops greatest provide the soundtrack.

    WGA Number

    The author has not yet written this

    Mature Audience Themes

    Extreme Violence, Language/Profanity,Substance Abuse

    Plot - Other Elements

    Twist,Coming of Age

    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain,Internal Journey/Rebirth,Rebellion Against 'The One',Tragedy

    Main Character Details

    Name: Ca$h

    Age: 30

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Masculine,Aggressive,Charming,Confident,Faithful,Heroic,Leader,Strong Moral Code,Unapologetic,Sarcastic,Funny,Skillful,Blunt

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Life

    Age: 30

    Gender: Male

    Role: Antagonist

    Key Traits: Funny,Badass,Charming,Complex,Criminal,Engaging,Faithful,Heartthrob,Heroic,Educated,Honorable,Leader,Strong Moral Code,Unapologetic,Sarcastic,Skillful,Power Hungry,Masculine

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Keyz

    Age: 30

    Gender: Male

    Role: sidekick

    Key Traits: Complex,Clumsy,Confident,Faithful,Educated,Honorable,Insecure,Sophisticated,Sarcastic,Romantic,Skillful,Funny

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Laces

    Age: 30

    Gender: Female

    Role: sidekick

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Badass,Aggressive,Charming,Confident,Crazy,Heroic,Educated,Honorable,Unapologetic,Sarcastic,Romantic,Sexy

    Genre

    COMEDY, ACTION, SUSPENSE, THRILLER

    Brief

    White Jewish ex-basketball star Ca$h and best friend Life grew up in a tough neighborhood in South Side Chicago. Years later, in order to save Life's daughter's life, they become embroiled in a plot to steal from LA's most notorious gangster.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    SCRIPT

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: GOOD

    Franchise Potential: GOOD

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    In the plot-premise section, these do not apply: "Rebellion Against 'The One'" and "Tragedy."

    Draw of Story

    The story drew me in initially as it seemed like it was going to be a story about two teenagers -- one a white Jewish basketball player and the other his Black best friend -- as they navigate the dangers of the tough streets of Chicago's South Side as well as the hardships of growing up. Unfortunately the story began to lose me when it launched forward into the future and continued to do so, making it difficult to ascertain what, exactly, the story is about.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The story hops around time several times in the script at points that felt random and unnecessary, and each time the time shifted, so did the plot, and it became impossible to figure out what the story was about and this in turn means there is no journey for the main characters to undertake aside from a general sense of moving through time and changing because of it. The script could use a thorough edit to clean up the writing -- there is too much wasted space and repeated information -- and the dialogue is overly wordy and on-the-nose. The actions characters take often felt impossible to believe, their motivations difficult to understand, and the story relies far too much on coincidence and convenient occurrences. This can be fixed by ensuring that the developments of the plot are fundamentally tied to the characters -- who they are, what they want, how they feel, how they see the world -- so that, when something happens, it feels caused by the actions and reactions of characters and not because the writer wanted it to happen. There are too many characters in this script, many of whom don't have much reason to be there. Finally, and most importantly, the script should be rewritten so it focuses on one time period only, with occasional flashbacks if necessary, so the plot, once established (and established quickly) never loses focus.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The possibilities around the characters’ friendship.

    Fanbase Potential

    A film with a diverse cast about growing up on tough streets with a crime-comedy tone/plot is a definite contender for blockbuster material and could have a large fanbase with a good script.

    Awards Potential

    Perhaps unlikely as this genre generally is not favored by the awards community but with a diverse cast and themes of tough urban life, it is possible.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    BOYZ N THE HOOD, THE WIRE (TV), SNOWFALL (TV)

    What’s New About the Story

    The buddy-comedy-type weed-, hip hop- and basketball-loving main characters of a white Jewish basketball player and his Black friend is a comedy duo never seen before and could go down a huge hit if done well. The script could be made more unique by focusing less on the other characters and instead allowing this relationship to take center stage as a tight plot which never loses focus is pursued.

    Lead Characters

    Ca$H and Life are a little indistinguishable from each other but are hilarious and scheming and cocky and intelligent and have many traits that make them a funny and entertaining comic pair. The rest of the characters bleed together a little too much and more work needs to be done to flesh them out as individuals.

    Uniqueness of Story

    Tonally and as a concept it is very close to being a rare gem as we have not seen a movie like this before but the script needs a lot of work.

    Possible Formats

    Film

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS. While the story has many positive points, it has room for improvement (see possible paths below). If you can't change the story at this point, my suggestion is using your notes as a guide to highlight the best aspects of it when taking the next steps, either putting a pitch page together, a treatment, or a presentation. A massive rewrite that focuses on period of time only so that a crime plot can be introduced quickly and never lose focus as the relationship of comic duo Ca$h and Life is explored as they pursue the plot. The writing needs to be much tighter and the dialogue need to be less wordy and with more depth and subtext.

    Brief

    White Jewish ex-basketball star Ca$h and best friend Life grew up in a tough neighborhood in South Side Chicago. Years later, in order to save Life's daughter's life, they become embroiled in a plot to steal from LA's most notorious gangster.

    What We Liked

    There is both a need for and market for films featuring diverse casts. CA$H LIFE features African American leads, a white Jewish protagonist, an Asian character, and this diversity is the story's greatest strength. The story in part explores life on the tough streets of Chicago's South Side for a white Jewish basketball player -- somewhat of an outcast because of it -- and his Black best friend as they navigate the dangers of the streets. The film hops around locations and times in an interesting manner and is sure to please the modern diverse audience hungry for gritty depictions of urban life.

    CA$H LIFE is a feature-film script and this format works excellently for the material it contains. Although it could easily work as a gripping TV series such as THE WIRE or SNOWFALL, it is best suited to the feature-film format as a buddy-comedy crime film and would be perfect as a summer blockbuster sure to excite a mass audience across most sections of society. In many ways CA$H LIFE is a retooling of the buddy-comedy template which has been popular ever since LETHAL WEAPON; CA$H LIFE reinvigorates this genre by featuring an exceptionally diverse cast and setting the script on the tough streets of Chicago's South Side and the racial tensions found there, as well as Los Angeles. A white Jewish basketball player and his Black best friend, both of them marijuana-smoking, hip hop-loving schemers, is a comedy duo we have not yet seen, and audiences will love it.

    Key points:
    1) Very funny
    2) Reinvigorates the buddy-comedy subgenre
    3) Diverse cast
    4) Themes of racial tensions and tough urban life will resonate with audiences
    5) Unpredictable and twisty

    Synopsis

    SOUTH SIDE, CHICAGO, NOVEMBER, 2002: Snow falls in the freezing air as two young male teens play basketball: CA$H, Jewish, bushy black hair, beat-up shoes, gold chain around neck; and LIFE (Black). Two early-20s Black men approach: KUSH and ONE STOP. Kush points a pistol at Ca$h, demanding his chain, from which hangs a Star of David, but Ca$h refuses. Kush makes Ca$h play ball against him. If Kush wins, he gets the chain; if Kush loses, Ca$h gets Kush’s expensive sneakers. Ca$h is frequently referred to as “white boy.”

    After a close game, Ca$h wins. Kush refuses to give up his sneakers and points his gun at Ca$h instead. One Stop tries to talk Kush out of it. Ca$h tosses the ball at Kush’s face. Instantly, Life grabs the gun out of Kush’s hand and points it at Kush. He shoots Kush, killing him. Life tells One Stop that he has no beef with him. One Stop is thrilled Kush is dead as One Stop is now the “new king of the jungle.” He tells Ca$h and Life to come to him for anything they need, then tosses them a roll of cash. Ca$h grabs the sneakers from Kush’s dead feet and cleans out the man’s pockets. Ca$h and Life run a few blocks as sirens wail in the distance. They stop in an alleyway. Out of breath, Ca$h says, “I can’t believe you took his LIFE.” To which Life replies, “I can’t believe you took his CASH.”

    2006: Ca$h and Life walk through the high-school hallway as they talk about Ca$h’s last ever high-school basketball game tonight. Ca$h believes basketball will get him out of the hood. Life says bye to Ca$h, then breaks into the principal’s office where he hacks the computer and changes his and Ca$h’s grades to much better scores.

    Life and One Stop watch Ca$h’s game, which Ca$h wins for the team and is named consensus player of the year. One Stop is going to California to meet with a drug dealer for a potential partnership. Life tells him to be careful.

    LOS ANGELES: One Stop enters a warehouse and finds a two mid-20s Mexicans (one male, one female) tied to chairs, gagged. A late-30s Black man, named JUICE, dressed in an expensive suit, gestures to One Stop to come over. One Stop realizes that the Mexicans are soaking wet, smelling of gas. Juice lights his cigar, then flicks the match at the woman, who goes up in flames, screaming. He tells One Stop that the woman didn’t do anything to him, but the man did. Then he tells One Stop that he’s going to make One Stop the biggest gangster in Chicago and leads One Stop out of there, passing burned corpses in every room.

    MONTHS LATER: Life is in a dorm room smoking from a bong. He has dreads and wears flip flops and shorts, wearing a Bob Marley shirt. KEYZ enters. He’s white and nerdy and shocked to see Life. Ca$h enters. Intimidated, Keyz says this is his room. Ca$h says it’s nice to meet the roommate but Keyz, quoting the rule book, says only two roommates are allowed per room. Ca$h and Life tells Keyz that he can sleep on the floor as they have taken the beds, and he is to leave the officials out of this.

    When Ca$h and Life return to the room, they find that Keyz has moved them to a new room: a four-bedroom suite with a flatscreen TV and bar. This room is usually for foreign dignitaries or important guests, but Keyz hacked the computer system and assigned this new room to the three of them. Instantly, they are great friends.

    2010: Ca$h scores the winning points in a tense semi-final game. At a press conference, Ca$h, with Life and Keyz, is about to announce something when FBI AGENT DRAKE bursts in and arrests Ca$h for point shaving. Later, in court, the judge is a fan of Ca$h and allows him to avoid jail time, but there is no hope Ca$h will ever play in the NBA.

    LOS ANGELES, 2021: Ca$h is mid-30s and super famous. In his apartment Ca$h turns on the TV to a show called Cashin In in which Ca$h describes how he joined a basketball team in Israel and Life accompanied him. They both got mega rich. After six years, Ca$h and Life returned to LA and built a sneaker store.

    LACE (early-20s, Asian) works in the store. She runs it while Ca$h is coaching a youth basketball team. One of Ca$h’s players shows him an acceptance letter into college due to his basketball abilities. He thanks Ca$h.

    LIFE’S daughter SOPHIE (7) is in Life’s car when it crashes. Life is okay but Sophie is induced into a coma, suffering potentially fatal injuries. A nurse secretly offers Life the chance to skip the year-long transplant waiting list and get Sophie a new lung within a week...but it will cost him $250,000. Life and Ca$h beside him don’t hesitate to agree. They have three days to raise the cash.

    Later, FIDEL, running a food truck, tells Ca$h and Life about a gangster called Juice and Juice’s backstory and his murderous quest for revenge in which he burned dozens of people to death. He says that if he, Ca$h and Life robbed one of Juice’s betting trucks at half-time during a basketball game, they could net half a million. The truck is guarded by the SUMO TWINS—two sumo wrestlers. They won’t need guns to rob it because they will come from the sewers beneath the truck. Lace and Keyz will do it with Ca$h and Life.

    The robbery: Lace distracts one of the sumo twins by flirting with him while Ca$h distracts the other by offering him weed. Beneath the truck Life emerges from the sewer and begins cutting the hole into the truck. Life empties out the safe, pulling the cash into the manhole. Ca$h distracts one of Juice’s men who comes by, about to step onto the truck.

    Ca$h, Life and Keyz are in Sophie’s hospital room, happy, thinking they got away with it, when Juice and SMOKE enter. Juice knows they took the money. Juice demands $1 million or they all die, Sophie included. Then he says, instead, Ca$h must fix the basketball game soon to be played by the team Ca$h coaches. Ca$h doesn’t want to as it could destroy the futures of every one of the kids he coaches, but Juice does not waver. Later, Ca$h makes a call, then tells Life “it’s done.”

    Game day. After a close match, the opposing team scores to tie at half-time. Smoke intercepts Ca$h in the tunnel to remind Ca$h that if his team doesn’t lose, Sophia dies. The threat angers Ca$h and the conversation soon escalates to Smoke pointing a gun at Ca$h. Life enters the tunnel; Smoke pulls out another gun and points it at Life. He threatens them and leaves.

    The game resumes. It’s nail-biting stuff. At 88-86 to the opposing team, it goes to free throws for Ca$h’s team to end the game. A fat kid eating popcorn will do the throws. He hits all three, winning the game. Furious, Juice pulls out a pistol and aims it at Ca$h. Meanwhile, Juice’s men enter Sophie’s hospital room and the sneakers store where Lace is working.

    As Juice goes to shoot Ca$h, two shots ring out and Juice collapses. In the hospital room, a man approaches Sophia with a needle when the heavily bandaged man in the bed beside jumps out and injects the man with the needle. The heavily bandaged man is Fidel. In the sneaker store, Lace’s massive dog saves her life by attacking the man about to kill her. In the basketball arena, it is revealed that Agent Drake shot Juice.

    Some time later, the whole gang including Fidel is hanging out together, happy, like a family. Cash and Life have tattoos on their knuckles: “CA$H LIFE.”

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