Wednesday, July 11, 2007

ownership of story ideas - excavating the past

Steely Dan are peeved with Owen Wilson for playing Dupree in in You, Me and Dupree saying the plot of the film was ripped off from the song. It's ancient history now but I came across it and thought it raised fascinating issues - can you base a movie on a song?

Steely Dan to me are drawing a long bow. The Dupree in the song and film is an archeytpe. The Dupree mention in the title? Homage/pop culture reference.

In the interest of fair dealing here's the plot from IMDb
For newlyweds Carl and Molly Peterson, life can't get any sweeter as they begin anew to settle down into married life. With a nice house and established careers in tow, nothing seems to get in their way. However, Carl is about find out just how much friendship means when Dupree, his best friend has been displaced from his home and fired from his job because of attending their wedding. Taking his friend in, what Carl and Molly are about to experience is that the fine line between a few days and whatever else is after, can be a lot more than they bargained for. Especially when their friend overstays his welcome in far too many ways than he should. Written by mystic80

Carl Peterson, an architect, has just get married with Molly, and it seems that they're about to begin their happy life together. Everything is going fine, until Dupree, the best man and Carl's best friend, shows up to invade the couple's intimacy. Carl's disposed to help his old friend, giving him a shelter in the couch, thinking that the whole thing will be for 2 or 3 days. Despite Dupree has promised Carl that he'll look for a job the very next day, the immature and lazy bloke spend the time playing with the children from the neighborhood, or dating with a mysterious librarian girl. Molly begins to get tired of Dupree, but Carl must deal with another problem, his malevolent and overprotecting father-in-law, who has warned him that he wants his daughter keeps her maiden name and that he doesn't even think about having children with her. Apparently, Dupree has came to stay with Molly and the stressed Carl, who doesn't know how to get rid of him, becoming paranoiac because the charismatic Dupree is starting to take his place in the household.

And here's the lyrics from http://www.steelydan.com/lyr2vn.html#track7

COUSIN DUPREE

Well I've kicked around a lot since high school
I've worked a lot of nowhere gigs
From keyboard man in a rock'n ska band
To haulin' boss crude in the big rigs
Now I've come back home to plan my next move
From the comfort of my Aunt Faye's couch
When I see my little cousin Janine walk in
All I could say was ow-ow-ouch

CHORUS:
Honey how you've grown
Like a rose
Well we used to play
When we were three
How about a kiss for your cousin Dupree

She turned my life into a living hell
In those little tops and tight capris
I pretended to be readin' the National Probe
As I was watchin' her wax her skis
On Saturday night she walked in with her date
And backs him up against the wall
I tumbled off the couch and heard myself sing
In a voice I never knew I had before

CHORUS

I'll teach you everything I know
If you teach me how to do that dance
Life is short and quid pro quo
And what's so strange about a down-home family romance?

One night we're playin' gin by a cracklin' fire
And I decided to make my play
I said babe with my boyish charm and good looks
How can you stand it for one more day
She said maybe its the skeevy look in your eyes
Or that your mind has turned to applesauce
The dreary architecture of your soul
I said - but what is it exactly turns you off?

CHORUS

[End of song]

Now you can judge for yourself (and let me know what you think). Nice lyrics though.

5 comments:

Khylan Seriphyn said...

Are Steely Dan broke?

Andrew's black dog blog said...

Lacking a sense of humor?

lilismum said...

I'm a Steely Dan fan, but I don't know that song. So they are peeved but not suing????
Inspiration comes from all sorts of places, usually not directly from the writer's brain. I can see a possible future where you overhear a conversation on a tram that gives you an idea for a story...but you have to give a cut of your royalties to the people on the tram.

Garry said...

Was Pretty Woman inspired by the Orbison song?

Andrew's black dog blog said...

I guess they couldn't sue, lillsmum - not enough to build a case on. I'm guessing they just wanted a direct acknowedgement of the source of the name/character but the film people didn't want to give fuel to a law suit by acknowledging that. It's a bit like people sue doctors they don't like not doctors who make mistakes, and if you aren't ready to acknowlege a mistake people don't like you.

& thanks Garry.