Shortcut To Happiness
Shortcut To Happiness In Theaters
Jabez ("Bez") Stone (Alec Baldwin) wasn't a great writer, but he poured his soul into every word he wrote. Struggling to get published, he rose every morning to work on his book before going off to sell expensive men's clothing that he himself could not afford. Women weren't particularly interested in him, he had a little over $500 in the bank, but he had great friends, a good heart, and self-respect. And then everything went to Hell.
In a single day Bez lost his job, sat through a demoralizing lunch with his wealthy younger brother, and was nearly thrown out of Webster Books for trying to meet the legendary publisher Daniel Webster (Anthony Hopkins), who had just rejected his manuscript. And things only got worse.
Hoping to be cheered up by his friends at their favorite bar, Bez finds out his buddy Julius Jensen (Dan Aykroyd) just signed a $190,000 book deal with Webster's most glamorous editor Constance Hurry (Kim Cattrall). More dejected than ever, Bez leaves the bar and stops at an ATM to discover he's only got a buck fifty to his name!
Teetering on the breaking point, his life in limbo, Bez begins to make his way home when a gang of young punks beat him up and steal his computer . . . with his entire novel in it. Battered, bruised and utterly miserable, Bez finally drags himself back to his hellhole of an apartment and stares at the failure he sees in the mirror. "Look at yourself," he says angrily. "You'd sell your soul to trade places with Julius Jensen."
Unaware that he has just set in motion forces of evil that lay in wait for desperate souls just like him, Bez is suddenly filled with renewed determination. Remembering the words of the great Daniel Webster -- "Go home and write something, Mr. Stone. Write something better" -- he races to his closet, gets out his ancient electric typewriter, and starts banging away.
But all poor Bez can type is: ONE HUNDRED AND NINTY THOUSAND DOLLARS, ONE HUNDRED AND NINTY THOUSAND DOLLARS, ONE HUNDRED AND NINTY THOUSAND DOLLARS . . . until his typewriter breaks, and finally, so does he.
Holding the heavy machine over his head like Moses about to break the Ten Commandments, Bez hurls the broken typewriter through the window, and instantly hears an anguished cry. Terrified, he peers through the shattered the glass and sees just how doomed he really is. The typewriter has delivered a fatal blow to both an elderly woman and to his cursed life. Now he's not only a failed writer, he's an accomplished murderer.
As ambulance and police sirens wail, someone begins to relentlessly buzz his doorbell. Distraught, mad with fear, Bez finally opens the door to find a different kind of siren, a beautiful temptress with flaming red hair standing in front of him . . . like a godsend. Well, not exactly.
Gaping at her deliciously wicked black stiletto heels, drooling over her cherry red leather trench coat pulled tight around what he knows is one hell of a body, Bez let's her in. And, as the bewitching creature prances around his apartment, the police start banging on his door.
Mesmerized and terrified at the same time, Bez cries, "What'll I do?"
"Trust me," the vixen coos, flashing a devilish grin.
While Bez crouches in the closet, she answers the door, and instantly the eerie enchantment begins. The broken window vanishes and so do the police. The elderly woman is miraculously healed, and Bez is more than ready to make any deal this sexy Satan wants.
But before he does, she offers a friendly word of advice. "You're about to make a deal for your mortal soul for all eternity," she smirks. "Don't blow it on season tickets... . Think carefully before you give your answer." And then she asks the question that will change Bez Stone's life forever. "More than anything else on earth -- What do you want?"
His writer's soul desperately searching for the right words, Bez starts fumbling through his heart's desire. "I want to write books that last!" he cries. "I want appreciation. I want respect! I want everyone's respect!" "You'll feel so much better if you'll just say it!" the dangerously beautiful she-devil screams. And then he does. "SUCCESS!" he yells. "I WANT SUCCESS!"
Suddenly all business, the dish of a demon smiles coldly. "Ten years, standard contract," she says matter-of-factly, "and then I take what's mine." With that, it's time to seal the deal. Yes, it's carpe diem - or carpe devil - time.
In the morning, success storms in like a tempest. The doorbell rings and a messenger hands Bez a letter saying that his manuscript has been accepted. When he reaches in his pocket for a George Washington to tip the messenger, he finds a wad full of Benjamin Franklins. Miraculously, the cut on his forehead from the mugging is gone. Women on the street can't stop gazing at him with lust. Can it get any better? Oh, yes . . .
A first printing of 100,000 copies of his book has been ordered. His gorgeous editor Constance Hurry wants to sleep with him. Tom Cruise wants to option his book. Cab drivers pass others by to pick him up. He's being compared to Hemingway. Norman Mailer has his book on his nightstand. Yes, Bez Stone is the man of the hour . . . but he's on the Devil's clock. And it's ticking fast.
Years go by, friends die, his books are critical bombs, but sell like crazy, and the titles, Loss of Feeling and The Falling Man are more than a reflection of his life . . . they are about absolutely nothing. It seems SUCCESS is ravenous, so hungry it is eating away at him, depleting him of everyone he loves, including himself, and still the public demands MORE.
He is tired of feeding the meaningless machine of success the putrid pabulum it hungers for, but without a soul, that is all that Bez Stone has in him. Now he knows that it is not success that he wants, it is something that he had long before . . . self-respect.
Can Daniel Webster, the God of the publishing world, be the mortal strong enough to go up against the immortal Queen of the underworld? Can Webster, whose ancestors wrote the dictionary, find the eloquence to outwit the essence of evil?
In a courtroom Armageddon like no other on earth, the Devil and Daniel Webster battle for Jabez Stone's mortal soul. Infamously dead writers - Truman Capote, Sylvia Plath, Mario Puzo, Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde, and even Jacqueline Susann - sit in judgment in the jury box, and none other than Julius Jensen, the man whose fame Bez stole, is sitting on the bench. With the odds definitely not in favor of the good guy, will Webster lose to Lucifer? Will Beelzebub battle to victory? And most important of all, would you sell your soul for a "Shortcut To Happiness."
STARRING: Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Dan Aykroyd, Kim Cattrall, Ken Murton, John Savage, Jason Patrick
DIRECTOR: Alec Baldwin
STUDIO: Yari Film Group
RATING: PG-13 (For language and sexual content)
Wild About Movies Grade: D