Ryan's Hope

It came from Chapman U: believe it or not!

Oh, to be a fruit fly on the wall at the Dodge School of Film and Media Studies 2006 "Let the Good Times Roll 'Em" Awards Banquet. Picture Chapman University's largest—in every sense of the word—benefactor George Argyros, every splatter of banquet chicken and gravy falling off his grapefruit-sized chin immediately swabbed by wee Chapman prez James Doti. Alum and former Orange County GOP chairman Tom Fuentes would hold court in the middle of the room, regaling his bored tablemates with his tales of destroying California public education one community college district at a time. And stuck at the far back table, the one they ran out of tablecloths for, the one that's so close to the swinging kitchen doors that one door actually smacks liberal poli-sci prof Fred Smoller's chair, would be alum and U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), regaling her tablemates with her tales of students being squelched in their quest to make her their commencement speaker immediately after she made history by becoming the first Latina member of Congress. Giving a full belly laugh to that one would be the commencement speaker administrators unilaterally substituted for Sanchez, Republican former congressman from Newport Beach, Chris Cox, eavesdropping from the Fuentes table and in town to help three-quarters of the room escape the probing efforts of the federal Securities and Exchange Commission Cox now chairs. No wonder they call the school Dodge.

Brought in to emcee the event would be one of those Blue Collar Comedy Tour vets, who in between touting redneckism and bashing gays would keep mentioning how great it is that Chapman was founded, maintained and secured on conservative—in every sense of the word—values. Then he'd introduce a clip from an honored student whose film "laments innocence lost, lost and lost again." Polite golf claps honed at the county's finest country clubs would greet this reinforcement of traditional family values. The lights would dim, and a screen behind the podium would activate. Against a black background, huge white letters would proclaim "CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY PRESENTS." Cut to a shapely, slightly Gothish young lady with lips puffed out to Jaggeresque proportions.

"What's your name?" asks a young man off camcorder.

"Nicole."

"How old are you, Nicole?"

"19." She holds out her California driver's license for emphasis.

"Very nice."

Another white-on-black proclamation: "A RYAN WITHERSPOON FILM."

"What are you going to do today?" asks the voice.

"I'm going to get fucked!"

Before the cut to the title ("BARELY LEGAL"), unchewed food, harrumph-harrumphs and blue-hair wigs would fly across the banquet room. Doti would frantically run around the room, trying to locate a projector plug to yank. But the movie would keep rolling.

It's a house party. Two girls are locked in a violent kiss as alcohol-fueled boys cheer them on. A guy with a fake tattoo on his face is videotaping. One kisser bends the other girl down and slaps her fine ass. Then the butt slappee moves over to the videographer and starts unbuttoning his pants, but the other girl, jealous, grabs her by the hair and locks lips with her again.

An aw-shucks look would wash over Fuentes' face over the screen boy's pants remaining zipped up. But Argyros' face would have puffed out to Guinness Book of World Records proportions, having also turned a shade of red not previously seen. Sanchez, pleased, would give a knowing nod. If Doti did not find that elusive plug in time, the shocked crowd would be subjected to pill-popping, lesbianism, anal sex (desired, not shown), lost virginity, cumming on tits (suggested, not shown) and a guy going all Haidl on a passed-out girl (without the Snapple bottle, lit cigarette, juice can, pool cue, etc.). They'd also get this Mamet-worthy dialogue from Nicole (Elizabeth Maxwell) as she spies the crotch of videographer Miles (Dan Pachecho): "Take it out . . . Take her panties off . . . Spread her legs . . . Now fuck her . . . Come on, Miles, do it, fuck her like you want to fuck me . . . DO IT!"

Human spontaneous combustion on a scale exceeding the Spinal Tap drummer roster would break out throughout the banquet room. And somewhere in heaven, a Chapman U angel would lose its wings.

RYAN WITHERSPOON'S BARELY LEGAL AND TWO OF HIS EARLIER FILMS SCREEN AT CAPTAIN BLOOD'S VILLAGE THEATER, 1140 N. TUSTIN AVE., ORANGE, (714) 808-0400. FRI. RECEPTION, 8 P.M.; SCREENING, 9 P.M. FREE.

 
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