Caught by The Wibberleys

Yes, I know it sounds like something that would happen to Baldrick in Blackadder, but it actually happened to me. Just yesterday evening. And I loved it.

Last night was a GSFWC night, and as I’d a/ a couple of hours to fill and b/ written my requisite 500 words for the day I decided to go see a random movie. The movie in question was National Treasure:Book Of Secrets, which is essentially a lighthearted caper movie. Its agenda (and I assume this continues from the first National Treasure), appears to be the Mythologising of America. And it is of course a load of bunkum. A string of silly ideas that would be laughed out of any of those Mysteries Of The Ancients pseudo-history books, paperclipped together with stunningly ridiculous leaps of logic.

So, what’s it got going for it? Well, there’s Helen Mirren, Jon Voigt and Ed Harris tittering behind their hands as they enjoy hamming away at the action stuff, and even Nicholas Cage seems to have been allowed to have some manic fun at the expense of the Grand British Stereotype. But it was the screenwriting that caught my attention.

There I am, pulling on my coat and checking my phone as the credits rolled and up it came:


And I’m like: What the fuck? Who or what are “The Wibberleys”?

I brought it up at GSFWC, and again later at home, and a few suggestions were tossed around. The Wibberleys could variously be:

–  a race of screenwriting aliens from Doctor Who

–  a family of inbred screenwriting hillbillies

–  a little understood area of the brain thought to be linked to engenderment of stories from the collective unconscious

–  a husband and wife crime-solving, screenwriting team – sort of like a cross between Murder She Wrote and Hart To Hart.

And who’d have guessed, it turns out to be the last of these. Actually I’m not sure about the crime-solving, but if you actually call yourself “The Wibberleys”, well you really have to, don’t you?

According to IMDB Cormac and Marianne Wibberley have been writing screenplays for lightweight movies since the mid 90s.

But why I’m I going on about them?

Well, because I believe they’re attempting to resurrect a near dead sub-genre, and given the paucity of control that screenwriters have in the movie making process, they’re doing a decent job.  Remember how much fun The Indiana Jones movies were? How good-natured and uncynical they were? Or Romancing The Stone, or even the majestic Big Trouble In Little China. That’s the kind of thing The Wibberleys are going for and I applaud them for it.

Sure, the movie is full of LayZee-Plot clunkers like: (when the underground cavern containing the curiously small city of gold is flooding with water) “We’re going to have to get that door open or we’re all going to DROWN!”, but for every one of those there’s a nicely judged moment like the backstory subplot in which the Cage’s sidekick having written a Secrets Of The Ancients style book (see above) on the back of their adventures in the previous movie, gets exactly the kind of bookstore signing reaction that he deserves.

So, yay for The Wibberleys. I’ll be watching their output with interest, although I see there’s a treatment of I Dream Of Jeannie in the works, and that might just be going too far for me.

And I pity any criminals who come up against their crime-solving powers.

3 thoughts on “Caught by The Wibberleys

  1. Not a good idea to scorn a surname. Cormac Wibberley is a son of Leonard Wibberley, the author of *The Mouse That Roared*. See Wikipedia article on Leonard Wibberley for fuller bibliography. Marriane has an MA in film from UCLA. They are intelligent people who, as a team, write successful potboilers for Disney.

  2. Thanks for taking an interest, Patrick, but maybe my sense of humour has obscured what I was trying to say. There’s absolutely no “scorn” intended. I just found their name funny and it got me thinking enough about what I’d seen to write a post on it. It probably wouldn’t have if the credits had said: “Screenplay by Cormac Wibberley and Marianne Wibberley”, but it didn’t. It said: “The Wibberleys”, and to me – and my undoubtedly strange, definitively British and possibly puerile sense of humour – I found that both funny and intriguing.

    As to their credentials, there’s no doubt that The Mouse That Roared and The Mouse On The Moon were classics, but Cormac didn’t write them, his dad did. And having a degree in any subject is really no guarantee of skill. All we can go on is the evidence up there on the screen, and the thrust of my post was meant to convey that given the strictures of the family action genre in which they have been working, I admired those little gems of intelligence and humanity that they managed to pack in around the hulking great blocks of plot.

    But apologies again if you read scorn into any of that. I’ll try and be less flippant next time (but I’m not promising anything :D).

  3. I don’t know much about screenwriting, but I love movies. Or I used to, before they became all violence, technology and bunk. I stumbled on the first of these Treasure movies by accident, but I have now watched both of them at least twice. When’s the next one?

    Thank you, Wibberleys!

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