Thirteen Days (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Unbelievable. They completely ripped off my screenplay for this film. I knew I shouldn't have sent it to Costner.

In my original version of the screenplay, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest mankind has come to nuclear war, was solved by me, even though I was just a high school freshman at the time.

When the missiles were first discovered in Cuba, JFK called me at home to ask what to do. At first, my mom wanted me to do my homework before talking to Kennedy, but when he persuaded her to give me the phone, I took over. Armed with perfect hindsight, since I wrote the screenplay thirty years later, with the knowledge of how things actually turned out, I told him exactly how every detail would play, showing him how to outfox Khrushchev while simultaneously giving the old boy something to keep him in power against the hardliners. Then I told Jack how to get around the Joint Chiefs and their initial bellicose reaction, how to manipulate the press, and even how to keep Jackie in the dark by keeping up a pretense of social activities. I even had to give him a few tips on how to pick up chicks. 

After I got off the phone with JFK, I called all the individual pilots who were flying over Cuba, and gave them personal instructions outside of the chain of command, which the brave fighting lads followed to the letter. After all, how often did they get direct orders from a future internet pornographer?

Imagine my surprise when they took my script, ran it through a word processor, and did a search-and-replace, taking any reference to  "Uncle Scoopy", and changing it to "Kenny O'Donnell". 

But you can see right through that, and the world can thank its lucky stars to have had a man as wise as me on the scene in those critical times, always right in every instance, always offering the perfect insights into every personality on the international stage, always seeing the truth so opaque to Bundy and McNamara and Bobby, even offering Jackie tips on her pillbox hats and dinner invitations. 

After all, you are all here, because I was there, and I'm a little pissed off that Kenny O'Donnell is trying to hog all the credit.

By the way, the film was produced and partially financed by some guy named Kevin O'Donnell.

I'll give you three guesses who his dad was. 


If you are interested in geopolitics, the story plays out quite well. The story is a good one, except for the unrealistically infinite wisdom and patience of Kenny O'Donnell, who is pictured here as smarter than Steven Hawking, wiser than Siddhartha, more compassionate than Mother Theresa, with a better fashion sense than Calvin Klein, and possessing an infinite insight into human nature. If you just remember that the real Kenny O'Donnell was the guy who got coffee for the other guys in the story, and that no one person knew at the time what O'Donnell is supposed to have known here, you'll enjoy it. 

It is a reasonably accurate recreation of thirteen of the most dramatic days in recent human history, and it maintains the sense of tension that we all felt at the time.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • full-length commentary by the director, Costner, and others

  • tons of features. see the box to the right

The DVD is one of the best ever, produced with something called infinifilm. If you turn that on, it interrupts the film continuously with special features, interviews, mini-documentaries, historical footage, etc.

There are also many deleted scenes (all unimportant), various speeches from the real people represented in the script, special effects demonstrations, a making-of documentary, and script-to-screen capabilities.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3/4, Maltin 3/4, Apollo 86.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 85% positive overall, 83% from the top critics.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.9, Apollo users a very impressive 92/100. 
  • With their dollars ... made for $80 million, it grossed only $34 million domestically.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B-. It's a good movie, playing out like a thriller, which makes it interesting even if you aren't interested in the historical events and personalities. The DVD is comprehensive.

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