Pet Earthling
Rolo’s life as a pet earthling is easy but routine.
When he runs away from his loving alien owner, he gives up
everything to look for a home he never knew existed: Earth.
SCREENPLAY
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Rolo
Earthling man, Zira’s pet.
Wants more in life.
Wry, determined.
Zira
Alien girl, like 11.
Possessive owner of Rolo.
Lonely but chipper.
Quiggles
Rolo’s pet alien animal.
Non-speaking sidekick.
Bold enabler.
Riffa
Sister of Zira, like 16.
Initially sulky and aloof.
Madame Zananna
Museum curator.
Wise and insightful.
Capt. Blarzenhook
Old star captain, pirate accent. Poetic storyteller.
Storyboard
The Ballad of Blarzenhook  (funny!)
Original Song
w/ quirky lyrics
“Fun and inspired, with plenty of heart and spectacle.”
“Definitely unique and original. Their friendship is heartfelt.”
“Quite funny, touching, sweet and absurd, with a lot of personality.”
“Exciting and imaginative. The dramatic end is thoroughly satisfying.”
— The Black List

“With its quirky humor and complex themes, the script stands out easily.”
— The Golden Script

“You have something that is quite special. It’s a beautiful idea, fun,
imaginative, original, and fresh. Your writing is very cinematic; you really do
paint that world and bring it to life. I think it’s going to get people excited.”

— Scott Parisien, Script Reader Pro

By David Hundsness
pet[email protected]
Based on my novel Rolo the Pet EarthlingPetEarthling.com
Download Screenplay

Genre
Animated Family Adventure
Science Fiction

Setting
Blorx — alien world where everything is 3× too big for humans. Suburban home, urban city, an earthling park (dog park), wormhole subway, Animal Control Force robot command center, vet office, pet store, museum, tavern, harbor, forest, and boardwalk amusement park.

Themes
Letting go — Zira is like a possessive parent who doesn’t want her child to grow up and leave home.

Growing apart — Riffa is in her adolescent teen phase, no longer interested in her childish sister. Rolo has outgrown Zira’s childish play.

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Meaning of Life — Rolo questions what’s important in life. He wants to do more with his life.

Empathy — Like many kids, Zira plays too rough with her pet and doesn’t sense his discomfort.

Grief — Zira and Riffa grieve the loss of their brother in different ways.


Motifs
Food, Hugs

Humor
Role Reversal — Humans as pets
Role Reversal — Girl as parent, man as child
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Science — Science and natural history spoofs
Stacking — A pet has a pet, the moon has a moon, aliens abducted by aliens
Easter Eggs — Allusions to movies, tv, and books

Characters
Rolo — Pet earthling man, middle-aged, bored, wry. Sacrifices everything to start a new life.
Zira — Alien girl like 11, lonely but chipper, possessive owner of Rolo. Learns to let him go.
Riffa — Alien sister like 16, sulky and aloof. Resents Zira but learns to reconnect with her.
Quiggles — Rolo’s pet alien animal, non-speaking comic sidekick, loyal, bold enabler.
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Smuffins — Man, loyal friend of Rolo, gentle giant, foil to Rolo: Complaisant as a pet.
Zeffro — Man, runaway stray, survivalist. His independence inspires Rolo.
Madame Zananna — Alien museum curator, wise, insightful grandmother figure.
Capt. Blarzenhook — Alien old star captain/pirate, poetic storyteller.

Blorxians are 13-18 feet tall and can pick up a human like a dog. They are very much like us, with full emotions and they love their pets. But they are so much smarter, even a child fully understands quantum physics, and they have computer chip implants. (They don’t need to look so alien, e.g. Naavi, Ewoks, Stitch, Cat-people, etc.)

Earthlings are pets to the Blorxians. They have normal human intelligence, but the aliens underestimate and overprotect them, and earthlings have never known independence, so they conform to the low expectations. All earthling characters can be any race. (I can imagine Kumail Nanjiani starring as Rolo, and Craig Robinson as Smuffins.)


Similarities
Lilo & Stitch — kid-alien bond, tense relationship with older sister, grieving girl
E.T. — kid-alien bond, tense relationship with older sibling, leaving for home*
Frozen 2Ralph Breaks the Internet — wanting more in life, and letting go of that person
FrozenOnward — sibling relationships
CarsSoulUpInside Out — no villain, or they’re more comical than threatening
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Home — kid-alien buddy film
Secret Life of Pets — pet’s perspective

Despicable MeIncrediblesSoulUp — middle-aged/old man protagonist
Planet of the Apes (1968) — humans as lesser animals, and Zira’s name
Battlestar Galactica — finding Earth
Inside OutThe Big Bang TheoryThe Good Place — academic/science humor
Avatar — alien allies on alien world

* The final scene is an homage to E.T., but the aliens and humans are reversed, and so is “home”.


Audience
The story is layered for all ages:

Young  viewers will understand: The aliens treat Rolo like a dog. The robots chase him and he runs away. He wants to find Earth.

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Average  viewers will notice: Earthlings are humiliated as pets. Rolo is bored. He gets lost running from the earthling catchers. They need to get home, but he’d rather find Earth.

Analytic  viewers will appreciate: It is like a parent-child relationship. Rolo has outgrown Zira and wants more meaning in life. Zira is immature, not fully empathetic, and she is holding him back. Zira and Riffa are struggling with grief. How we treat pets raises ethical questions.


Synopsis
On planet Blorx, Rolo is 24, running from a giant alien as they shoot at each other. Then the alien catches him and . . . cuddles him. They’re actually playing. The giant alien is a young girl named Zira, and Rolo is her pet. We see photos of Rolo growing up from age 4 to 44, always in young Zira’s loving care.

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Years later Rolo is home alone, bored, now 44, chubby and balding. Zira comes home with her sulky teen sister Riffa, who refuses to play with her, and they argue. They take Rolo to the vet then the earthling park, along with his pet animal Quiggles. Rolo sees protestors for earthling rights, which sparks his curiosity. He asks Zira where earthlings come from, but that information is mysteriously missing.

At the park, Rolo tells his friends he wants more in life than just being a pet. Two Animal Control bots try to catch Rolo for being unlicensed, but his friends help him escape into the subway, which is actually a network of wormholes around the planet. He runs from the bots, Zira, and Riffa, but gets lost in a strange city with no way back, along with Quiggles and his friend Smuffins.

Rolo persuades Smuffins to help him find out where earthlings come from before they go home. They go to a pet store to ask, but all they learn is that earthlings are “alien” to planet Blorx. Nearby, Zira and Riffa are looking for him. When they see him, he runs and hides in a warehouse. Then Rolo is nearly attacked by monster rodents, but a mysterious man rescues him, a street earthling named Zeffro. Rolo is amazed by Zeffro’s independence.

Animal Control almost finds Rolo, but Smuffins draws them away, allowing himself to get caught. Rolo goes to a museum to learn more about earthling origins, but he can’t get in. Zira and Riffa see him again, so he tricks Zira into getting them into the museum. There they run and play, but the old curator Madame Zananna pulls them into her office. She senses Riffa’s tension toward Zira. She takes a liking to Rolo so she tells them about the fabled planet Earth, but to learn more she says they need to find Capt. Blarzenhook.

As they leave the museum and hide from Animal Control, Riffa gets angry when she sees their brother’s model rocket in Zira’s backpack. Zira explains she took the model as a memento of their brother who was abducted by other aliens. Later, Rolo tricks Zira to go in the tavern to find Capt. Blarzenhook. There the captain tells the myth of how aliens were part of Earth history and they abducted earthlings as pets, and a clue to Earth’s location.

As they leave the tavern, Rolo realizes he wants to go find Earth. Zira refuses to let him go, they get in an emotional argument, and he runs away. Zira cries because she’s all alone: Rolo ran away, her brother is gone, and Riffa is mean and aloof. Riffa is surprised to learn this, and she tries to comfort Zira. Meanwhile Rolo realizes he foolishly has no plan and nowhere to go, so he reluctantly rejoins them.

All along, Animal Control bots have been monitoring their movements from their high-tech military command center, and their forces closing in.

On their way home, they pass by a boardwalk amusement park, where Zira has memories of their sisterly bond when they were younger, which touches Riffa. Zira runs into the arcade and sings karaoke; Riffa joins her in duet as they sing about their bond.

Then the two Animal Control bots crash in and chase them around the boardwalk, and Riffa saves Zira’s life. They escape into the subway and return to the earthling park, but five huge Animal Control bots are there waiting and capture Rolo and Zira. Rolo’s friends come fight the bots using their pet toys.

Zira, Riffa, Rolo, and Quiggles escape to the forest, safe from the bots. Riffa urges Zira to think about what Rolo really wants, so Zira leads them to the hilltop. She hands Rolo her brother’s model rocket and says he can use it to find Earth. The model expands to a full size rocket. They say goodbye, and Rolo and Quiggles take off into the night sky.

Over time we see Zira and Riffa having fun together. Rolo and Quiggles have fun on their “road trip” and finally find Earth.

Original concept art by Narisofka. This style not intended for animation.
SCREENPLAY STORYBOARD
© 2022 David Hundsness     pet[email protected]