🎥🍣 Movie Sushi — Phone Booth

AdGridley
6 min readMar 6, 2021

Stu Shepard is a publicist talking business on his mobile phone. His assistant, Adam, follows closely behind. They meet an NYPD cop and give him 4 tickets for the upcoming Britney Spears concert. In return, the cop tells Stu Mrs Sharp just checked into Bellevue again. Stu’s straight on the phone to Page Six gossip column. He tells them that Tony-winning producer Jeffrey Sharp just put his wife back into rehab.

Stu and Adam walk past a fancy restaurant and the owner’s angry that Stu hasn’t paid his tab. Stu says he could send a glitzy party the owner’s way, with local news and MTV coverage for Big Q, the hottest, new rap star. But, it must be the night of the 18th. Stu promises to deliver a truckload of celebrities and suggests the owner expand the menu and wallpaper the bathrooms. Stu tells Adam to call Big Q with the news and to deliver, personally, a bottle of Jameson’s to Lana at Page Six.

Stu goes into a phone booth to make a call, first removing his wedding ring. A pizza randomly arrives. Delivered to “a gentleman occupying the phone booth 53rd between Broadway and 8th”. Stu gives the man $5, sarcastically insulting him — who then leaves.

Stu calls Pam. She asks how his day went. He says he was promoting her to Mel Gibson’s people. He wants Pam auditioning alongside Cameron Diaz and Julia Roberts. He says the first step towards being noticed is being mentioned. When she says she can’t meet for drinks, he’s disappointed.

The payphone rings. When Stu asks who it is, the Caller warns him against leaving the phone. Stu says it’s a wrong number. Caller says it was a perfectly delicious pizza. Stu goes to hang up. Caller says Stu will learn to obey the Caller. Caller says he likes Stu’s suit: black on raspberry sorbet. Stu searches for the Caller. Caller says there are hundreds of windows out there in the skyscraper across the street.

Stu walks outside the phone booth, scratching his head and brushing back his hair. The Caller shows he’s observing. When Stu gives the finger all around, Caller uses Stu’s name. Stu immediately denies he’s called Stu. Caller then says Stu’s full name and address and says he also knows Pamela McFadden. Caller says if he’s disconnected, someone could get hurt.

Stu says in celebrity terms, he can make people gods and he can crush people. Stu goes to hang up, Caller says he’ll say hi to wife Kelly for him. Straight away, Stu presses *69 for last-call return but nothing. Soon, the phone rings again. Caller wants Stu’s complete attention. Stu offers to get the Caller an audition if he’s an actor. Caller says let’s see if Pam’s still at work.

Caller puts Pam on speaker. He says he’s a friend of Stu’s. He says Stu lies and is listening in. Caller says Stu uses a payphone because his wife checks his mobile phone bills. Caller says Stu’s married to Kelly and that he’s never made anybody a star.

A hooker starts banging on the booth saying it’s the only one on 8th Avenue that’s working. She gets angry and leaves. Stu’s now concerned about his wife again. Caller wants Stu to tell Kelly about his affair with Pam.

The hooker appears again — with a friend — and they start yelling. Kelly’s wondering about the yelling. They’re offended when Stu calls them hookers — they prefer “escorts”. Caller wants Stu to tell Kelly about wanting to sleep with other women. Kelly now says Stu’s scaring her. He finally sees off the hookers.

Caller explains that he has a .30-calibre, bolt-action 700 with a carbon-one modification and a state-of-the-art Hensholt tactical scope and that it’s staring straight at Stu. Caller says the exit wound would be the size of a tangerine. Stu says it’d be chaos if Caller fired his rifle right now. A robot toy right next to the phone booth gets shot and no-one notices.

Caller says Stu’s doing better than his other victims. There was a German porn king shot ten days ago at 38th and 8th who wouldn’t admit he was a paedophile. And, there was the corporate executive shot at 47th and 10th who cashed all his stocks just before the bottom fell out and the little guys lost everything. As Stu notices a small, red dot just below his right shoulder, he realises the deaths were executions.

Leon, the local pimp, arrives. Stu says he can’t hang up and passes $120 through the door. He says he’s renting the booth indefinitely. Leon demands $500. With the hookers yelling, Leon goes to fetch his baseball bat. Caller cocks his gun ready to kill the pimp on Stu’s behalf. The pimp smashes the glass of the booth and Stu says yes.

Leon is killed and the hookers blame Stu, who says he’s unarmed. Caller then says that Stu is dismissive of those around him, like with the pizza guy. Offering cash doesn’t always mean respect.

Stu can’t understand why the Caller isn’t to blame for the shooting and now starts wishing the Caller dead. While they talk, Stu calls 911 from his mobile behind his back. The Caller watches people a lot. There’s not much else to do when life means you’ve retreated into some small room with a window.

Caller watches people use the phone booth on 53rd and 8th every day. He imagines their names and stories. Then he decides whose sins should be punished. Stu’s cell phone connects with emergency response. Stu cleverly mentions to both parties at once that he’s a guy in a phone booth on 53rd and 8th and that there’s a killer with a rifle. Stu says he’s crying out for help and hangs up.

Caller shoots Stu’s right ear for calling 911 — he knew all along. The police arrive. Caller reminds Stu not to do anything hostile. Stu tells Capt Ramey he can’t hang up the phone. Stu tells Ramey he has no weapon and he’s on the phone to his psychiatrist. The SWAT team spreads out.

Caller tells Stu to ask Ramey if he can no longer satisfy his wife sexually. Caller suggests Stu could arrange a high profile interview with Larry King, using his high-powered connections. News teams begin to show up. Stu’s the main story on TV news channels. Stu’s mobile then rings, but he can’t reach for it because the cops will shoot.

Kelly shows up in person. His mobile rang because it’s actually the Caller. Kelly says that Stu has no psychiatrist. Sharpshooters appear on all the surrounding rooves. Caller has installed an encryption device at both ends of the line, so there’s no chance of a trap trace. He’s on a wireless A.D.S. with a cloned number and he’s call forwarded through Philadelphia.

Caller still wants Stu to be honest with his wife. Stu yells to Kelly about wanting to sleep with Pam. Caller wants Stu to use f-word, so he rephrases. Kelly supports Stu’s confession.

Stu gets angry again and hangs up. Police make him put his hands on his head. The payphone rings again. There’s lots of shouting from the police. Finally, Stu answers.

Cops are quietly dispatched to search the facing building’s window rooms. Stu’s told he’ll find a handgun in the phone booth’s ceiling. Caller has his gun trained on Kelly and says she’ll be hurt if Stu doesn’t get the gun from the ceiling. Pam arrives and joins the many other bystanders. Caller makes Stu choose between Pam and Kelly, if Stu doesn’t quickly grab the hidden gun.

Capt Ramey wants to discuss personal issues, sharing problems of his own. Stu’s told that the lives of the crowd are his responsibility. Stu should humble himself in front of the mass media and tell everyone his crimes.

Stu comes clean about all the duplicitous things he does on a daily basis. He’s a liar and he spreads lies. He exploits those weaker than him. He nurtures his flashy image because, deep down, he’s still living in the Bronx. He introduces Pam and Kelly to each other in the crowd. He dresses up because he’s afraid of what Kelly will find underneath.

He says he loves Kelly a great deal and starts to cry. The whole crowd is silent. Caller again threatens Kelly’s life and Stu yells that the Caller should shoot him instead. Stu is shot. Police swarm the Caller’s building. Caller has slashed his own throat. Stu’s down, but unharmed, the police used a rubber bullet. Kelly goes to his side.

The man with the slashed throat is the pizza man from the beginning. Stu’s in the back of an ambulance. A passer-by comments on Stu’s shoes. He says he hopes Stu’s newfound honesty lasts. …A ringing phone has to be answered.

Starring Colin Farrell. Kiefer Sutherland. Forest Whitaker. Rated 15. Dir Joel Schumacher. Released in the UK 2002. Runtime 1hr 21mins

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AdGridley

Ad teaches & gives speeches on his MH struggle + recovery at institutions right across the world. (Movie Sushi pieces contain spoilers)