Okay, here's my rewrite of the movie.
Open with the young Carl and Ellie sequence, but change the montage so that—like most couples—they have children, which derails their dreams, which include finding Muntz and his bird. When Ellie gets sick and dies, Carl looks thru her scrapbook and sees that, in Ellie's mind, they've let a wonderful life of adventures—all the things that seemed to be getting in the way. But she has left a couple of pages blank for that dream vacation to South America. Carl is inspired.
But Carl's grown son (Ratzenberger?) encourages him take a normal vacation and then move to a retirement home. Only Carl's grandson Russell—a scout with no merit badges—has faith in him. To make way for a new development, Carl's house will be professionally moved to the country (a vapid couple ["Hi! We're the Cameos!"] will use it as a vacation house).
Faced with failing Ellie and giving up his house, Carl starts a secret plan as the house is prepared for the move. When his children come to take him to the retirement home, Carl untethers his balloons and escapes in the house, only to find that Russell has stowed away.
They weather a storm, after which Carl gives Russell the grape soda merit badge. Reaching Venezuela, the two tether the house within sight of Paradise Falls. They meet Dug and then Alpha and then their master, Flint, a naturalist a little younger than Carl. They hit it off, but Flint soon turns on them accusingly. He is Muntz's son and has continued his father's obsession with the bird, which he says is now extinct, so he is searching for bones. The Spirit of Adventure is decrepit, now crewed by the former cabin boy, one old engineer, and a couple of Venezuelans (and few clumsy robots?). Carl and Russell flee to the house and fly it away. Muntz and his crew give chase as in the film, damage the house, and threaten them for interloping.
Carl and Russell land the damaged house next to the falls, where it looks like it will stay. Russell wants to continue the adventure, but Carl says it's no use; the bird is extinct. Russell runs off alone in the night. Carl goes after him in the morning, and the two stumble upon the bird (owing to the squeaking of Carl's hearing aid or maybe an idea Russell has). Flint, who has been spying on them, captures the bird. Dug is disgraced in the capture and attaches himself to Russell. When Dug discovers the bird has chicks, Russell insists on trying to save it. Carl dumps everything out the house to lighten it, and they go after the zeppelin. Ellie's chair falls over onto Carl's chair, seeming to embrace it.
Carl and Russell catch up to the Spirit of Adventure, and we proceed with the big action set piece, with the dogs in airplanes replaced by fights with the crew (clumsy robots?). When Muntz learns the bird has chicks, he relents, but it's too late: they're going to crash into Paradise Falls. Muntz redeems himself in saving them but dies when the relentless Alpha takes him down with him, slipping out of his now-comically-malfunctioning collar. Carl's house crashes next to the falls. The heroes put Alpha's collar on the bird, get her thanks and where to release her to her babies after taking photos and videos and collecting dropped feathers. The crew turns the ship for home.
Carl names the bird species pavo muntzellenius, the “Muntz-Ellie tropical peacock,” which naturalists can track via Alpha's collar. Russel gets his first merit badge for assisting the elderly but also gets several others for things he did on the adventure. In the end credits, Carl helps him get more badges.
It would help to introduce Flint earlier, maybe as a kid in the newsreels, but it would be tricky to preserve the secret for later and also not make it too much like Syndrome. Maybe Flint is actually the grown-up cabin boy instead of Muntz's son. Or maybe one of the crew members is an Iago type and becomes the real villain, and Muntz lives to redeem himself and his father's reputation.
Last edited by Zarban (2010-05-30 15:51:47)