by Paula Smith
(Kansas City)



LOGLINE: A bullied teen, on the verge of demotion improves his grades and self-esteem when he discovers the sport of fencing. PITCH: This is a heartwarming family comedy.

Caruso is a scrawny, bullied high school student. He skipped a grade when he was younger so this also makes him one of the smaller students in high school. He's unhappy and sleeps through most of his classes. His teachers recommend demotion if his grades don't improve.

The school bully, nicknamed Shaq because of his size, physically attacks Caruso every time he sees him and calls him "Britney."

During one altercation, Caruso is rescued by Bobbi who is dressed in a fencing outfit and wields a mop as a sword. Caruso is discouraged but accepts "being rescued by a girl, again." Caruso trudges off to gym class.

Bobbi is dressed in a fencing outfit because the physical education program is offering fencing as an alternative to the usual bowling. Bobbi is a fencer and attends the gym class to demonstrate fencing with Kyle, the instructor. Caruso?s first opponent is the left-handed Shaq. Caruso scores the higher number of points and beats Shaq.

Caruso wants to join Bobbi's fencing club. His parents won't allow it unless his grades improve. Caruso has found the motivation to study. Caruso takes an after school job doing yard work in order to pay dues and buy fencing equipment.

Fencing is all Caruso can think about and his parents are concerned about his obsession. They encourage him to try other hobbies and sports with his friends Bobbi and Justin. But, the more activities he participates in, the more he likes fencing. at the fencing club Caruso meets a fencer the others call "The Sword."

Although Caruso's grades improve he is still bullied. Bobbi encourages Caruso to test the school's "no bullying" policy, but Caruso fears it will only bring retaliation. The only place Caruso feels comfortable against Shaq is in fencing. While they are not friends, they fence without incident in class.

Caruso participates in his first competition. He doesn't win, but he learns about the Qualifiers for the Summer Nationals. Only twenty-five percent will qualify. Caruso literally counts the days, practicing constantly. But, while skateboarding with Bobbi and Justin, he breaks his fencing arm.

Caruso, in a cast, reverts to a quiet depressed teen. He tries fencing with the cast to no avail. His coach takes pity on him and teaches him to fence left-handed.

Caruso's cast comes off. His arm is so weak he has difficulty holding the sword. He practices and lifts weights to strengthen his arm.

It is the day of the Qualifiers. Caruso has worked his way up through the bouts and direct eliminations, but his next opponent is The Sword. Caruso is losing against this formidable adversary. Caruso's dream of qualifying for the Summer Nationals seems lost.

During the one-minute break, Caruso borrows Shaq's left-handed equipment and fences against The Sword left-handed. By the time The Sword picks up on Caruso's new style, Caruso scores enough points to qualify.

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