Although Christmas comes but once a year, for the lucky residents of the Villa Capri, it’s pretty much Christmas every day—thanks to the tireless efforts of their smooth operator, resident manager with a past, Duke Diver (Morgan Freeman). The exclusive Palm Springs resort is home to a group of men and women who are done with careers and nuclear families—their sole aim is now to enjoy life, and Duke is there to ensure that the fun level stays way above the norm.
Duke’s rule of the roost is unquestioned, and as Christmas nears, he is making sure that the holiday season dawns as festive, colorful and boozy. But, the animals slated for the living Nativity aren’t the only things to arrive on the Villa’s doorstep. When new charmer in town Leo (Tommy Lee Jones) checks in, Duke’s place at the top of the food chain is immediately threatened by the truck driving cowboy poet/ex-military entrepreneur. The two are soon engaged in a good-natured bout of one up-manship, which quickly devolves into an out-and-out battle for Alpha Male dominance once the alluring Suzie (Rene Russo) also turns up regrettably, as a watchdog for the Villa’s corporate owners, who have some concerns with Duke and his administrative style.
Writer/director Ron Shelton come up with the idea of Just Getting Started while in a traffic jam. “I always thought it would be a fun idea to stage a film set during Christmas in a very un-Christmas-like atmosphere,” continues Shelton, who grew up in balmy Santa Barbara, CA, fascinated by surfing and playing golf while surrounded by classic Dickens-inspired holiday iconography and decorations. “One holiday, I was driving through Palm Springs, Dinah Shore Drive and Bob Hope Drive, and plastic icicles were bobbing in the wind. Dust storms were coming through, an inflatable snowman was blowing down the street and Dean Martin was being piped in, singing ‘Let It Snow.’ That always stuck in my mind as a delicious background for a story. So, after that slow crawl on the 405, I got back to the office, typed up and emailed a one-page treatment, and called Billy—he responded to it immediately.”
Producer Bill Gerber explains, “This film started because Ron Shelton and I were hanging out in my office, and we were telling stories about a fabled golf entrepreneur-slash-filmmaker friend of ours, and the incredible boondoggles that he had accomplished over the years. One thing led to another. We discussed films with that kind of character, and sports comedies, along with great pairings of actors—wouldn’t it be great to get this one and that one, or so and so, together?
Ron said, well, let me think about it—maybe I’ll come up with something. And literally, he’s on his way home, in bumper-to-bumper traffic. He called me up and said, I think I got it.
Don’t miss the un-Christmas-like Christmas comedy Just Getting Started opening December 8th.