Shot, BABY! A Quirky Pinball Love Affair for Young Adults and Gamers of All Ages
Twenty-somethings Jake and Emma find their futures at a crossroads. When the singer in Jake’s band – and Emma’s fiancé – suddenly says goodbye to them both, they are forced out of the inertia of their lives. About to be homeless and jobless, Jake takes an unexpected turn when he meets an eccentric pinball machine salesman. Emma, stifled by her comfortable job and reeling from her broken engagement, resets her course toward a new future of her own design. And when Jake and Emma connect … it’s a sputtering love spark that they will have to work hard to kindle into something more. “Skill Shot, Baby!” is a quirky comedy about life, love, pinball, and music. The characters, the setting, and the unique look of the movie – a mix of live-action and avant-garde stop-motion animation – create a refreshing update of a classic story with humor, surprises, and strong youth appeal.
We open at JAKE’s job at a corporate hell coffee shop … just as twenty-something musician Jake is forced to quit by his evil clown bosses. After throwing in the apron, Jake meets up with KARL, his friend and band mate, who commiserates as they plan for band practice and discuss TALON, their unreliable lead singer, and the difficult future Jake sees for himself and the band.
Jake and Karl arrive at Jake’s home - his mother’s house - for practice. There they meet Jake’s mother RAMONA and her video boyfriend JUAN CARLOS, who wants to move Ramona and Jake to his home in Florida. And they meet their friend EMMA, who is hanging out with Talon, who in addition to being the band’s lead singer is Emma’s possessive long-term boyfriend. This is remarkable, as Talon is usually late for everything.
In the basement, Talon is putting together a video audition for a long-shot attempt at a soap opera starring role. Talon is a former one-hit-wonder with a boy band, and a full-time prima donna. The band members get into a fight, and rehearsal breaks up as Talon has a former teen star hissy fit.
A few days later, the band meets up at Lonnie’s, a popular local bar, for their gig. Emma and her friend and roommate ROSIE, a thirty-something artist and general badass, are there for the show and to help sell band merchandise. We learn that most of that merch is actually for Talon’s self-promotion of his fading pop-star fame, and we find Talon drinking too much and phoning in his performance. After the show, Talon tells Emma he got an offer from the soap opera, and he’s moving to LA … without her … at least for a few months. Angry and in tears at this act of desertion, Emma leaves with Rosie to process her apparent breakup at an ax-throwing bar, while Jake and Karl try to process the breakup of their band.
Jake returns to his precarious, solitary life in his basement workshop, where he tinkers on mechanical toys. Ramona is now serious about getting the house packed and moving to Florida, and she enlists Jake to go through things left by his late father. In the garage they find a broken pinball machine that sparks Jake’s imagination. Jake begins the process of learning how to repair the machine.
Jake gets the pinball machine working well enough to make some money off it. While dropping off the machine at Lonnie’s, Jake meets BART BARKER, who is there setting up a jukebox. As the two play a game of pinball, Bart and Jake hit it off, and after learning that Jake repaired the machine they are playing, Bart asks Jake to come work for him, fixing up some broken pinball machines.
Back at his mom’s house, Jake learns that Ramona and Juan Carlos, her online boyfriend, have had a change of plans: Juan Carlos is moving in with Ramona and Jake to help get the home fixed up and sold. Jake is not pleased at this turn of events.
Jake meets Bart at his warehouse, which is a spooky converted Masonic Temple filled with pinball machines and other cool artifacts of Bart’s multifaceted career. Bart offers not just to have Jake fix a few machines, but to put Jake in charge of fixing all his broken machines, which Bart will need to help launch a major new business idea for nationwide live and online pinball tournaments. Out of work and intrigued at having a full time job he actually might enjoy, Jake accepts the offer.
Emma continues adapting to her new single life, with some help from Rosie. The two of them try out the pinball machine at Lonnie’s, and Emma is hooked instantly. It’s clear she has talent for the game, and she plays all night.
Jake meanwhile adapts to his new role as pinball tech extraordinaire, living at Bart’s warehouse and developing his tinkering talent into something more valuable. Bart is impressed by Jake’s prowess and speed in fixing the old pinball machines. He invites Jake to join him as a partner rather than employee, to build the new pinball business with him. Jake accepts, as he sees his life opening up in an unexpected direction. Jake and Bart enlist computer expert Karl to help with their plans.
Jake learns that Juan Carlos has now moved into his mom’s house, and three is definitely going to be a crowd. Bart takes a fatherly interest in Jake and lets him move into the warehouse and live there while he works on pinball projects. Bart shares some stories from his past as a pinball shark and carnival showman, and he shows off some secret features and contents of the warehouse that spark Jake’s imagination.
Emma and Jake meet at Lonnie’s, where they learn of each others’ new interests in pinball machines - both fixing them and playing them. They decide to meet up again to go out on a “not really a date” date at the ax-throwing bar, where they hit it off and share some personal stories. Emma tells Jake that she is a musician, she actually wrote all of Talon’s songs, and was the talent behind his success. Later that evening at the warehouse, Emma and Jack share a musical, magical moment. Things heat up in ways that make Emma uncomfortable; she reminds Jake that she and Talon are not officially over. Emma and Jake part ways as friends, but it’s clear that Jake is disappointed.
While Rosie debriefs Emma on her date with Jake, Talon suddenly calls to invite Emma to Los Angeles. It’s clear he’s just squeezing her into his busy schedule, but Talon is a sweet talker. Emma agrees to make the trip on the spur of the moment. Rosie is skeptical.
Back at Ramona’s house, Jake has stopped by to do some laundry. Juan Carlos gives him man-to-man advice on love and life, and Jake starts to warm up to his new unofficial stepfather. Jake and Ramona talk and come to terms about the past, present, and future: Jake’s father, Juan Carlos, and the new paths they are now on.
Jake realizes Talon and Emma are headed for a permanent breakup and resolves to win her over. He begins building a homebrew pinball machine with personal inspirations from their “dream date” and other parts of their lives. This is a major project for Jake, but he’s determined to succeed.
In Los Angeles, Emma arrives to find an empty apartment, and Talon is too busy to meet her. She decides two can play that game. She heads out on her own and finds a restaurant and pinball club to eat and have some fun. In the club, she runs into Bart, who is in LA to meet some partners in his new pinball tournament business. Bart introduces Emma to an array of his pinball-friendly friends hanging at the club. Emma’s eyes are opened as she sees the excitement and considers a new social opportunity. Emma decides she is done with Talon and heads back home on a red-eye flight.
Back home, Bart meets with Jake and lets him know he’s inked a deal with his new partners to create the pinball tournament company, and he’ll need Jake’s help more than ever. They will be exhibiting at a pinball convention that’s just one month away. Jake shows Bart his half-finished homebrew pinball machine, and they decide to make a push to get it completed and show it off publicly at the convention.
Jake gets cracking to meet his new deadline. He enlists Rosie to create artwork for the playfield and backglass, and Karl to finish programming the electronics. They agree to push it over the line for the upcoming convention, both as a work challenge and because it’s Jake’s secret love letter to Emma.
The convention arrives, and Bart, Jake, Karl and Emma go to work the booth and enjoy the show. Bart and Jake are ready to make the big, romantic reveal of the homebrew pinball machine, “Dream Date,” to the public and to Emma, the object of Jake’s devotion.
Meanwhile, Talon arrives from Los Angeles, and he’s looking for Emma at her and Rosie’s apartment. Rosie accidentally tells Talon where to find Emma, and he heads to the convention center.
Talon shows up at the convention with blood in his eyes and a guitar in his hands. Talon finds Emma and Jake at Bart’s booth; he swings the guitar; and chaos ensues. Bart and Jake act bravely, but the scene ends in tragedy.
Time passes. The characters gather for a solemn event: Bart’s funeral. Bart’s sister and his former business partner are there, and we learn some deep secrets about their past as they see Bart off. Beth asks Jake and Emma to help her run Bart’s business now that he is gone, and they accept.
Six busy months go by. Jake, Emma, Rosie and Karl have taken over running and building Bart’s business. They also have worked to complete one of Bart’s unrealized life goals by converting the warehouse into a massive public pinball arcade and museum complex. They also get the band back together, replacing Talon with Emma. They throw a huge party for the opening night of the “Bartcade,” with music by the reformed band. The main characters are joined by a crowd of revelers, and the movie goes out to credits with a boisterous musical number.