Review of: HAWAIIANSTEIN 

reviewed by jayb on 12/23/2011
Credited Review
jayb
Hawaiianstein review Credited Review
Highly engaging characters. Entertaining dialogue. So so story. In a work like this, so much depends on the execution—particularly the acting—it’s hard to assess whether the screenplay succeeds or not. For the first half of the read I thought the script kept going off-story. Once I realized that perhaps this was intentional, I adjusted my expectations for narrative integrity and began to appreciate it for some of its other qualities.

The characterizations in this screenplay are fairly superficial, though effective, because they are so engaging and likable. Sonny and Tina, and to a lesser extent Nakamura, are good examples. Satin’s characterization is much less effective, as she emerges as a major player late in story and then most of what we know of her comes from her rant against men, which is not well supported by the material that precedes it.

I’m hard pressed to describe what this screenplay is about. Satin’s rant is the closest thing to a statement of theme in the script that I could find. At least she’s talking about something. Or is the theme expressed in the perpetual quibbling of Louie and Zig? None of this pertains much to Sonny, the protagonist. He’s not Sam Spade, who believes that if someone kills your partner, you do something about it. He’s not even the Dude, who insists “This will not stand.” So what does Sonny Kopoho stand for? He may be a likable, funny and engaging main character. But not enough to carry a 108-page screenplay, without knowing his driving goal or what matters most to him.

Fortunately, there’s Tina. She’s enough to make me want to see the movie. The setting for this story is another positive. I’ve never been to Hawaii. But I imagine it as the perfect backdrop for this story.

For the most part, the authors employ a very effective and witty writing style. But sometimes it is unnecessarily confusing. In many instances you opt for cleverness over clarity. This can make for entertaining reading, but does not always convey a clear sense of the motion picture you envision.

I don’t have much in the way of suggestions for this script. The structure seems very loose to me. But I couldn’t make recommendations about that without ruining some other part of the story. For instance, the scene in the End Zone. For the most part it was very entertaining. But halfway through, I was wondering what this has to do with anything. Should you get rid of it or cut it down? I don’t know. It could end up being one of the most entertaining scenes in the movie if it ever gets made (it certainly contains some of the best trailer moments). Sorry I can’t be more helpful than that.

Thank you for a mostly enjoyable, though somewhat rambling read. My notes below were written as I read. Take them for whatever you think they’re worth.


Notes


p. 1-10 – The first ten pages need work. Too much talk, much of which is confusing or irrelevant. I was confused by the transition from bar to office back to bar. Fortunately, something happens on page 9 (a robbery). Until this development, I was tempted to set aside the screenplay.

p. 10 – Sonny asking the cop “Can I go pee?” makes him look like a wimp. He redeems himself somewhat by calling the cop an idiot.

p. 24 – Something very unsavory about Sonny squeezing the Dangler’s breast. I’m not sure anyone wants to see the “hero” of a story do this, even for the sake of a kind of funny one-liner. If you must have him do this, maybe you could have him “places hand on her breast,” which is a lot less creepy than squeezing it.

p. 27 – “And a strip search!” – Not so funny the second time.

p. 36 – This scene was pretty funny up until the “gay divorcee” remark. Maybe Sonny has had too much to drink, but as a joke it misses the mark. Not sure why Frederick takes a swing at him.

p. 38 – Get rid of the “Tina” parenthetical and describe the action in a way the reader understands. I.e., “The Latino introduces Sonny to his oversexed girlfriend, Christina, a hot little packet of crystalline powder.” Maybe that’s not so good. But you get the idea.

p. 32-40 – The long scene at the End Zone has some funny moments, but does nothing to move the story forward (the introduction of the Latino/Tina subplot could have been handled in half a page or less). With no real purpose to the scene, all the gay humor begins to feel gratuitous.

p. 44 – Denmark… rotten… Bad.

p. 46 – “You mean that fella’ who trusted a ghost and ended up dead?” - This line reads like a mini-editorial from the writers, not something anybody would actually say.

p. 46 – No need to translate for Sonny.

p. 56 – I realize Sonny is a drunk. But the naked, drunk and stoned riff seems to stray pretty far off topic. What happened to the story?

p. 64 – What is the party in the hotel room about? The ice dilemma is not holding my interest. Girl-on-girl action, slightly more interesting. But is this connected to the story in some way?

p. 75 – “I love John Travolta.” Come on. Everybody knows that was Robert DeNiro.

p. 88 – I don’t know about this… Cute twist. But it’s so unbelievable. It’s just too obvious that Sonny wouldn’t kill Tina, even if she was the evil one. It might work better if they both knew it was a game and the reader was the one in the dark. Or perhaps if Sonny didn’t go so far as to think he killed her. Maybe he would throttle her and slap her face, while Tina would be thinking that was all part of the act.

p. 91 – The Hui parenthetical is unnecessary. Let the reader figure this out through context.

94-95 – Not sure about the plastic surgery angle.

p. 104 – What is all this hatred of men about? It feels like you are introducing a new theme (antithesis?) in the third act. How about introducing the reader to these ideas earlier in the story. Actually, the whole third act feels like it came out of nowhere.

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