I enjoyed the world and the characters you’ve created here. You’ve crafted a comedic screenplay with a very playful tone and several funny moments. I think with a few adjustments this could be even better.
Throughout much of the second act, I felt Pete was being more reactive than proactive. He wasn’t driving the story so much as going along for the ride. I found that disappointing, especially since he was such a driving force in act one. Yes, he has a tangible goal of wanting to reclaim his sitcom career. But, other than the reality show, he doesn’t have anything going on. This is why so many films feature a love interest. I thought that might be where you were going with the ex-wife, but obviously you chose to go in a different direction. I was initially confused by the Sara storyline, because we are led to believe that this is his ex-wife, though this Sara is apparently a stalker who just so happens to have the same name. I felt like we’ve seen that crazy stalker character too many times in other shows/movies (like last year’s stinker “Dinner for Schmucks”), so I would have liked to have seen you avoid that in this script. Aside from the one dinner scene, there really is very little purpose for her character.
The problem of Pete not being a very active character is compounded by Ricky also not being very active. Like Pete, we know that he is trying to reclaim his sitcom glory. But we don’t know much else about him. And he has very little to do, other than serve as Pete’s sidekick. Even when he’s suckered into Mitch’s scheme, it doesn’t result in much conflict between him and Pete. In act one, while they don’t have a plan, they are doing something. They kidnap Mitch because they think it’ll help them get their careers back on track. In act two, they’re just sort of riding out the reality show and hoping it’ll land them a sitcom. They’re not actively pursuing anything or anyone (which, again, is where I think a love interest could help).
There needs to be more conflict. Knock these characters down further before you allow them to pick themselves (and each other) back up. Maybe Pete and Ricky have a falling out. Maybe they blame each other for being where they’re at. Maybe cut back on Gene’s presence, so that there’s more direct interactions between Pete and Mitch. That could create more conflict, because each has their ideas about how to handle this show, as well as conflicting motives. And, finally, rather than having Jerry and Georgia come to Pete with their plan for how to turn things around, make it Pete’s idea. Force him to save himself.
I have one last story note, which I would like to preface by saying I’m about the furthest thing you can get from the PC police. But I felt the gay jokes were a bit too much. I’m not suggesting you cut that bit, but maybe pull it back a little. You don’t need Mitch saying “That sounds fucking gay.” He’s supposed to be an unsympathetic character, but the line’s not necessary. The audience gets the joke without it. There’s an episode of Seinfeld where a reporter thinks George and Jerry are gay. But I don’t recall them using the word gay all that much during the episode, which is partly what made it so funny. Everyone understands what’s going on without it having to be explained. The situation you set up and the subsequent reactions by characters in the later scenes would work better without calling attention to the joke.
I know it may seem like I didn’t enjoy the story, based on all of my notes. But I truly did enjoy it. It was an easy read, and you obviously have a good understanding of form and structure. Many of the jokes worked, which is always good for a comedy. And I liked that you sort of teased this as a standard kidnapping story, but chose to take it in another direction. You have a fun script here, which I think could be even better with a little more work. Good luck with it!
Some minor notes:
P.1 – “death nail” = death knell, “queue” = cue
The second scene feels longer than it needs to be. It would be funnier to cut from that meeting straight to a more definitive image that conveys the show’s been canceled. For example, cut directly from “You’re not canceled” to the set being demolished while Pete watches. It tells the audience everything they need to know visually, without the need for dialogue.
P. 15 – SADTURDS = funny!
P. 16 – Just to add another brief joke, what if Alex reads that dyslexia affects “28% of thespians” before correcting himself and saying 82%? It could be a small, but effective joke.
P. 20 – Ricky farting with every step while running = funny!
P. 28 – 30 – Should be formatted as a montage?
P. 72 – “ringing his hands” = wringing
P. 73 – “flies opens” = flies open
P. 85 – Audiences don’t like when you kill dogs. Maybe add a brief scene later where we see the dog pulling itself back up over the cliff.
P. 89 – “were done” = we’re done
Review of: PETE HARRISON: REALITY STAR? VER 2
reviewed by mijorico on 06/24/2011
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