What are you gonna do with a solid fuel rocket in the middle of nowhere?
HOW IT RATES
After the death of his wealthy grandmother, a twelve year old boy moves in with his estranged mom, struggles to fit into his new neighborhood and finds a briefcase full of gold coins hidden in a warehouse. In the spirit of Stand by Me.
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Reviews of See You Slater, Alligator 6
by Agent Cooper on 03/07/2009First of all congratulations. This is a really accomplished piece of work. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read, well written and very well put together. Of the 50 odd scripts I have read now on the Street this is easily one of the strongest. I plan on adding it to my favourites right away. There is a whole lot to like here. The story is highly engaging and often unexpected... First of all congratulations. This is a really accomplished piece of work. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read, well written and very well put together. Of the 50 odd scripts I have read now on the Street this is easily one of the strongest. I plan on adding it to my favourites right away.
There is a whole lot to like here. The story is highly engaging and often unexpected. You have a lovely turn of phrase too. The descriptions of the shovel on the concrete or Mrs Von Becker having mastered the art of not blinking are beautifully expressive and succinct. The characters are very strong, individual and believable. Jessica is particularly interesting and moves away from the standard or expectations. There are nice little touches with all of them, like Ryan’s joy at taking the bus. The minor characters are strong too, like smiling Mr Bradley, his violent nature hidden in the shadows. I especially liked that there was essentially just two ‘types’ of kids – the actual kids and the all the adults who generally behave like children in various ways.
The dialogue smart and funny. The banter between Nicole and Ryan is endlessly enjoyable. I really loved the dinner exchange where Harlan says: “Look, it's hard to find work when the mill burns down, half the town loses their job and everyone -- everyone -- thinks you did it.” then admits he has been in jail previously for arson. Excellent stuff. But there were many nice touches like that throughout.
There were a few small things though that I would look at or consider changing. First is the name. It is awful. So awful I almost removed it when the script popped on the assignment generator. Not so much that I thought “Oh my God, I’m not reading that” more it just didn’t grab me in any way or appeal. It makes perfect sense in the script, but I would definitely reconsider it. It is an ugly mouthful.
The only other major issue was the ending. The last four pages or so are unnecessary. As I was reading I couldn’t figure out why the script was still going, the story appeared to have finished. As soon as Mrs Marple turns up at Nicole’s place, Ryan’s custody is a foregone conclusion. And the fantastic tow truck on the golf course scene puts pay to any lingering doubts. There are a couple of issues here. It is the kids story, much better to finish as close as possible to the Jessica, Ian and Logan conclusions. Secondly, there already is good note to finish Mrs Danbury on when she bails out Jessica, thus proving she isn’t completely heartless. The court stuff adds almost nothing. You could easy have a similar scene to the final scene of Ryan and Jessica at their house waiting for Mrs Danbury to come.
I would consider making Harlan a little more threatening too. There is that great scene when he finds Jessica and Ryan at the warehouse and tells Jessica she is a looker. More of that. It plays out really well with him, but I would just have a little more menace in the build up, another scene where he approaches and intimidates the kids. Especially as the story is shown through the children’s eyes, so give that bit more to be scared of.
Similarly with the sequence where Jessica goes to meet the Mongoose. This is a scary thing she is doing – a young, impressionable girl going to meet some stranger she met over the internet. I would consider playing that up slight more, make it seem like impending danger, which makes the payoff for who Mongoose is all the stronger.
One of the great things about the script is the world around these kids. There are dangers and experiences well above their age group around every corner. That works really well. But at the same time they never seem in that much peril. There never seems to be very dramatic consequences for their actions.
The only other thing is maybe strengthen how Ryan figures out that the coins belong to Harlan’s mother. He never really puts it together, it is just like all of a sudden he knows that they are hers.
Hope this helps in some way. All of the criticisms are just very minor things. This is a very strong screenplay. You have done a great job. Congrats again. read
by Michael Keller on 03/05/2009This was a very fun read, with immensely likable characters, snappy dialog and many engaging moments. One can gather a lot of information about the characters from the vivid, yet economically rendered action lines. I loved the atmospheric details -- the spawning frogs, abandoned stroller, the shrinking caricature flip book, etc. They really capture the wonder of childhood... This was a very fun read, with immensely likable characters, snappy dialog and many engaging moments.
One can gather a lot of information about the characters from the vivid, yet economically rendered action lines.
I loved the atmospheric details -- the spawning frogs, abandoned stroller, the shrinking caricature flip book, etc. They really capture the wonder of childhood.
My main suggestion is to raise the stakes. I realize that total stagnation is a very real risk for these characters. But I think the story would benefit from more physical threats to the children, and that could be accomplished by fully establishing Harlan's character earlier and also making him more menacing. I would suggest having him start shaking things up as soon as the gold goes missing.
A couple nitpicks:
Why does Logan torment Ian in the beginning?
The mother/son food fight feels a little contrived.
I had a little trouble understanding what was going on with the Jessica skateboarding subplot.
Other than those minor issues, excellent job and keep up the great work! read
by Kathren on 03/02/2009This screenplay opened very srong and seemed to be full of promise. You have a great idea with the kids discovering the gold in a very unique setting. The problem is, you don't take it anywhere. You have a talent for dialogue from Nicole and Ryan to Logan and Jessica. I loved the banter. The story needs dramatic moments. Scenes that move the story forward. The momentum... This screenplay opened very srong and seemed to be full of promise. You have a great idea with the kids discovering the gold in a very unique setting. The problem is, you don't take it anywhere. You have a talent for dialogue from Nicole and Ryan to Logan and Jessica. I loved the banter. The story needs dramatic moments. Scenes that move the story forward. The momentum is there in the first act, just take it to a dramatic conclusion. With any re-write, go through the scenes and determine if they are additive. The pace will be much improved and the dramatic tension that is currently lacking will find it's way into the story. Good luck!
I'll go through the story and outline my thoughts as I read to help with any rewrite.
Pg. 3 I loved Nicole's dialogue on page three. Especailly, "plant her deep".
Logan to Ryan: "Late for a speech". Doesn't sound like something a kid would say. More like "Late for Church". This also fits with the later dialogue about Sunday school.
Pg. 8 Ryan "Was that her?" I'm confused, who is he referencing?
Major missed opportunity: Leaving the briefcase is a major miss. All three kids should be fixated on its contents. There should be suspense in opening it or taking it somewhere. Harlan should show up to add to the danger and suspense.
pg. 22, Jessica's dialogue is a problem. Her dialogue comes out of nowhere. Why would she tell Ryan to run away without provocation? You need to build up her issues so it's obvious through her interaction with Ryan.
Pg. 24 Make Mrs. Von Becker more intimidating. What if she shoots at the kids with a pellet gun?
Pg. 27, Nothing really happens. Create tension with the briefcase. Where's the voyage of discovery. What if the kids researched the background of the coins. Perhaps they were stolen from a museum. Anything to make possessing the gold coins dangerous. Create tension. The crook should be in hot pursuit.
By page 40, still no briefcase and nothing much happens. There's no journey of discovery, no real bonding of the characters through that journey. "Stand-By-Me" is a great example for this type of film or "The Goonies". Each character contributes to the journey and you learn about their character through their interaction and the danger they face.
Logan has no redeeming qualities. I don't know if you want the goldfish scene. He needs some draw. What if he's a bully but cares about the goldfish and scrambles to save it, forgeting Ian. So he attacks Ian, doesn't realize he has the goldfish, when he discovers the bag broke and the goldfish may die, he saves it. So he's a bully with a heart. This would make him likeable.
Ian should be around in the early scenes so it makes sense when he shows up a the warehouse.
Pg. 51 Ian and Ryan need more buildup before Ryan says "we're friends". It didn't seem real just thrown in.
Jessica should be in on the discovery. Or she follows the boys and takes the gold. She now has leverage so they have to include her.
Pg. 54, lose the golf scene with Gary. He doesn't have any character development and he's thrown in. All of a sudden, he says "Don't make her choose". This seems to come out of nowhere. Do you really need his character. He doesn't add much to the story except for Nicole's poor choice in men. Her character is already set when she abandoned her son. I don't think you need the men.
Pg. 57, They found gold and nothing is happening with this major plot device.
Pg. 64, Ian has rage from what? It comes out of nowhere.
Pg. 68, Ian no longer sounds like a child.
Pg. 77 Scenes are not additive and don't move the story forward. Every scene should drive the story. What does the tree climbing add?
Pg. 94. Ryan should cringe, not Jessica.
Pg. 100 How does Harlan know it's Ryan and Logan?
If he realized back at the warehouse, he would have done something.
by mpet on 02/28/2009For the most part this is a well written screenplay with the proper mixture of clever description and brevity of action lines that makes the read both smooth and easy. With of course one or two small exceptions. Let's get that out of the way. Page 27 - "Nicole has been wolfing down the pancakes with gusto, talking and chewing at the same time. Ryan reacts." You need to... For the most part this is a well written screenplay with the proper mixture of clever description and brevity of action lines that makes the read both smooth and easy. With of course one or two small exceptions. Let's get that out of the way. Page 27 - "Nicole has been wolfing down the pancakes with gusto, talking and chewing at the same time. Ryan reacts." You need to show us these actions punctuated by the corresponding choppy dialogue rather than tell us this after the fact. Also check page 37- Buddy's introduction could be smoother.
You mention Stand By Me in your production notes. These types of youthful, coming of age stories seem to fare better when set in an earlier time period. Stand By Me and The War being prime examples. I attribute this to the naivety and innocence of past youths when compared to today. It's kind of hard to feel sorry for a boy who has a Wii.
Setting seems to play a crucial role in the genre, for example, the deep Southern accents and mossy trees of the The War really create atmosphere that pulls you into the story. You do a good job with regards to your chosen locals - the salt warehouse, the watermill. These are the haunts of childhood. The stuff our memories are made of and incredibly visual images. But I think your could do more to regionalize this story. Showing the audience a micro-cosom of American life that we otherwise know little about.
My next points have to do with theme and focus and will be made over the next few paragraphs so bear with me. IMO there are extraneous story lines and plot threads that could potentially be eliminated to bring the theme into tighter focus. Take for example, Jessica's skating dream of meeting this supposed internet guru. This doesn't really advance the plot. If you want to create more tension with this character, maybe Harlen could kidnap her instead of her running away.
Then there's Darrel and the whole thing with him and Logan writing on Ian's face. Darrel could be removed all together. Perhaps you could instead concentrate of the fact that Ryan could be the catalyst for change, bringing these three very different characters together. And if it were all four together who found the case full of coins then you have even greater potential for internal conflict with the ultimate goal of unification.
This brings me to my next point about concept, the idea behind the story. Usually something universal, hopefully buried beneath subtext. Is there some deep theme or message to be discerned? Is this a study of social issues, a statement about... This is where the comparison to movies like Stand By Me and The War come into play and I think your screenplay falls short. The War is a story of a Vietnam Vet who tries to teach his children what's worth fighting for. We've got the relationship with the father and the neighborhood bullies. This is an example of the lack of theme I see here. (Please forgive - I just today watched The War again, but have not seen Stand By Me in some time.)
Though I could not find this greater meaning, and it could be there with me just missing it. And the story itself doesn't lean far from the typical coming of age genre spin.... It is an interesting story with great potential.
Especially in the character of Nicole- IMO the shinning star of the piece. I personally though would love to see less of the antic wanderings (almost 20 pages in act one) of the children and more focus on this family dynamic. Also I must include in this the desire to see more of the mystery, which by the way, could be amped up by the youthful antics of the participants.
Now onto a new subject. I loved the introductory sequence. You do a great job establishing Nicole's character here. Of all things I found the budding relationship between Nicole and Ryan the most enduring but also the most neglected. She is an especially well drawn character with some great dialogue (with one small exception). I loved her verbal interactions with Ryan, loved the food fight during the dinner party. But, her line on page 35, "I know I'm not perfect. Name it, I've probably done it twice. But my son is important to me. This is a fresh start." Seems a little on the nose and almost out of character, apologetic even.
In general (except for Nicole) I'm torn on character and dialogue. Jessica seems contradictory, claiming that Mrs. Von Berker is an Eco-Enemy while she herself releases cleaning solvents whenever she can in the hopes of a big fall and bigger windfall. Then there's Ian and his constant, "I don't want friends.", "I don't know how to be a friend." All this is more than evidenced by his actions and stating it just seems ....
Structurally your beats hit at the appropriate moments, but I have to wonder if the story isn't missing a balance overall between the family and friends. For example, it might be neat to start with a few scenes with Granny to establish the dynamic between her and Ryan. Especially considering things like his cleanliness and ability to cook which he got from her. It would be ironic if these were things he rejected at her house only to find practical use for them in his new environ.
Then there's the actual time dedicated to the family in lieu of various scenes establishing relationships with Logan and Jessica. It's at page 5 when we abandon the family storyline for adventures away from home with Logan and then back home with Jessica. Finding ourselves back home to deal with mom at the end of act one. I would suggest- and this is just a suggestion - a re-structuring of act one. I would bring all four children together to find the coins at the 15 minute mark or maybe even at the end of act one, but I would condense the material dealing with them greatly and focus more on the family within the first 10 minutes or so.
In conclusion the story is well written and is great as it- and I will be giving it good marks all around for that. But more importantly I think the groundwork has been laid for something spectacularly better. Nicole completes a great arc. However IMO Ryan could complete a better one if we knew more about him before Granny died. I also think the setting and historical placement could be amped up to promote marketability. Think of the small but crucial element of racial tension that adds overall effectiveness to The War.
So that's about it. I hope you don't feel my notes are harsh. They are just that, notes, only my humble opinions and offerings. I did find this an enjoyable and easy read and hope to see this draft doing well. I also look forward to seeing any futures drafts. Good luck.
by A Messenger on 02/28/2009This was a story about four kids hanging out over summer vacation and their assorted adventures It wasn’t strongly plotted and I think the script suffered as a result of this but the characters were good enough to make it an interesting read. I think it more or less delivered the good in a similar way to the movie “Stand By Me”. The story was structured as a series of intermingled... This was a story about four kids hanging out over summer vacation and their assorted adventures It wasn’t strongly plotted and I think the script suffered as a result of this but the characters were good enough to make it an interesting read. I think it more or less delivered the good in a similar way to the movie “Stand By Me”.
The story was structured as a series of intermingled minor plot points. The plot points as I saw them were:
The stealing of the gold coins
Ryan’s attempt to break up Nichole and Gary
Ryan attempts to be a positive person
The stealing of the gold coins was set up early on in the piece. Ryan and Logan go out to the secluded warehouse and see a man searching for something and then soon after find a briefcase. They leave the briefcase behind and upon returning for it later find that Ian has found it and is able to open it. They are interrupted by the man again and decide to steal the gold. They decide to steal it. This gets us to page 48. After this we have about 50 pages of minor hints that the owner of the briefcase, Harlan, suspects Ryan stole the money and then the other plot points dominate. Then at page 94 we switch back to the gold stealing plot line when it is discovered that the gold is no longer in the secure hiding place and then on page 99 Ryan and Logan are chased by Harlan. I guess I was looking for this to be the main motivator for all the action the story but it really didn’t turn out that way. Probably 50% of the action of the story had little or nothing to do with this plot point. It’s also interesting to note that Logan’s involvement in the story was entirely centered around this plot point and from pages 50 to 99 when this part of the story went into hibernation he completely disappeared. Jessica, another key character, had almost no role in this part of the story. In the end the stealing of the gold didn’t really amount to much. They give the gold back to Mrs. Von Becker and her son goes to jail. They don’t even get punished for it. This plot point didn’t really change anything about the boy’s lives. In the end it feels like filler. It feels like we are supposed to care about the character’s relationships and this plot point is just an excuse to get them to hang out.
Ryan’s attempt to break up his mother and her boyfriend was a completely parallel plot point to the stealing of the gold. It gains prominence after the boys steal the gold. First it’s shown that Gary is a real jerk and he isn’t going to make an attempt to get along with Ryan. I think this is shown clearly on page 53 with the golfing. After this Ryan and Jessica attempt to fabricate evidence that Gary is cheating. The plot point culminates on page 98 when Nicole attempts to run Gary down at the golf course. This plot point actually changes Ryan’s situation in life. After this he gets taken away from his mother again for six months and she seems to come to a realization about her future.
The third plot point is a bit more vague. I think you sort of kicked off this concept that Ryan wanted to help people with the starfish story. First he decides to befriend the angry old lady, Mrs. Von Becker. Then he decides he wants to help Jessica be happy by running off to be with her online skateboarding hero. Both of these actions are almost completely separate from the other two plot points. It almost seems like the Jessica character’s desire to get away from town to could be cut completely from the story. The scene with her trying to go find Mongoose seems completely extraneous. I’d say the scenes with the goat are kind of the same way.
It was a bit strange how abruptly the script swung from the gold stealing plot point to the other two. It was almost like the gold stealing scene ran out of steam and was not going to fill 90 pages so it was put on pause and the other plot points took over. It felt a little scattershot and as a result I was confused about where the story was going. As I said before the gold stealing was probably the most prominent plot point but it really wasn’t all that important to the resolution of the story. There are no major changes for the main characters due to this plot point. It read like it was only there to fill space. The other plot points were more meaningful but were also relatively short on content.
My advice would be to try to come up with some material to beef up the gold stealing plot point and work on the pay off for it. Something should change for these 4 characters as a result of stealing the gold. It would also be a smoother read if the three plots were intermingled a bit more seamlessly.
I think it’s fair to describe this as a character piece. I thought it delivered the goods with these characters:
Ryan was a bit of a blank slate. It isn’t clear throughout the story how he feels about his change in circumstances. Is he unhappy to be leaving his life of the last seven years? Is he nervous about going to a new town/a new school? It almost seems that he doesn’t care about leaving except for his “baseball cards and playstation”. I found this a bit hard to accept. I think the script ought to do more to explore his feelings about moving back in with his mother.
A majority of the time he isn’t really the driver behind the story. He’d often content to just follow along with his friends. For instance it’s Logan’s idea to go to the warehouse and to steal the money. When Ryan does drive the story it sometimes seemed like he was an idiot. He accidentally gives Harlan a hint that he stole the gold. Then latter he goes back to the warehouse with Jessica and gets caught by Harlan. Both of these actions require a great deal of stupidity on Ryan’s part and they are important drivers of the plot. It seems like there should be some other way for Ryan’s guilt to be revealed.
Finally, I’m not exactly sure how Ryan changed throughout the story. His mother certainly changes which is something he wanted but he seems to be the same guy. I think this really the main point of the story. Ryan’s attempt to improve his situation in life. He’s forced to live with his mother so he tries to make the situation better for both of them by getting rid of Gary and showing her how to live better. At the end Ryan realizes that his mother needs him and that there is a chance for both of them to be happy living together. You get the sense that after the 6 months Nichole will have cleaned herself up and will get custody.
I thought it was interesting how the script took care to identify the common thread between these characters of their challenging relationships with their parents:
Ryan’s relationship with his mother is of course rocky.
Jessica’s father is shown rifling through her dresser and is known as Chester the molester.
Ian’s father according to Jessica killed himself and according to Ian died of a heart attack.
Logan’s father was a domineering former Air Force sergeant who beats his kid.
Ryan’s relationship was the only one that was fully developed but the fact that you chose to address the other kid’s parents gives a hint about why they could identify with each other. It would be interesting if you went further with this. What really happened with Ian’s father? Why is Jessica’s father known as a molester? Why does Jessica want to get out of town so badly. You’ve hinted at some additional fertile ground. You should explore it further.
Anyway, I thought it was an interesting read. The characters were good but you’ve certainly got a lot of other things you could bring out in them. The plot didn’t serve the script as well as it might have but I think it could with some minor adjustments.
See You Slater, Alligator – Notes
My thoughts as I read:
Pg 25 – You give Nicole a very motherly concern for her son here. Up until now you’ve given the impression that she must be an unfit mother. I’m interested to see where you take this character.
Pg 33 – Ian seems like a very interesting character.
Pg 35 – So Ryan’s father was rich and he married Nichole who was a white trash stripper.
Pg 45 – So the back door of the place opens for them this time when the last time they were in the warehouse they needed to be freed. This is a little sloppy. You’ve added the statement “Figures” as sort of a self aware joke but I don’t think that makes this work. Maybe you could give Ian something more difficult to do like pick the lock. Wouldn’t Ryan and Logan have attempted to mess with the combination lock the first time? That’s all you describe Ian doing and the handle just falls off. There’s no reason Ryan and Logan wouldn’t have been able to do this the first time.
Pg 51 - “Chester swipes her hand across a desk, knocking books and a clock radio to the floor” should be “his hand”.
Pg 53 – Gary is a jerk. He takes Ryan along golfing as his caddy and then tells him that Nicole would chose him over Ryan.
Pg 68 – So Gary doesn’t argue that he’s being set up even though he knows he is.
Pg 70 – You’ve stolen the starfish story. I can’t imagine many people aren’t going to recognize this as being stolen.
Pg 76 – So the point of this little dinner was really to call Ryan into suspicion for stealing Harlan’s gold coins. It’s a little hard to believe that Ryan carried out his plan for getting to know the Von Becker’s so poorly. He went to all the effort to set this up only to have it degrade into an uncivil conversation with his mother and a food fight? It makes him seem a little stupid which isn’t the impression we’ve had of him up until now.
Pg 78 – The story is a bit meandering. The relationship between Jessica and Ryan doesn’t really interest me at this point. She’s not in on the main plot point of the story and they just seem to hang out with no real point to their scenes. She’s not an uninteresting character but you haven’t found anything to make their scenes meaningful in the context of the overall story.
Pg 82 –Ryan was pretty stupid to go back to the warehouse. He was also pretty stupid to invite Harlan over to his house and then bring up gold coins. Isn’t there a way to move this story along that doesn’t require stupidity on Ryan’s part? Unless you’re trying to make Ryan out to be a numbnuts.
Pg 93 – Jessica knew to say these incriminating things about Gary because she was helping Ryan to set him up before. Is that right? She’s a little quick about playing along even so. Wouldn’t Ryan have warned her that his mother would be calling her?
Pg 99 – Harlan is going to run them down now? Did he find something else out that convinced him that they are responsible? Right now it reads like he is attacking them because it’s necessary to advance the plot not because it’s motivated.
Pg 102 – Isn’t Harlan just going to get out the back door and chase them? The back door isn’t locked as you showed before. read
by philbklyn on 02/28/2009This script was well written. Clear and easy to understand, although at times, the descriptions were slightly over written. These were my notes as I read: Interesting so far – but I think they could have been locked in the warehouse a little earlier. Page 25 – I feel like I really know these characters now – but not much is happening. Page 37 - They navigate the aisle,... This script was well written. Clear and easy to understand, although at times, the descriptions were slightly over written.
These were my notes as I read:
Interesting so far – but I think they could have been locked in the warehouse a little earlier.
Page 25 – I feel like I really know these characters now – but not much is happening.
Page 37 - They navigate the aisle, dodging cages and boxes that compete in a Darwinian war for space. Are these boxes evolving into better boxes? Some of these descriptions are really pushing the envelope. At times, I am interested in what is happening, but narrative like this draws me out of the story. I had to read it twice.
Page 39 – more characters are introduced, but nothing is happening yet. What’s in the briefcase already?
I hate to complain about other people’s style – but the underlined words are a bit distracting.
On page 73 already – I hope this guy kills all those kids for taking his gold – I hope something happens already… anything… at least a look at the stripper in action. I’m not talking about Die Hard for kids, but a little activity would be nice.
Page 99 – finally something is happening – better late than never.
And then they live happily ever after.
The script stared off very slow, and it turned out there wasn’t much of a plot. I would have had them find the briefcase before page 12 – open it by page 25 – then Harlan chasing the kids – or something to that effect.
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