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Reviews of The Last Great American Movie 6
by elijoel on 03/14/2010It’s actually very hard to know where to start with this screenplay. I always try to be positive about a script, even when it has a few problems, but this screenplay has got more holes in it than a tea strainer. I do give full credit to both of the writers for having a very active imagination, but the way this screenplay stands at the moment, I think it’s about as far away... It’s actually very hard to know where to start with this screenplay. I always try to be positive about a script, even when it has a few problems, but this screenplay has got more holes in it than a tea strainer. I do give full credit to both of the writers for having a very active imagination, but the way this screenplay stands at the moment, I think it’s about as far away from a “filmable project” as you can get.
I know this might not seem like much of a consolation, but just remember that nobody gets it right with their first few scripts (I’m assuming that this is your first, or close to it anyway), so don’t give up! There’s a huge amount of truth in the adage that “You have to write a million words of crap before you can write anything good”, and believe me I have written my share or crap, and had to wade through it all to get to where I am now, so try to just see it all as part of the learning curve.
Having said all that, below is a page-by-page breakdown to try and help you, and to try and stimulate you to think about where you might be going wrong.
*** INT. NEW YORK APARTMENT - NIGHT CONT.
Two men. One lies in bed, naked but for boxers with crocodiles and elephants on them. THIS IS CUJO as played by THE ROCK.
The other in a trench and sitting in front of a window. His name is MISO VICIOUS, as played by GEORGE CLOONEY. ***
Were you having a joke when you put “The Rock” and “George Clooney” in the above passage? You just can’t do this. Suggesting (worse, instructing) a producer or casting director what actor should play what part will get your screenplay rejected and passed on faster than light can cross your bedroom! And no, I’m really not joking.
Even the most successful A-list Hollywood screenwriters don’t have much say when it comes to casting their stories, and they certainly NEVER suggest casting in their scripts.
If you are determined to do this, then at least write something like …
“A large bodybuilder type, looking rather like The Rock”
But even this I would strongly advise against, as 99 times out of 100 it will lose you points. The best thing you can do is just to simply describe the type (using no names, etc ...
“A huge, muscular, brick shit-house of a guy, who clearly pumps iron in his spare time”
Your opening couple of pages are also full of CAMERA INSTRUCTIONS, which is also a huge no no. It’s another good way to get your script passed on, and rejected. Camera Instructions appear ONLY in the Shooting Script, which is usually put together by the Director and the DOP just prior to filming. The screenwriter usually never has anything to do with this draft, and he/she is certainly not expected to include any Camera Instructions into his/her reading/presentation draft of the script. Doing so will almost certainly achieve two things:
1. It will make you stand out as a novice to all producers and industry readers who view the script.
2. It will most likely alienate any Director, who will almost certainly feel that you are trying to do his job for him.
You’ve also written (or referred to) the Title Sequence in your opening pages. And, yes, you guessed it, you’ve just broken another industry protocol. Don’t ever include a Title Sequence in a screenplay, unless you’ve actually been asked to write one by a director or producer who has already picked up the project.
The point here is that all the thing I’ve mentioned above ... Casting, Title Sequence, and Camera Instructions, these are ALL mistakes that are very common to novice screenwriters, so including just one of them, let alone all three, is like holding up a big banner that say ...
“I am a novice screenwriter. Look at me. Look what I can do”
In most cases it’s just going to get your script put straight to the bottom of the “consider” pile, or worse, straight to the top of the “reject” pile.
Again, if you have been looking at screenplays (for reference material) that have Cameras Instructions and Title Sequences in them, then 100% for sure, you have been looking at Shooting Scripts and NOT the draft that the actual screenwriter turned in that got him/her the job in the first place!
You know what … I’m only two pages into your script, but I have to say that I can already see something else that you’ve done that is very likely to back fire of you, and it’s your title:
Calling a project “The Last Great American Movie” is short of asking for trouble, because your screenplay had really better be “Great” or you are going to find people slamming it even harder than they otherwise might. See my point? Why set up a huge expectation and then get criticized for falling a little short of the mark, when if you changed the tile and set up no expectation you might well just have people praising your project for whatever virtues it may have? It’s something to think about anyway.
Also on page 2:
“And then we're outside …”
Use of the “WE” word. Another no no. Okay, so this one won’t get your script rejected for sure, but it is still a term/word commonly despised but many in the industry (readers and producers) who see it as lazy writing that tends to pull the reader out of the moment. I used to use it myself many years ago. Now I wouldn’t dream of using it, as I know that it can subtly undermine my work/submissions.
“Not a very good picture, but it's all he's got.”
Here you are telling your reader things that CANNOT be shared with the audience. You MUST always treat your reader AS your audience, and thus only ever write things in your action/description that will directly “translate onto the screen”. In other words, if you have any information that you wish to pass over to your audience then your must do it either visually or through a character’s dialogue, etc.
The first part of the instruction is fine … “Not a very good picture” … as we get to see this. But the second part … “but it's all he's got” … Your audience can know this. Get it?
“A lone building lit up from the rear.”
Hmmmmm, now you are even telling the DOP how to light his scenes. This is the 2nd or 3rd time you’ve mentioned lighting. You really need to try and stick to just doing the screenwriter’s job, otherwise you are digging yourself a very deep hole (sometimes called a grave) that your screenplay will never climb out of.
EXT. DESERT HIDEOUT – NIGHT
Is this description meant to mirror the hideout in TO LIVE & DIE IN LA where William Defoe is printing the money?
Page 11 --- Page 15:
You’ve got a 4.5 page scene here. Way too long and too talky. The average length of scene in a movie should be 1.5 – 2 pages. You can also get away with maybe having a few 2 – 3 page scenes in a movie (no more), and only if the story and situation calls for it. If you write scenes longer than this, then MOST producers are going to have problems with it and view the script as not properly structured, etc, so be warned.
I have to say, Duncan sound like a bit of a pretentious dork here.
“OLIVER: Look, I don't get to keep all of it. I'm sending most of it back. It's just how it works, okay?”
I take it that the whole idea here is that Oliver is a total idiot who would fall for the kind of scam that most 10 year olds could see coming?
Actually, I have a couple of other concerns at this point. Firstly, I am now at page 22 and I’m still not sure who your Protagonist is? Whose story is this? Oliver’s? Duncan’s? There have been so many characters so far that it’s hard to tell, but not having a clearly identifiable Protagonist is a serious flaw in any screenplay. Secondly, I am still waiting for you to state your “dramatic premise” because at the moment the narrative thread that is weaving all of your scenes together is very thin. Most industry readers would expect to either see or hear the dramatic premise of the story succinctly stated well before page 22 (in fact, usually before page 10).
For example, in the opening few pages of The Italian Job, one of the characters says to Mr Bridger (The Crime Boss) that Charlie Croker (the protagonist) is going to do a job in Italy, which is what the movie is all about. Hence there is the premise in a nutshell.
In Basic Instinct, we learn on page 2 that Nick Curren (the protag) is being placed in charge of investigating the death of Johnny Boz, which is what the movie is about (again, the premise in a nutshell).
I could go on and list many more examples. The point is, whilst you don’t always need to state the premise before page-10, it usually elevates the script if you do, because both readers and audience like to be given strong clues about what the movie is about and where it is heading.
“She gives him a hug and heads off. Oliver has a look of relief as he dodged a bullet, this turns into a big smile as he thinks of all that he has accomplished in this conversation.”
Again, here you are stating what somebody is thinking. You just can’t do this! You are not writing a novel here – so don’t ever include introspective thoughts. Remember, dialogue and “transferable” visuals only.
“OLIVER: You know how in every movie you have a hero, a quest, a girl, and a monster?”
This is an interesting line, especially coming at this juncture in your movie, because as I mentioned before I am still not certain about whom your Protagonist is? Most movies have a clearly definable central character – the lead role – the hero – and it’s the journey that this character undertakes that creates the narrative arch of the story. Only here this story seems to be missing this. Of course, there are a few exceptions, like when a story is an ensemble piece in a movie like The Big Chill, etc. All the same, even with those ensemble type movies there is nearly always a central story-element that links all of these separate characters and weaves their separate narrative threads together – like the fact that all of the characters in The Bill Chill are getting together for a reunion-weekend in just one character's home.
“OLIVER (CONT'D): I'm the hero, I have a quest to get the girl.”
Now, see, this is just my point. This just does not feel like it’s true because your story structure doesn’t back it up, and just having a character speak this line does NOT make it so. It’s the structure of your story and scenes that will dictate this more than anything else.
“ADAM: Fraud... no. One of our clients has extricated himself in some minor trouble involving exotic animal insurance.”
Are you sure you mean extricated here? This does not make any sense to me.
“OLIVER: But what is it [the movie] about?
Okay, this is all starting to feel very Charlie Kaufman like to me:
A screenwriter is hired by a Hollywood studio to write the “Adaptation” of a best selling novel, only he can’t do it as he can’t figure out how to adapt the book, so instead he writes (and turns in to the studio) a screenplay about a screenwriter who is hired by a Hollywood studio to write the adaptation of a best selling book, only is unable to do it because he can’t figure out how to adapt it, so instead he turns is a screenplay about, etc, etc, etc …
You get my point?
It’s starting to feel like your story is basically about a group of guys who want to break into the movie business, so they decide to write a screenplay – only they aren’t sure what to write about – so they write a story about a couple of guys who write a screenplay to try and break into movie industry, only they aren't sure what to write about.
It might be an amusing concept, but it’s unlikely to be able to “carry” a movie unless everything else about the story is flawlessly executed.
“DUNCAN: Then maybe more people will make good movies and I will die more entertained and enriched.”
I really think you are getting yourselves onto dangerous ground here. On the one hand, I can certainly relate to some of the sentiments of your characters … but as somebody who has been writing screenplays myself for many many years, as well as working in other areas of film, I also know this:
Pretty much every person who turns their hand to screenwriting does so because they think (mistakenly) that they can write better stories than many of those mainstream movies that continually populate our screens (both big and small). The trouble is, it’s just not true! One only has to trawl through the screenplays on sites like this and on Zoetrope to see that very very few wannabe writers actually have what it takes to write not just a “great script” … but in fact ANY script that is even capable of reaching production standard.
Now, bearing in mind just how many screenwriting protocols your own screenplay has already breached (at only 38 pages in), and the fact that many of your characters are coming over as --- for want of a better phrase --- young, dumb, and full of cum …
That is … they are all showing that they have bundles of enthusiasm (atypical film students, etc), but little actual knowledge or understanding about how the industry works …
Well, can you see the risk? Can you see how this might all start to come over to any seasoned professional producer or industry reader when they evaluate your script? In short, you risk coming over as very arrogant and full of yourself, which is something you can ONLY really afford to do once you’ve got a few major box office successes behind you.
Obviously it’s your call, but I would be careful about letting your characters get too preachy, at least about filmmaking!
*** EXT. TILA'S CAJUN RESTAURANT - NIGHT
Oliver looks up the "Tila's Cajun Restaurant" sign, the store is dark and empty. A metal cage is closed in front of the store.
Oliver heads into an alley beside the store. He passes a dumpster and rounds a corner to the back door. He opens a feeble screen door. A sturdy wooden door now stands between him and his goal. There is a dead bolt lock on the door. Oliver has a crowbar. He hefts it, looks around to make sure he's alone, then wedges it in the door. Struggles for some time. Breaks chunks off the door. Finally, with a wedge of the crowbar and a kick, the door swings open.
He hesitates, then quickly enters the store. He's in the kitchen, looking at typical restaurant kitchen things. He quickly moves through the shop, looking for anything related to Miso Vicious. ***
The above passage needs to be broken down into at least two or three separate shots, with their own Slug Lines. Your going from an Outside alley to an Interior kitchen scene here, so where is the EXT. and INT.?
You’ve written … “Miso stares at Oliver as he talks.” But then you cut to a new scene without having any dialogue. It makes no sense.
Okay, you have a big story hole here: Are we supposed to believe that Miso is running two scams? A shopping scam to finance the animal importation business? If he needs one to finance the other, then this suggests that he’d making no money from the other – See my point? Also, just the idea that this guy is running these two scams at once is very convoluted. One seems like a major illegal operation (the importing), and the other like a petty 2-bit scam. Additionally, I don’t think anyone is going to believe that this guy would give away his whereabouts and agree to meet with somebody that he’s already ripped off. Not unless he’s the biggest fool on the planet. And even if he did, are you really expecting people to believe that all it takes is Oliver to ask him just one simple question before he spills the beans on all the details about how his operations work? This seems incredulous, and that’s putting it very politely.
It’s been stated a number of times in this screenplay that there is a purity about the movies made in the 80s. Now, I don’t know if that comment is autobiographical, and thus the view of the writers, but I can tell you this …
Your movie is starting to feel very 1980s, because what the 1980s in Hollywood is perhaps best known for is producing a myriad of movies with totally two-dimensional characters, where there were frequent cheesy actions scenes that didn’t really relate that much to the story, and were not plausibly justified by the narrative, but were tossed in anyway just for effect in the hope that they might just keep an audience interested. The atypical scene was the mandatory car chase through a back alley where the vehicles slam into blue plastic drums and wooden packing crates. If that is what you were trying to recreate, then you’ve done it perfectly, but I really do have to ask you …
Are you absolutely sure this is what you want? Because you are really doing yourself no favors with scenes like this, even if they have been written as some kind of satirical homage. The reason being that most producers and industry readers are probably going to look at the script and say … “I’ve seen this 10,000 times before. It’s so old hat. So I’m passing on the project”. After all, what they are mostly all looking for is something new and different. Or, to quote a clichéd phrase: “Something that’s the same, but different”. This is feeling very much like it’s the same, but NOT different!
I really don’t want to sound like I’m being negative here, but I have to call it like I see it, and this chase scene just seems very silly, not to mention implausible. And what’s the motivation for this whole chase? That a guy spotted Duncan filming with a camera? Considering that they just let Oliver walk around the place, see everything, and then let him go, this just makes no sense whatsoever.
“OLIVER: Unbelievable. I think I'm your delivery man.”
I think this might well be the best example of lazy and implausible plotting I have ever seen.
I have no idea what the whole scene in the comedy club is about. It seems to have no relevance whatsoever, and does nothing to advance the story. My advice is, take it out.
“NATALIE (over her shoulder): Hey baby. Oliver, this is my boyfriend, Alex.”
Okay, now I know this really IS the best example of lazy plotting I have ever seen!
This is really descending into farce. Only not in a good way.
Once again you’ve written an action sequence here that SHOULD be broken down into all its individual shots and Slug Lines. You can’t write an action Master Scene where you go from the Interior of one car to the Interior of another, and include Exterior shots too, and do it all under just one Slug Line. It’s not just unclear and convoluted, but it’s very bad writing and will lose you MAJOR points with readers and producers ...
But at this stage I’m not sure that’s a worry anyway, because by writing an ending like this, with a kangaroo fighting a polar bear, and then breaking free and getting involved in a car chase ... Well, suffice to say that I’m pretty sure that you’ve just written the one scene/ending that will have most producers running for the hills!
In all seriousness, when I first started writing screenplays many many moons ago, one of the very first lessons I ever learnt was: Never, NEVER, write a scene in a screenplay that calls for 30 camels to appear in Central Park, because you will be virtually guaranteeing that no movie producer will ever pick the project up. Well, you ain’t got 30 camels, but you get my point I hope.
Okay, so I guess you are going for the GET SHORTY type ending.
Very best of luck with this project. read
by whoisguerrero on 03/13/2010Okay, so your dialogue is pretty clever and funny. I laughed out loud a few times. It's clear that you have a strong mental image of what is going on here. The action scenes were well written and genuinely exciting at times. I think you could take these characters and make a decent sitcom. However... The film within a film aspect has become a cliche and I think many readers... Okay, so your dialogue is pretty clever and funny. I laughed out loud a few times. It's clear that you have a strong mental image of what is going on here. The action scenes were well written and genuinely exciting at times. I think you could take these characters and make a decent sitcom. However...
The film within a film aspect has become a cliche and I think many readers are tired of screenplays about filmmakers/screenwriters. This reminds me of every script ever written by anyone who has just gotten out of film school.
The story is not strong enough for a feature. You have a very thin premise that lets you tell a lot of jokes. Which is why I say sitcom would be a better venue. The main problem with the story is that it simply isn't believable that these characters would go through the trouble of infiltrating a criminal enterprise for revenge or the love of film or whatever. I just don't buy it. Why is it so important that they do these things? Well, to me... it simply is because they are crazy wacky characters (as opposed to real human beings) who do what they do because the screenwriter thought it would be funny.
Page 44 is when you send your hero on his journey. (took me that long to figure out who the lead character is, too) That is way late to start your story.
And then I find out our lead character is a thirty something trust fund baby? wow, I really could give a shit about this guy. He lost three grand because he fell for an obvious scam. boo-friggin-hoo. Take away his money and then I might care. Make the three grand his last three grand. Perhaps when he loses the money, he loses all hope for a career and love and a future. Then I might root for him. Of course it would make more sense for him to just go to the cops.
Also, I don't think miso would sell to the same guy twice, definitely not in person-- I think he would have to suspect a trap. And later, after chasing oliver and duncan the night before, there is no way he would allow him into his organization. The whole thing is just unbelievable.
Finally, the end doesn't quite work. We need to see how these events affected our main characters, instead we cut right away to a joke that may be funny, but seems beside the point. The point is, who are these characters, what do they want, why is it important, what is their obstacle and how do these events change them.
That said-- I did find the script funny, I think you have some skills and good luck with your rewrite. read
by srhite on 03/11/2010Review of The Last Great American Movie You would need to have a cameo in this by SarahCuder Palin and her half-wit husband. Why? Because the wackiness of your screenplay makes as much sense as the wackiness of Queen LaTrailer becoming preserdent of the USA USA USA. The concept requires one question be answered. Is there a goal to have this script make it to film? Seriously,... Review of The Last Great American Movie
You would need to have a cameo in this by SarahCuder Palin and her half-wit husband. Why? Because the wackiness of your screenplay makes as much sense as the wackiness of Queen LaTrailer becoming preserdent of the USA USA USA.
The concept requires one question be answered. Is there a goal to have this script make it to film? Seriously, is that your goal? It's remotely possible as a quirky low budget production. But this isn't low budget after the car chase and car crashing stuff through the streets of LA and the LA River.
I'm really almost speechless on what I think or having any other criticisms. One criticism is that your antagonist(s) is mostly missing through the first half of the script.
Here are my normal notes from a read. Best of luck.
Page 1: “New York street. The street is bustling” would be better as “A New York street bustles”. Kind of makes me ask myself right away how many “ing” usings I’ll be seeing in the reading of the reviewing of your screenwriting.
Page 1: I’m ignoring all the camera direction, since your profile says something about having a production credit.
Page 1: “I had to front the whole purchase” would be better as “I fronted the whole nut”
Page 1: George Clooney would work with Dwayne Johnson? Not sure I’m smelling what you’ve got cooking on that one.
Page 1: What the hell is the deal with adding DAY or NIGHT along with CONTINUOUS on sluglines? You’re using CONT. and really I can keep up without it.
Page 1: You have MISO in dialogue three times in a row with nothing else. I’ve never seen that done before. Is it new, something that I haven’t managed to learn yet?
Page 3: I heard or read somewhere that there is always a better word than “good” in dialogue. I’d say almost always, and you have a couple of examples of why. “For every good thing” and “You are that good” are both examples that could be better with something other than “good”. Maybe something like “wonderful”.
Page 3: DUNCAN HINES like in the cake mixes? I’m a huge fan of cake. Especially Oreo cakesters. If you ever make this into a movie, you’ll owe me at least a year’s supply.
Page 5: Again, there’s a better word than good in “One good scene?” I can just taste that year’s supply of Oreo Cakesters (the vanilla ones).
Page 6: “than the cost of a good boob job” might be better as “than a weekend with a hot Russian call girl”
Page 7: Uh oh. Too much talking about movies. Next thing one of the guys will be a writer and then my dreams of vanilla Oreo Cakesters must end.
Page 7: Not sure if it’s politically correct to say retard anymore. Some douche from high school reported me to Facebook for joining a group called “Sarah Palin is a fucking retard”. Hopefully he’ll have a problem with it in August at our reunion, cuz it would be a great opportunity to beat him down.
Page 7: Maybe Down Syndrome should be renamed Up Syndrome.
Page 7: “Free food?” might be better as “Free vittles?” or maybe “Free grub?”.
Page 8: If Oliver cuts her off “somethi...” should be “somethi—“
Page 9: Right when it’s time to mention Burt Reynolds & Sally Field jumping a TransAm in Smokey & The Bandit, you let me down.
Page 9: You don’t have to have LATER. Just have Jeff look at his watch and move on with ending the class. Much smoother. Almost like the smoothy goodness of vanilla Oreo Cakesters.
Page 9: “I don’t have any idea” would be better as “I don’t have a clue”
Page 10: Oliver would not say “Remember that delivery scene”. Of course, she remembers it. “That delivery scene” might work better.
Page 11: WTF is the deal with using two dashes (--) all over the place in a script? This is the second time that’s happened in two days. Here is a handy rule for those double dashes: “The clearest way to communicate to the Hollywood Reader that characters step on each other’s lines is with a double hyphen (--).”
Page 14: They would have to film the animal death matches in Mexico. Do they have PETA in Mexico?
Page 18: Either I’m slacking or getting tired of making notes on dialogue. Actually it’s been hunky dory for a few pages.
Page 19: “almost shot a bird” might be better as “popped a cap in parrot’s ass”
Page 21: “an envelop” should be “an envelope”
Page 24: “checkout clerk” should be “checkout CLERK”
Page 26: “not like fast food place” should be “not like a fast food place”
Page 26: You never introduce TERRY. I’ve always learnt that all speaking characters get introduced.
Page 31: “his lap top” should be “his laptop”
Page 35: Probably more than 90% of movie audiences will have zero recognition of Joseph Campbell. Why include references like this? It distracts from the story you’re trying to tell and definitely doesn’t add to it. The last thing I want to see is anything that involves screenwriters or writers. It’s a boring subject to 99.99% of the population.
Page 36: A friend of mine and I used to bet each other that we’d do disgusting things if something wasn’t done correctly. I had a to ride a bicycle fifty miles and average more than 21 mph. Not an easy task in Chicago. If I lost, I had to go to a Starbucks and talk to at least three yuppies about the TV show Friends. I did the 50 miles at 21.7 mph. Fucking stupid yuppies.
Page 36: I don’t believe that you have the right word with “extricated”. That word means something like being free from. My dictionary says “set or get free from an entanglement or difficulty.”
Page 39: The last ten pages have been pretty much nothing but people talking. How much has happened? And there was fancy coffee...yay.
Page 51: I have no idea what “sides in hand” means.
Page 53: Having Natalie and Eddie go through all the lines is a bit boring. They could have gotten a couple other girls to pretend to audition too.
Page 55: There is nothing happening that relates to the central concept of the screenplay. Seriously, I could not care less about pretending to make a movie. It’s like you’re trying to tell two different stories. Maybe somehow you’ll entwine the two stories.
Page 63: “body guards” is one word: bodyguards
Page 69: “rear view” is one word: rearview
Page 71: Obviously you’re not thinking low budget after the car chase through LA.
Page 73: I am very confused.
Page 73: The word “dude” is becoming irritating. I prefer Dudemeister or McSparky.
Page 77: Someone (no, I don’t care who) bought a kangaroo? Um, okay. Yep.
Page 81: “took me out game” should be “took me out of my game”.
Page 86: “to go Michael” should be “to go to Michael”
Page 86: It’s SAME on the EXT? I like SAME when I’m outside, because it’s awfully familiarational.
Page 93: We’re in the 3rd Act and get to see people talk?
Page 94: Michelle read a scene? Umm.
Page 103: Did the bear open the door to get into the convenience store? Seriously, enquiring minds want to be knowing.
Page 103: “in front the others” should be “in front of the others”
Page 105: I’d have had Natalie hang out the window and yell at Cujo for trying to deroad the car.
Page 110: “just a one of a worldwide” should be “just one of a worldwide”
Page 113: What is “in a body cast surrounding by cops”? Is that supposed to be “surrounded by cops”? read
by tommyroz on 03/10/2010The best screenplay I have read since I've been on the street. Of course, I've only read six screenplays, but this was by far the most polished and entertaining of the bunch. The opening was FUNNY, but more than that, warns us that there is another dimesion of comedy still unexplored out there. A great unexpected start. The only suggestion I can make is to have George shake... The best screenplay I have read since I've been on the street. Of course, I've only read six screenplays, but this was by far the most polished and entertaining of the bunch. The opening was FUNNY, but more than that, warns us that there is another dimesion of comedy still unexplored out there. A great unexpected start. The only suggestion I can make is to have George shake his head and roll his eyes at Dwayne's primadonna rant.
One of the few nitpickings I have was the lack of description of the characters. Personally, I like a brief description of a physical attribute, or article of clothing, or nuance, something that will connect and identify the character to me for the rest of the story. I am betting that the writer of "The Hangover" described his main characters as the handsome guy, the geeky guy, and the short dumpy guy in his script. Not much, just give me something to latch on to jump start my own imagination. Your 4 main male characters had the same kind of LA vibe about them and it took me another twenty or thirty pages to sort out one from the other. It didn't ruin it for me but it was a minor distraction that was easily overcome by the good dialogue and plot.
I thought the "Departed Documentary" line was FUNNY but fear it might be too "inside" of a joke to get the big laugh from mainstreamers.
On page 9 during the improv scene, you might want to consider Oliver saying "I just pictured making it with you in my head, I mean, making it over the cliff...with you...in my head." That cuts right to the chase and probably gets you an extra laugh.
The Barbecue scene from page 11-15 was a little long. I realize it sets up a lot of plot, but spending five or six minutes with talking heads no matter how great the dialogue is a momentum buster, especially during the first 20 minutes. Two to three minutes would make it pace better with the rest of your scenes.
Some of your punchlines were LOL funny. On pg. 19, "...or a husband, or a cousin" line was one of my favorites. So was pg. 25 with the "condescending a-hole process." On pg. 69, the long car chase was well described. I'm sure you guys are younger than me, but somewhere during that long chase scene I would have been tempted to pay tribute to a Butch and Sundance line with "who are these guys, Butch," in terms of the relentlessness of Oliver's and Duncan's pursuers. Or not. I don't think Butch or Sundance ever made it as far west as LA. For that matter, Newman and Redford didn't spend that much time there either.
I guess I could say that this might be considered the first thinking man's whacky comedy, which again, goes right back to the begining of your story and how you set it up. The premises and dictating situations allowed me to think that this could actually happen. However, my reality ratio meter stopped thinking in those terms when 2 incredible coincidences happened in back to back scenes. On pg. 83, when Oliver realized he was Eddie's delivery man, and on pg. 87 when it was revealed that Cujo was Natalie's boyfriend made the story seemed contrived from that moment on. It connected the dots, but it also destroyed my faith in the plot. At that point, I had to lower the reality meter down a notch and set it at another level. Perhaps if the revelations weren't so close together, I might have accepted the coincidences better. Or maybe if just one had happened. But the fact that this is a comedy made the plot problems (or solutions)easiar to forgive, especially since it seemed to be slowly evolving into full-fledged whackiness anyway. Either way, the momentum of the ending made it easiar to forget.
On pg. 98, I know I might be showing my age again, but when Oliver gives the speech of justifying the possibility that he may be killed, I might make his justifications break down into a full-fledged bi-polar(bear)stammer and rant that ends with a flourish of "My Way" lyrics.I mean afterall, Oliver already said the words "I lived a full life - no regrets" which are essentially "My Way" lyrics anyway. Throw in a little Sid Viscious flair, and Duncan's response of "You're insane," takes on new meaning and probably adds a couple more laughs.
On page 98, the Kinko's employee dude was FUNNY. I wanted to see more than just a page on this guy. Maybe the lead character in your next script. At the very least, allow him to show up in the grande finale.
As for the grande finale, I enjoyed the chaos, but the description of the chaos seemed too chaotic for a reader to digest. I realize there was much more going on than your earliar description of the long car chase (which was written very well), and it probably will work when it is translated to film, but it was a hard read for me. As a result, it did not peak my interest like it should have. I know you have a vision as to how it gets shot, but I'd wait until it gets optioned before you go into that much detail. I'd say make it as exciting as possible and cross that detail bridge when you come to it.
Not that there is anything wrong with your ending, but an alternate ending that sticks in my head is have Cujo write a book about the BUST and then have Cujo sub out Oliver and Duncan to write the screenplay treatment of his book. Oliver doen't get the girl in the end, but he gets something far more important - a screenplay credit. Just a thought. I'm just writing out loud here.
I see this screenplay more in the 100 page range. Trigger Street is the ultimate editor. Lose a few pages and come up with an epiphany or two for those back to back coincidences, and you got yourselves a Great American Screenplay. Good luck. I'll make it a point to read more of your work. read
by signman on 03/10/2010I have to be honest with you. This review is going to sound harsh. I didn't like much in this script. It was frequently nonsensical, poorly structured, and way too chatty. On a positive note, I did like Duncan (though his dialogue needs trimming) and his relationship with the equally likable Michelle. They should be the core love interests against the rest of the mayhem around... I have to be honest with you. This review is going to sound harsh. I didn't like much in this script. It was frequently nonsensical, poorly structured, and way too chatty.
On a positive note, I did like Duncan (though his dialogue needs trimming) and his relationship with the equally likable Michelle. They should be the core love interests against the rest of the mayhem around them. The animal fighting was a fun (if way un-PC) idea, though you would have to have some negative outcome to Eddie for pursuing this all. (beside the general mayhem) I think the Kangaroo against Evan fight was the highlight and more acceptable version of this. You just won't get anyone in the US to finance or distribute a movie that has such inhumane animal treatment with no repercussions. In effect, Eddie might be viewed as more of a villain than Miso, which could be a huge problem.
On the negative side, there were quite a few little things that could be addressed, but there are some major problems here that must be corrected. First, you need to cut about 40 pages of dialogue. All the improv scenes and audition scene, definitely the opening and closing scene, and all the rambling factoid segments. The rest of the dialogue needs to be trimmed to its essential parts. An example is the Kinkos scene. Funny line where the employee says, "Please, man. I work at Kinkos. I have nothing. I just want to see something real before I die." Eddie should then reply and scene is over. The employee continuing with some monologue and repeating in different ways how lame his world is does nothing except kill the scene. Get in, get out. Don't gloss over details, but have details that move the story along.
Develop the characters. Duncan should be the protagonist (it's unclear) because Oliver is completely unlikable and doesn't learn anything or overcome his flaws and I didn't care if he got Natalie (who should be trimmed down to a side character as Michelle is much more interesting and you want her and Duncan to get together)
No Clooney or Rock or anyone. The opening on a fake movie is overdone, having unattainable stars used unnecessarily, and the list of other don't in the opening are only going to make the reader toss your script before reading page 3. Get to the story at hand. There's no tie in between the Clooney Miso and the "real" one, so it doesn't work anyway.
You put a lot of effort into doing these visual segways between unconnected scenes in the beginning, but do none of this later on. You should focus more on tying the scenes together dramatically instead anyways, but do try to avoid jarring transitions. This will probably fix itself a lot as you develop the story.
You do get some things going toward the end of the script, but a lot of this action needed to happen earlier. Also, make sure the action makes sense. Even in a broad comdedy, the action has to be grounded somewhat. The chasing SUV colliding with the police car and flipping over and over and then just zooming after the car with a missing tire being driven by a nervous guy who was uncomfortable in the car in the first place? And the L.A. geography used was not defined enough for someone who didn't know it to picture, and non-sensical to someone who actually knows L.A..
In all this action, take the time to actually picture it in your head and then describe that picture. This is both for believability and to paint the complete picture. For instance for the cage match in the warehouse, there's no detail as to how big a crowd it is (we don't even know there's one until the bear escapes) and what kind of people are there (cigar-smoking gamblers, frat boys, NRA activists). The potential of the bear chasing one of the leads is also dropped. No on cares where the bear goes afterward and all the tension that could be mined from this scene evaporates.
I would really suggest forgetting dialogue for now and looking at your plot. Use the 3-act structure or something else as a guideline, but you have to have bigger setups and better payoffs, as well as a constant build through to the end. Read "the Hangover" and take a look at that scripts structure. Your movie is different, but that might help guide you as you work on realizing your full story. read
by **DELETED ACCOUNT** on 03/09/2010You have confused me right off the bat. Are you trying to cast this movie in the screenplay? What makes you think George Clooney would want to be in this movie? Obviously the Rock will be in anything (see: The Tooth Fairy) so I'm not really going to dispute that one. There are some odd spacing issues throughout, not really sure what's going on there. Why does he call The... You have confused me right off the bat. Are you trying to cast this movie in the screenplay? What makes you think George Clooney would want to be in this movie? Obviously the Rock will be in anything (see: The Tooth Fairy) so I'm not really going to dispute that one.
There are some odd spacing issues throughout, not really sure what's going on there.
Why does he call The Departed a documentary. I get it's supposed to be funny but you should elaborate on that one more if it's gonna be a joke.
A retard sandwhich? I think that is a joke I would have tried to use in 3rd or 4th grade.
The dialogue scenes are always way too long and pointless. There are some funny parts but they just drag on. The kangaroo/polar bear thing could be over in 1 page instead of 3.
This first act is just meandering attempt at bro-humor that has been overplayed hundreds of times.
I do like Oliver yelling at the TV while cops is on. I do that all the time, the perps are always so stupid.
The scenes are amusing, but there's nothing laugh-out-loud funny. Nothing memorable. To really execute a comedy well you need a mix of whacky situations and gut-busting punches, not just one or the other. Keep working on this one, it could be really cool, you have some interesting characters, but you need to rachet up the laughs.
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