Genre: Buddy Cop
Premise: Two veteran LAPD detectives attempt to track down a stolen, mint-condition, 1952 baseball card.
About: Kevin Smith became interested in directing this which makes it – I believe – his first directing gig on a film he didn’t write. Once Smith hopped onboard, Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis signed on. Yes, you heard that right. Tracy Morgan.
Writers: Robb and Mark Cullen
10 years ago they were cloning sheep. Now they’re cloning buddy cop movies.
The generic buddy cop movie has a very simple structure. Give two cops something to do for 90 minutes and while they’re doing it, have them make fun of each other. Ideally you’d like a story or something new in there but if you don’t care about such pithy things, A Couple Of Dicks is for you.
Hey, look. I understand that not every script requires an original idea. But if you’re going to use a template that’s been used before, you have to fucking nail the execution. You have to hit it out of the park. And I laughed during A Couple of Dicks. I did. I thought the stuff about Paul thinking his wife was cheating on him was funny. But that’s not the same as feeling an emotional connection to what you’re reading – which should be every writers’ goal.
So what is this about, you ask? Jimmy (Willis) and Paul (Morgan) are partners who get along but not really. They’re more interested in bickering than solving most of the crimes they go out on. In order to pay for his daughter’s wedding, Jimmy must sell his most prized possession, an extremely rare baseball card. Except while he’s selling it, the store is robbed and his card stolen. Him and Paul find the thief, a Mexican Gang Lord, who has lost something of his own, a Mercedes with a very important payload. He’ll give Jimmy and Paul their card back as long as they find his car within 24 hours. When they do find the car, they also find an extremely attractive Mexican woman in the trunk. The woman explains to them that the reason she’s in the trunk is because she witnessed the murder of a high ranking Mexican official. So there’s your story.
But as I already mentioned, you didn’t come to A Couple of Dicks for the story. You came for the lol banter between the cops. So let’s read some, shall we? Here, in one of the funnier scenes, the two are transporting a robber whose signature move is shitting in people’s houses before he robs them. Paul is calling is wife, who he’s convinced is cheating on him.
Come on, Paul. You gotta stop thinking like this. It’s making you nuts.
I know. I know.
DAVE (THE ROBBER)
Does she vacuum a lot?
Vacuum. Does she always have the vacuum out.
Paul looks at Jimmy.
Then she’s doing something. My buddy used to vacuum his bed all the time to get his bitch’s hair off the sheets and stuff before his old lady came home.
Is that what they do?
I don’t know. That’s what he did.
I’m looking for answers from a guy who shits in people’s houses.
It’s my calling card!
Shut your mouth…
I’ll be quiet.
Hey, maybe your wife suffers from that CCD thing I heard on the news.
Cock Craving Disorder. It’s when they crave the cock, any cock, every cock. She’s probably in the middle of a DP right now.
Paul looks to Jimmy not knowing what “DP means.
Paul spins aorund again to Dave.
I’ll…I’ll kill you! I will shoot you right fucking now!
OK, OK… I’m sorry. I’m just playing. I’m going to jail for chrissake.
Not another goddamn word.
Dave “locks” his lips and throws away the key. Silence, then…
Jimmy can’t resist.
Paul shoots Jimmy a “What are you doing?” look.
Orange you pissed your wife is taking it in the ass from some other guy right now?
That’s it! Pull the car over!
So yeah, it’s not a stretch to figure out why Smith connected to the material. Besides the, um, highbrow humor, if you’ve ever listened to Smith’s interviews, he’s one of the most insecure dudes on the planet and openly believes his wife is fucking around on him.
I’m going to reserve judgment on this as a film until I see a trailer because there’s always the chance that Morgan and Willis will have unbelievably awesome chemistry together. Sort of similar to what happened on Rush Hour. My fear is that it’s become acceptable to treat these buddy cop movies as templates and leave it up to the actors to elevate them. The script has to stand on its own! And for me, the damn thing kept falling over!
[ ] trash
[x] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned: Maybe I made myself out to be the third Dick here, but I want to point out that I don’t think the Cullens are bad writers. They didn’t win the originality contest this time around, but fundamentally they know what they’re doing. One thing I liked about this script is that by page 15, we know both these characters’ problems. Paul thinks his wife is cheating on him and Jimmy needs to come up with 28 grand for his daughter’s wedding. This is not to be confused with the overall goal, which is to get the baseball card back But I want to point out that I read a lot of screenplays that don’t give their main characters problems. As a result, the characters just sit there with nothing to do. Do the characters in your current screenplay all have problems? I would make sure they do.
note: The interview originally slated for today has been moved to Saturday. Wanna make sure you guys get 5 reviews this week.
Premise: Two college students who’ve experienced recent loss fall in love and heal their fractured families.
About: Landing on last year’s Black List with 6 votes, this was just recently picked up by Summit. Also Rob Pattinson of Twilight fame is attached (for context’s sake, I knew none of this while reading the script)
Writer: Will Fetters
Memoirs is a strange little script that was pushed on me by one of our readers. She kept saying “You gotta read Memoirs. You gotta read Memoirs.” I looked at the 50 or so scripts I wanted to read *before* Memoirs and said, “There’s no way this is happening.” Of course I didn’t tell her that.
Well after a long day of reading 4 scripts – yes 4 – I was about to go to sleep when I said, “You know what? I still got something in me. Why not?” (sadly, I really did say this out loud) So I grabbed Memoirs and started reading. After 10 pages, something familiar started creeping over me. I felt like I had read this script before. And it was because I *had* read this script before! I had given it a shot six months ago and absolutely hated it. I never made it past page 20.
It’s about a guy Tyler (I envisioned him as a sort of Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting type) who pretty much leads a miserable existence. He’s depressed about the world. His father doesn’t have time for him. He’s got a step-father he doesn’t get along with. He’s got an 11 year old sister with no friends. His older brother died at the World Trade Center. About the only thing he’s got going for him is his friend AIDAN, who is so over-the-top, you feel he’s written that way just to compensate for the fact that everybody else is so damn depressing. He’s still pretty funny though. Here’s their first scene together, after Tyler wakes up with some random girl…
I sold your girlfriend a toothbrush.
You sold my who? …What?
That voluptuous, delightfully oblivious little blondie you left in your bed this morning… I sold her a toothbrush. Got three bucks.
Are in order, yes. Because that sale inspired our newest business venture – “The SLUT”
Tyler stares blankly.
The ‘Single Lady’s Universal Tote’
Tyler stares blankly.
It’s the one-night-stand travel pack for women. We throw in some make-up, toiletries, cell phone charger, cab numbers. Retail it at S19.95, maybe do an informercial.
And you think women would buy this? With money?
Hey one-night-stands happen… It’s a part of life… like stubbing your toe. Sometimes you misjudge a corner and bend back your pinky toe, other times you wake up in a freshman dorm wearing a field hockey tee shirt wondering why your balls smell like cinnamon…
Tyler gives him a peculiar look.
And that’s completely hypothetical.
(quickly moving on)
Don’t underestimate the novelty gift market. Think about it…instead of giving that token slutty friend a ten-inch black dildo for her birthday, you hook her up with “The SLUT.” Everyone has a laugh and the implication that she’ll probably use it someday remains. What do you say? Are you in?
You need help.
Tyler finishes his cigarette.
OK… fine… be cynical… just remember at some point in history two people had a conversation just like this about the light bulb. One of them went on to fame and fortune and the other one probably went to work at Denny’s or something.
I’m pretty sure they didn’t have Denny’s in the 19th century.
A funny scene and yet I had no idea what to think because up until this point, there wasn’t a single laugh in the script. Did I miss something? When did this turn into Swingers? Anyway, Tyler and Aidan get into a late night scuffle with some street thugs that results in a police officer pulling a Rodney King and giving Tyler the beat down. Aidan insists he sue but another opportunity presents itself when Aidan finds out that the officer’s daughter, ALLY, attends their college. Aidan insists that fucking over the daughter is the perfect way to get back at the officer. Tyler’s reluctant at first but eventually makes his move. The two begin a relationship and start to fall for each other – the conflict of course being that sooner or later Tyler will have to meet Ally’s father and the truth will come out.
Although the relationship feels manufactured at first, it eventually finds its rhythm, and you have yourself a cute little story about two people falling for each other despite their respective fucked-up-ness. It’s not bad but what bothered me is the misstep it made before the relationship even started. One thing I don’t like is when an important decision is made by someone other than the main character. In this case, Aidan pushes Tyler to date Ally to fuck over the officer. Tyler reluctantly agrees and, of course, later falls for Ally. When the difficult decision comes on how to tell Ally that he knew her father from before, it doesn’t have nearly the punch it would’ve had had Tyler been 100% responsible for starting their relationship. This way it’s wishy-washy. The spot he’s in is kinda his fault but kinda not. You never want this. Always have your protagonist driving the story. It makes him stronger and it makes the story stronger.
Now up to this point I was thinking, “Why did she want me to read this script so bad? It’s just a basic love story.” There was nothing about the script that stood out. And then…………the ending came. I am a SUCKER for a good ending. I loved The Sixth Sense. I loved The Others. I love anything that makes me rethink the movie I just saw. For its ending alone, Memoirs gets bumped from a “worth the read” to an “impressive”. Even though I’m telling you it’s coming, you won’t figure it out. Trust me. So don’t even try. I’m not even sure it completely fits with the story. But it’s so shocking that you can’t help but……….well, run out and tell someone about it. Someone told me. Now I’m telling you. Check out Memoirs. It very well may shock you. :)
edit: Lest I mislead you, this script has nothing to do with ghosts.
[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] genius
What I learned from Memoirs: I said it right at the end of the review. The ending of this script bumped it up from something I probably never would’ve mentioned to anybody, to something I’m now reviewing on my site and would encourage you to check out. Twist endings are tricky and they’re hard to pull off. But if you have a script idea with a good one, write it, because there’s nothing quite like a reader finishing a script and going, “Holy shit.” They absolutely have to tell someone. Now! Here’s a real-world example for you. The reader who suggested this to me would not leave me alone about it. Talk about the ultimate marketing tool.
note: If you are going to discuss the ending in the comments section, please precede your post with *spoiler*. Thank you.
Genre: High School Rom-Com
Premise: A nerd and a cheerleader explore four years of high school as best friends.
About: Landed on the 2007 Black List with 7 votes, I believe this sold last year. It will be directed by controversial director and all around nutball David O. Russel (I Heart Huckabees, Three Kings).
Writers: Chad Gomez Creasy and Dara Resnik Creasy
I was really looking forward to this script. When Harry Met Sally is one of my favorite movies of all time and easily the best romantic comedy ever. So when I heard someone had written a high school version of it, I began banging my head on the wall and angrily muttering, “Why didn’t I think of that??” We’ve seen a million high school movies before, but none which take us through all four years of the experience.
Then I read the first few lines of Aaron and Sara and got really fucking worried. Aaron’s opening scene has him fucking a teddy bear. I thought, “Ohhh noooo. All this hype and another American Pie ripoff?” Fortunately the scene is an anomoly. There isn’t a single one like it in the rest of the script. What we get instead is a simple story about a great friendship that may or may not turn into something more.
We meet Aaron, your typical dorky high school Freshman (who wants to get into Yale), and Sara, your typical smokin hot high school Freshman (who wants to bang the soccer team). The two neighbors are forced to drive to school together and it’s a disaster from the get-go. Aaron is inquisitive and sweet while Sara is cold and cruel. As far as she’s concerned, Aaron is below her. She’s only weathering this ride because her mother told her to. As soon as they get to school, Aaron is just another dork in the crowd.
But as time goes by, being locked up in such a small space forces a friendship to blossom, if only to avoid the 20 minutes it takes to get to school. As they move into Sophomore year, the odd couple quickly become best friends, helping each other through the daily drama of the toughest 4 years of your life. Their best friends, BJ and Jayden, fall for each other quickly, leaving Aaron and Sarah as the 3rd and 4th wheel everywhere they go. It’s a great way to describe them because they’re never apart but they’re never together.
Sophomore year turns into Junior year and Junior year turns into Senior year. They get older, mature, chase guys, chase girls, experience the death of a friend, and hang out for endless hours in Aaron’s basement playing Grand Theft Auto.
When they do chat, most of their conversations revolve around what every high school conversation revolves around: sex. Aaron is saving himself for that perfect girl while Sara has sex with anything that walks. Although a twinge of jealousy surfaces here and there, for the most part whenever they’re involved in a relationship, the other is supportive, with Sarah going so far as to beg Aaron to have sex with his girlfriend. It’s kinda nice since in the end, they want what every pair of best friends want, for the other to be happy.
If I had to wage one complaint against Aaron and Sara, it’s that the years weren’t distinguished enough. Whereas Sophomore year felt different from Freshman year, Sophomore through Senior year pretty much felt the same. Each year of high school is different. Each title has its own distinctive identity. Remember the way the years felt in Mr. Holland’s Opus as they jumped from time period to time period? Granted they had more to work with, but I was looking for that same feel here and never quite got it. I couldn’t even tell you how to fix this but to hit the movie out of the park, it absolutely needs to be done.
But Aaron and Sara gets the relationship part right. These are two best friends who can’t figure out for the life of them that the person they love is right in front of their face.
I don’t know about you but I feel like every high school movie for the past 15 years has been exactly the same. Aaron and Sara provides the kind of twist the teen high school genre desperately needs.
[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] genius
What I learned from Aaron and Sara: Aaron and Sara has an interesting structure in that it basically has 4 acts (the 4 years of high school – duh). In addition, there’s no driving force behind the story. There’s nothing that Aaron and Sara are trying to accomplish other than to experience high school. This doesn’t exactly propel the story forward, like most agents/managers/producers would like a story to do. So why does it still work? That’s a good question and it’s something I’m not entirely sure I know the answer to. My guess is that since we know where we’re going to end up (the end of high school), it allows us to calm down and enjoy the ride. I think it works.
So someone mentioned “Scrippets” to me, which allows me to cut and paste dialogue from the scripts I’m reviewing, throw them in my reviews, and retain the formatting. I’d like to be able to do this for obvious reasons but Blogger no seem to like the “scrippet” code. According to them, I should be able to type…
Dialogue goes here.
And it should magically format it for me. I’ve tried doing this in both the “compose” portion of the post and the “edit HTML” portion. Neither works. Scrippets promised me this process would be easy. It seems anything but. Any ideas?
edit: Figured it out thanks to Aaron. Thanks Aaron!
Premise: When the greatest zookeeper in the world considers quitting because women don’t dig his job, the animals of the zoo band together to find him a mate.
About: Yes, here it is folks: The 2 million (against 3 million) dollar script.
Writers: Jay Scherick & David Ronn
So Leonardo DiCaprio is playing a part in one of the top selling scripts of 2008. Jim Carrey is playing a part in one of the top selling scripts of 2008. Will Smith is probably playing a part in one of the top selling scripts of 2008. So which star will be playing a part in THE top-selling script of 2008? Did somebody guess…a zebra? Then you’d be right! Because the top-selling script of 2008 stars talking animals!!! Woooo-hooooo!!! I mean come on, who doesn’t love talking animals?
I’m not going to lie. I found Zookeeper to be quite enjoyable. Sure it doesn’t have spaceships or guns and it’s pretty much a carbon copy of Night At The Museum (with a little Toy Story thrown in), but it’s still a blast. ANDREW the zookeper can’t find any honeys in his line of work. He’s a lonely man whose only happiness comes from taking care of his beloved animals. But Andrew doesn’t want to be alone forever, and since the job keeps the women away, he decides to make a change in his life. Yes, he decides to quit the job he loves. When the animals hear this (animals which up to this point we thought were normal animals) they wait for everyone to leave the zoo and then someone screams, “Meeeeeting!” Minutes later they’re all convening in the courtyard. Yes, the animals can talk. And they need to find a way to keep Andrew here.
Since the beginning of time there’s been a code. And that code states that animals can’t talk to humans. When the beautiful new panda caretaker, KATE, moves in, the animals see a chance to get the two together and keep Andrew around. The problem is that Andrew has absolutely no game. Actually, he’s got negative game. Andrew’s not even sure where the game’s being played. So the animals have to do the unthinkable. They have to BREAK THE CODE and teach him “the game”. What follows is a hilarious scene where Andrew sits in front of every animal in the zoo as they explain to him how to get Kate. The writers do such a good job setting up Andrew and this world, it truly feels like someone who’s loved animals his whole life just realized they can talk. It’s like…what the fuck is going on right now???
Scherick and Ronn really know how to write a screenplay. Even if you’re not a fan of Zookeeper (and essentially what we’re talking about here is a family film – so it’s understandable if you’re not) you gotta give these guys props for how they write. They keep everything simple and to the point. There’s a lot of white space. No unnecessary action description or scenes. It’s the prototypical spec script.
They’re also masters of structure. Keeping all the characters motivated, keeping the storyline fresh, interesting, and moving, introducing twists and turns at just the right spots. And through it all, making it all seem believable – not an easy feat for a movie with talking animals.
This isn’t a movie I would rush out to see on opening day but if they nail Andrew’s casting, I’d rent it on DVD. Zookeeper is a solid screenplay. And its mix of ingredients will almost surely result in a huge box office meal. For that reason, the large price tag is justified.
[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] genius
What I learned from Zookeeper: This may seem obvious because we’ve all seen it before, but I was surprised by how effective it was in this particular story. The president of the zoo, the handsome but despicable TRENT, is also courting Kate. In a number of situations, Andrew comes to the rescue, saving the day, but because Kate was looking in the other direction or not around, it’s assumed that Trent – not Andrew – was the hero. I found myself actually screaming at the screen, “No! It wasn’t him, it was Andrew!” What more can you ask for as a writer? Have your villain steal the credit from your hero whenever possible. It’s a great way to make us love our hero more and hate our villain more, all at the same time.