Well, I totally went off-book last week. But you know, the great ones always do. This week, I promise to get to that recently sold comedy spec that surprised me annnnnnnd a new script breaks my top 25. Maybe even TWO scripts. I don’t know if I want to post both in the same week though because that would mean that Pictures of You and Prisoners would have to say goodbye. And since I don’t want to upset Mark Wahlberg’s people I simply can’t do that. Be prepared for me to totally disregard this outline as well. I’m so unpredictable. Have a great week!
Okay folks, just like before, here are the script summaries for the latter half of my top 25 scripts (except for the ones already reviewed on the site). Almost every single one is available to download. Just click on the link in the top 25 list. There’s some great stuff here. Hope to help you find a good read.
Genre: Dark Comedy
This was numero 2 on the 2008 Black List behind that silly Badger Puppet script, and in my opinion, a much better read! Taking place in suburbia, a man falls in love with his neighbor’s (and best friend’s) college daughter. But instead of trying to hide it, they come clean to their respective families. Usually, these movies are about sneaking around. So the twist of it being out in the open allows them to explore a whole new area of comedy.
Genre: Very Dark Comedy
I’ve actually had some arguments with people about this one. It’s about a married man whose wife is pushing him to start a family. He doesn’t want to so he…pretends to have cancer. Yes, you heard that right. Watching this character delve deeper and deeper into his lie makes this read both horrifying and fascinating. You simply cannot look away. I loved this script but understand why it might turn others off
Genre: Wild Fucked-up Action/Gangster
I read this going on the title alone and was not disappointed. This script is what would happen if Guy Ritchie had sex with Quentin Tarantino and their baby grew up on a steady diet of heroin and acid. One of the most original scripts I’ve ever read. There is a turtle-man. Yes, a half-man, half-turtle. Nuff said!
Untitled Vanessa Taylor Project
Talk about going from one extreme to the other. This is about as anti-37th Dimension as you can get. Despite the single most boring title in the history of script reading, there’s a lot to like here. It’s about a couple in their 40s on the brink of divorce who attempt to save their marriage. It is very slow. It is mostly depressing. But if you’re like me and are interested in relationships and how people who start out loving each other can grow so far apart, then this is a great script. Black List 08.
I Want To F___ Your Sister
Moving from the single worst title in the world to the single best title, is there anything that really needs to be said about I Want to F__ Your Sister? Other than that we’re all kicking ourselves for not thinking of the title first? I mean, if a script was ever going to sell on its title alone, this would be the one. A guy’s hot sister starts working with him at the stock exchange. He must fend off the 11,000 crazed horny co-workers who want to fuck her.
This is the script you want to study if you’re trying to come up with a strong smart concept. From IMDB: “A guard for an armored truck company is coerced by his veteran coworkers to steal a truck containing $10 million.” But that’s just the beginning. It’s best to go into this one knowing little. Contact me if you’re interested.
Another great concept. Four modern-day knights (and by “modern day” we mean knights who have been knighted for things like acting and bacterial analysis) find themselves called upon to save the planet from an ancient evil force. It needs a rewrite but this *is* the modern day Ghostbusters. The wax museum scene alone is worth the price of admission.
Pictures Of You
A high school kid finds a camera on the beach that belongs to the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. He decides to find her and profess his love. This one lacks some focus (it takes the entire movie for him to go after the girl), but I’m such a fan of the “found camera” premise and there are some hilarious scenes (accidentally getting stuck in his twin sister’s closet when she’s changing for example). The writer assured me he’s addressing these problems in the rewrite.
Behold……the passive hero. In screenwriting, to even mention the words “passive” and “hero” in the same sentence can get you blacklisted (and not in the good way). Development execs have been known to kill screenwriters who turn in screenplays with passive heroes. And yet here we are with Charlie, the hero of Breaking Irish, who’s about as passive as they come. Somehow, it all works. What??? Blasphemy you say!!! That’s impossible. All scripts with passive heroes suck. Yes. Usually that’s true. But not here.
First of all, I should probably explain what a passive hero is. No, actually, let me explain what an active hero is. A well-known screenwriter once said, “a great hero is one where when he turns left, the movie turns left.” In other words, he’s driving the action. He’s determining the outcome of the film. How is this achieved? It can be boiled down rather simply: Give your main character a clear goal and have him try to achieve it. By that very definition he has to be active (since he’s *trying* to achieve it).
A passive or “reactive” hero reacts to everything around him. You usually find these in big conspiracy movies. Like Eagle Eye for instance, where someone’s chasing our hero. Obviously, since he’s being chased, he has to “react”. How did I “react” when I saw that movie? I reacted by throwing my drink at the screen. See? That makes me a “reactive” hero.
How does this all relate to Breaking Irish? Well Charlie’s grown up with a gift, a gift to “see” the odds. He’s a number-cruncher with a photographic memory who can always find that one stat to sway the odds in his favor. Charlie wins at poker, he wins at horse races, he wins at blackjack, he wins on basketball games. 70% of any bet Charlie enters into, he wins. But Charlie is reluctant to use his talent for anything other than making it through the day. He’s not interested in the cars and the bling. He just wants to get by, marry his sweetheart (AVERY) and have a normal life. Ahh, but if he had a normal life, we wouldn’t have a movie now would we? Soooo… JACKIE, the local Italian mobster, discovers Charlie’s talent, and ropes him into predicting games for him. Charlie decides to take the job to pay his and Avery’s way through college. But when the money is no longer needed, getting out isn’t as easy as Charlie thought it would be (is it ever?). Jackie has the Super Bowl of meal tickets and an endless appetite. He’s not letting Charlie go anywhere.
As a result, Charlie’s only “active”goal is giving the bets to Jackie and staying out of trouble. He’s as passive as can be. Yet we still like him. Why? There are people out there who will tell you that your hero can be passive AS LONG AS at some point he becomes active. Even if it’s within the last 20 minutes of the film (and Charlie does eventually become active). But I don’t buy into this theory for this reason: You’re saying that for 90 minutes (3/4 of the movie) we can hate our lazy ass hero, then the second he comes up with a plan, we forgive him and think he’s the coolest cat on the block? Surely, if we’re still invested in the screenplay at the 90 minute mark, we had to have already liked our main character, right? My opinion is that nobody knows why passive characters work (Forrest Gump being the most famous of them all) and so they try to justify them by throwing a bunch of screenwriting mumbo-jumbo at you. I personally believe that if a character is interesting, people will want to watch him no matter what. And Charli is interesting. Breaking Irish is a very well-constructed screenplay, and a great addition to your digital library, if only to study how to create a successful passive hero.
[ ] trash
[ ] barely readable
[ ] worth the read
[ ] genius
What I learned from Breaking Irish: The passive hero *can* work, but it’s still very hard to pull off. I would recommend staying away from them if you can. But if you must, offer us someone that we like. An easy way to make people like your character is to have him be great at something. People like people who are good at things. I don’t know why. They just do. It’s probably for the same reasosn that we don’t like people who aren’t good at anything. Charlie is so awesome at betting, we can’t help but root for him.
Synopsis: Set in the 50s, a little boy and a mad scientist must battle the monsters that escape from a haunted drive-in movie theatre.
About: Making the rounds in H-wood (that’s “Hollywood” for those not hip to the lingo). Will it be bought? Will it be forgotten? Your comments could be the deciding factor. Who knows what suits are out there reading this blog, trying to decide if they should pull the trigger. Give’em your opinion folks.
Writer: Nick Creature
I’ll be honest. I don’t really know what to do with It Came From The Drive In. The script is a sort of wacky combination of a 1980s Saturday Morning Cartoon and a 50s B-movie. I say that having seen 2 50s B-movies in my life, both of which occurred during episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Which is why I definitely don’t see myself as the person to tell you whether It Came From the Drive In is any good or not.
Here’s a way more interesting question. What the hell ever happened to Drive-Ins? What a cool fucking concept. You grab a girl, drive to a theater that’s OUTSIDE, and then get it on for 2 hours in your car. I mean seriously. People were really looking out for sex-starved teenagers back then. I had to drive to the top level of a deserted parking lot to get my action back in high school. And listen to B96 belt out some corny R&B jam. What the hell’s up with that?
Anyway, what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, this wild and weird script. Hmmm, okay. I’ll sum it up for you. A 10 year old kid with an over-active imagination is obsessed with monsters and vampires and werewolves (heavily influenced by Whedon I suppose: please see Cabin In the Woods review). Soon after a new drive-in multiplex is constructed outside his hometown, strange creatures start appearing in dark places. But are they really creatures? Or are they just Opie’s (yes, his name is Opie) imagination. Opie teams up with the town scientist/outcast to find out what’s causing these monsters to appear, and form a plan to kick some monster ass and save the town.
Look, the script was energetic. It was well-written. But it’s hard to imagine anyone over the age of 10 demanding to see this movie. In fact, I kept asking myself, “Is this live-action or animated?” I still don’t know.
I fully admit this is one of those things that I probably don’t “get”. I mean, if the script to Harry Potter landed on my doorstep before anyone had heard of Harry Potter, I probably would’ve told you it was the biggest piece of garbled nonsense ever committed to paper. Since that franchise has made a couple billion dollars, I think it’s safe to say monsters and witches and werewolves and gobbledygook isn’t within my realm of understanding. You know what is within my realm though? Smurfs. I really like smurfs. Why haven’t they made a smurf movie yet? They’ve paid Hasbro 50 million dollars for the rights to Monopoly but no one cares when Gargamel is getting his close-up. I mean seriously. Where the fuck is Gargamel?
[ ] trash
[x] barely readable
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned from It Came From The Drive-In: I don’t usually do this but I’m going to talk about formatting for a second. Creature decided to bold his sluglines. It seems like a harmless choice but I’m telling you right now, it slowed me down. Not considerably. But readers don’t like to be slowed down even a little bit. It was just enough to stunt my natural reading rhythm. Wouldn’t recommend it.
Synopsis: An intern at a record company must transport the world’s craziest rock star to the Greek Theatre in time for his concert.
About: Jonah Hill playing the intern and Russel Brand playing a variation of his Forgetting Sarah Marshall character.
Writer: Nicholas Stoller (based on a character by Jason Segal)
Unofficial sequel to Forgetting Sarah Marshall? Because Jonah Hill plays the intern in this film, I don’t know how that’s possible, since he played Brand’s admirer in the aforementioned film. For that reason Get Him To The Greek exists in some weird alternate movie universe. But the only question that matters is: Was it any good?
Man, I don’t like to be the voice of dissent here but I really didn’t like this script. And I’m upset because it comes so highly recommended. I think it may come down to that age old adage: “Different strokes for different folks.” I just didn’t laugh. And in a comedy…well…that pretty much kills the experience.
Get Him To The Greek is about recent college graduate, AARON, who scores a job at one of the biggest record companies in Los Angeles. In order to prove his worth, he volunteers to transport the quintessential hard-partyin undependable rock star, ALDOUS SNOW, to the Greek Theatre.
Stoller does a pretty good job of setting up how important this is to Aaron. His fiance’s father is all over him about supporting his daughter. And since Alduous doesn’t make albums anymore, this concert alone could net the company hundreds of millions of dollars (if it spawns subsequent concerts). The problem is that Aldous hasn’t shown up to his last eight concerts. If Aaron can somehow pull this off, he’ll be given the keys to the kingdom.
12 hours later as he’s walking through security with Aldous at Heathrow, Aldous forces him to “stick this balloon up your bum.” Aaron learns very quickly that working for Aldous is going to be…”unique.”
Now with an assfull of heroin balloon, the two fly back to the U.S., but instead of going to L.A., Aldous wants to stop in New York where he has one of his many meltdowns. Next up is Vegas, where he reconnects with his “dying” father. And finally to L.A., where Aldous tries to commit suicide jumping off the Hollywood sign.
As I’m writing this, I’m kinda giggling. But I wasn’t laughing when I read it. I’m not sure why. One thing writers do that infuriates me is going for a laugh at the expense of the characters. For example , if your character is really loyal, and you get an idea for a joke but it involves having your character be a total slut, you go for the laugh instead of staying true to the character. Late in the script, after we’ve established numerous times how much Aaron’s girlfriend loves Aaron, she gives it up in a second to have sex with Aldous. I mean, yeah, it’s kinda funny. But now I fucking hate her character. Was the joke worth it?
And I’ll be honest. I’m kind of sick of these Apatow people flexing their “I don’t have to follow the rules” muscle and punching out 120+ comedy scripts. “Ooh, look at me, I’m part of the Apatowian Universe and therefore I can do whatever I want.” There’s no question 20 pages of this thing could have been trimmed. But who cares, right? “We know Apatow!”
I think both Jonah Hill and Russel Brand are hilarious and since the whole Apatow “thing” is writing a semi-bland script and then heightening it in production, I haven’t lost hope for this. But in script form, I thought it was pretty tame. Decide for yourself if Russel Brand should make it to the Greek. I have no doubt a few of you are going to love it.
[ ] trash
[x] barely readable
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned from Get Him To The Greek: As I mentioned above, you can make a joke at the expense of your character, but know that there are consequences. I fucking hated his girlfriend by the end of the movie. And the fact that he took her back made me think he was a big pussy. Is that how you want the audience to see your main character at the end of the film?