Just wanted to say hi to the people coming over from Scott Myers’ blog, “Go Into The Story“. Scott loves writers who read and you’ll find no better blog for script-reading than Scriptshadow. I welcome you guys and hope you stick around. Scott and I plan to do some cool things in the future so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out today’s review of Diablo Cody’s latest: Jennifer’s Body.

Genre: Teen Horror
Synopsis: A high school cheerleader becomes a flesh-eating spawn of the devil.
About: This is the much talked about follow-up to Diablo Cody’s Oscar winning screenplay, Juno. Megan Fox to star. Coming out in September of this year.
Writer: Diablo Cody

Diablo’s Body

There’s a real temptation here to tear this to pieces. There’s a temptation to lol at the sound bytes of dialogue that are way too cute to be uttered by any human being, regardless of age. There’s a temptation to call Diablo Cody’s career a sham, based on her decision to to do what every other wanna-be celebrity does to get famous: take off their clothes. But one thing is very clear: Diablo Cody is making millions of dollars writing screenplays. I am not. Well, not yet anyway. The point is, she’s clearly doing something right. For that reason, I’m going to pretend that I never saw the first 30 minutes of Juno, that I never heard the phrases “You’re preggo with my eggo” or “Oh my blog”, and I’m going to do what nobody in this world has been able to do since Juno was released. I’m going to judge Diablo Cody’s screenplay objectively.

See here’s something I’ve got to give Diablo credit for. Cause when I first heard this was going to be her follow-up to Juno I thought, “You’re stupid.” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how genius it was. Horror gets bad reviews no matter what. Doesn’t matter if Sucksy McSuckums writes it or Quentin Tarantino. Critics bash horror. So by writing a horror film, you effectively exonerate yourself from criticism. Cause when the bad reviews come in you can simply throw up your arms and say, “What I am supposed to do?? Critics hate horror.” And thus Diablo Cody doesn’t have the pressure of following up an Oscar effort. Although I don’t particularly like Diablo’s writing style, I admit she’s one smart chicky.

Enough of this shit. Let’s talk about Jennifer’s body. Now as some of you may know by now, Jennifer is being played by super-douche Donna’s boyfriend from the old 90210’s current ex-girlfriend Megan Fox. Jennifer is your typical perfect high school cheerleader princess. She’s got the body, she’s got the face, and she’s got the attitude. So it’s a little confusing why her best friend is Needy, the artsy girl who works at the school paper (no not “needy”, but her actual name is Needy, for real). A little bit of a stretch there but since it’s early on in the script, you go with it.

Jennifer’s clearly in control of the relationship. It’s Thora Birch – Mena Suarvi Bff-ship in American Beauty territory. So when Jennifer informs a busy Needy that she has to come with her to see this new totally blog-like Emo band, Needy reluctantly agrees. Well not even 2 minutes into their first set, the club catches fire and nearly everybody dies. Except for Needy, Jennifer and the band (clearly inspired by the Great White fire that killed all those people in the Rhode Island club a few years back).

The emo band invites Jennifer along for an after-party to which, despite dozens of people just dying, she accepts. And after that night, Jennifer is never the same. Mainly because she’s possessed by the devil and needs to feed on able-bodied male teenagers to get through the day.

This is going to surprise some of you but I didn’t think Jennifer’s Body was that bad. It was silly but Diablo isn’t aiming for greatness here. I would say that there were a few times that the Jennifer character seemed to enjoy the act of dismembering boys a little too much – to the point where I’d be a teensy bit scared to meet Cody in an alley – but it was still funny.

There are Diablo-isms that will definitely test the patience of non-fans. For example, instead of a character saying “You’re jealous” they’ll say “You’re jello.” And if you say you’re not jello they’ll counter with, “Yes you are! You’re key lime green jello!” Personally I plan on never using the word jello again because of this and I would recommend to the people at Webster’s Dictionary that they remove the word “jello” so that Diablo can never use it again either. But what are you gonna do? It started with a chair.

Another curiosity I found was that whenever Jennifer killed someone, Needy became Obi-Wan Kenobi. She would have to sit down and take a moment to process a “terrible feeling.” I mean I know these two are besties but does that mean they also have The Force?

Hey look, I admit it, I thought the first 30 minutes of Juno were shit. But I look forward to Cody’s EW column every week. And as many of you have pointed out, exposure for any writer is a good thing. I sorta kinda didn’t mind Jennifer’s Body. It was somewhat not-unlikeable.

[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned from Jennifer’s Body: So towards the end of the movie, the story becomes about Jennifer seducing Needy’s boyfriend, Chip, who she obviously wants to kill. Needy starts to sense this, of course, and must delicately persuade Chip to avoid Jennifer, all the while not being able to tell him that she’s a flesh eating satan-beast. It works but not nearly as well as it could have. Why? Because Needy didn’t love Chip. She *says* she does late in the script. But everything Cody’s shown us up to that point suggests that Chip is a big teenage sex-hungry oaf and played him for laughs. But those laughs came at the expense of us really caring about the final outcome. If we knew that Chip and Needy were desperately in love Romeo and Juliet style, do you know how powerful that final act could’ve been? How terrified we would be of Jennifer stealing away and killing Needy’s soul mate? That would’ve made for great drama. As of now, it still works, but just barely. We don’t really care if Chip is killed. Are a few laughs during the screenplay worth that? That’s up to you to decide.

It happened. I don’t know how it happened but it happened. Everybody brace yourselves. There’s no easy way to say this…………………

I joined Twitter.

I have been avoiding this for about four years now. I am a techy guy. I love technology. I once took apart my entire laptop and put it back together without instructions. I was one of the first people to say “You gotta check out this new video on Youtube.” I joined Myspace, left Myspace, joined Facebook, enjoyed Facebook. But this Twitter thing. I didn’t get it. It’s like a mini version of Facebook. My friend said it best: “What’s next, micro-Twitter? Where they only allow you to use one word?” It’s funny but is it really that far away?

Alas, everybody loves Twitter and I’m not going to be left behind. In a week I’ll probably love it. I probably won’t be able to do anything but tweet. Right now though? All I can think is “Someone’s going to buy this program for 500 million dollars” ??? Baffling.

For you Twitterers, you can follow Scriptshadow updates here: @Scriptshadow. I think that’s how you say it, right? Somebody help.

Tomorrow (Thursday) I’ll be reviewing Diablo Cody’s second script, Jennifer’s Body, so all you Diablo lovers/haters get here early and throw down some comment gauntelets as I expect Fox Atomic to cause a stink and possibly force the review off the internets. I will try and stand strong though because there’s nothing I love more than a little Diablo discussion.

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Synopsis: A suburban couple give each other permission to sleep with someone else.
About: Karen McCullah Lutz is the writer of Legally Blonde and Bride Wars. Permission was sold to CBS Films.
Writer: Karen McCullah Lutz

It’s an interesting and intriguing idea for a movie. There was the famous (or infamous) Robert Redford/Woody Harrelson film “Indecent Proposal” where Redford pays Harrelson a million dollars to sleep with his wife (a pre-surgery pre-Ashton pre-twittering Demi Moore). There was the Curb Your Enthusiasm season where Cheryl (definition of Milf) Hines agrees to let Larry David sleep with someone before their 20th anniversary. And then there’s “the list” that we all make with our girlfriends/boyfriends. You know, the “5 Celebrities That I’ll Let You Sleep With” list? By the way, I know someone wrote a script based on this idea. If anyone has it, send it my way.

Anyway, I know those lists are a joke but I always wonder, what if the chance really arose? Would she go through with it? I’d like to think no because…well, you know, I’m ME! But I’m not sure any girl could pass up a night with their dream man. That’s what makes a premise like Permission so intriguing. A married couple gives each other permission to sleep with another person. Do they go through with it? Do they do what’s right or do they do what’s right now?

Unfortunately, the majority of Permission takes the easy way out. The Sandra Bullock “you know everything’s going to be okay in the end” route. It actually uses a nearly identical structure to Indecent Proposal in that we see the two agree to the infidelity, struggle going through with it, then battle with the consequences.

The biggest mistake Permission makes is in its lead characters, the happily married Diana and James. They’re two very generic people right from the start and by the time we see any depth in them, we’re 20 minutes from the end of the movie. See Diane is upset when she finds out that her friends have slept with dozens of men. She, on the other hand, has never had that crazy drunken one-night sexcapade. So she gets this idea that her and her husband should allow each other to sleep with other people (naturally. I mean, it makes sense to me).

At first James is angry. He loves his wife. He doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with their marriage. And he’s not sure how to take it. Luckily biology does the work for him. James gets permission to sleep with someone other than his wife?? Can I hear a hellz yeah?? So they fly off – him to Aspen, her to the Carribean – and engage in many late night escapades trying to bag their respective one-nighters. It’s average, predictable, and not very funny storytelling.

UNTIL…. the only surprise in the script. She ends up sleeping with someone. He doesn’t. I was positive they were both going to sleep with someone or only he would. So this is the only time the script held any interest for me. When James gets home and realizes what’s happened, he flips out, and the final act is about Diane trying to get him back. It’s a fresh take in that sense, but in the cozy fields of Romantic Comedy Land, we know everything is going to be okay in the end. And of course it is. See in reality, if you and your wife are giving each other permission to sleep with other people, you got some seriously fucked up shit going on in your marriage. That story would’ve been interesting to explore.

Permission should’ve given itself permission to be more edgy. It’s a strong concept with tons of potential, but the vanilla choices kept it from being memorable.

[ ] trash
[x] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned from Permission: One thing Permission does well is keep the action lines to a minimum. Lutz knows she’s got a talky script on her hands so she doesn’t clog it up with needless action description. Too many writers take time describing mundane things that don’t matter. All that does is slow down the script. Only describe what absolutely needs to be described. Keep your script lean and mean and the reader will never cheat on you. Unless you give him permission of course. ;)