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
[x] impressive
[ ] 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!

Genre: Comedy
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

Welcome to our final script in our Top 6 Sellers Of 2008 week (and a day). This is the big cheese, the top seller, the raison d’etre. Enjoy…. :)

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
[x] impressive
[ ] 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.

The Outsider is here. A mysterious script reader who’s harder to find than the island on Lost. People believe I’m tough on scripts. Well, they’ve never met The Outsider. This is how he/she describes him/herself: THE OUTSIDER devours scripts like a newborn sucks on a tit, which is to say, virtually non-stop. She/he/it is a screenwriter’s worst nightmare, because he/it/she has no axe to grind and nobody to impress. If you don’t like the opinions expressed by The Outsider, well, it really doesn’t give a shit. There’s something to be said for honesty, so don’t kill the messenger, kill the script!

The good news is, if you can impress The Outsider, you can pretty much guarantee your script is awesome. Without further ado, let’s get to his/her take on Odysseus, the script I reviewed on Saturday and liked quite a bit…

Oh Odysseus, Wherefore Art Thou?

Ah, there’s nothing like an epic that gets my blood boiling. Big battles on land and sea. Big stories. Big CGI effects. Big love story.

Big. Big. Big.

The only b you’ll find in this screenplay is BAD. Carson, what the fuck is wrong with you? This script is a poor man’s pastiche of Braveheart, Gladiator and The Patriot. No wonder Homer came back from the dead and demanded to have his name deleted from this pile of camel dung.

Okay, it’s not that bad. It’s putrid. It’s 300 Lite and at 89 pages, it’s a “contained epic” which can be shot on the cheap.

The main problem is that the story begins in the wrong place. We don’t get to Odysseus/Ulysses until page 13, and even then the “epic” action one expects doesn’t get going until well past page 40. Did I tell you it’s 89 pages?

The main plot is that Odysseus returns to his island and his kingdom after 20 years and is about as welcome as a case of the clap. His Queen is in chains, his son is under the thumb of the evil Antoninus (think Commodus from Gladiator except with charred face), and his people live in misery. Everyone blames Odysseus for going on this stupid journey, but when he was on the throne, everyone was happy. Instead of rebelling against Antoninus, the good folk of Ithaca would rather just stand around and bitch and moan about their crummy King.

There is nothing epic about this epic. Battles are described in shorthand: it was a “terrific” fight. Odysseus is a one man killing machine and is always bathed in blood, his enemies hacked to “pieces” like he’s a butcher down at Winn-Dixie. Even one of the most pivotal event in the script, the “massacre of the innocents”, is quickly dispatched. And I don’t know which version you read, Carson, but in the one I read, Odysseus doesn’t do a damn thing to stop the slaughter. In fact, when his townspeople beg for his help, he runs away.

The dialog is like a bag of Cheese Doodles. When Odysseus (I say Russell Crowe) stares at Telemachus and proudly says “what a son” I almost lost my Chicken Stir Fry. And how the hell could anyone know about Russell milking the dragon with Calypso if his fate was unknown?

Yeah, it’s a great Hollywood read. It hits all the plot points and beats, but it’s devoid of any soul. It’s Homer’s Iliad for Dummies.

There is an epic story to be told. Sea monsters. Sirens. Mortals at the whimsy of the mercurial Gods. True love. Huge battles. I mean, HUGE BATTLES.

Carson, when you get that script, ship it over.

Hello everyone. Lots to talk about for this upcoming week so what I’m going to do is get a little anal and make a list!

1) LOGLINE CONTEST – An idea I wanna throw out there is a monthly (or bi-monthly?) logline contest. Where you guys would send in your loglines and I would pick the top 5 and publish them at the end of the month. I know there are some industry people who read the site so who knows, maybe someone will spot your logline and request a read. I’m looking for ideas to help writers in general so let me know by e-mail or in the comments section if that’s something you’d be interested in. If not, give me other ideas!

2) INTERVIEW – This Wednesday will be Scriptshadow’s first interview. Not only will it be an interview, but it will be an interview with one of the writers from my Top 10 list. Should be exciting so tune in for that.

2.5) MEDIAFIRE SUCKS – Mediafire seems to be run by the same people who run Norton Utilities because it rarely ever works. I’m going to give them one more week (since all my files are already on there) and then I’ll look for another file-linking solution. In the meantime, keep trying. Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 attempts to work.

3) I LOVE YOU – You guys have been so generous. In the past couple of weeks you’ve sent me over 75 scripts, many of them scripts that I asked for. You can probably do the math. Only 5 reviews a week. With those scripts alone it will take me 15 weeks to review them all. So just because I don’t review them right away doesn’t mean I’m not thankful. I wish I could read them all tomorrow. But these things take time.

4) ODYSSEUS – Don’t forget to check out the very first Saturday Scriptshadow review if you missed it. It’s from the new spec that sold to WB on Friday called “Odysseus”. A nice surprise for you and a nice surprise for me. Scroll down to read it.

5) SCRIPTS I’M LOOKING FOR – As always, keep checking the “Scripts I Need” list over to the right. If you have a script on there, please send it. I have a lot but I want more. MORE I SAY!

6) YOU’VE DEMANDED MORE HORROR – Many people have written in and demanded that I review more horror. Horror isn’t really my thing so I’ve recurited some outsiders to help in that department. These guys know their horror and I’m hoping they’ll be able to contribute regularly. Expect their reviews some time within the next week or two.

7) MEDIEVAL – Don’t forget to read Medieval and comment on Scott and I’s dual review this Friday. Early feedback tells me this is going to get ugly. In fact, not one person has said anything good about it, lol.

8) BLOG TO CHECK OUT – Last but not least, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a blog that I check out regularly. It’s called Nick’s Pix, and it’s just a great blog about movies in general. Tons of great reviews. He always finds cool little things to check out. I highly recommend it so go there now! Nick’s blog —— but then, like, make sure you come back at some point. :)