Genre: Sorta Romantic Comedy
Synopsis: A loveless man who believes he’s dying meets a woman that turns his life upside-down.
About: Huge spec sale back in the early 90s. 1 million dollars. Yet the movie still hasn’t been made.
Writer: Kathy McWorter
Some people would tell you that the day The Cheese Stands Alone sold is the day the spec sale died. Why would anyone pay a million dollars, the rationale went, for a script with the word “cheese” in it? I can buy cheese at the store for $2.79. It was the height of the spec sale boom, and the suits were like, we’re now shelling out a million bucks for regular old movies with people talking? There’s no real hook in The Cheese Stands Alone. And in a heartbeat, the rats in Hollywood were second-guessing themselves. Get it? Rat? Cheese?
Do you blame The Cheese Stands Alone? Or was this actually a solid script that deserved the attention it received? If so, why has it never been made into a movie? Or an even better question: Why did that dreadful Jeff Garlin movie “I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With”, which was worth about $19.99, get made before this million dollar beheamoth? The answers are in the review…
I felt it was appropriate to put myself in the right state-of-mind, so I went out and bought several types of cheese. American Cheese, Swiss Cheese, Velvetta cheese. I wanted to become one with the cheese. In all honesty, I was preparing myself for a complete disaster. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that a script with the word “cheese” in the title was any good. Brie cheese.
Never-been-in-love Vinnie (think a young mopey John Travolta) thinks he’s going to die because an x-ray taken on a routine doctor’s visit shows a large black splotch where his heart is supposed to be. He’s convinced it’s “a saw” and that he has weeks to live. The doctors try to convince him it’s a smudge, but he retorts with, “Doctors are paid to make you think everything’s fine.” So now Vinnie thinks he’s dying. He heads home where his rather eccentric New York family, mom, grandma, grandma’s boyfriend, and a 15 year old kid who’s had sex with every woman in New York, become convinced that Vinnie’s old fiance, Delia, has put a death curse on him for breaking off their engagement 3 years ago. Munster Cheese.
But their ruminations are quickly interrupted by his grandma’s surprise blind date she’s set him up with. The buxom, gorgeous, mysterious Naomi enters, and quickly grabs Vinnie for a night out. Vinnie, thinking he’s dying, spends every second of the date whining about his imminent death. Noami seems to be the complete opposite, throwing caution to the wind and living every second to its fullest. It makes for an awkward yet hilarious night out. Cheese whiz.
In the meantime, the mother storms over to the local grocery store, where Delia (the ex-fiance) works. Delia is even hotter than Naomi, and she knows it. She’s still bitter about 3 years ago so when Vinnie’s mom comes in demanding she release the curse on her son, Delia gives her a mouthful. Now even though Delia hates Vinnie’s guts, she also can’t stand the thought that he doesn’t like her. Which means she’d do anything to have him back. So she goes along with the “curse” accusation, and claims that she will not release it unless Vinnie marries her. Cheddar cheese.
That’s the basic set-up for the film. And you know what? It’s fucking hilarious. This is the perfect example of a script I was supposed to hate but couldn’t. A perfect example that if you craft a good story, it doesn’t matter what genre it’s in, it’s going to entertain. The Cheese Stands Alone stands alone because it’s about the characters. And McWorter is so good at creating intriguing memorable characters with wonderful dialogue, that it’s one of those rare occasions where you never have to go back and double-check who someone is. As soon as they speak you immediately know them.
If there’s one movie I couldn’t stand, it was My Big Fat Greek Wedding – for numerous reasons that I don’t feel like getting into. But if you were going to compare “Cheese” to any film, that would probably be the one. Yet this movie succeeds in every area that that movie failed. Every page is bursting with charm. It’s got more heart than all the films of 2008 put together. It’s completely authentic. Which leaves me scratching my head as to why it hasn’t been made. You could make this thing for 30 million bucks and it would gross 100 mil without breaking a sweat. If I became a studio head tomorrow, this is the first movie I’d add to my slate. I’m not kidding!
sorta related article of the day: The Golden Years.
[ ] trash
[ ] barely readable
[ ] worth the read
[ ] genius
What I learned: A good mystery can take a very simple story and completely transfix the audience. In the story, after Vinnie leaves with Naomi (the girl Vinnie’s grandma set him up with through a friend of a friend of a friend), the grandma makes a call only to find out that the real date was sick and couldn’t make it. Which begs the question: Who the hell is Naomi? This is a choice the writer makes. She didn’t have to do this. The movie still would’ve been interesting if Naomi *had* been the girl the grandma set him up with. But since she isn’t, in addition to wondering how the date will go, we are now ravenously wondering who the hell Naomi is. And how the hell did she know to show up in place of this other girl? Sure, this isn’t a thriller. It isn’t a conspiracy film. It’s a film about a man who hasn’t found love. Yet adding this distinct and interesting mystery adds a whole new layer. Simple but extremely effective.
This week expect a spec sale classic to make its way onto Scriptshadow. Also, another script creeps into my top 25. This one has been blowing people away around town in addition to being compared to a certain Oscar Winner (which will remain nameless). It’s tightly guarded enough that I may not even be able to a post a script link. :( Then we have a mega-budgeted science-fiction flick that’s one of the worst action scripts I’ve ever read. No surprise then that it’s being made into a film. Also, since it’s the end of March, I’ll be posting my “Script of The Month”. If you’ve been following along, you probably already know what it is. Other than that, we’ll see what pops up. Once again, if you have any requests, leave them in the comments section or e-mail me. Enjoy your weekend!
So every once in awhile I’m going to post what I call a “4-Pack”. What happens is that sometimes I’ll start a script and I can’t finish it. Maybe it’s terrible, maybe I can’t get into it, maybe I’m not in the mood for that particular genre. Whatever the reason, I can’t go on, and the script isn’t compelling enough for me to try again later. This doesn’t mean that the script is bad, it just means that at that particular time it just wasn’t happening for me. I’m posting these because you guys might feel differently. So if it sounds like something that might interest you, download it and decide for yourself.
I think people are going to be surprised by this one because by all accounts, everyone’s really liked it. It’s about a gypsy, a zulu, a shaolin monk, a viking, a samurai, an arab and a knight, having to break out of prison back in the medieval times. It sold for 800k against 1.6m. Ouch. I just thought the set-up was kinda obvious, and the flashbacks to why characters was in prison were all very predictable and, quite frankly, boring. Cool concept though. Lots of people dig this so if you’re even mildly curious, I’d check it out.
script link: Medieval
Very hard for me to get into anything with fairies and dragons and gnorfs and so I got all of 2/3 of a page into this one before I gave up. Haha. That might be a record! But hey, just
Genre: Police Drama/Thriller
Synopsis: (from the trades) When a disgraced young cop is assigned a routine civilian ride along, he quickly learns that his passenger is not what he seems and that he has just entered into a brutal battle with a killer who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.
About: This script is developing a lot of heat and is out to buyers. David Greathouse Productions (David Greathouse & Geoff Alexander) attached to produce.
Writer: Chris Billet
Training Day was one of those movies that just came out of nowhere and knocked you in the face. Right from the get-go it established a tone and an atmosphere that was unlike any cop movie I had ever seen. I think what resonated with me the most was Denzel’s character. He reminded me of one of those guys we all cross paths with at some point in our lives. The ones that’ll smile at you one second and punch you in the face the next. That’s what makes the character so terrifying. Is you don’t know when they’re going to stop laughing and start punching.
So Gideon’s Law had a tall order. Cause any time you base your movie around two people in a cop car, I’m going to compare you to Training Day. That said, Gideon’s Law is structurally quite different from that film. Where as that movie didn’t reveal its cards until late in the second act, Gideon lets you know 30 minutes in who your bad guy is.
The script is about a young cop named Shane Gideon who’s forced to do a “ride-along” with a local author, RICHARD, who’s doing research for his next book. But when Richard deftly saves Gideon’s life, we begin to suspect there’s something more going on with him. As it turns out, there is. Richard is actually holding Gideon’s girlfriend hostage at another location. He doesn’t get her back until he’s helped him retrieve a piece of evidence that could possibly incriminate him. What follows for the next 90 minutes is the ride-along from hell.
The script is frantic and a bit out of control at times, but fun. Unfortunately it violates a key Scriptshadow Law that I’ve pointed out before. If the point of your movie is to have your main character try and rescue someone, make sure we the audience know and love the person they’re trying to rescue. Cause if we don’t know or care about that person, then we have no interest in the outcome of the story. But Gideon’s Law is no Rockaway. Billet is a good writer and at least makes the choice for a reason. Instead of introducing us to Gideon’s wife in the beginning, he uses her identity as a twist later on when we realize that a random female character who was kidnapped was actually Gideon’s wife. I understand that choice but would have rather known her better.
My other problem with the script is that it needed more twists in Richard’s storyline. This script was prime real estate for twist fever yet Richard’s whole story and motivation were pretty straight forward. In future drafts, I would like to see that change.
I think Gideon’s Law is a concept with a lot of potential and if it addresses these issues it could be great. It’s not quite ready for primetime though. But you know who is ready for primetime? Our first ever Guest mini-reviewer! Biohazard’s taken a bite out of Gideon and he’s here to spit it out…
I enjoyed it. It’s not a perfect script by any means, but it’s quick, reads well, and most importantly, has a pretty good hook. It’s Collateral, but with a police ride-along instead of a taxi. Yeah, it has its faults. Some minor (I wanted to get to know the girl a bit so I’d have a reason to fear for her safety), others major (the third act is a mess). The important thing to realize is that all these problems can be fixed since there is a good concept at it’s core that bears the possibility of a strong, cinematic story. It’ll take some rewriting, but I can see this flawed script becoming a good film.
So Bio and I agree I think. With a little more creativity behind Richard’s storyline, the messy third act can be solved. I wish these guys the best. They have a great concept here.
[ ] trash
[ ] barely readable
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned: Really simple. Don’t forget to add enough twists to your story. But not only that. Make sure they’re original. If they feel like something you’ve seen in other movies before, think deeper.
Hey guys, since yesterday’s news, a bunch of you e-mailed me with a ton of scripts which means I’m basically in love with all of you. Obviously, because I can only review a script a day, I want you to know that just because I don’t review your script right away doesn’t mean I’m not grateful. One of the great things about this blog is that the more successful it gets, the more people there are who want to help. If you really really want a review of something, leave your request in the comments section. Or e-mail me. I’ll try to get it up as soon as possible.