Genre: Drama
Premise: An irresponsible man attempts to raise his dead sister’s daughter, a child genius, until his mother comes to town and starts fighting for custody of the child.
About: This just landed on the 2014 Black List with 7 votes. Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man 1&2) is going back to his 500 Days of Summer roots to direct the small character piece.
Writer: Tom Flynn
Details: 121 pages (undated)

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MANMarc Webb with a big camera.

I just read a quote by Tim Burton saying that the world will soon tire of comic book movies. I used to agree but I’m not so sure anymore. The only reason comic book movies weren’t around in abundance earlier was because Hollywood didn’t have the special effects to back up the vision the films required.

Now that that’s not a problem, comic book movies are actually perfectly suited for film. They carry with them action, spectacle, wish-fullfillment, and a lot of flashy characters. I don’t see them leaving the local Cineplex anytime soon.

But I’ll tell you one person who wants to leave them behind, and that’s Marc Webb. Webb’s initiation into the world of big-budget comic book movies hasn’t been a good one. The two Spider-Man movies he’s made have been pretty bad – jumbled messes with nary a clear plot. Of course, you could say the same about the earlier incarnations of Spider-Man. But the big difference there was that Sony wasn’t competing with the juggernaut known as Marvel. Say what you will about Marvel but they take their superhero films VERY seriously, and as such, they consistently deliver a quality product. Peter Parker’s one-liners all of a sudden aren’t enough to keep an audience interested.

Webb is clearly tired of this world, so he’s going back to his indie roots. And I must say, I commend him for doing so. Rarely do directors who make it to the big leagues with those big league paychecks go backwards, especially in an industry where movies like Gifted are lucky to get 100 screen releases and featured rollouts on Itunes.

But the very notion that Webb is willing to take that chance tells me this script has something going for it. And truth be told, I love these ‘gifted children’ movies. Call it the Searching for Bobby Fischer Syndrome. Exceptional intelligence at a young age is always a burden, and so there’s conflict built right into the character. Let’s see if Flynn nails this latest attempt at the genre.

30-something Frank Adler is an irresponsible bachelor if there ever was one. Seven years ago, Frank’s sister, Diane, a brilliant but troubled mind, walked in on Frank, dropped off her baby, then killed herself. And just like that, the eternal bachelor found himself father to a child.

And an awful father he was. Not knowing the first thing about parenting, Frank treated Mary more like a roommate than a daughter. Got a boo-boo?  Go, like, find a band-aid or something.  Luckily, Mary could handle it. Just like her mother, she was extremely smart. But at 7 years old, Frank’s realized that he can no longer keep this girl locked up in his place. He has to send her off to school.

Problem is, Mary’s like 100 times smarter than all the other kids at school, combined. Actually, she’s smarter than all the teachers, combined, including Bonnie, her primary teacher, who takes an interest in Mary’s unique talents, as well as her emotionally damaged but hot father.

Just as it becomes clear that Mary needs to be placed in higher education, Evelyn, her grandmother and Frank’s mother, shows up, demanding custody of the child. On the one hand, Frank doesn’t want Evelyn anywhere near Mary. She ran his sister (Mary’s mom) into the ground, and she’d do the same to Mary.

But there’s a little voice in the back of Frank’s head saying: “Freedom.” Finally, he can go back to living life his way, instead of being responsible for a child he’s no good at taking care of anyway. At least that’s what he tells himself. When the courts get involved and decide that NEITHER brother or mother is capable of taking care of Mary, they bring in a third party, a foster couple. But this couple harbors a secret that will throw everything off its axis, and force Frank to decide what he really wants out of life.

Gifted is a good screenplay, and further proof that if you can identify the key line of conflict within a logline, you probably know how to write a screenplay. You may wonder what I mean by that. Let me explain.

Your first order of business in a logline is to convey the plot, which essentially means the hero’s main goal, or the journey he’s going on. Indiana Jones goes after the Ark of the Covenant. But that’s only half the battle. You then have to identify the key line of conflict that’s going to impede upon that goal. In other words: What the fuck is going to get in the way and hamper Indiana from getting the Ark?

To see this in action, let me give you the NON conflict-laden logline version of Gifted: “An irresponsible man attempts to raise his dead sister’s daughter, a child genius.” There’s some semblance of a plot there. BUT THERE’S NO LINE OF CONFLICT.  The idea is open-ended and therefore directionless.  There’s no story yet! “…until his mother comes to town and starts fighting for custody of the child,” is the key line of conflict that all of a sudden gives the story a reason to exist. Without that conflict, the story has nowhere to go.

Now as much as I liked Gifted, it had some issues that kept it shy of “impressive” territory. One thing that drives me nuts is when a writer skirts reality in order to move the plot forward, particularly with a major plot point. I’ll have to get into spoilers to explain this.

Late in the story, Frank loses custody of Mary to the foster parents. But come on. There’s no way this would happen in real life. Frank loves Mary. He’s a family member. She loves him. He doesn’t do drugs. He’s not an alcoholic. He provides a roof over her head.  He doesn’t neglect her in any way.  And the courts give the child to a random foster couple instead?

Come on.

The only reason this development occurs is because the writer wanted to advance the story. But audiences are savvy to this. They may not know the technical reason things feel off. But deep down they feel something isn’t right. And that something is cheating. The writer is pushing along false plot points when, in the real world, we all know this would never happen.

I think it’s one of the most disingenuous things you can do as a writer, is to falsely move your story along. It’s your job to follow an honest path. That’s not to say you can’t have the courts give Mary to a foster family. But you need to build in a legitimate REASON for it. If Frank were an alcoholic (or whatever kind of addict), for example, and was therefore truly unable to care for his daughter, I’d buy into the court giving Mary away.

And lastly, they need to do more with Frank’s character. If you’re going to write a drama, you have to recognize that the ONLY way to market the movie (since you don’t have explosions) is through an A-list actor. And A-list actors don’t sign on to play characters like Frank in his current incarnation. Frank’s a level-headed guy. He doesn’t have any huge issues. He’s a bit of a loser, but otherwise average. If an A-lister is going to be in a small movie and get paid a tiny amount of money, they want to either play a really challenging role, win an Oscar, or both.

My guess is that, as this script works its way through development, Frank will become more fucked up. He’ll become an addict in some capacity. And I don’t think that’s a bad approach. It actually makes sense because now, like I mentioned, there will be a reason for the courts to separate him from Mary.

And all this isn’t to say I didn’t like the script. I thought it was good. But these are the realities of the ways these movies are made nowadays. Big actor or go home. Making the main male character interesting/unique is the difference between getting Matt Damon or Josh Brolin. I hope they figure it out because this can not survive with Josh Brolin.

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: From now on, I want you to always include the key line of conflict in your logline.  I can dismiss half the screenplay queries I get due to the lack of a key line of conflict in the logline.  And if you can’t come up with a key line of conflict for your logline, chances are, you don’t have one for your script, which means you’ll have to rethink the story and add a key line of conflict.

  • klmn

    I read about 15 pages. You may like these gifted children movies, but I don’t. I had to stop before I went into a diabetic coma.

    Only interesting thing was the one-eyed cat. That might be hard to find. Would they buy a standard-issue, two-eyed cat and gouge one out? If they filmed that, I just might watch.

    Now for some one-eyed music…

    • carsonreeves1

      lol. I was a little shaky in the beginning of this as well. But I get the feeling this isn’t your ticket to happiness.

    • Randy Williams

      A good gifted child movie is by my idol, Jody Foster,
      “Little Man Tate”. Fred Tate is Jody’s gifted son.

      Teacher writes the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10 on the blackboard.

      TEACHER: Who can tell me how many of these numbers are divisible by two? Anybody?
      Fred!

      FRED: Hm?

      TEACHER: I know that you can tell me how many of these numbers are divisible
      by two. Note the way the teacher holds up her two fingers when she says this.

      FRED: All of them

      The look on the teacher’s face is priceless.

  • MGE3

    I feel 9 times out of 10, the conflict missing from a logline is usually what the antagonist goal is. Without that, we don’t know what the meat of the story is. A logline doesn’t have to give away everything, but the antagonist goals should directly clash with the protagonists (Conflict!).

    What does your protagonist want? What’s stopping them? What happens if they don’t get it?

    • LostAndConfused

      That’s a great point.

    • brenkilco

      The practical problem is the number of elements that can be crammed into a single sentence without rendering it hopelessly unwieldy or incoherent. Who is your protagonist? What’s his situation? What’s his goal? What’s stopping him? Who’s your antagonist? What’s his goal? Something has to give. The irony is that the more simplistic your story the easier it is to write a logline. Hate loglines.

      • http://vimeo.com/adamwparker Adam W. Parker

        True. I think it’s best to pick the strongest and earliest irony-filled conflict. If a writer’s describing what happens at the midpoint in the logline they probably need to start their whole story there.

    • Eddie Panta

      Protagonist wants: Revenge
      Stopping them is: Fear. The fear of risking everything. An inability to act
      What happens if they don’t get it: They stay safe.

      So, those questions don’t always work. Especially if the film is DEATH WISH,, when there is already a known premise, conflict, etc…

      It’s called Death Wish, he wants to die, he has nothing left to live for.
      If he doesn’t get revenge, he’ll feel incomplete, but is this a self-destructive path.

      The question what happens if they don’t get it implies that what they want is good for them.

      • kenglo

        Wait….DEATH WISH is the wish being wished upon the antagonists I thought…??? As in THEY have a death wish…. LOL

        • Eddie Panta

          Well, it could work both ways, but in the original, he doesn’t stop after the orig. antagonists is killed. He always takes the most dangerous path home so that he will come across criminals, as in he has a death wish.

          • kenglo

            Aaahhh…haven’t seen it in such a long time….good call…

  • Cjv95

    Nice article. Are you going to review Wonka? You said it really grabbed your interest on your Black List article.

    • carsonreeves1

      Well someone just told me it was awful, which dampened my enthusiasm some, but I’m still interested, yeah.

      • Nicholas J

        It’s not awful. It’s probably a [x] worth the read at minimum. It’s almost like it’s a parody of all these other biographical Blacklist scripts (LBJ, Road to Oz, The Founder, On The Basis of Sex) because it kind of does the same thing, but in a weird and off-beat way with a fictional character. The Wonka tone mixed with a period-piece love story makes it entertaining at least.

  • Matthew Garry

    A clever title with both meanings relevant to the story’s theme, that gives me confidence. Enough confidence to bump it to the top of my “to read” list (thank you jaehkim!).

    It’s unfortunate the double meaning isn’t alluded to in the logline, but I understand these aren’t composed by the writer.

  • davejc

    ” There’s no way this would happen in real life. Frank loves Mary. He’s a family member. She loves him. He doesn’t do drugs. He’s not an alcoholic. He provides a roof over her head. He doesn’t neglect her in any way. And the courts give the child to a random foster couple instead? Come on.”

    Actually there’s a dozen ways that this happens all the time in real life. There’s no need for drugs and alcohol. Family courts have bias. Custody battles always come down to “the last man standing”.

    Whoever has the best lawyer.

    But none of that will sway audiences that will reject the possibility, because people want to believe in a safety net that our legal system provides for society. The courts decision is always the best solution.

    And that’s the beauty of a custody battle as a vehicle in a story. It shows us something we don’t want to look at. Instead of giving us a fantasy a good story can give us the cold harsh reality that we don’t want to see. That’s one objective of storytelling, and I think the writer should mine the custody battle for all the drama that’s inherent in that conflict. It can be a goldmine.

    • brenkilco

      Actually, this is a little farfetched. In a custody battle between two blood relatives, one of whom had been the legal guardian for years, there is no way that foster parents could become involved unless the family or probate court made a finding that both relatives were unfit and transferred custody to the State Department of Children and Families. The standards for parental fitness are pretty low so absent an imminent danger to the child, fuhgediboutit.

    • Howie428

      You’re right that there’s drama to be had in this, and Carson’s right that as described it doesn’t make sense. It’s an easy fix though. If nothing else they can make the foster dad be her actual dad, which would make the custody loss very believable.

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    Go to Monday’s review, you’ll find a link to ALL the Blacklist scripts.

  • Bifferspice

    no typos, we hear on here all the time, and the scorn reserved for people whose logline or WYSR contains an error is often pretty vehement. yet this script has the date wrong on the title page.

    not pointing this out to mock the script or writer, just to say that the following rule matters far more than any of the others (white space, typos, page count, act breaks, etc): if the script’s good, none of the other rules matter.

  • lonestarr357

    “…this cannot survive with Josh Brolin.”

    Where did that come from?

    • Randy Williams

      As Dan White in “Milk” Brolin was devastatingly good.

      • ArabyChic

        Awe! Josh Brolin! He’s the best part of Inherent Vice. Though not the biggest box office draw, probably.

        • No Thanks, Darling

          Personal Taste: But I despise movies like Inherent Vice; and American Hustle (which I waked out of). I can’t can’t stand how phony and fake they are. The 70s were a dirty gutter of a decade with the least amount of showers in human history (exaggeration sure, but who cares?)

  • brenkilco

    Frankly, the genius angle aside, this sounds like the premise for an Adam Sandler movie. Wait a minute. This was the premise for an Adam Sandler movie.

    • James Michael

      I don’t want to be a contrarian here but i’ve got to disagree. I think is a really really average logline.
      All it really has is the protag (who we know nothing about except that he’s mysterious) and a very vague goal. There is no indication at all of where the story came from or where it is going.
      It needs more in some capacity and that would depend on the story.
      Maybe add more about the mysterious gunman. Who is he? Why is he coming through this town? What is he struggling with? Does he have a flaw because being mysterious is I think pretty boring (see Cowboys V Aliens)
      If not add more details about the town. Why this town? Does it have gold, oil, anything of value that would make bandits want attack it? Is there an event coming up that is of particular importance (urgency)
      And finally if these aren’t options then add more about the bandits. Who are they? Why are they attacking this town? What’s their goal?
      I think a logline should be between 20-30 words. Any shorter and you’re missing something, any longer and you don’t know what your story is yet.

      • brenkilco

        Hey, I’m not defending this logline. Talk to Poe. My problem with it is it completely misses what’s special about HPD, the near metaphysical revenge angle. Defending the townspeople isn’t the actual motive of the Eastwood character who may be the brother/ friend/ reincarnation of the marshal whose murder he’s avenging in bizarrely ironic fashion. Not sure how you get that into the logline but this one doesn’t try.

      • Poe_Serling

        Of course, there are many other possible loglines for HDP out there… and better than TCM one for sure.

        I just used that one as a quick example for Carson’s comment regarding ‘conflict in your logline.’

        I still think the TCM logline gets the job done. But again I’m a huge
        fan of HDP, so my take on it is based on watching the film on numerous
        occasions.

        **If by chance you haven’t seen HDP, I highly recommend it. Like brenkilco mentions below, the whole “metaphysical revenge angle” is quite entertaining as it plays out over the course of the film.

  • ximan

    “From now on, I want you to always include the key line of conflict in your logline. I can dismiss half the screenplay queries I get due to the lack of a key line of conflict in the log line.”

    *In McConaughey’s voice* Alright, alright, alright! So far I’m liking the new Carson.

    • MJ86

      Um, is this new? I thought that was how one wrote a logline (as opposed to a premise). Oh, wait, I forgot; sometimes we all like to pretend we haven’t read the screenwriting books telling us this, like, 20 years ago…

  • ripleyy

    It would have been nice if this script got a [x] Genius.

  • Somersby

    Never a good idea to include a question in the logline. The logline is your story boiled down to its most essential dramatic elements: Who (the protagonist; What (the goal); Why Stands in the Way (the antagonist – whether a person, circumstance or force.)

    The first sentence of your example works because it has the Who (Bilbo), the What (sets out to destroy the ring) and the What Stands in the Way (the rings evil force.)

    Adding the second sentence doesn’t really do anything other than offer dramatic possibilities that may or may not be part to the story. Best to leave it out.

    • brenkilco

      Agree that the second sentence adds little. But the first sentence only works if you already know the story. Suppose you don’t. What’s a halfling? What’s the ring of power. Who cares whether he inherits it from his uncle Bilbo or his aunt minnie? And what the hell is middle earth? This particular example of a good logline is actually a cheat.

      • Somersby

        Agreed. I was simply saying the first sentence holds all the elements required for a logline–and it works better without the second sentence.

        Mind you, the story is as well known as LOTR I don’t think an explanation of halfling or Ring of Power is necessary any more than having to explain the word “internet” would be if used it in a logline.

        • brenkilco

          How well known was Lord of The Rings to agency types fifteen years ago? Years back some movie magazine arranged a stunt. They ran up copies of the script of Casablanca with all the character names and locations changed and circulated it to various agents and industry types. It was universally rejected, which perhaps was to be expected. A bit more surprising was that nobody who read it recognized it.

  • drifting in space

    When I found out this was going to be reviewed today, I cracked it open last night. Got through about 15 pages before my interest started to disappear.

    Not that is was poorly written or anything like that. Just not my cup of tea. I wasn’t getting a sense of conflict and the two characters seemed to get along just fine.

    I think this just needed an extra layer of conflict. I know the addict role is overused but it definitely would have provided more meat for the story. Then again, we’ve got Southpaw that tackled that recently, so I’m sure people would have mentioned the overuse.

  • http://glintoflifeblog.blogspot.com/ K.Nicole Williams

    The thing with making Frank an addict is you’re going to have to have a time lapse of him getting clean to get Mary back. Which could throw in another (unncessary conflict) in that Mary would have had time to get attached to the foster parents (well assuming their secret isn’t that their abusers or pedos) which could be good (more conflict) or bad (drawing out the script too long).

    ETA: Nevermind I see there are links in a previous post!

    • drifting in space

      Good point on the addict angle. Always a tough line to tow.

    • Sullivan

      What if he is getting himself clean and they still take her away, perhaps based on the mother lying.

  • ripleyy

    Lord of the Rings: “A hobbit kindly delivers a ring to a volcano, but who wait, that story is too simple so there’s a dark lord who is going to war with Middle Earth”

    • brenkilco

      A small, furry footed, quasi-mythological creator comes into possession of a ring which bestows unspecified supernatural powers but also generates paranoia and moral decay, and must undertake a journey to deposit the rara avis into a volcano, the only means by which it may be destroyed, while facing various challenges and a pursuit by persons and creatures in league with an incorporeal entity of extraordinary malignity. Oh, and the whole thing will probably last nine hours.

      Think that about covers it.

  • Eddie Panta

    “if you can’t come up with a key line of conflict for your logline,
    chances are, you don’t have one for your script, which means you’ll have
    to rethink the story and add a key line of conflict.”

    Agreed.. The logline should contain the main conflict, BUT the reason they often don’t is not because it’s NOT in the script. It’s because the story’s conflict is tied into the suspense, giving it away in the logline means having to deal with it much earlier in the script than you would want.

    A logline, like a trailer, works well when the main confrontation is set-up. You want to see what happens. The inciting incident is given away which forces you into having the incident arise sooner rather than later.

    In order to be suspenseful thereneeds to be an unknown conflict in the story that isn’t revealed. There are known and unknown threats, plot-lines. and quite often two stories, one for the trailer, and another for the movie.

    Difficulty developing a logline might be an indication that your premise is too thin,

    You lead character needs more than one major challenge. If the challenge is revealed cleverly, it won’t be the character’s real challenge, his real goal won’t be revealed in the logline.

  • Jake T

    Excellent advice there, Carson. I’m working on a script that (I didn’t realise ’til now) has the exact logline problem you’re talking about. I have a start and end point, but figuring out that key conflict will work wonders for everything in between.

  • grendl

    Two movies came to mind while reading this. “Paper Moon” and “I’ll Do Anything”, both involving precocious little girls and the adult men trying to parent them.

    In “Paper Moon” there’s a question as to whether or not Addie is Moses Pray’s daughter when he finds her at the mother’s funeral, and the two team up to form an unlikely alliance in conning women with bible sales.

    In “I’ll Do Anything” Nick Nolte plays a struggling actor who has to take care of his six year old daughter in Hollywood, a Shirley Temple-esque temper tantrum prone bi polar tornado.

    I think Frank needed more of a professional life to make this work better, besides fixing boats on the docks. It was very Nicholas Sparks, vague, like Kevin Costner working on boats in the Message or whatever the hell that dopey movie was.

    Everything was so focused on Mary and making her realize her own gifts, it felt a bit monocular just like the cat. When you don’t have more things going on a story sometimes becomes a bit claustrophobic. In my opinion.

    “Bad News Bears” had Morris Buttermaker cleaning pools which is a dead end job he loves because he doesn’t have to try. But managing a little league team, as ostensibly insignificant as that might seem holds some chance for glory for him.

    I wanted to see Frank have some dream, some interests other than this focus on Mary. Her realizing her potential should have rubbed off on him realizing his own.

    Also I didn’t like the fact that Mary slugged the kid who broke Justin’s zoo because it seems out of character for a bright girl to do such a thing. It’s not set up that she has anger issues or control issues and breaking the kids nose badly seemed to come out of left field. If she’s smart she should have thought of a clever way to exact vengeance and that would have been a compelling stretch of narrative.

    On the whole it was very well written, and flowed nicely. The banter between Mary and Frank, and the teacher was entertaining. But Frank is the protagonist here, and seemed to relinquish the spotlight to Mary too much in the first act. I wanted to see what he needed fixed in his life that her plight might change.

    If Frank has gifts himself that need exploring, then the title provides a deeper meaning than just the gifted child. I saw no inkling of that in the first act.

    But I admire the writing nonetheless.

  • Cfrancis1

    Too much detail. Longline should be one sentence. And don’t use character names in a longline unless it’s based on a real person.

  • Poe_Serling

    “What I learned: From now on, I want you to always include the key line of conflict in your logline.”

    A few days back, I stumbled upon this logline for High Plains Drifter over on the TCM site:

    “A mysterious gunman signs on to protect a small town from bandits.”

    Short, simple, and to the point… Here you get a hint about the protag, a little tease about the core of the story, and the conflict (bandits) that he’s about to face.

    A really effective logline in my opinion.

  • klmn

    OT: Fly, Queenie, Fly!

    http://news.yahoo.com/magic-mushrooms-royal-garden-fly-agaric-093904399.html;_ylt=A0SO8zQl4JFUSAwAd.pXNyoA

    “Hallucinogenic mushrooms are perhaps the last thing you’d expect to find growing in the Queen of England’s garden.

    Yet a type of mushroom called Amanita muscaria — commonly
    known as fly agaric, or fly amanita — was found growing in the gardens
    of Buckingham Palace by the producers of a television show, the Associated Press reported on Friday (Dec. 12)…”

  • Howie428

    I read the first 20 pages of this, then came back here to read Carson’s comments. I was astonished to learn that this is a straight drama. I was sure the girl was going to be a robot, an alien, or the victim of a kidnapping by Albanians.
    I carried on reading and ran out of steam on this. I guess that this ultimately feels like a really good B-Story, but could use an A-Story to keep us interested.

  • http://vimeo.com/adamwparker Adam W. Parker

    its there search the W’s

  • mulesandmud

    Getting a bit late to jump into this conversation, but I’ve got a few thoughts to share, so here goes.

    Read the first act, more or less. I like the dramatic situation: Frank wants brilliant little Mary to have a normal childhood, ostensibly so that being treated as ‘gifted’ doesn’t run Mary into the ground. In the opposing corner is Frank’s mother, who wants to put Mary through the same aggressive regiment as she did Frank’s sister (Mary’s mother), a regiment that maximized her gifted child’s potential but also perhaps led to her suicide.

    So far, Frank seems likeable but pretty unreasonable: sure, he’s protective and loving toward Mary, but his principled underachievement and refusal to nurture Mary’s gifts may in fact be hamstringing this little girl’s future in a serious way. Plus, even by staying with Frank, it seems unlikely that Mary will have much of a normal life.

    It seems like the script is attempting to make a real debate out of the central drama, which is great. Hopefully this is also the beginning of a serious look at Frank’s character, and the way that his past resentments complicate his present choices. If the rest of the story is handled with the same evenhanded clarity, then this script is worthy of major respect. I definitely plan to finish it.

    One thing that bothered me: every time the script introduces a major character, it inserts one totally unfilmmable description sentence into the action lines (e.g. “Calling the roll is BONNIE STEVENSON, 20’s, bright and pretty…People who mistake Bonnie’s altruism for naiveté underestimate her. She’s got a head on her shoulders.”). The description for Mary was a problem.

    Mind you, I’m not one of these dogmatic show-don’t-tell guys; I believe there’s quite a bit of flexibility in the style of action lines, depending on the writer and the project. The unfilmmables in GIFTED felt a bit arbitrary and formulaic to me, as though the writer had a one-pithy-line-per-character quota to fill, but that’s not the real problem.

    Here’s the problem: when we first meet Mary, the action lines tell us, “The door timidly opens, revealing MARY ADLER, a seven year-old, unbelievably cute, blond nuclear weapon. Possessing stunning intelligence, she doesn’t talk or act like a normal seven year-old.”

    Of course, Mary spends the next few pages talking and acting like a normal (okay, mildly precocious) seven year-old, totally contradicting that description line. Even that’s not the issue, though. The real sin here is that this description line completely spoils the reveal of Mary’s brilliance, which otherwise would unfold gradually over the next dozen pages as Bonnie the new teacher grows curious about Mary and Frank, and investigates them.

    Why tell the reader Mary’s secret right up front, instead of having us learn it at the same pace that the film’s audience might? Or, if the writer wants us to know about Mary’s intelligence up front, then why structure the entire first act in a way that treats the truth about Mary like a mystery to be solved (a good structural choice, in my opinion)?

    In general, the act of reading a script should mirror the experience of watching the film as best as possible, and any writing decision which interferes with that experience should be treated with serious skepticism. If this line of unnecessary description wasn’t added to appease a producer, than it’s a lapse in judgement on the part of the writer.

  • drifting in space

    I think you mean North Korea is the boss.

    Joking aside… there is truth in your statement.

  • Randy Williams

    I feel sad for all involved. Lots of hard work from cast and crew.
    Sony seems to be dropping the release altogether.
    For once some Asians get some work in Hollywood and now this.

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern
  • Rick Hester

    ‘Me and my millions of fellow movie goers…’

    Moviegoers. One word.

    • brenkilco

      Me wonder if that’s the only nit you could pick.

  • Rick Hester

    Unbelievable.

    • Rick Hester

      Of Sony, and written below: ‘…you decided to antagonize an entire nation with this piece of shit?’

      This person clearly knows nothing about North Korea. Kim Jong-un and his family are murderers and sadists. And Kim’s ‘nation’ knows nothing about ‘The Interview’ since they’ve been sealed off from the rest of the world for the last fifty years.

    • Sullivan

      Where was North Korea when they were releasing “Dumb and Dumber To”?

  • Somersby

    Terrible video, but a pretty good song. And man, can that guy play the harp!!

  • Somersby

    I can’t help but agree, but maybe for slightly different reasons. Franco and Rogan do a lot of fratboy-humour projects, and most of them are pretty groan-worthy. Watching the trailer for this one almost makes you root for Kim Jong Un.

    It’s low-level stoner-type crap at best. Interestingly, Rogan intended to toke-up with the other potheads at the premiere of the film in Denver. Undoubtedly, he’ll still light up a doobie even thought the film’s premiere is likely 86’d.

  • Nicholas J

    The Interview looks great and I can’t wait to see it.

    That is all.

  • ScriptChick

    anyone have this script? Would love to read it.

    • charliesb

      Go back to the comments of Monday’s post, a link to the 2014 Blacklist is there.

  • Rick Hester

    There’s a big difference between the Kim Jong-un regime, and the North Korean people. Most people understand that.

    See North Korean prison camps.

    • jw

      We’re being swindled here, kids. There’s much more going on here than anyone can actually see. Apparently, no one told these guys that White House Down didn’t exactly paint them in a positive light either, but that would be assuming they are actually involved.

  • Sullivan

    The McDonalds in the U.S. don’t sell “rigs”?

  • charliesb

    OT: If you’re writing a heist spec, you might want to put it on the back burner temporarily. There are currently 30 in development.

    http://www.slashfilm.com/hollywood-heist-movies/

  • jw

    Conflict is one thing in a logline, but that ISN’T a logline, that’s a synopsis of a certain percentage of the script. A logline is actually supposed to summarize the WHOLE script, not just a portion. I’m surprised you let that fly, Carson! “An irresponsible man attempts to raise his dead sister’s daughter, a child genius, until his mother comes to town and starts fighting for custody of the child.”

    First off, “an irresponsible man” is about the MOST vague description you could possibly throw on the burner. Is he on the brink of bankruptcy? Is he on the brink of killing himself? Homelessness? Anything? Anything specific that would cause a child to come along and change his perspective on life. Second, “child genius” has ZERO relevance in this logline. What exactly does it impact by including? Nothing. Third, “mother comes to town and starts fighting” is basically a reality television show description, so no interest there.

    Is there anyone out there who’s read this that would rewrite this logline to actually grab attention?

  • fragglewriter

    I think it might be me, but I had to read the log line at least times to get an idea of what the movie was about, but it wasn’t until I read your review that I was completely wrong. The logline seems conjested, IMO.

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    I tried to send the link, I guess it didn’t post. So let’s try this again:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/7eev66v3oma5trc/MUNCHKIN%2C%20THE%20Will%20Widger.pdf?dl=0

  • kenglo

    Since we’re on loglines –

    THE AMULET

    A warrior is sent to Earth to destroy a banished princess, but he must choose between his love for her and saving the galaxy.

    I’ll be here all week….

    • Cuesta

      That’s both very cool (a warrior is sent to Earth to destroy a banished princess) and very cheesy (the rest).
      I personally grew very tired of this cheap love conflicts between the great rationale good and the selfish love.

      • kenglo

        Soooo….what do you suggest I do with the 2nd half. Dude lands on Earth, meets opposition, falls in love, decides to protect her, then she turns into this psycho galaxy killing machine, Dragon Ball Z fights ensue…..wazzup?

        • Cuesta

          lol it looks so much cool. And in the finale white knight warrior becomes alpha warrior and kills pistol princess proving a point about equality, the inevitability of life or something like that.

          Great you mention Dragon Ball, actually DBZ had a greater moral system than the usual Hollywood flick. I mean, motherfuckin saiyans abandoned their wifes repeated times in order to save the universe, or sacrificed bystanders to win a fight and protect the Earth.

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    I guess it keeps getting deleted. Did you get it?

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    Cool.