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Posts in: June 17th, 2005

Boy Toy

Author: Joe Jarvis & Kirk Ward

Genre: Comedy

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Recommendation?

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Logline:

A millionaire woman throws out her “boy toy” of 10 years, and he has to re-learn how to live like a poor person while plotting revenge.

Synopsis:

On the day he expects to become the common-law husband of millionaire TAMARA TINGLE, ROD DITMAR is tossed out with nothing. A glowering lawyer, CRAIG HOUSE, falsifies evidence to indicate Rod has merely been a lawn-mower. While on his own, an old friend, LANEY, takes pity on Rod. Although she’s engaged to Craig (a fact unknown to Rod), Laney has always had romantic feelings for Rod, and they haven’t gone away. She helps Rod plan revenge, discovers the truth about Craig, and in the end the start a romance while Tamara and Craig get their comeuppance.

Comments:

The opportunity exists for a funny, interesting story about a lazy, immature man who is thrown to the wolves and has to fend for himself, trying to overcome incompetence and ignorance to get revenge against his enemies. Unfortunately, this script doesn’t tell that story. It misses a lot of comic opportunities by concentrating too much on characters that aren’t developed enough to care about (this includes Rod) and setting up gags that either pay off in obvious ways or don’t pay off at all.

A few of Rod’s one-liners are amusing, but they usually make his character unclear; in one scene, you have to believe he’s very smart and sophisticated, and in the next you have to believe he’s the dumbest person who ever lived. Good jokes could come naturally from a consistent, believable character put into these situations, but it often seems like the writers write the story around the jokes, rather than letting the jokes come organically.

Because Rod is designed as the comic centerpiece of the script, none of the other characters are allowed to be funny. This presents a problem in scenes that don’t involve Rod; they’re filled with expository dialogue and bland conflict, but they’re weak and lack entertainment value. The scenes with Rod aren’t much funnier, but at least there’s a slight effort made.

The writing isn’t good, but it’s worth a look because a good story can come from this premise; it’s just not there yet.

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Blind

Author: Unknown

Genre: Horror

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Recommendation?

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Logline:

High school students suffer mysterious blindness and blame a new girl in school.

Synopsis:

MOLLY has recently moved from New York to Tucson, where she’s an outcast. Her only friends are a kindred spirit, ALICE WOODS (who shows Molly the ropes of the high school) and BEN (a quiet boy with a crush on Molly). As Molly’s tormentors go blind, one by one, the students and townspeople suspect the new girl. Even Molly begins to suspect herself, until she learns something about Alice: she’s been dead for a decade, and her mother remains alive but is blind and insane. Molly unravels the mystery of Alice while trying to avoid the persecution of the townspeople. Alice’s “mother” tries to attack Molly, but Molly accidentally kills her.

Comments:

Blind starts out well, with its fish-out-of-water protagonist and the mysterious blindings that happen to a few students at her high school. The first 40 or so pages deal pretty well with establishing Molly, the school, its cliques, and the mystery of what is making the students go blind and why.

Unfortunately, everything involving Alice Woods destroys the story. The fact that she’s a ghost is telegraphed well in advance, as is the knowledge that she’s the one causing the blindness. So, then, the question is, why is it supposed to be surprising and suspenseful when these “reveals” finally come?

The ghost revelation should be upfront; perhaps Molly doesn’t know Alice is a ghost, but the audience should. The real question isn’t what she is; the big questions should be, why is her ghost appearing, why does she make contact with Molly (finding the medallion could work, but as it stands, it makes everything seem too coincidental), and how will Molly react when she discovers the truth? In addition to making the central conflict less generic, this also gives opportunities to properly develop Alice’s character. She reads thin because the story tries to hide what she is by shrouding her personality in mystery.

The idea of the blindness could be used to lend more mystery about who’s behind it. Because of the targets, it seemed like it would end up being a (cheesy) metaphor for adolescent kids—they persecute others because they blind themselves to what makes those they persecute special. Not exactly Shakespeare, but at least it’s interesting thematically. Unfortunately, the ending shatters the idea that there’s any metaphor to the blindness.

The reactions of the townspeople to the blindness, as well as Dr. Alberto desperately trying to find a cause, are both pointless and goofy. The script takes place in present-day Tucson, and a few odd cases of blindness cause everyone to brand Molly a witch? Even in a town smaller than Tucson, this development would be hard to believe. At least it makes a little more sense that Molly’s peers would persecute and scapegoat her; the entire city being out for her blood (and abruptly no longer caring at the end) really is inappropriate for any story that doesn’t take place in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692.

There could be a good, creepy story here, but there needs to be a higher concentration on the development of the characters (including the high school tormentors, who should be more than stereotypes) and their relationships with one another. If the story were confined to the students and their lives, rather than in the various mysteries the script takes way too seriously, the story could be tighter and maybe have some relevance to actual teenagers.

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Max Goes to Camp

Author: Unknown

Genre: Comedy/Fantasy/Kids

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Recommendation?

Consider

Logline:

A preteen is sent to summer camp and learns to have confidence in himself and control his overactive imagination.

Synopsis:

MAX SPECKLE has an extremely overactive imagination. He often finds himself lost in a fantasy world of his own creation, and as a result his grades and social life suffer. In an effort for him to make friends, Max’s mother sends him away to summer camp, where he meets a group of boys who dislike him at first but grow to see why he’s special. The campers train in anticipation of the Color War, a contest between a rival camp that tests their athleticism and cleverness. This terrifies Max, who is still escaping into his imagination and can’t seem to control when he’ll fantasize and when he’ll remain in reality. During the capture-the-flag game that concludes the Color War, Max uses his imaginative powers to grab the other team’s flag and become the hero he’s always dreamed of being. He also helps an immature counselor, C.J., realize his dream of going to medical school.

Comments:

The story is cute and good for the 10-14 crowd, but the one thing that sets it apart from every other summer-camp movie on the planet—Max’s elaborate fantasy life—is also the thing that destroys the story. There are simply too many of these fantasy sequences, and none of them pay off enough to justify the excess. Some of them are cute, some of them are pointless, but there’s an average of about 1.5 fantasy sequences per page, and the only thing they do is show that Max has an overactive imagination, which is understood by page 10. It might benefit from a reduction in these fantasies.

The other big issue is the Color War sequence, which goes on for far too long. What actually occurs within the Color War could be very interesting, but there’s no time spent establishing the stakes of the competition. Why does it matter if the campers at Roaring Creek beat the evil kids at Camp Victory? This conflict is not established and isn’t portrayed as particularly important.

Finally, another story issue is the subplot with C.J. trying to impress Suzy and considering going to medical school. It’s a little mature for this kid-friendly script, and why does it matter? It exists solely to inflate the page count.

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