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Opposites Attract

Author: Dan Ewen
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Storyline: 6
Dialogue: 9
Characterization: 8
Writer’s Potential: 7

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Logline:

When an uptight career woman swaps bodies with her lazy slob of a fiancé, the couple must cope with each others’ lives in order to keep their relationship from disintegrating.

Synopsis:

College freshmen CHARLIE WHITAKER and HOLLY BAXTER are complete opposites: she values good grades and the respect of her sorority sisters; Charlie sings in a horrible cover band and values drinking above all else. Hanging out with friends CHASE (stoner) and HUGHIE (geek) at the local bar, Charlie spots Holly across the bar and is smitten. They flirt, and Charlie drags her up to the stage for karaoke. They spend the rest of their college careers spending time together and falling in love. At graduation, Charlie steals the microphone from the dean and proposes to Holly in front of everyone. She accepts.

Six years later, they’re still engaged. Charlie barely makes money from his job managing the 80 Watt, a once-prestigious nightclub that is now a laughing stock. Holly splits her time between working as an on-camera salesperson for the Shop-at-Home Network and encouraging Charlie to do something more useful with himself. Holly has a bitter rivalry with her on-air partner, ALEXIS. Charlie has a deep connection with club owner NIGEL, a former roadie who worked for all the great bands. Unfortunately, Nigel is bitter and depressed that his club is reduced to a performance from a Whitesnake cover band that draws a crowd of 12 people. During the day, Charlie watches Holly on TV and shouts encouragement at the screen. He hangs out at Arby’s with Chase and Hughie. They play a game in which they try to figure out men they’d have sex with, if they had to. Holly has lunch with Alexis and producer KENNY, who’s brusque and apathetic. Alexis shows off photos of her honeymoon, subtly needling Holly because she’s been engaged for so long. To save their relationship, Holly and Charlie go to counseling with a traditional therapist, a creepy new age therapist, and a sinister yet overbearing German therapist. None of it is effective — in fact, the traditional therapist begs them to break up. Privately, they discuss the idea of breaking up. Both still love each other, but they’re sick of one another.

Charlie asks Nigel for advice. Citing rock star Sting as a success story, Nigel suggests Charlie embrace Tantra. Charlie’s dubious, but Nigel assures him that this will save their relationship. Charlie rents a do-it-yourself Tantra video, Titantric, from the store where Hughie works. Holly is disgusted, but Charlie says it’s an absolute last resort. The relationship is doomed, anyway, so it’s not like this could make things worse. Charlie spends the entire day preparing the apartment as a Tantric love den. When Holly returns from work, they turn on the video. MASTER KEN, a stereotypical Indian guru, guides them through the process. They turn up the heat, get into an uncomfortable position, and breathe slowly. Master Ken tells them to remain in the position until he tells them to stop. Seven hours later, they’ve fallen asleep. The next morning, Holly wakes up, scratches her bag, lumbers across the room to the bathroom, and attempts to pee standing up. She screams at what she sees, waking Charlie. To their mutual shock and horror, they realize their minds have switched bodies. Charlie’s mind now controls Holly, and vice-versa. Holly calls in sick. Together, they consult with a psychiatrist, who forces them to role play; a rabbi, who thinks it’s a practical joke; and a priest, who attempts to exorcise them. Hughie knows Master Ken’s publicist, so they use him to get his contact information. They visit him on a golf course, where he turns out to be a typical American rich snob — no accent, no turban, no mysticism. He tells them he’s heard of their problem but can offer no help. He suggests that the gods made this happen because Holly and Charlie needed it to happen.

Unable to fix the problem with anything but Master Ken’s suggestion to “walk in each other’s shoes,” Charlie gives Holly a photo tour of Holly’s job. The next morning, Charlie has to drag Holly out of bed. Holly is confused by the female morning grooming rituals. Charlie coaches her through it. Holly, who doesn’t exactly have the hang of high heels, wobbles through the TV studio. Everyone realizes she’s acting strangle, but Holly insists she’s just having a “blah” day. They put her on the air, and she’s horrible — poor interaction with callers, constantly reading Alexis’s lines as well as her own, etc. Charlie watches from home, cringing. Chase and Hughie drag Charlie to Arby’s, where they trash talk Holly and mock him for his lunch choice of garden salad. Charlie’s baffled when Chase and Hughie start discussing men they’d like to have sex with. The guys are confused, pointing out Charlie invented the game.

When Holly returns from work, Charlie asks if she got fired. Holly says to give her a day or two. That night, Holly accompanies Charlie to the 80 Watt Club, where she points out all the regulars and employees so Charlie can pretend to fit in. Charlie badgers Nigel about how filthy the bar is. On the way home, Charlie and Holly both apologize for sucking at the other’s job. Charlie reminds Holly that she has a pap smear the following morning. Disgusted, Holly asks if they can reschedule. Charlie takes her health very seriously and will not reschedule. The next morning, Charlie wakes Holly, stunned and baffled because he has an erection. Holly teaches him to pee standing up. Holly goes to the gynecologist’s office. Shocked by how attractive the doctor is, she becomes terribly aroused during the exam. Meanwhile, Charlie turns on Top Gun on TV and begins to masturbate. Holly walks in on him, horrified.

At lunch with her coworkers, Holly is horrified to hear that they’re cutting her show down to one host at the end of the month. Their boss, MR. BRYAN, has decided that whoever closes the month with more sales will get the solo job. So far, Alexis is ahead. Holly goes to the club and breaks the news to Charlie. Charlie, meanwhile, has realized Nigel’s club is lurching toward permanent closure. They’re both screwed. Charlie drags Holly to her parents’ house for her sister’s bridal shower. Holly wants to know why he has to come. Charlie casually observes that Holly is their daughter, no matter whose brain is in her head. After the party breaks up, Charlie and Holly stick around but separate, Holly helping mother MARIANNE with the dishes, Charlie going to the basement to look at GUS’s new trains. Holly learns from Marianne that Holly has been thinking about leaving Charlie. She also learns about Holly’s youthful obsession with comedian Sinbad. Charlie is horrified to discover that he has become, basically, a porn peddler for not just Gus — Marianne, as well. The car ride home is a long argument between Holly and Charlie about the evening’s revelations.

Now desperate to return to their own bodies, Holly and Charlie discuss what Master Ken said. They realize neither has made a particularly strong effort to “walk in each other’s shoes,” so they decide to really commit to it. Charlie comes to the 80 Watt Club with plans to save the club. Holly makes a concerted effort to beat Alexis in sales. Chase and Hughie drag Charlie to a basketball game. He realizes he has no clue how to play the game, but he does impress them at Arby’s with a detailed list of all the men he’d sleep with and why. Holly and Alexis go to a lunchtime exercise “boot camp.” Holly is amazed at all the women changing right in front of them. She offers to apply their sunscreen. On TV, Holly’s brash, witty style convinces a number of shoppers — most of them stoned college students — to buy from her. Charlie learns from Nigel that they have 17 days to raise $20,000, or the club has to close for good. Charlie demands a publicity budget in order to raise the club’s profile. Charlie does all he can to promote the club. Things go awry when Holly suddenly gets her period. She calls Charlie to coach her through it, but she’s horrified by what she has to do to take care of it. Charlie takes Chase and Hughie to a spa for massages, skin care, and waxing. He also starts the three of them on a diet, losing a noticeable amount of weight.

With their improved moods, Holly and Charlie reconnect. Charlie decides she wants to attempt sex. Holly’s uncomfortable with the idea, but they do it anyway. One day, Chase shows up to the apartment when Charlie’s gone but Holly’s home. He starts talking about deep, intimate conversations they’ve had and makes a romantic move. Holly decks him. Later, she gets into a fight with Charlie about their apparent love connection. They break up. Nigel announces that, with two days left, they only got halfway to their goal. Holly moves into a new apartment, but she’s back to doing a horrible job on TV. Finally, Holly decides she wants to beat Alexis, and beat her bad. Meanwhile, Charlie and Nigel pack up the club, and Charlie discovers tons of rare memorabilia Nigel has collected over the years. Charlie frantically attempts to promote an auction. They draw in a reasonable crowd of skeptics, but Nigel quickly convinces them with bizarre anecdotes about raunchy rock-star behavior. By the end of the night, they’re well over the top. The 80 Watt is saved. Charlie complains about Holly to Nigel. Nigel compares them to John Lennon and Yoko Ono — they might have seemed wrong to outsiders, but they made the other better.

On the last day of the month, Holly is stuck trying to sell broaches. She manages to make odd yet compelling arguments why both men and women would want broaches, but as the end of the day comes, she needs to make one more sale to beat Alexis. The sale goes to Charlie, who shows up in the studio and apologizes for trying so hard to change him. Holly apologizes for the same and presents Charlie with a huge folder full of completed wedding plans. They marry at the 80 Watt, officiated by Master Ken. Charlie realizes Holly hasn’t been taking her birth control pills and is pregnant.

Comments:

Opposites Attract tries to merge a traditional romantic comedy with a ridiculous “body-swapping” movie. It starts out fantastically well, but its third act loses focus on the plot. As written, it merits a consider.

The first and second acts are loaded with inspired comedy, mining the ridiculousness of the body-swap for all it’s worth. The writer does a good job of creating obstacles from the switch, delivering one hilarious scene after another. In the third act, the story completely runs out of steam. Rather than continuing to ratchet the tension and stakes, paying off what was set up in the first two acts, the story just spins its wheels on pointless gags that stop feeling inspired and stop feeling forced. Then, the resolution to every dangling plot thread is crammed into the last few pages.

Charlie and Holly start out as stereotypes, but the writer does a great job of adding depth and nuance after they switch bodies. Having them discover the pitfalls and secrets of each other’s lives is a great way to get to really dig deep into the characters. Most of the supporting characters are thin but funny enough to get away with it. Only Chase and Hughie are completely extraneous.

This script is hilarious and surprisingly relatable. With improvements to the third act, it’d definitely be worth recommending.

Posted by D. B. Bates on May 2, 2009 10:36 PM  |   | Print-Friendly  | Professional Script Coverage

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