Author: David Gilcreast and Jay Chandrasekhar
Writer’s Potential: 4
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At LAX, Nick gets on a plane and is seated next to LESLIE (28, a pretty Southern girl). They hit it off immediately, especially after Nick lies about his occupation, claiming he writes for 24 (in actuality, he “writes” for a cheesy reality show that embarrasses him). They kiss. Over the course of the flight, Nick drinks more and more. Leslie offers him a Xanax, which immediately puts them both to sleep. When he wakes, the entire plane is empty — including Leslie — and there’s a large wet spot covering his crotch. Nick is dismayed and humiliated. In Georgia, all these characters gather for Pete’s wedding. It’s clear that most of them haven’t seen each other in awhile. Everyone’s shocked to hear that, after the embarrassing flight, Nick has decided to quit drinking. When Pete shows up, everyone cheers. He apologizes for giving such short notice for the wedding, but he’s found his soulmate. The others are skeptical that he could know this after only four short months. They start describing his past bad behavior. Cecilia asks if his fiancée is pregnant. Pete tells them she’s a wonderful girl, but she has strict parents, so keep it cool and don’t tell the numerous stories of Pete’s drunken debauchery. They all agree to honor this.
At the rehearsal dinner, Sam realizes one of their longtime friends is missing. Alex and Cecilia say they staged an intervention and sent him to rehab. Nick and Sam ridicule their friends for going to such extremes. To extremely similar-looking and -dressed brothers (not twins), LAIRD and TAYLOR McLAREN, introduce themselves. Cecilia is immediately attracted to them. Pete wonders about their other brother, Bobby. They explain he had to go to a convention in Vegas. Pete introduces all his friends to his fiancée, Kate, and her parents, MR. and MRS. FOSTER. True to Pete’s word, they’re strict conservatives who immediately dislike Pete’s friends, even though they’re allegedly on their best behavior. Kate asks Pete if he ever dated Cecilia; Pete lies, telling her they’re just good friends. Later, Mr. Foster gives a toast, eventually honoring Alex for his service to traditional family values and the Republican Party. Everyone snickers, because they realize Alex’s secret: he’s gay. Mr. Foster invites Pete’s friends to give their own toasts. Sam starts the festivities, but he can’t think of any positive stories about Pete, so he makes one up about Pete adopting a stray puppy. The other friends follow suit — except Cecilia, who announces she used to date Pete and that he once hooked up with a Thai transsexual. The Fosters are livid.
Nick buys marijuana from one of the waitresses. He sees Leslie at the rehearsal dinner. She gives him the cold shoulder, but Nick doesn’t know why. Out in the parking lot, Nick, Sam, and Cecilia get high and ponder whether or not Pete’s worth buying wedding gifts for. Soon after, Pete joins them. They’re immediately spotted by cops, so the group flees back into the restaurant, trying to blend in. The police tell the manager that they’ll shut the party down if the offending drug smokers don’t give themselves up. They don’t, but the officers recognize the culprits. Everyone gasps when Pete is pointed out. Mr. Foster begs them to go easy on Pete, because his wedding is tomorrow. The officers have no sympathy. They’re hauled into the back of a squad car. After a few moments, they receive a phone call stating that a person from their senator’s office — Alex — just called and asked to let them go. They set the group free. Mr. Foster is grateful to Alex. Ashley tries to convince Sam to go back to their rental house. Sam tells her about an “after-party” at a nearby hotel. Ashley doesn’t want to go, but she allows Sam to stay out until 1 a.m.
Pete, Kate, Sam, and Nick drive around looking for an open mini-mart to buy liquor. Every place is closed, so they return to the hotel empty-handed. Pete and Sam decide to go see if the hotel bar is open. On their way, Pete asks Sam about married life. Sam doesn’t paint an optimistic picture. They find that the bar is closed, but the front desk man takes pity on them, allowing them to buy some drinks. Pete starts asking for bottles of booze and 6-packs of beer. The front desk man tells them the hotel has a no-party policy and does not sell anything in bottles. Instead, Pete and Sam order dozens of cocktails and beers, raising the front desk man’s suspicions. Pete and Sam meet a couple of girls looking to get trashed. They bring them back to Pete’s room, where the others have gathered to party. Cecilia flirts with the McLaren brothers. Nick begs Pete to have Kate talk to Leslie and find out her problem. Later, Kate is livid when she learns Pete performed his same flirty magic trick on the girls he and Sam picked up in the lobby. Through the window, they spot Cecilia having sex with one of the McLaren brothers (nobody’s sure which one) outside. Sam returns to the rental house. It’s after 3 a.m., so he creeps in and sets the clock back to 1, then intentionally makes noise to wake Ashley. She’s impressed that he’s home on time. He goes into the bathroom and masturbates while fantasizing about Cecilia coming into the room and getting it on with Ashley. Ashley literally catches him with his pants down. She’s enraged.
The next morning, the group of friends go to a boat dock. Cecilia gripes about having to go on boats separated by gender — she’d rather hang out with her male friends. They separate, and for the first time, the group meets Kate’s stoner brother, DEREK (16). Before they divide up, Nick asks Kate about Leslie. She says if Leslie kissed her, that means she was genuinely interested. Cecilia and Alex try to consider the possibility that Leslie had a problem other than Nick wetting his pants — perhaps his penis was just too small. Nick gets defensive about that. Cecilia insists she’ll subtly figure out Leslie’s problem on the boat. The McLarens pass by, carrying shotguns. Cecilia can’t figure out which one of them she hooked up with the night before. The groups separate by gender and file onto their boats. Sam complains about Ashley getting uptight about his masturbation. Nick grabs some beers and teaches Derek to shotgun them. Pete wonders about Nick’s sobriety. Nick shrugs it off. The McLarens wonder how Alex can be gay and conservative. He explains that all the best-looking gay guys in Washington serve the Republican Party.
Meanwhile, on the women’s boat, Cecilia chats with some of Kate’s friends — including Leslie — who trash-talk her about not being committed. Cecilia brings up the possibility of pregnancy, which none of Kate’s friends rule out. Meanwhile, on the guys’ boat, Sam nearly catches a fish when Derek falls off the boat, getting his foot caught in Sam’s lure. They bring him back aboard to examine him. He howls in pain. Nobody has any pain medication, so Nick gives him pot. The others smoke joints, as well, which makes the McLarens instantly paranoid. After the boat trip, they bring Derek back to the Fosters’ house. Mr. Foster catches them trying to drop Derek — with a cast and crutches — at home and leave quickly. That evening, Kate is also angry with Pete. He apologizes. The wedding ceremony is uneventful.
At the reception, BOBBY McLAREN shows up, surprising them all. He’s huge, drunk, and jealous of Pete. The Fosters seem to like him, though. Meanwhile, Pete encourages Nick to come clean to Leslie about why he lied about writing for 24 and the effect Xanax has on him. Nick does, but Leslie still gives him the cold shoulder. She reveals the real reason why: they both fell asleep, but she fell asleep in his lap. When he wet his pants, he sprayed her first. Nick is completely humiliated, but Leslie realizes it’s actually sort of a funny story. When Bobby starts insulting Kate, Bobby gets into a fistfight with him. He’s dragged away, but he revealed some facts that Pete didn’t know: that he and Kate dated for five years, were engaged, and she dumped him hastily after meeting Pete. Pete realizes she was actually still engaged when they met. He gets angry, but Kate points out the “trick” he did for the girls last night. Their fight intensifies until the Fosters finally drag their daughter away. Pete takes his friends back to the rental house, where they all get drunk. Pete decides to abandon marriage and go back to his old ways.
Drunk as a skunk, Bobby shows up at their post-reception party. Pete confronts Bobby, who insists Kate must be pregnant. Pete admits she is, but he’s angry because he doesn’t know who the father is. Alex arrives, explaining Bobby can’t be the father — because he’s gay. This inspires Pete to go back and fight for Kate’s love. However, Mr. Foster won’t let Pete into the house. He says his lawyers will have the marriage annulled, so he might as well cut his losses. Pete returns to the rental house and enlists Nick’s help in getting Kate back. They return to the house, where Nick serves as a distraction while Pete climbs up to Kate’s bedroom. Mr. Foster tells Nick he’s already prepared for the plan — by greasing the window sill and having Mrs. Foster spend the night in Kate’s bedroom. Nick notices Mr. Foster is an oddly wild man. He invites himself in to share som whiskey with Mr. Foster.
Kate comes out and explains Bobby’s gay, which he told her the night she and Pete met. She was angry and confused, and Pete turned out to be a great guy. Inside the house, they find Nick impressing Mr. Foster with stories of his and Pete’s debauchery. Mr. Foster finds the stories hilarious, and it proves to him that Pete is a “real” man. Seeing Mr. Foster’s in a good mood and quite drunk, Kate tells him she’s pregnant. Mr. Foster acts like he already knows. Nick pays him $20, having lost a bet on whether or not she was pregnant. Pete and Kate return to the rental house, where the party’s still in full swing. They announce the pregnancy to wild cheers. Later, Nick hooks up with Leslie, Cecilia attempts an awkward threesome with Laird and Taylor, Sam decides to give up the Propecia so he and Ashley can have a baby, and Alex hooks up with Bobby.
The next morning, Nick and Leslie wake up together. She tells him she really likes him, but her friends needed her help with something important. She opens the door, allowing the entire group inside the bedroom. They stage an intervention, which turns out to be an elaborate joke. They turn the conversation to Kate’s bay, wondering about the gender. Kate says it’s the boy, so the group tries to come up with increasingly ridiculous baby names.
The aimless story uses the events of Pete and Kate’s wedding to give it a ramshackle structure that never builds into anything truly interesting. Every time it tries to go into a direction that might make the story a little suspenseful or unpredictable — for instance, when some of the characters are arrested for smoking pot — the story hastily resolves it and moves on to the next comic set piece. Unfortunately, these set pieces are neither as clever nor as raunchy as the writers seem to believe they are. The gags that aren’t lifted from better movies tend to fall flat.
In the third act, the writers realize they’re supposed to be telling a story, so they quickly add an antagonist (Bobby, Kate’s ex-lover) to come between Pete and Kate, which allows Pete to fight for her love so the script can meander toward a happy ending that feels as unearned as every other development in the last few pages. The problems in the third act are a direct result from the writers not fleshing out any of the characters, content instead to rest on the strength of sporadically amusing one-liners and stale gross-out gags.
The writers frequently attempt to make the plot engaging by adding “mysteries” like why Pete and Kate had such a whirlwind courtship or which of the McLaren brothers Cecilia slept with. For the most part, these mysteries are frustratingly predictable in their attempts at unpredictability. For instance, it’s pretty evident just from the title that Kate’s pregnant. Having everyone speculate on her condition while Kate steadfastly denies it, then turning around and announcing that she is indeed pregnant comes across more like cheaply toying with the audience than genuinely attempting to defy expectations.
With few exceptions, each character is assigned a few traits — Pete the charming bad-boy, Kate the laid-back “cool chick,” Nick the neurotic, etc. — to give a little bit of variety to the jokes but never make these characters into anything more than stereotypes. It’s difficult to laugh with the characters as they stumble into ridiculous situations when the writers make no effort to make them into believable people, just as it’s difficult to get engaged in a story when the characters barely seem interested in what’s happening to them. Even if this script were funnier, that’s simply not enough to make the script work.
When the writers attempt to generate conflict between the characters, it’s always of the most generic variety: the Fosters are too conservative to appreciate Pete’s allegedly charming antics, Leslie gets angry at Nick over an obvious accident, Sam and Ashley seem to fight because — in this world — that’s all that married people do. When the writers eventually try to add more unpredictable elements — such as Mr. Foster eventually being won over by Pete’s bad behavior — it always falls flat because it contradicts what’s already been learned about the characters, and they gloss over why, for instance, Mr. Foster would start quaking with rage when Cecilia tells an embarrassing story about Pete, but then later he’s rolling on the floor laughing at similar anecdotes.
There’s an outside chance that a cast gifted in improvisation can make Shotgun Wedding funny and sharp enough to forgive the problems with its story and characters. However, the script is so problematic that it seems like only a significant rewrite will improve it.
Posted by D. B. Bates on November 3, 2009 12:07 PM