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Disparity of Devotion by Mike Shelton - Comedy - When carefree tabloid writer Newton Lawler falls for hard-working campaign associate Sara Renfeld, the sparks fly, but Sara's workaholic approach to her job causes problems, and the two find out that love is far from simple. NOTE: This script utilizes characters and some scenes from the previously released "The Odds of Love" 92 pages - pdf, format
Yours was the first from the site that Ive read, and, this is my first post. The main thing I can say is : EXTRAORDINARY dialogue. You really had me laughing. At one point it seemed like there may have been a continuity error that kind of messed up the flow for me...their argument after the visit to Dads house for Sunday Dinner. Newt says they've been dating for awhile now...but, from what I can gather, theyve been together for eight days(Melissa says she and Nate have been together a week and a day...which is the same day Newt met Sara.) Anywho, besides that hiccup, I really enjoyed it. Ive gotta commend you again for the hilarious dialogue.
Just finished reading your script. I don't know if it is one of your latest.
I found it easy going and amusing. Ny favorite character being the dad. The typical European nature.
I liked the idea of Carl being a softy after all. Women not just being a sex object.
It's a simple story that doesn't involve many characters. It brings about the basic emotional desires of human love and their needs for relationships. I would have like to seen a bit more life in the Mellissa character. Carl, seems to me, the most powerful character in the script.
This is my first time posting, so forgive me if I ramble.
There's a good story moving the script forward: A man who doesn't believe in anything falls in love with a woman who has a very solid belief. The first act propels us nicely. We get a nice contradiction of Newton saying that he's not bothered by being single, only being nagged, but his sad "she's out there somewhere" as he sinks a drink tells another story. And we see the nagging from everyone, though I agree with Newton that a woman on her wedding day is probably not going to think to hard about Newton's issues, but on the million and one things happening at the wedding. I liked that Newton can't help arguing with Sara, but can't understand why, it's a nice character bit. Every character gets to have a nice moment that tells us who they are.
However, there tends to be less showing and more telling, i.e Newton's complainits of Sara always leaving their dates, the picture of the Democratic symbol in the toilet. Judging by the comments here, this came from the previous draft, so this should be easy to fix. But it seemed this became a play in several parts. I would rather see Sara walk into the bathroom and find the picture than be told it. On the same note, time passes oddly. I looked at the coffee shop scene four times and couldn't figure out how that was eight hours. This can also be fixed by showing Newton and Sara leaving the coffee shop and the lateness of the hour. Same with the afformentioned Sara's constantly leaving.
My big issue is with character, exemplified in the father. When I first read the script, I thought the father would only be seen briefly, since he is only referred to as "Dad." But he is a major player in the script and yet doesn't have a name. He is the only unnamed character. I'm not sure if this is on purpose or not. I realize he refers to himself as "Tank" at one point, but I don;t knwo if that means anything since, according to the script, he referred to himself as "Snake" when he met Melissa. Newton is a fairly fully realized character, he has his non-belief issue to get past. Carl seems to have a pretty decent arc. Everyone else gets short shrift, especially Sara. She's completely devoted to this politico, but we have no idea why. She tells us how he's in touch with the common man, but going back to the previous paragraph, we never see it. Instead, every time this guy shows up onscreen, he acts like a jerk. Much as I kind of like Sara, she seems like such an idiot because she doesn't see what's made tremendously obvious to the audience. Even if we got one scene of him a a soup kitchen, it would go a long way to our seeing why she's so devoted to him. Or maybe we could get an insight into her past that would explain it.
Eburke, thanks for checking it out and for your comments. You definitely didn't ramble.
The first thing I'll address, since it's been brought up quite a bit with some of my works recently, is the usage of the word play.
I'm guilty. I'm a terribly talky writer, and more often than not find myself telling more than showing. It's like using on the nose dialogue without using on the nose dialogue. Very Weird.
I can see where you're coming from in terms of Sara not really having an arc, and the lack of showing why it is that she's so devoted to the cause. Part of it was hinted at in the dialogue (there I go again) where Liz implies that she may be so devoted because she believes that Jim Darby will take her with him when he gets elected. It's a small gesture, but I think it gives a little bit of story there. It can definitely be fleshed out a little though.
Funny you should comment on the bathroom scene. My issue with that has always been that she doesn't really spend any time in there once you break it down. Your solution could definitely work. Maybe she sees it and just walks out.
Dad was always Dad, in this version and in The Odds of Love. I went that route because pretty much every character in the story is related to him, and the ones that aren't usually end up speaking about him to a family member. The Tank and Snake thing was just a gag.
Another great script. My crazy work schedule has taken its toll on me and this is the first script in a long time I've actually read in one sitting. Take that as a big compliment.
My two problems have to do with some time continuity slip ups. Doug hit the first one. Sure, it's easy to fix but that still leaves Sara and Newton dating about 2 weeks when the campaign dinner takes place. That a little quick for everything that takes place at the end. Maybe show some time passing before the dinner.
My other problem, and it's a tiny one, is the scene towards the beginning. After the wedding, Melissa and Nathan are at the dad's house. From the dialogue it states that the wedding took place the day before. If I was on my honeymoon I doubt I would be anywhere near my parent's house the day after the wedding.
These are a tad nit picky, I know, but with a script this tight its hard to find any mistakes but the fine details. You put together a nice script with extreme characters and great dialogue. Great job!
Thanks for the read, and I'm glad you enjoyed it enough to read through it in one sitting.
The continuity slip up that Doug mentioned has since been taken care of in a newer draft, and Nathan and Melissa are at Dad's house the next day because they didn't go anywhere on a honeymoon. It's actually mentioned in "The Odds of Love", but I wanted to make this one a little more fluent than that so I ended up cutting out some of those explanatory lines.
It took me less than an hour to breeze through this script. I attribute that mainly to the fact that it's a dialogue intensive script. There's no real "plot", per se. And this isn't a negative thing, but it means you need to have really strong characters and dialogue.
I think my biggest problem with your script's dialogue was that it was too witty. It's weird to say that as a problem, but for me it was. No one talks like that. It just seemed like everyone always had the perfect response to what someone else was saying. So much so that it lost any realism.
I do think, however, the best bit of dialogue you had was the first meeting of Newton and Sara. It really worked for me, and I think it's because it resembled a real conversation more than anything else in the script.
I think the dad is my favorite character, but I have big problems with your main character. Newton's an ass, and I know you wrote him to be like that so he could go through his revelation, but it seems like he's too often an ass and not a nice guy the whole way through. He seems way too harsh on Sara too early on, and it was hard for me to sympathize with him after that.
Another problem I had was the ending. Why would Newton not pick up the phone call from Sara? I mean, yeah the ending was romantic, but it had the potential to backfire. And I'm a huge fan of suspension of disbelief (especially with comedies), but this seemed too much for me. I think the only way the ending would have worked is if Sara never called him.
My last concern is that while this script was a breeze to read as a script, it seems like without any real plot, it would drag as a film. But that's hard to determine at this point.
I know I've seemed critical, but it was an enjoyable read for me. Hope this was somewhat helpful.
Thanks for the read. Honestly, I don't know what I could do about the dialogue to make it less witty. I think if anything, it would fall on the actors. I never pictured it as being completely rapid fire, but more in the "acting is reacting" sense. If it weren't done that way, I do agree it would suffer though.
The argument between Newton and Sara is what really drives this story. It's more about internal conflicts than external ones, and I really wanted to drive that home early on, but then have him apologize. He realizes he's a goof, and it's hurt his love life, but he still manages ot put his foot in his mouth at times.
Newton didn't answer the phone because he knew that Sara was going to be at the banquet, and he wanted it to be a surprise. Any chance of that backfiring would have been slim, and with Dad knowing about it as well, it would have helped the situation.
I didn't find the critique to be overly critical, but you make valid points. It's not every day that a writer gets accused of being too witty. I've done a rewrite on this since originally posting, making some minor changes here and there, but nothing major.
I can definitely agree with you on lack of plot. This is more or less really low concept, and a by product of a previously completed feature. Like I said above. It's more about two people's internal conflicts in regards to romance.
I really liked this script. Political overtones make a romantic comedy much more entertaining. I read "Odds of Love," too, but I think I like "Disparity of Devotion" a little bit more.
The strongest aspect of this script, I think, is definitely the dialogue. You have a lot of clever one-liners and mini-speeches from the characters. The characters themselves were well-defined and quite believable. Newton comes across as being well-meaning and sweet, but also a hopeless maladroit.
However, I do have to agree with some of the other posters in that the plot did seem a little weak at times. I thought some of the scenes, most notably the dinner with Newton's family sort of dragged on a little bit. For that matter, I'm not sure I really understood the dynamics of Liz & Carl's relationship. Newton's father nursing a grudge over some consumed alcohol also seems a little farfetched to me.
I really liked the conclusion. You've presented a relationship mended with the same type of victory one would experience during a successful election, complete with the patriotic music and confetti.
You have great talent. I've read some of your other works on your website. I especially enjoyed "180." Anyway, keep up the great work, and if you have the time, maybe give my screenplay a quick read & review.