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Life of Riley by Mark Moore (irish eyes) - Comedy - Michael has a few weeks to save his beloved Pet Shop and his sanity. Aided by his suicidal girlfriend, 3 muttonheads, an arrogant uncle, an illegal karaoke loving China man and a crackhead psychiatrist, to name a few, will his life ever be the same? 113 pages - pdf, format
There's a great deal of clever dialogue, and a complex plot -- in other words, you clearly put thought into writing this -- but in my opinion you take the easy way out of every plot twist -- everything that can go wrong does go wrong and whatever the debris happens to land on gets destroyed, too.
Since I try to write comedy too, I'm familiar with this problem and I'm especially aware of it because I see myself fall into the same bad habit.
Maybe your script could make a screamingly funny movie, who knows...
I read a good part of your script. You have a good gift for comedy. One thing that stuck out was Chad's dialogue. It was hard to read as it was written in his dialect. I don't know if it would be proper but in the intro, you could describe his dialect and leave the rest up for the actor...otherwise it slows down a read.
Thanks pontoof. I tried to keep it all free flowing, I could see how Chad`s dialogue could slow a reader down, as you have to try and make sense of each word he says. He was based on a real person I used to work with and that`s how he pronounced every word. You do have a point, it would have been easier to write and leave the rest up to the actors. thanks again
I read through the first 11 pages or so and while there are a couple of issues you could clean up, which I'll get into upon a full review, I liked some of the jokes and the bar banter was good. Enough to keep me reading.
I'd be interested to know what you think of "Grand Avenue" since we write in the same genre.
Okay, I'm half way through it, and though I'll finish it over the weekend out of respect, I'm not sure my opinion will change because I think I have a pretty fair handle on where this needs to go...
To address some of the earlier remarks - I agree with cm hall that your dialogue is good, but I disagree that there is a complex plot here. To me it feels like a string of gags sewn together with the barest of threads - Mickey gets a letter that the pet shop will close (I'm actually a RE analyst in "real life", and no one would ever get a letter like that).
And we get to page 55 before the "conflict" is re-introduced...
Add to that the fact that your wrylies are too long and most times need to be their own action line, and your narratives have many unfilmables in them.
Oh, and pharmeceutical company or no pharmaceutical company, no receptionist takes urine at the door. If you want the buffoon to actually think he's supposed to deliver the urine at the job interview then fine, but at least make the receptionist refuse it and send him to the lab for a fresh sample - I'm not sure this huge stretch to reality was worth the "dog urine" joke...
Now, for the good stuff -
First off, don't change Chad's dialogue. I know, I know, people might say it slows them down, and some might say it's mean-spirited (or worse), but the bottom line is that it's funny. And the way it's written forces the reader to slow down and thus is gives Chad a funny cadence (but change the song - Eddie Murphy has the patent on "Roxanne" from 48 Hours, and no one can improve on it).
And you have some really good lines in here - i.e., "there really is no beginning to your talents" and "I'll answer your questions in no particular order - because I'm too drunk to remember which order you asked them in" (I'm paraphrasing that one).
And the characters are drawn pretty nicely as well - except, ironically, for Mickey, who seems a bit underdone and all over the place. I think you need consistency with him - in other words, when he starts to wisecrack he sounds like the rest of the characters. Leave him as the pristine one who gets on everyone else's nerves, I say...
So here's my advice - if you leave this as a movie (more on this in a bit) I would take the "Saving Silverman" angle. In other words, turn the movie over to Brad and Bob and make Mickey more passive - as it stands now Brad and Bob, along with Jimmy, get most of the screen time anyway. You'd also need to come up with a better premise - or add more jeopardy to Mickey's circumstances.
I think however that this may be better served as a series. You have all the elements - funny characters and good dialogue, and two sets for the action to revolve around - the bar and the pet shop. And you've got the burgeoning relationship with Mickey and Sally, which in this present version feels rushed.
If you agree that this idea is intriguing, check out Craig's "Spiritual Connections" in the series section here. SC is a blueprint of how to write a wacky, six-part series. You can also move your location from the US to Canada or Europe, as your likely outlet for a series of this nature would be the CBC or BBC.
Thanks Anthony. I appreciate your comments. I did figure that the letter was weakly written, I just thought being a comedy and not a drama, I could get away with it, same with the urine sample scene. Of course you would have to be a RE analyst. The more I read it, I agree that Mickey needs to be stonger and more in depth in the movie. As for Roxanne, I should have checked first, but that can be an easy change.
Once again thanks Anthony for your honest comments.
First off, I take no joy in being a real estate analyst... (o:
Second, don't lose sight of the fact that there are some pretty good things here. I've read a lot of comedies, and while most only make me smile, yours had some pretty good laughs in it - that's big...
I do feel strongly however that this is a TV series and not a movie. I would encourage you to read "Spiritual Connections" in the series section - who knows, you might get inspired and find your calling?
Also, read, read, and read more scripts, so that the format and style becomes second nature to you. Get your narratives lean and mean so that your dialogue will pop more.
And there are produced scripts here as well as our unproduced ones, so you have the world at your feet, so to speak...
This was pretty enjoyable with some real funny moments, especially with Brad and Bob in the scene where they go back to get the animals from Mickeyís house. Funny stuff! I would agree that it would work better as a series, especially with the characters you have here, but with a rewrite, this could work as a movie, too.
The main problem for me was that your logline promised a story that didnít happen to late on. Mickey saving the pet shop takes a back seat to the various other stories you have going on. I think you could do a better job of weaving the stories together and still have the main focus of the script on Mickey trying his best to save the shop. I think it was Anthony who mentioned that at times it reads like a bunch of jokes stitched together, and he has a point. Concentrate on the story of Mickey and the shop and make everything else a subplot. You have a lot of good stuff going on here, like Mickey and Sallyís relationship, his troubles with Jimmy, etc. Right now, it reads like you forgot about the main story during these parts, but with a rewrite, you will be able to get it just right.
I didnít care for Winstonís character. I know there was nothing bad about him, itís just that heís the type of guy with the voice of reason who randomly shows up in hundreds of films and I feel this script could do better than that. He reminded me of Silent Bob when he worked everything out in the end. I think in this type of movie with the problems your characters have, itís best for them to work it out themselves and not have a character like Winston do it for them. Just my opinion.
Your dialogue is very, very good in parts with a fair share of funny lines. At times, there is a lot of exposition. Maybe too much, actually. There will be more subtle ways of getting this information across. Just something to look at when you rewrite.
I would agree with Anthony re: Mickeyís character. I thought he was the weakest of the bunch and was pretty annoying at the start. I know he is supposed to be depressed but he did seem far too bland. He did win me over in the end though, his unusual relationship with Sally probably helped loads there. I know your problem here as Iíve written two features and have had readers say my leads are bland in both of them. Itís a hard thing to get right.
Next up, the writing. Sometimes, you do A LOT of telling us things about people in your actions lines rather than showing us them with there actions or through their dialogue. Example, Dianeís character intro - ďDIANE is Bob`s older sister and an ex- girlfriend of Brad, she is doing very well for herself at a Pharmaceutical company.Ē If this was a film, the viewer would have no idea that Diane is Bobís older sister unless you hinted to this in the dialogue (you might actually have done this in this example, Iím not sure). Thatís one small example but there are loads scattered throughout.
Problems with scene headings. EXT. OUTSIDE PET SHOP - DAY should just be EXT. PET SHOP - DAY. The EXT lets the reader know itís outside so you donít need to mention it in your heading. If a character is inside a car, have a scene heading like INT. CAR - DAY. This makes it much clearer for the reader so they know exactly where they are. There was also a time where you have ďOne hour goes by...Ē. Again, have another scene heading like INT. BRAD AND BOBS APARTMENT - LATER. Make things as clear for the reader as possible.
One last small point. Page 53 - ďBrad continues to tell Bob what Jimmy did to him.Ē Will the actors have to make this up as they go along here? I donít think youíll get away with that as you are the writer.
Overall, pretty good read. Some problems with format and such but reading more scripts will help you a lot with that. Your characters are strong and the dialogue very good in parts. This would make a good comedy. Concentrate on making this more about Mickey saving the pet shop and revolve everything else around that. Good work!
Thank you Brian for your in depth analysis. I do realise Mickey`s character is the weakest, I wanted him to try and grow and come out of his shell towards the end. Just like Silverman in `Saving Silverman`. I was leaving the comedy to the other guys, Brad, Bob, Jake and Chad. Again like Jack Black and the other guy in Silverman.
I never noticed the Scene heading mistakes until you pointed them out. Thank you. This is why I like this site, it is hard to proof read your own material!!.
Thank you again Brian If you want me to review anything else of yours let me know.