Sorry for the delay in getting around to this, started yesterday before finishing today but I swapped versions on page 19 I think. Most of the things I pointed out in the opening pages could have already been changed so throw aside what you’ve already changed.
First off I want to mention how much your writing has improved since I last looked at your work. I remember being a newb and looking at “A Lot Like Christmas” and the opening wasn’t good and I failed to get past the first 10 pages. I see this is doing well over at Talentville now so congrats and I also saw how long you’ve been at this game… a lot longer than me.
The idea is solid and very original which is always nice to see. The premise is the same old sport comedy piece but the chosen sport is a completely new one on me, I’ve never heard of a lumber jacking movie anyway.
So I came into this with high hopes and for most part I liked it. It was a good read with some eccentric characters to match the sometimes outlandish story.
I did have some problems with your writing but upon going onto the revised script it seems you’ve cleared a lot of those issues up so kudos to you.
If I had any gripes it would be the constant exclamation marks!!!!!
I’ve never seen so many in a script. I also found the use of “beat” or “long silence” quite tiresome but I understand why you had them and maybe I was more aware of them after the recent discussion on the site.
I would also keep an eye on the use of “and” I saw a few instances when a comma would have been better used in its place, if only to tighten your action.
On the whole, I found your writing good and it made the script a good read for it. I will again say well done for the improvements in the revised script, you can see the difference.
Let’s move onto the story. I found the opening 30 pages good and it moved at a good pace, we met our protag and learnt about him and closet to him. We also found out about his problem (money) This aspect never really came into play to affect Ralph again apart from the early commercial’s he did. You seemed to concentrate more on his “getting back into lumber jacking” after his unfortunate meeting with the 4th graders.
This brought us onto the dreaded middle act and things did slow down, the training scenes were a tad long and I personally had no idea how the board knew he was a changed man… he just walked in and got accepted back in. Thought he might have to prove his new character a bit.
The trainer’s were all good and if I’m honest, I’m surprised they didn’t come back in the final act for something. Even if it was in the crowd it would have been nice to see them again cheering Ralph on.
I think the kids disappeared for maybe to long during this period, I think you’re looking at 60 pages between their scenes and this felt too long. I wanted to know why Ralph wasn’t concerned to see or get back to them during this, I think this whole separation from his kids could have been a good kick-start to his training harder.
We then moved into the final act and for me this is where a few problems arose. The Paul Sheedy character was just odd, a few funny lines but overall he was strange and didn’t really play a part like maybe he should have.
The Stella coming back from the dead plot was ludicrous no doubt and I think that was your intention. But to finally reveal her and her anger after all the little snippets of her hair and FEMALE VOICE, it just fell flat for me. She had that one scene with Ralph, had an evil grin and then… nothing happened. Ralph told her he was filing for divorce. Huh! Why go to all those extremes to hide her and then reveal a master (Dr.Evil type plan) only for it all to fall away after 5 pages.
This made the last competition between Ralph and Stanski rather lacking other than Ralph getting his tenth world championship (guess that was the whole point). Their fierce relationship/rivalry was ruined and hence, the whole last 10 pages lost all tension.
Don’t get me wrong, the change of Ralph lying about the stein was surprising and did give it more but I would have liked to have seen these two athletes have it out in one last battle for the championship.
I’ll also give you credit on the two ESPN broadcasters; they were a hoot even if half their dialogue flew straight over my head.
Some of the humour worked, some didn’t but I do think a lot of it would be a lot funnier on screen rather than reading it from a page. I did particularly like one scene where he chops down a tree onto someone’s house: Why? Because of how you timed it, this is what people need to think more about in comedy.
It was an inspiring moment, Ralph’s done his Rocky moment and is fit and ready chopping down trees. One goes down and he watches it fall in slow motion onto –
-- A house. Just really well written. Comedy is all about timing and this scene showed how it can work. Other times I did feel the timing was off but comedy’s subjective like they say.
The main characters were well drawn out and you did a good job.
Ralph was a good protag and I liked that you kept a hint of his personality at the end because that is what makes him funny. If you had completely changed his character, he wouldn’t have worked.
Stanski was excellent and I was really enjoying this Austrian klutz until the final act when all the story of the stein came out. I was thinking this was a man about the sport of lumber jacking which is the real comedy here for me. To think that these men care so much about cutting wood and winning championships was enough for me. I think there is good element there which gets lost in the Stella plot.
Louis was a good side-kick to Ralph but we didn’t find out much about him personally. I think it would be nice to have his own character side-story.
Stella didn’t get a lot to do like I said, couldn’t really get too much into her plot of revenge.
The kids I think could feature more, especially during the middle act where they completely disappeared. I was just surprised that Ralph didn’t try to get to them or see how they were? It might also have been an idea to have them find out about their mother being alive. I’m still confused about the midget cage thing… but at least they got a show F/X.
Elagia was well…? Yeah, I was just confused by her actions. She wanted Ralph, then separated from him, kicking him from the house and kids before wanting him again. Then she didn’t care that Ralph wanted a divorce before she turned up with lawyers and was deported. Just a strange lady with no real motivation other than sex. She didn't even get those big knockers out.
Like I said before the ESPN broadcasters were fun but I would have liked to see some more of them.
So overall I think this is a solid read but I think the middle act needs more, a tad slow at the moment. Needs some more competitions (ESPN guys) and the kids need to be integrated in here as well. Can’t help feeling there gone too long. I also think the final act could do with revising; I just wasn’t a big fan of the Stella angle which killed the world championship contest finale.
And that is the big disappointment about the ending. It should have been about the protag overcoming the odds and winning the world championship against a younger, tougher foe but it lost its momentum as soon as Ralph said “well, that about clears everything up” I think he was right.
Obviously this just my opinion and other’s may have said what a great ending with the reveal of Stella and her evil plan. That is how opinions differ.
Good work overall though, this one has much potential and I see no reason why it can’t be picked up. Wish you all the best with it.
Here are the notes I took during the read:
P.1 Where’s my “fade in” It may be picky but I do like to see it in a script.
A few unfilmables here, there okay but only in small portions and something I hope won’t go on throughout.
“pronounced Rafe” Repeated info here, unnecessary to tell us twice on the same page.
“sits STEVE EAGERTON” So is Ralph sitting? I kind thought he was standing from his description… guessing there is no table?
“fucking mouth” There is no need to swear in the action, comes off very unprofessional to me. I understand this is supposed to be R-rated but still… this should come though in the dialogue.
“camera men” Think this is one word.
“Ralph doesn’t seem to notice, just plods along.” Get rid of “seem to” it’s superfluous and if anything getting rid of it will help to show what a douche he is. “Ralph doesn’t notice, plods along” Also tightens your action.
P.1/2 Uh-oh! Already a pet-peeve of mine. Try not to let the dialogue go over two pages. Just looks messy IMO.
“wearing a name tag that reads “Producer”” Again can be cut, I mean he/she is called Producer so it’s evident. But we can’t see the name producer when watching… true but the audience aren’t idiots.
“in khakis, polo shirt and a blazer.” I wonder if his attire is all that important?
P.3 “Louis picks up his stuff” What stuff? Try to be visual here, mobile phone, wallet? What is he picking up?
“Ralph is leaned back in his chair, smoking a cigarette.”
“Ralph leans back in his chair, smokes a cigarette” Tightens your action and gets rid of that nasty “is” and “ing” word.
“and jizzed myself.” Missing “I” after and.
“That’s what this country was built on” What? Premature ejaculation!
“His tone says that he does not, in fact, find this
This line could be re-worded for the better.
“His tone says different.” This would work quite well with the line preceding it. Just a thought.
“Steve just” No need for “just” “Steve throws his…”
Okay so I’ve learnt Ralph’s a douche but I would have liked to have seen some flashback in this opening showing him in his prime chopping down some trees. Would have been a nice visual over all the dialogue.
P.4 “In the dark bar” We know this from the slug. No need to repeat info. If it’s important that the bar is dark then find a way to describe this without mentioning the bar again.
“The BARTENDER/WAITER” Choose one! No need for both, probably bartender as we’re at a bar.
“to the Bartender/Waiter.” Superfluous, can be taken out.
P.6 “apparently” A horrible word choice here when it wasn’t even needed.
P.8 Some good dialogue in the bar scene between Ralph and Louis and especially liked the book title.
“A massive mansion that would make Donald Trump
simultaneously proud and jealous.”
Wasn’t a fan of this line and it’s repeating the slug again.
Shouldn’t Romanowski’s dialogue be (O.S) here outside the mansion?
“The home is absolutely gorgeous” Please don’t use this line unless you’re a gay interior designer.
“things” Calm down on the usage of this word, it becomes repetitive. Same with “massive”
“Oh Em Gee - this is perfect.”
Again, shouldn’t Romanowski be (O.S) he’s not in the hallway right?
“The bedroom is massive” Try not to use “is” so much, it will help the flow of the read. Also not repeating your slugs which will help tighten your action.
Kinda liked your description of the bed and bedside tables though.
Again with the (O.S)?
P.9 “(30’s)” No need for the apostrophe in the ages.
“the SOUND of someone showering.” How do I know someone is showering? Why not “the shower SOUNDS in the background or b.g for shorter” You’re emphasising “someone” to me so I know it’s someone important, almost like a spoiler to me.
“Fine!!!” You use a lot of exclamation marks! Something to cut down on.
“(into phone)” Get this into the action before instead of the overlong intro… don’t use parentheticals unless necessary.
You do have a tendency to overwrite at times for me in your action.