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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Comedy Scripts  ›  Male-Order Bride Moderators: bert
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  Author    Male-Order Bride  (currently 3729 views)
Don
Posted: August 17th, 2013, 1:06pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Male-Order Bride by Gary Rowlands (rolo) - Comedy - A homophobe gets more than he bargained for when his mail-order bride turns out to be a gay Russian man 101 pages - pdf, format


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Leegion
Posted: August 17th, 2013, 6:42pm Report to Moderator
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Pfft... the logline alone managed to catch my eye and a laugh.  Consider this a read in the coming days, Gary.
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Ledbetter
Posted: August 17th, 2013, 8:56pm Report to Moderator
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Same here!

I'm reading Michael's script right now but when I'm done, this is next on my list.

I look forward to reading your work and returning the favor.

Take care Gary

Shawn.....><
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rolo
Posted: August 17th, 2013, 9:07pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks Don for putting this one up so quick! Much appreciated!

@ Lee - Cheers buddy! Really looking forward to your thoughts on this one. Good or bad! (preferably good LOL)

@ Shawn - Thanks, bro. I welcome your input! Take care.
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Manowar
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Let me get out one niggling stylistic point now before I forget... when you add in the SUPER to announce Zach is now in adulthood, think of how that will play on-screen as you now have it. Zach is still a kid in a scene as the SUPER  drops. Better to have the next scene begin first, before intro'ing the SUPER. Maybe even in master shot first, intro the SUPER then go into Zach's current scene. That said...

You had me liking Zach with all the intimate animal scenes--I'm a pet lover and this hit home. But you make him too much of a deuche with his overt homophobia. It's a tough sell no matter how many other "good" points your character may have.

The structural problems I have with your story are more apparent. If Zach's dad wants him to be married ASAP cuz he's running for office, why didn't he give him more time to do so? It sounds like the old man just suddenly came to this conclusion regarding his son, when a real politico would've set the stage much earlier in the game.  Maybe give him a year instead of two weeks?

And having him arrested would not help out the old man's campaign. It would bring troubling questions from press. Doubt he would have the son arrested for this reason alone. Need better motivation for Zach to act. And the thing about his Rolex seems so superficial, it makes him look very materialistic.

So you gain some points in the way you portray Zach as an animal lover, but those points are quickly negated by showing how negative he can be by announcing publicly at the diner how he hates gays, and by sweating the Rolex. Yes, give your character faults, but going so far as to make us hate him will likely cause readers to stop caring for his plight unless he has other traits that make him interesting to us (as in the murderous Godfather lead who kills for a living but is so caring about family and friends and lives by a strange moral code that we care about him).

There's also the easy targets you choose, ie bible thumpers and Republicans. You may think you're towing the line and pleasing your audience, but you're choosing targets that have already been made fools of to the point of cliche. It's akin to writing an action/adventure and making Nazis the villains in a world domination plot. Been there, seen it, bored with the johnny-come-latelys. Too many scripts (whether horror, drama, thriller, etc) focus on Bible thumpers or Souterners in general as evil or mindless or below others in society, along with Repubs in general. If you can make them Greek Orthodox, or Egyptian chrtistians, or some other denomination we haven't learned about much before, it would seem more interesting and fresh.

I only made it through the first twenty pages for the reasons listed above and for the fact that the comedy wasn't really there. Yeah, you had a couple funny lines that made me grin, but no lines or scenarios that made me really laugh. If you want to write comedy you need better than that, and breaking down comedy as a whole is beyond the scope of this thread. But in a nutshell, there are not enough funny setups and payoffs, or funny lines delivered so far.

I think if you study more films that you find funny, and learn the timing of setups and payoffs, and how to deliver truly funny lines, you may have a better beginnning. More importantly, you have an MC who can be very sympathetic via his actions with animals, but you need to work on his actions via gays so that he is not such a boob. And find a different group to pick on, as bible thumpers and Southerners have been exploited so much already.

Decent start. Good luck with your rewriting.

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rolo
Posted: August 18th, 2013, 7:55pm Report to Moderator
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@ Manowar - Thanks for taking a look at Male-Order Bride.

"If Zach's dad wants him to be married ASAP cuz he's running for office, why didn't he give him more time to do so?"

Because he only just came up with the idea and needed to implement his 'plan' immediately.

"Maybe give him a year instead of two weeks?"

The two weeks is a 'ticking clock' intended to build tension. One year simply wouldn't work! A guy who has a whole year to get married would make for a pretty boring story imo.

"So you gain some points in the way you portray Zach as an animal lover, but those points are quickly negated by showing how negative he can be by announcing publicly at the diner how he hates gays"

The theme of the story is: Can a straight man and a gay man be friends without sex getting in the way? Zach's homophobia is his 'fatal flaw'. Without it, his character wouldn't need to arc and there wouldn't be a story to begin with.

"There's also the easy targets you choose, ie bible thumpers and Republicans."

Though admittedly set in 'The Bible Belt, there is very little reference to religion in the script. Also, there is not a single mention of any political party in the story. Assuming the story's antagonist is a Republican, is something you did of your own accord!

"you had a couple funny lines that made me grin, but no lines or scenarios that made me really laugh. "

Comedy, as we all know, is very subjective. Sorry, it didn't make you laugh. But hopefully, others will find it funnier?!

rolo
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StevenClark
Posted: August 18th, 2013, 11:11pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Gary,

Much like Lee, The logline had me cracking up!  I'll give you some broad strokes here.  I've only read up to page 37, but rest assured I will def finish the rest!

I agree with Manowar about Pennington being a republican.  You haven't mentioned it yet, but it is certainly implied.  And it is in the Bible belt, but I don't think it detracts in any way or should be taken as offensive or beating up on specific political parties or religious groups.  So there's that.

Story wise, it seems forced in places.  I know in these spec scripts you need to get to the point quickly, but in some instances I think you need to slow down just a little.  It all seems a little rushed.  Now I know that Zach has only two weeks to get this done, but I don't think the script necessarily needs to read like that.  It could be just me.

It's kinda like boom boom, WHAM!  Ok, here's Sergei!

I enjoyed your opening.  Thought that was funny.  Loved the Three Musketeers bit and how they don't carry muskets!  Ha!  A lot of your humor falls into that category -- dry and somewhat silly.  I like it.  And while there are no flat out belly laughs yet, I have chuckled several times at the jokes.

I like Glut although he seems a tad over the top.

It seems like early on you went a little out of your way to make Zach likeable through his interactions with the animals.  Not really a bad thing.  I would have opted for something a little more subtle as opposed to the "series of shots" style you used.

Hammond was a decent buffer between Pennington at Zach's house when they repo'd everything, but I feel Pennington, up to this point, needs to be a little more fleshed out.  I think he should have had a bigger role in that scene.  We know his motives, but I feel we should know him better.  Like he could've been next to Hammond directing things more as to who went where and what to take.  Something like that.

Where I think you succeed big time is with Sergei's character.  He's well thought out.  We know a lot about him already in a very short amount of time.  His swan tattoos (love symbols), his Tammy Wynette records.  He's witty, sympathetic, and colorful.  And English isn't even his first language!  Great job.

Anyway, an enjoyable read to this point.  Incidentally, it was Manowar who mentioned after reading my comedy script that it read "more cute than funny."  I'm feeling that here.  And it's def not a bad thing!

Will get back to you shortly with my thoughts on the second half.

Steve


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rolo
Posted: August 19th, 2013, 6:50am Report to Moderator
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Hey Steve -

Thanks for giving this a read. So far, your comments are pretty encouraging. I was surprised that you felt the story seemed a little rushed. Personally, I thought it seemed to take for ever for Sergei to appear in the story - However, it was a structural decision (page 25 - end of act one). Will be interesting to see if others share your view?

As for Pennington being a Republican - I suppose that conclusion is somewhat inevitable. However, it's just a story device. I do not have any particular political or religious viewpoints. And was anxious for folks not to perceive the story as an attempt on my part, to take cheap shots at any particular political party or religious group. So my reply to Manowar regarding the Republican bashing may have appeared curt? Not my intention! Apologies to Manowar if it did.

Just trying to make folks laugh - No ax to grind!

Overall, you make some very valid comments, Steve. Thanks for your input!

Take care, buddy

rolo

P.S. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the rest of the script!
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Manowar
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Hey, Rolo. To clear it up:


Quoted from rolo

"If Zach's dad wants him to be married ASAP cuz he's running for office, why didn't he give him more time to do so?"

Because he only just came up with the idea and needed to implement his 'plan' immediately.

"Maybe give him a year instead of two weeks?"

The two weeks is a 'ticking clock' intended to build tension. One year simply wouldn't work! A guy who has a whole year to get married would make for a pretty boring story imo.


Totally agree. I didn't mean to suggest dragging the script over a year or so. I meant something to the effect of his dad maybe gives him a year time limit, the son says "sure, no problem," cut to the next scene and it's 11 months later, and he's still single and realizes he has two weeks left. Or his father says something to the effect that he told him a year ago to find a woman, and now he's only giving two weeks. I'm just throwing stuff against the wall here. The way it's currently set up, where the dad seems to come up with this time limit out of the blue--to me--seemed a little forced.  

That's all.



Quoted from rolo

"There's also the easy targets you choose, ie bible thumpers and Republicans."

Though admittedly set in 'The Bible Belt, there is very little reference to religion in the script. Also, there is not a single mention of any political party in the story. Assuming the story's antagonist is a Republican, is something you did of your own accord!


Actually, I got it from page 18 of your script:

Zack:
So whatís the problem? Dadís
Governor of the most right wing
state in the country


But, listen... I'm not saying "don't use those poor. ole' Repubs as your antags." Both repubs and dems are real-life antagonists and both make me sick in the tummy. But that's besides the point and my personal beliefs aren't what I'm getting at. Make fun of whomever you want, or better said, make your script's baddies whatever group you want, I particularly don't care. One of my favorite comedies of all time "The Birdcage" from the mid-90s (highliy recommend it) overtly made a repub senator the bad guy, and it was hilarious. But by the mid-90s I wasn't innundated with Southern or repub baddies in movies. However, since then, they've been overly used, almost like you see a banjo coming whenever a film needs really shallow, less-evolved, biggoted antagonists. It would be refreshing to see some other group explored in that role. I was just suggesting choosing a different group not often exploited to make it seem a little more fresh. Kind of like if writing a Cold War novel and choosing the easy target--the Soviets--instead of exploring East Germans, Cubans, or better, some other group I never heard of associated with Communist sympathizers looking to end democracy. That's all.

I just watched the remake to "Spit on your Grave." The original I believe took place in New York. It was a low-budget, low production quality indie film that scored big on shock points, but little else. That said, it's a cult classic. The remake from a couple years back, however, had a bigger budget, very high production quality, but the the setting and the baddies had been changed from the North and northerners, to the South and rednecks. Good acting, but jeez, so many movies (esp horror) over the past fifteen years have decided Southerners are the quintessential dumb-ass baddies. Maybe it's the effect that "Deliverance" from the 70s has on us. But it seems, whether accurate or not, that the same group has been used as the socially inferior group in film in recent years. Reeks of the 80s when all those slasher flicks aped "Friday" and "Halloween" and we had all these deranged cutthroats who just loved to slash naughty teenagers with little or no motivation--and they always allowed the virginal to live.

Sorry if I'm so longwinded with my explanations. I just wanted to make it clear that I'm not trying to protect any one particular social group... I was just suggesting to maybe explore using one that hasn't been so overly used lately.

ANd no, no offense taken, I didn't think you were being curt at all. Maybe I just didn't express myself properly.

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rolo
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Hey Manowar -

Thinking about, it was kind of stupid of me to describe Zach's Dad as Governor of the most right wing state in the country and not expect folks to assume he was a Republican! The fact that I live in the UK probably doesn't help! Glad you didn't take offense! You also make a good point about the apparent overuse of Southerners in movies.

Now that you've explained it more, I see what you mean about Zach having only two weeks to get married, feeling a little forced. However, I think him being given a year to find a bride then eleven months later suddenly realizing he's only got two weeks left, would risk losing sympathy for him and his predicament. I mean, he's had almost an entire year to find someone, so really he'd only have himself to blame for wasting all that time.

In your first post you mentioned that Zach appears materialistic because he's anxious to get his Rolex back - He only wanted it so he could pawn/sell it to feed the animals. But none of that's on the page. I need to make that much clearer! Glad you pointed that out!

I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was a little disappointed that both Steve and yourself haven't found anything to really laugh at! Particularly, the restaurant scene were moments after warning his buddy he'll be having the Heimlich for dessert if he's not careful, Zach finds himself dangling upside down, having the life crushed out of him as some huge guy attempts to perform the Heimlich on him, then drops Zach on his head after Zach accidentally farts in his face etc. To me, that's pretty funny!

That said, the fact that you took the time to read some of Male-Order Bride and share your thoughts and offer suggestions is great! I'm always appreciative of folks who give up their valuable time to read my work!

As for "Spit on your Grave" I didn't know it had been remade! I vaguely remember watching the original years ago and sorta liking it. Not sure I'd like it so much now though?

Take care

rolo
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StevenClark
Posted: August 20th, 2013, 11:26pm Report to Moderator
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Gary,

Okay.  All done!

First off, I think you got a really good script here.  It read quick, and yes, it was funny.  

When I began where i'd left off -page 37 - I was afraid we weren't going to see much more of Sergei.  You had introduced SJ and Timmy to us, so I figured, well, there goes Sergei.  But you brought him back into the story and made him more of a pivotal character than I thought you would.  And that worked out very well, I think.

I think SJ's character needs to be fleshed out more.  Something along the lines of setting up and showing the reader the romance, or potential romance, that is blossoming between her and Zach.  I don't think you spent enough time on that.

Timmy was decent, but seemed like more of a "point A to point B" type of character.  He helped move the story along, and was the reason, I think, for Zach and Glut being in the gay dance club.  That scene, actually, was where I got my first good laugh!  The conga line scene was great.

Glut was fun.  A little over the top at times early on, but he kinda arced as well in a good way.  Never thought he'd give us the reveal he did, but I can definitely see it being set up along the way.  Was wondering why he was a little too sympathetic to Sergei at times!

The one character who confused me, oddly enough, was Pennington.  When he uttered his line "No. No.  I mean meat meat."  What exactly was he talking about?  Still a bit confused by that.  Anyway, he seemed like too much of a jackass, IMO.  I mean, he got what was coming to him because of it, but -- well, for an antagonist, he could've had a bigger role, as well.  He seemed more like the "token" bad guy, but we really didn't get to know him all too well.

Zach's arc was completed, as expected.  No big secret there!  He became more sympathetic the more I got to know him.  ie:  helping Timmy, and constantly getting slapped, kicked in the nuts, etc.  Funny, comedy protags always seem to get the crap kicked out of them.  Several times, in fact!

The other big laugh I got, BTW, is when Sergei pulled a gun on Zach.  (Still think Sergei's character was the most thought out.)  When Zach cried, "Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  I was rock hard!"  I was on the floor!  Nice job.

Overall, very enjoyable work.  I think you need to smooth off the rough edges, but it's fairly solid.  And a great, funny premise.  Thinking about it, I believe what threw me off a little was your logline.  I just figured this was all going to be about the mail order bride being a guy situation, but it veered off slightly, making me feel this wasn't going to be as good as it was.  But you pulled it together pretty well in the end.

Had fun reading this.

Steve

p.s.  what number draft is this?


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rolo
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Hey Steve -

Some really good feedback here! Much appreciated!

"First off, I think you got a really good script here.  It read quick, and yes, it was funny."

Phew! That's a relief! I was starting to think I had a unique sense of humor and nobody else would find it funny!

"I think SJ's character needs to be fleshed out more.  Something along the lines of setting up and showing the reader the romance, or potential romance, that is blossoming between her and Zach.  I don't think you spent enough time on that."

That's a good point. I'll bear that in mind.

"Timmy was decent, but seemed like more of a "point A to point B" type of character.  He helped move the story along, and was the reason, I think, for Zach and Glut being in the gay dance club.  That scene, actually, was where I got my first good laugh!  The conga line scene was great."

Yeah - Despite there being a sorta "love at first sight" moment between Zach and SJ - Timmy is the reason that Zach and SJ don't get together initially. (Timmy's gay - So no way is SJ going to hook up with a homophobe, like Zach). Delighted that you liked the conga line scene!

"The one character who confused me, oddly enough, was Pennington.  When he uttered his line "No. No.  I mean meat meat."  What exactly was he talking about?  Still a bit confused by that."

Ah, right. This might be a case of were comedy doesn't travel well?! In the UK "meat" is  a form of slang used to describe a man's private parts. Pennington has always suspected Zach of being gay. So when Zach says "No. No. I meant meat. Not meat meat... meat!" He's actually trying to clarify that he likes the meat we eat not the meat used to describe a guy's dick! Lol.

"The other big laugh I got, BTW, is when Sergei pulled a gun on Zach.  (Still think Sergei's character was the most thought out.)  When Zach cried, "Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  I was rock hard!"  I was on the floor!  Nice job."

Yes. Sergei's the strongest character! Zach's more the straight guy. (no pun intended!). Really pleased you found that scene funny!

"Overall, very enjoyable work.  I think you need to smooth off the rough edges, but it's fairly solid.  And a great, funny premise."

Glad you enjoyed it! The premise is one of the script's biggest strengths for sure.

"Thinking about it, I believe what threw me off a little was your logline.  I just figured this was all going to be about the mail order bride being a guy situation."

Yeah - Good point about the logline. I think I need to tweak it a little.

"Had fun reading this."

Awesome!

"what number draft is this?"

I'd like to say it's the first. Truth is, I've spent quite a bit of time on this. This is the fourth draft.

Really appreciate your thoughtful notes on this, Steve. Thanks, buddy.

Take care

Gary (rolo)




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Manowar
Posted: August 21st, 2013, 12:03pm Report to Moderator
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Yo, Rolo. It escaped me that you were from the UK. I can see how some American cliches would breeze past you. I once wrote a crime script with one sequence that included an old couple from Birmingham (England, not Alabama). I posted it on another writer's board for some feedback, especially from any Brits to make sure I had the UKisms down. I was so proud that I knew you guys used "mobile" instead of "cell phones" and other little differences like that.

But shit, did I get a lesson. I was wrong about so many things British, but thankfully the good (Brit) folks at that other site were happy to point them out. Maybe more than happy, I'd say.

ANd as full disclosure, I recently wrote a horror script and intentionally used SOutherners as some of the baddies, despite the fact that I rail against this because it's so overused. But my purpose was to show them as very shrewd, intelligent, even worldly baddies, to play against expectations. Sad to say that script hasn't gone anywhere yet, and I can't rule out that one reason may be because I went for that same social group that has been harangued so much lately, albeit in a different way.

Why aren't you setting your script in UK? If you write what you know it will show so much better. UK flicks play well here. And you'd be at liberty to use that very subtle Brit humor that Americans don't generally write well (like "Four Weddings and a Funeral"). Might even work better if instead you made the old man an aristocrat maybe looking to have his son marry close to the Royal Family in order that he looks better when running for a seat in Parliament. Lots of possibilities there, and less chance for mishaps. Just a suggestion. But if you have your heart set on setting your story in the US, go for it! And don't be afraid to ask us yanks about certain social mores if you're uncertain.

As for me and Steve not finding quite as funny as you'd hoped for, like you said, comedy is very subjective. And very difficult to write. See if others find it funny, and if you have overwhelming numbers that do, then you're on the right track. There are quite a few very successful "funny" movies that I didn't find humorous at all, so it may just be my personal taste. I will implore you once again to watch "The Birdcage" starring Robin Williams in probably his best performance along with Nathan Lane. Some similarities to your premise and just laugh-out-loud funny. I think it will help.
Once again, good luck with your writing, and very glad you didn't take offense to my comments.

CHeers, mate!
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rolo
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Hey Manowar -

"Yo, Rolo. It escaped me that you were from the UK. I can see how some American cliches would breeze past you."

Yep - No arguing there. LOL.

"Why aren't you setting your script in UK? If you write what you know it will show so much better. UK flicks play well here. And you'd be at liberty to use that very subtle Brit humor that Americans don't generally write well (like "Four Weddings and a Funeral"). Might even work better if instead you made the old man an aristocrat maybe looking to have his son marry close to the Royal Family in order that he looks better when running for a seat in Parliament.

I tend to prefer US films over British films. Hence, the reason I try to emulate them. Whilst, I quite like quirkiness, I much prefer broad comedy. So give me "There's Something About Mary" over "Four Weddings And A Funeral" every time!

As for setting Male-Order Bride in the UK and having the old man be an aristocrat etc - I think it's an interesting idea.  However, I think setting it in the US has more comedic potential! By that, I mean folks are more liberal in Britain than certain areas of the US. Sure, there are homophobes everywhere (including Britain) but not to the same extreme.

DISCLAIMER! I am not gay nor do I have a political ax to grind. That said, I watched a documentary a few years back about a small Southern church/cult. And was stunned to hear one of its members (a young girl) say that "homosexuals are evil and should all die!"

Similarly, not too long ago, a certain actor turned Mayor turned actor (a guy whose films I love for the most part) was very active in trying to ban same-sex marriages in the State he represented.

Frankly, I find this attitude quite shocking in this day and age. And wanted to explore it through Male-Order Bride. Hence, the setting and political leanings of the antagonist.

"As for me and Steve not finding quite as funny as you'd hoped for, like you said, comedy is very subjective."

Definitely! Though, I think Steve actually found it funny the more he got into the story and enjoyed it!

"I will implore you once again to watch "The Birdcage" starring Robin Williams in probably his best performance along with Nathan Lane. Some similarities to your premise and just laugh-out-loud funny. I think it will help"

Thanks for the tip! "The Birdcage" is now on my watch list!

"Once again, good luck with your writing, and very glad you didn't take offense to my comments."

No offense taken. And thanks for the good luck wishes! I too, wish you all the best with your own writing.

Cheers, buddy!

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Leegion
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As promised, my review and such:

Page 5 - The quick "pain" cuts were hilarious, you could be the nicest guy in the world but still, getting bitten in the butt, thrown into a fence, pecked by a vicious goose and launched through a stable door would make you want to GET. THE HELL. OUT OF THERE!

Page 5 - Brenda gazes at Gluts(') rotund figure.

Page 9 - LMAO at the choking segment, LOL.

Page 11 - Heads towards a lavish house (head towards or heads toward? I'd say the lesser, due to the plural).

Page 25 - Sergei and Zach = LOL moment.

Page 35 - When Pennington comes into the apartment, you don't change the slug from "GUEST BEDROOM", might want to add a new location for when Pennington strides in.

Page 53 - Now, what kind of fool uses MOUTHWASH to cool off his pee pee?  LOL.  Must've burned like a mother...

Page 53 - Also on this page, same as Page 35, when Gluts trudges in, you remain INT. BATHROOM, then continue in the LIVING ROOM after you say "LATER". May wish to fix that little error.

Page 59 - Semi-automatic hunting knife, LOL.

Page 62 - The "stick" pokes a little too far, LMAO.

Page 71 - Zach('s) mouth drops open.

Page 83 - The waxing scene had me laughing.

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There are some instances in which you could revise some sentences and paragraphs, but I'm not gonna say anything in regards to it because it's your voice and it's up to me to see it play out.
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This story has HEART, man.  I am 100% heterosexual, but I have absolutely NOTHING against homosexuals.  It was a great story, one with excellent premise.

Memorable characters too.  

Gluts, for example, was one of my favourite characters in this story, he was a down-to-earth guy.  I liked his character arc. I kinda figured him to be "you know" after he said "a gay guy and a straight guy can still be friends".  His arc was fantastic.

Zach too, as a main protag he had everything, and even accepted that he wasn't truly homophobic by the end.

Excellent comedy with HEART.  It has a spark comedies rarely have.  Exceptionally hilarious minor antagonist in the form of Jaws.  And a great message.

At 101 pages, this script reads very quickly due to the writing style, flows great and has terrific comedic moments along with heart.

Great script, Gary.

Lee
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