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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Comedy Scripts  ›  Doubles Moderators: bert
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spesh2k
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 6:22pm Report to Moderator
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Cool man. I'm just gonna read straight through the script, won't comment on writing as to not repeat myself -- unless it's something new I spot.

RE: The Suicide Theory, it's no longer available on Netflix, but you can still check it out on Amazon Prime, Itunes, Google Play, Youtube Rental, Vudu, etc.


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 6:38pm Report to Moderator
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Great, just found it on Prime.  Will be watching in bed tonight.
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spesh2k
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 7:07pm Report to Moderator
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The link is asking me to request access...


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 7:52pm Report to Moderator
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https://drive.google.com/open?id=1HIhWzjIDEWIuDeFlSuqxa-Sna3PNhLWj

This new link worked for me when I clicked.  Hopefully it works for. you too.
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ajr
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 9:32pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Daniel,

So I just finished. My notes are going to be random so please forgive that.

You've written a lot of great characters. I liked Scab and Sam. Anna was great, too. And the supporting cast, again, as I said, you've woven a bit of crazy into each of them, ala Wes Anderson meets THE SANDLOT, but then I see a touch of Farrelly Brothers / KINGPIN in it as well.

If we can ignore the formatting, which certainly has to be addressed, the story does flow quite well. This is overwritten in a lot of spots, particularly the narratives. They need to be much shorter, less blocky, and you need to say just enough to set the picture in the reader's head without over-describing. At 121 pages this is rather long, and would need to be in the area of 110 pages, max. The bad news is that in the version I read, Scab's dialogue is stretched out like narrative lines, so when you correct that, it's going to add length to this, I figure it's going to be about 130 pages, which means you need to trim 20 pages.

You can do that first by shortening the narratives. See where that gets you. And then you might have to make some hard choices. We spend an awful lot of time with these guys at certain ages. You might have to leave some of that out.

A good example of shortening dialogue would be Anna on page 22 where she says something like "I know, I make too many family jokes." Things like this, which states or restates the obvious, can be left out. Otherwise, your dialogue is not bad at all, and it's pretty funny in spots, and then at times it does get verbose.

On page 30 you mention COVID - I would not. Something about teens being in a freer state because of it. COVID doesn't need to exist in your world and I would not invoke it. That's just me. And something about mentioning it and also having Arthur Ashe as alive (even though we don't see him) - didn't he die in 1993? So I'm not sure in what time period your story takes place.

During the tennis matches I also get a little WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP vibe. It might be too much in spots. Sam and Scab are always at each other. Work on them a little bit. Is Sam's bravado a defense mechanism? Or does he really believe he's God's gift? It's a tough line to walk, but you should look at that in further rewrites.

I made a note on page 45 saying "the coaches shouldn't curse" because I started to think that all the characters were sounding homogenous. But then, looking back after having read the entire thing, all these people are so wacky that I don't think it makes a difference.

Page 49 had an example of too much narration - I think the Narrator going into what he's overheard or what his sources tell him is an example of what can be cut.

Page 50, on the other hand, had a very pithy, emotional bit of narrative - "And that was the day boy became a
man and Scab�s father really died." More of that. Digging deep, giving us some color rather than telling us (instead of showing) what is happening.

I laughed out loud on page 54 when Sam said to his dad "wait, weren't you there to liberate the Iraqis?" and Sam's dad said "Ah, who the hell knows." That's a brilliant line, funny but with a huge amount of subtext. Again, more of that, please.

Page 54, again, an example of too much narration - you've got several lines describing Anna waiting for scab on the tennis court, #6 I believe. You go into great detail about #6. Don't get too bogged down. It's more like:

Anna waits for scab under the lights.

Scab gingerly lays his bike down, careful not to touch the lines.

Something like that. Space saving, and giving us the info we need without over-explaining.

You took me in a direction I didn't think we were going to go, and I applaud you for that. When Scab and Sam both drop out of college. Now of course I knew we were in for the rags to riches ending, but this was great, because you put an obstacle in the way, and that's what screenplays must have. It might have resolved itself too quickly, however? Maybe get to it sooner, and make the guys struggle a bit more, instead of having the Narrator come with a Willy Wonka golden ticket? Just a thought.

The other issue with this is that you wrote a big budget film. It didn't start off that way, though the amount of tennis action shots you wrote in are not going to be easy to film. But now, when these guys go to the US Open? Crowd scenes are expensive. Sure, it can be shot creatively with green screen backgrounds, but it will still be costly because now you've written in special effects. And you have a speaking role for John McEnroe, which will be difficult to pull off.

So all in all this was an enjoyable read which took me places I didn't expect to go, and had some very funny and at times natural and interesting dialogue.

This needs to be meticulously combed and pared down. First, start with proper screenplay format. You can get there by reading other scripts, and there are websites and books that will show you how to structure everything. You need to KNOW the rules before you can break the rules. Like I said, I was ready to bail because of the structure, and on page 12 you had a piece of emotional narrative that pulled at my heartstrings, and then I knew you had a bit of a special story here. You also have tremendous tennis knowledge, which is probably going to go over the heads of the non-fans. But there are so many tennis fans out there that I think there would be an audience for this. A Farrelly Brothers tennis movie. Why not?

Please reach out with any questions, I'm happy to help. I wouldn't rewrite this in sections and post umpteen versions. Take it under the hood, do a comprehensive overhaul with the proper formatting, and let's see what that looks like. Not sure how you get over the big budget aspect, and getting something like this made wil take years of hard work... but who knows? It's interesting, and different. Good job on your first one.

AJR


Click HERE to read JOHN LENNON'S HEAVEN https://preview.tinyurl.com/John-Lennon-s-Heaven-110-pgs/
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stampede331
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 10:18pm Report to Moderator
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I'm just going to quickly go into this very kind review and tell you that Kingpin and the Farrelly Brothers were exactly what I was going for.  When I told people I was writing a screenplay a few weeks ago, I told them to think Kingpin and the Farrelly brothers more generally.  The fact that you saw this means a lot to me.  I will not keep posting each iteration.  I know I need to read a book on screenwriting to fix all of the formatting errors and then go under the hood and revise as necessary.  

I must not have made this joke as obvious as was needed, but the coach has dementia, hence his inviting Arthur Ashe to the match.  Like you said, the characters are all kooky.  And the coach, though a kind character, is no exception.

Anyways, thanks again for reading.  I appreciation the constructive criticism as much as the kindness.  
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spesh2k
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 10:41pm Report to Moderator
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I would also suggest reading a few scripts... I recommend Alexander Payne's "Sideways". I read it back in 2004 and it changed the way I write scripts. After reading it (I finished it in about an hour, which is about as long as a screenplay should take to read straight through), I just thought to myself, "How the fuck did he do that?" The way it's formatted, the white space and the way the description was written was a real game changer for me. It's how a script should be written. I also recommend any of Rian Johnson's scripts -- "Looper", although sci-fi, was so well written, you could picture everything as you were reading... and it only took an hour to read. And despite the complexity of the premise, the way it was written made everything so simple and easy to follow. HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! I pretty much took my style from them.


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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eldave1
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 10:44pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from spesh2k
I would also suggest reading a few scripts... I recommend Alexander Payne's "Sideways". I read it back in 2004 and it changed the way I write scripts. After reading it (I finished it in about an hour, which is about as long as a screenplay should take to read straight through), I just thought to myself, "How the fuck did he do that?" The way it's formatted, the white space and the way the description was written was a real game changer for me. It's how a script should be written. I also recommend any of Rian Johnson's scripts -- "Looper", although sci-fi, was so well written, you could picture everything as you were reading... and it only took an hour to read. And despite the complexity of the premise, the way it was written made everything so simple and easy to follow. HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! I pretty much took my style from them.


You can find sideways here

https://sfy.ru/?script=sideways_2004


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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spesh2k
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You can find "Looper" here. This script is the reason I started using bold face for my slugs back in 2012. I always was aware of setting throughout. https://a2e7234c-7b41-4f94-bb5.....a928e09a62005b39.pdf

Rian Johnson also has all of his produced scripts available on his webpage -- https://www.rian-johnson.com/screenplays


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 11:15pm Report to Moderator
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Eldave, thanks for the link.

SPESH2K - I watched The Suicide Theory Tonight.  

What to say?  When it finished, I went, "what the fuck did I just see?"  but in a good way!  It was a singular take on the hitman genre, which is to say, I did not expect the film to explore the meaning of friendship and the ties that bind us after the opening 5 minutes.  I expected to see a guy get paid to kill people.  Took me for a loop.  

I actually have more to say about the story but I have a number of questions that I feel like I should think on before asking about explicitly.  Some of the answers might come to me overnight.  But the main question concerns the assassin's survival and what it means for his own mortality.  I'll check in with you tomorrow.
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stampede331
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So yeah, my big question is: did the assassin inherit the curse of not being able to die and, if so, are we supposed to be able to deduce which character can free him of this curse?  Very cool that I can ask the writer of the movie.  Thanks in advance.  Enjoyed it.
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spesh2k
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Okay, I read up to page 60. The writing does need to be worked on as it does make the read a little bit of a chore. You need to split up your action lines a bit -- blocks of five-lined description can be intimidating to look at, feels like reading a book at times. And be more economical with your word usage and tighter with your sentence structure. I see that the script is 125 pages long... it could be around 110 just by fixing up the writing.

But, despite that, the story is pretty damn good so far. It kinda does remind me of Kingpin a little bit, but with a teen-sex comedy type humor, like American Pie. And instead of an Amish guy, he's pretty much mentoring Stifler.

The dialogue is pretty damn good, too. You know your characters very well and all of them are very well realized. I like this "odd couple" type pairing with Sam and Scab. It makes for funny banter. And despite Sam being a dick, we're rooting for both of them. The 2nd act starts off really strong and you throw in other factors into the equation that add to the conflict and tension between the pair -- Anna, for instance, who is a very strong character in her own right. The scenes so far ring true and feel genuine, in line with each character's personalities -- Scab playing the straight, serious man here. It's a cool dynamic.

Here's some notes I made as I read.

PAGE 24:

SAM Well this is early stage research. (Peeved)
What the fuck do you want?

SCAB (More to himself)
What the fuck do I want? (A pause)
Do you know who Novak Djokovic is?

This is incorrect. Should be:

SAM
Well this is early stage research.
(peeved)
What the fuck do you want?

SCAB
(more to himself)
What the fuck do I want?
(a pause)
Do you know who Novak Djokovic is?

The only time it should be SCAB (parenthesis) on the same line is if it’s a voice over or off screen, like so – SCAB (VO) or SCAB (OS).

Wrylies, as they’re called, go beneath the character name. But you shouldn’t include them constantly. You can get the same thing just by using ellipsis (…).

SAM
Well this is early stage research…
What the fuck do you want?

SCAB
What the fuck do I want…?

He looks Sam dead in the eye.

SCAB
Do you now who Novak Djokovic is?

PAGE 25:

I like how uses woman to convince Sam about tennis.

PAGE 30:

NARRATOR
hated him for being a selfish man whore and were ashamed of themselves for having lost their virginities to him. Hell, even I can’t believe so many lost their virginities to him, but this was a post COVID-19 world and the youth were living free. Anyways, as fate would have it, Scab’s locker was directly across from Sam’s.

Should be a … before the sentence starts instead of starting it with a lower-case “h”.

Also, wouldn’t it make sense to say “Before Covid19” instead of post? People were care free before this and that’s kinda what led to the outbreak.

Also…

INT. LOCKER, HALLWAY, HIGH SCHOOL

After a scene heading (which should have dashes in between, not commas), there needs to be some kind of description so that we have a visual and know what the characters are doing.

PAGE 32:

SAMUEL
1. Don’t ever call me your friend and
2. I’m gonna pop that cherry because even if it’s
been hit a thousand times before, only I can pop it.

You don’t start of dialogue with a numerical and you always spell it out unless it’s a long phone number or address or something.

PAGE 39 – 40:

Just have Anna say she has a condition from the start. This sounds repetitive.

Also, there’s a whistle used in tennis. Does this make her play better? If so, that would be cool.

PAGE 41:

It is told through deep stares shared between the two, laughter, tears and finally a hug. As they release their embrace, Samuel comes to. He sits up and asks

SCAB
Where the fuck am I?

Think you meant scab.

PAGE 45 – 49

I really liked this scene between Sam and Scab, over Anna. Sets up plenty of conflict. You’re a natural story teller!

PAGE 51:

He sees a reflection of himself in the locker’s metal sheen. In the reflection, a superimposition of his father appears.

SUPERIMPOSED FATHER
I always knew you were just a boy.

His father has a name at this point – so, in dialogue, show his character name when he speaks. Even if it is just an illusion.

I'll continue chipping away at this. The only thing holding it back is the writing, but you're not really that far off.

And thanks for checking out The Suicide Theory (on Amazon Prime?)... I'm glad you liked it.


Quoted Text
So yeah, my big question is: did the assassin inherit the curse of not being able to die and, if so, are we supposed to be able to deduce which character can free him of this curse?  Very cool that I can ask the writer of the movie.  Thanks in advance.  Enjoyed it.


Yes, the hitman character did inherit the curse. As to deducing which character can free him of the curse, I'll leave that up to the audience (I've heard theories on Reddit boards and IMDB boards - when they had them - about certain parts of the film. It's fun to read). The curse can only be broken by death... and admission of guilt, confronting the guilt. Since the chain of events was initially sparked by the hitman in the first place, it would be much more difficult find someone to truly break the curse.

-- Michael


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
Posted: April 20th, 2020, 6:50pm Report to Moderator
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Yes, I watched on Amazon Prime.  Super easy to find.  Looking forward to watching your next feature.

Your critiques mean so much to me.  I'm buoyant just having two established writers give my silly script some time.  And as my constant posting of each iteration shows, which I've now stopped doing, I've been taking heed of your notes.  I appreciate them greatly and have made several changes.  I was up all night last night just trying to economize the writing, which I've found somewhat difficult, but I'm not giving up the fight to get this down to around 110 pages.

Again, your words mean so much.  So thank you.
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spesh2k
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Quoted Text
Yes, I watched on Amazon Prime.  Super easy to find.  Looking forward to watching your next feature.

Your critiques mean so much to me.  I'm buoyant just having two established writers give my silly script some time.  And as my constant posting of each iteration shows, which I've now stopped doing, I've been taking heed of your notes.  I appreciate them greatly and have made several changes.  I was up all night last night just trying to economize the writing, which I've found somewhat difficult, but I'm not giving up the fight to get this down to around 110 pages.

Again, your words mean so much.  So thank you.


Just speaking for myself, I don't consider myself an established writer quite yet -- not until I get that one movie that really gets me out there (Honey Mustard?. Unless "Rage" gets some attention when it comes out -- we shall see. But, like David, I've been doing it a while and kinda/sorta know what I'm doing. It's good to see someone willing to learn, taking everything with a grain of salt without taking offense to anything.

And, after finishing the script, you have a natural talent as a storyteller. This was a fun script, I can see it getting made. It follows that comedy sports movie formula that's pretty much been proven. Yes, it reminded me somewhat of "Kingpin", with the lifer taking a prospect under his wing. And it had that "American Pie" type teen humor in it. It also reminded me of "Blades of Glory" a little bit, putting two oddball rivals together on a team. And, with the funny commentators, I got a little bit of "Dodgeball" out of it.

Though the budget would be pretty big -- that US Open stuff alone would be like triple the $ the whole budget of some movies.

The characters were strong and there was always an obstacle for each of the characters to get over. Not sure if Scab not knowing he had a last name really works logically -- I know it's a comedy but it's not a super, over-the-top slapstick. It does add a funny element I suppose. And all the characters were pretty funny -- the cocaine sniffing Dean, in particular. Though I'd cut down on his monologues just a bit. But I really like his character -- it's almost a caricature of the mean old dean from college party flicks, which I dig. And I like that he blames everything on his wife -- reminds of the game show host near the end of "Billy Madison".

A few things -- I know Scab is supposed to be the straight man, but I still think he can be funnier. He has OCD -- him unable to step on lines is fun and it comes full circle, completing his arc. But you can definitely utilize the OCD a little for some funny sight gags and scenarios -- I'd ramp that up a bit. Also, why is he so enamored with Sam in the first place? Why does he want to teach him tennis? Is it just something he picked up from his father? I think there needs to be a specific moment where he sees that Sam's skillset can translate to the court -- in Happy Gilmore, he can drive a ball 400 yards and that gets the attention of Carl Weathers' character. Maybe during their initial scuffle, Scab throws tennis balls at him and Sam picks up a racket (or maybe a baseball bat) and crushes one of the tennis balls and it shows up as a 130 mph serve or something, I dunno. And Scab -- if he's so good, why isn't he excelling at singles? Maybe he's just a better doubles player? I don't know, think there needs to be more of a reason that Scab wants to do doubles, period -- I know that he sees Sam as an opportunity to get him to Indiana, but still. Think there needs to be another reason.

I like how Ms. Cherry shows up to the final game, but I feel like she should be more flirtatious... and maybe when Sam sees that as a sign to hit on her, she shoots him down hard. Thus, the ending feels more earned. As of now, it reminds me a little bit of "Billy Madison" when the snot lady ends up hooking up with one of Adam Sandler's friends... or even moreso in "Step Brothers" when the psychiatrist shows up for Will Ferrell's character. Yes, it's funny, but I think just a little bit better of a set-up would elevate the payoff. Maybe Sam is obsessed with her or something, I dunno.

With Anna showing up at the end -- think there needs to be more of a build-up to that. Maybe some montage scenes of Scab calling, leaving messages, Anna listening... just something small.

Now, there's one major issue -- you show Scab and Sam growing up from middle school to college, which would require different actors. There's a lot of development as kids get older, especially from adolescensce, to teen years, to early 20s (are they in their early 20s at this point?). But... I believe there is a solution -- you just have the same adult actors portray the kids at age 13. It'd be silly, but funny -- Woody Harrelson in "Kingpin", Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in "21 Jump Street", Ben Stiller in "Something About Mary" -- they all play high school versions of themselves. Now, we follow your characters from age 13 on, so it'd be much, much sillier. But I see it as something that can work and really mesh with the goofy-ish tone of your script.

Another thing I forgot to mention -- even with doubles teams, isn't there usually individual success with the players? You don't hear much news about doubles teams. But, despite that bit of logic, it works in the same way as "Blades of Glory"... that pair made front pages of newspapers despite the fact that, in real life, that wouldn't really happen, especially in American papers. Same with "Dodgeball".

Overall, very fun read. I'm sure you know that the reading needs a serious polishing. I didn't take further notes as it would be repetitive of examples in earlier notes. But, after a SCENE HEADING (which should have dashes) in between, there needs to be at least a sentence of description of the setting -- often times, you just have dialogue without describing where we are. Also, give Narrator a name. Now that I think about it, while I'm on the Narrator, I think he needs something a little more -- not sure how, though. But he's a vanilla character kinda. Just a little more personality/character. He's not in this much, but he is the narrator -- and when he does appear, he plays a major role in bringing the pair back, part of it because he wants to get his writing career on track an he needs a story. He gets them in the US Open.

Back to some of the writing -- your SCENE HEADINGS should only be one line. I saw a few times that it takes up two lines. Just try and find away to make it one line.

And, of course, give this a careful comb-through. A lot of typos -- in the CHARACTER NAME, I see SC instead of SCAB often.

Also, cut down on your action blocks and be a little more economical with the way you word things. Word it in a way that keeps the action moving forward.

Overall, very, very promising start. For a first script, I'm impressed. The story is good, albeit somewhat formulaic... but I think that's part of the reason WHY it works so well. It just fits the story and the comedy sports sub genre.

But yeah, I really think this script is worth some intense rewrites. Nice job!

-- Michael


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
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Thanks again for such a thorough reply.  He is enamored with Sam in the first place because he sees in Sam someone with obvious athleticism who can cover the court to account for the difficulties OCD presents in his mobility.  The scene early in the script in which Scab calls Sam to the court and they get in an altercation that results in Sam wondering how Scab evades him without even touching a line...it also involves Sam hitting a serve that blows Scab's mind, considering Sam has never touched a racket.  That's supposed to be the equivalent of you scene in which he serves 130 mph.  It might just not be sufficient for the purpose of the script.

Yeah, I think I need another scene of Scab trying to get Anna back.  It's a short period of time (less than one year) that they're broken up.  He does call her in the script and she does ignore him, but I might need to repeat that to indicate his desire to get back with her and give her motivation to secretly show up at all his US Open matches.

The individual success of doubles players is hinted that each has a knockout model girlfriend showing up at every match in the US Open.  I also discuss the prize money Sam and Scab will get just for showing up at the US Open, $17,000, a figure which reflects the prize money of last year's tournament.

Again, thank you so much for putting in the time to read the script.  Glad you enjoyed the Dean character.  He was fun to write.  Not sure if I underwrote the gag that Coach Reggie is in the midst of dementia but as I comb over the script, I will do what I can to reinforce certain gags.

Waiting now till I can see Rage.  I will give Honey Mustard a look at too.

By the way, most of my life has been marred by a serious case of OCD.  OCD is not usually the result of experiences in life, such as a tyrannical father who lashes his child's feet for touching a line.  I sort of broke the cardinal rule of exploiting mental illness for the sake of plot development.  However, I try not to exploit his OCD for laughs; rather, I exploit Sam's cruelty in dealing with Scab's OCD, hence the scenes of Sam poking and prodding Scab with the racket while on court in an attempt to cause Scab to step on a line.  I just add this because, as the straight character, I'm not sure how much laughter should come at the expense of his having OCD.  I'm looking for the OCD to be Scab's sympathetic trait.

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