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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Drama Scripts  ›  The Surge Moderators: bert
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  Author    The Surge  (currently 594 views)
Don
Posted: April 1st, 2021, 4:41pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Surge by Steven Clark - Drama, Comedy - While writing a piece for a small-town paper, an aging journalist discovers the fountain of youth at local farm stand. But things get complicated when he falls for the owner's younger sister, and finds himself in a race against time to save her. 92 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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SteveClark
Posted: April 1st, 2021, 9:15pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for posting, Don!

So, anyone who takes a chance on this, aside from the usual, insightful feedback, I'm looking for areas where I can stretch this out. Any places where you think I might need more. Also, I'm thinking that the Ellen character isn't developed enough. Basically, whatever you can come up with. Thanks again!

Very strange, the draft I wrote this one off of was 117 pages, and somehow this one turned out 93 pages. I did do a lot of trimming, but I don't remember doing that much!

Steve


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LC
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Stevo! I don't/didn't really have time, but you got me good.
A very fast, easy read.

Notes will be at you later, or tomorrow morning, Oz time.

P.S. Short answer is I do agree Ellen's character is under-developed.  She and Larry went from not much to consumation and falling in love in the blink of an eye. You could/should get more mileage out of that imho, so I feel more for her especially...

More later.


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SteveClark
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Libby, thanks for reading! I’m glad it got you.

I’d like to add at least four scenes to this, bring the page count up by at least ten. Currently going over it for tweaks and such. Very much look forward to your notes!


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Grandma Bear
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I read either the beginning of this or the short awhile back. Happy to see you finished the feature!

Just one question. Why The Surge? Is it important to the story? Reason I'm asking is you can't hardly turn on the news these days without hearing about the surge, but not in a good way. It's either the surge in covid cases or the surge of migrants at the border. For that reason, I think there's a possibility it paints the wrong picture in a potential reader's mind before they even read the logline.


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SteveClark
Posted: April 2nd, 2021, 10:31am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Grandma Bear
I read either the beginning of this or the short awhile back. Happy to see you finished the feature!

Just one question. Why The Surge? Is it important to the story? Reason I'm asking is you can't hardly turn on the news these days without hearing about the surge, but not in a good way. It's either the surge in covid cases or the surge of migrants at the border. For that reason, I think there's a possibility it paints the wrong picture in a potential reader's mind before they even read the logline.


I started this almost three years ago and let it sit. Tied up with other things. But you may have seen this before as a WIP I posted a year or so ago.

The title never sat 100% with me, but not because of the reasons you mentioned. Interesting to see what others think about that. And yes, it is important to the story, as it pertains to a sudden onset of clarity some people experience when they’re near death. It’s also referred to as a burst.

The Burst? I’m open to suggestions.


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spesh2k
Posted: April 2nd, 2021, 11:49am Report to Moderator
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Hey man, so I peeped the first 30, will finish the rest when I get some time, probably later today.

PAGE 3:


Quoted Text
Larry slides a ten dollar bill into the greasy MECHANIC in
charcoal overalls.


Did the mechanic bend over and take the ten dollar bill like a suppository? Lol, I'm joking, but the wording is a bit odd here.

PAGE 16 - 19:

This dialogue between Larry and Doug read a little off to me as I was reading it out loud. Hate to sound cliche here, but it was a bit on the nose. A lot of exposition here. It's well written, but it could use a bit of a touch-up.

PAGE 23:


Quoted Text
GARVEY
I’m sorry.
(leans in)
Is she marrying an illegal
immigrant?

LARRY
Close enough.


Something about this felt a little... wrong for me lol. Could just be the characters being dicks, but at the same time, especially with everything being so PC, it might rub some people the wrong way. It could be part of Larry's arc that he's an unlikable grump who finds redemption and becomes likable by story's end, but not sure if making him sound borderline racist is great. I'm far from the type who's into all this PC bullshit, but it stood out to me and makes Larry sort of unredeemable. I know it seems like a small thing, but I'd look into it.

PAGE 25:

Love the new car conflict you set up here, makes the tension even thicker between George and Larry.

PAGE 26 - 27:

Hmm. So Larry is trying to convince Amy to go through with the marriage? I felt like he'd be doing the opposite.

PAGE 28 - 30:

Love this chaotic phone scene as Larry's driving.

SO FAR:

I like it. I like the dry humor, Larry's despair -- this would be a role perfect for a guy like Bill Murray. One thing I don't get is why is Ellen, a young good looking woman, into him? Is she into older dudes? Is this like a "Lost in Translation" kinda thing going on? Not sure why she's so into him. Maybe she's into depressed, cynical people? I think there needs to be at least something that she's clearly attracted to. Maybe we'll get to that.

Also, two things I'm not so sure about -- the title, for one. It makes it sound like an action film. I'd consider changing it. Also, the opening, I feel, should always set the tone for the rest of the script. It is an intriguing opening, but it feels like we're about to watch an erotic thriller. And, after that first scene, it feels nothing like that. I realize it will come up again later in the story and probably plays a pivotal role, but the tonal change is pretty jarring, and it never goes back to that tone (at least up to page 30). It goes from erotic thriller in the opening to a dramedy similar to "Broken Flowers", "Lost in Translation" and "Greenberg".

I love the idea of tomatoes that boost vitality -- I would love to see that being mentioned in the log line. It stands out and is a unique premise. I'd just be a little more specific in the log line instead of just saying "fountain of youth at a local farm stand".

I'd also mention "down on his luck" or something along those lines when describing Larry. "A once-successful journalist finds himself primarily writing fluff pieces" or something like that.

Will continue on later today.

-- 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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LC
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I think The Rush or just Rush (of love) might be better than Burst.

My initial thought was that Surge sounded more SciFi.

Anyway, coming back later...


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eldave1
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HAd time to get the first ten in before dinner

Smooth as silk.... My only Nit issue is here:

EXT. SHENANDOAH HOTEL - NIGHT

A grand spectacle of a building. Colorful, aquatic accent lighting. Palm trees dot the quiet midnight street.

TITLE: SHENANDOAH HOTEL, FLORIDA – 1982

Struck me as an odd title card. The hotel is already in your header. Just seems that this would be better suited for the year and city.
e.g.,

MIAMI, FLORIDA – 1982


Or something like that. Will get to more this weekend


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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SteveClark
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Quoted from spesh2k
Hey man, so I peeped the first 30, will finish the rest when I get some time, probably later today.

PAGE 3:



Did the mechanic bend over and take the ten dollar bill like a suppository? Lol, I'm joking, but the wording is a bit odd here.

Not a mistake at all. I was inspired by the Erotic Thriller OWC.

PAGE 16 - 19:

This dialogue between Larry and Doug read a little off to me as I was reading it out loud. Hate to sound cliche here, but it was a bit on the nose. A lot of exposition here. It's well written, but it could use a bit of a touch-up.

You're right. Already working on this.


PAGE 23:



Something about this felt a little... wrong for me lol. Could just be the characters being dicks, but at the same time, especially with everything being so PC, it might rub some people the wrong way. It could be part of Larry's arc that he's an unlikable grump who finds redemption and becomes likable by story's end, but not sure if making him sound borderline racist is great. I'm far from the type who's into all this PC bullshit, but it stood out to me and makes Larry sort of unredeemable. I know it seems like a small thing, but I'd look into it.

Understood. Duh...

PAGE 25:

Love the new car conflict you set up here, makes the tension even thicker between George and Larry.

Cool. Glad that worked.

PAGE 26 - 27:

Hmm. So Larry is trying to convince Amy to go through with the marriage? I felt like he'd be doing the opposite.

I think what Larry is doing here is showing that he knows he really can't do anything about his daughter's decision, and since she's reaching out to him, maybe allay her fears a little and impart some wisdom. But I could give it a bit of an edge.

PAGE 28 - 30:

Love this chaotic phone scene as Larry's driving.

Thanks. I wasn't sure if this worked or not.

SO FAR:

I like it. I like the dry humor, Larry's despair -- this would be a role perfect for a guy like Bill Murray. One thing I don't get is why is Ellen, a young good looking woman, into him? Is she into older dudes? Is this like a "Lost in Translation" kinda thing going on? Not sure why she's so into him. Maybe she's into depressed, cynical people? I think there needs to be at least something that she's clearly attracted to. Maybe we'll get to that.

Also, two things I'm not so sure about -- the title, for one. It makes it sound like an action film. I'd consider changing it. Also, the opening, I feel, should always set the tone for the rest of the script. It is an intriguing opening, but it feels like we're about to watch an erotic thriller. And, after that first scene, it feels nothing like that. I realize it will come up again later in the story and probably plays a pivotal role, but the tonal change is pretty jarring, and it never goes back to that tone (at least up to page 30). It goes from erotic thriller in the opening to a dramedy similar to "Broken Flowers", "Lost in Translation" and "Greenberg".

I love the idea of tomatoes that boost vitality -- I would love to see that being mentioned in the log line. It stands out and is a unique premise. I'd just be a little more specific in the log line instead of just saying "fountain of youth at a local farm stand".

I'd also mention "down on his luck" or something along those lines when describing Larry. "A once-successful journalist finds himself primarily writing fluff pieces" or something like that.

Will continue on later today.

Thanks for reading so far. I'm currently picking through this with a fine toothed comb, smoothing out dialogue and stuff. But I like your suggestions. Look forward to the rest of your thoughts!

-- Michael




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SteveClark
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Quoted from eldave1
HAd time to get the first ten in before dinner

Smooth as silk.... My only Nit issue is here:

EXT. SHENANDOAH HOTEL - NIGHT

A grand spectacle of a building. Colorful, aquatic accent lighting. Palm trees dot the quiet midnight street.

TITLE: SHENANDOAH HOTEL, FLORIDA – 1982

Struck me as an odd title card. The hotel is already in your header. Just seems that this would be better suited for the year and city.
e.g.,

MIAMI, FLORIDA – 1982


Or something like that. Will get to more this weekend


Good point, Dave. Will think on that one for sure.



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LC
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Steve,

First off your logline is much improved in terms of intriguing me and getting me excited to read, but it doesn't really deliver if you like fairy-tale endings, (not that you promised that exactly, but...) and is it a race against time? I'm giving it a more thorough second read to see if I missed something.

Don't get me wrong, It's a nice ending, but there seem to be gaps or shortcuts in the narrative that you definitely should fill out.

Tonally your story chops and changes a lot (little tomato pun there) which definitely is keeping me on my toes. This is my biggest quibble with this draft.

Okay, so this starts with a bang - literally, or, euphemistically on my part.   It confused me a bit, the Senator and the 'kill me bit'. Just general kinkiness, or what? Apparently not, she gets stabbed? And it's a cover-up? I felt like you were going for a sensational start - not a bad thing, but a bit discombobulating. And then the story that follows appears completely disconnected. Okay, until we pick it up again at the end.

I'm just not convinced that's your best choice of subplot.

Things may be out of order here, so bear with me:

Debra's revelation later (linking it with Larry's career slump) she being his then Editor? – I don’t think this is ideal. The big story that never was either needs reference in conversation more (not just top n tailing) or it needs turfing altogether. It's too dominating and it feels like two different scripts/stories to me. I guess you were doing a jump-in-big with the opening, but it doesnt sit right imh.

I'm reading through it again, but if I were you I'd open with some embarrassing or funny or telling scene with Larry instead to set the scene that this is his story. Establish mid-life angst perhaps, something where he's clearly out of his element, out of his depth - considering also that you're so good at the comedic elements make this shine comedically from the start. Maybe the funny opening is also something inherently sad or bittersweet, maybe about Larry's best days being behind him.  Perhaps also capitalise on his naivety with all things 21st Century tech, and bachelorhood?

I strongly suggest you match Larry’s 'morning glory' with this phone call from Ellen:
Sorry about the hour,
but I took you for an early riser.


I think it’d be funnier. He could look down at himself. She must be psychic, eh, Tommy? etc.
Maybe have a conversation with the cat while listening to the message. Instead of peeing on the cat?

Perhaps have Larry and Brenda actually make eye-contact in the opening, if you're going with the current ending – him rigorously exercising, slightly embarrassed to see her looking up at him, and/ or he smiles down at her, shrugs?

Onto George's abode:
Nice visuals of the luxurious surroundings, the front-door chime etc., But -

an Olympic sized swimming pool?
Do people actually own them that size? Or is this just a figure of speech?

Skipping ahead: I took notes at random, sorry...

LARRY
There’s this thing, I don’t know if
you’ve heard of it before, but it
occurs shortly before death.
Sometimes. It’s called a burst.
It’s like this... sudden surge of
energy and awareness. Parkinson’s
tremors stop. Dementia reverts to
clarity. It’s like, in that moment,
as fleeting as it may be,
everything’s okay. Everything’s
fine.


I don't think this fits at this point in the story. I get it's a crucial part of the story and the title but it appeared a bit thrown in there.
Even Ellen asks what made you think of that? It felt like it was author intervention. Its placement could be more touching and profound later – like when Ellen is in fact on the way out, perhaps used as a segue to her saying she wants to dance? Or quite a bit before that actually.

Also, she says she's twenty-nine. He says she seems older and she says she gets that a lot. Okay, granted we suss by this time she is a whole lot older, but what Larry says is not exactly complimentary.  Maybe he adjusts his wording – that she seems like she's an old soul or wise beyond her years. ? I felt not only were you telegraphing the plot, but it also seems contradictory to her description. So far everything else points to her being perfect, a real beauty - physically.

Also, it's not exactly flattering to be told the article being written for the paper is a fluff piece. Larry says this to Ellen, then later on Ellen says similar to Larry.

On that: Why is Ellen determined to all but tell Larry the secret ingredient that is in the tomatoes? It seems a bit weird, contrived for the story that she wants the secret out there. Imagine if word did get out. The whole world would be on their doorstep.

Love your character descriptions. You nail them.
Garvey seems to laugh using only his lower jaw.  

GARVEY
I’m sorry.
(leans in)
Is she marrying an illegal
immigrant?

Such a shame we have to be quite so PC these days. Perhaps if Larry had flashed the salesman a pic of the engaged couple – George being goofey for the camera - Garvey, like an idiot jumps to conclusions based on appearances. Perhaps Garvey looks genuinely concerned? I actually laughed at it cause idiots like Garvey very much exist in the world. Should representations of stupidity and bigotry be censored too?

LARRY
Your name. You know, Steve Garvey.
Like the baseball player.
GARVEY
No.


Interesting thing you do here, and I noticed it more than once.
You often leave off reaction shots (descriptions) and skip right to next scene.
Yes, as the audience we can conjure the appropriate reaction Garvey might have had ourselves, but you leave it up to us a bit too often imho. Your comedic writing of same might be funnier than what I might imagine.

I personally would milk more with the purchase of the car.

Maybe he orders it in Cherry Red (good symbolism there too) – maybe Amy's favourite colour when she was a kid. Perhaps some intrinsically feminine touches or extras that make this definitely a woman's car.  Larry still sees Amy as a kid except now she's all grown up. He's having trouble letting go. Maybe that following scene where he goes to deliver it is fraught with genuine embarrassment when it dawns on Amy exactly that it was intended as a wedding gift for her. Maybe (the newspaper business is not very lucrative) we see first the lengths Larry goes to, to get the money for the car, only for it to fall flat cause he can't  compete with George and his wealth. Perhaps the penny drops for Amy finally after the bird-dropping visual. Then Larry overcompensates and gushes over George's gift.

George reads a bit like Steve Martin in Father of the Bride at the moment... In a good way.
I think you can mine more comedy out of these sequences.

She wraps himself around him. They kiss.
Herself?

Btw, in contrast to Larry (who's behind the times) George should be younger imho.
And maybe working in something high-tech/Digital, apart from any extracurricular activities he's involved in.

Look, I can’t speak for your
mother, but I think I was more in
love with the idea of being married
than actually being married.


This (above)  really doesn't tally with Larry being told Ellen is like another younger version of Debra (which is said later by?) It only works if he says something like I was madly and utterly in love with your mother, and then something like – life just came between us, or we had creative differences etc.

Larry on his blue tooth.
(So Larry's not tech illiterate entirely?)

I like that Debra calls Larry Lawrence and that whole mixed up phone call intercutting with Ellen calling and George butt-dialing. It's very nicely choreographed. Great job.

A water Park? Hmm, something different, I suppose. But he pikes out? More tomatoes would've fixed that! And made it comedy gold. Maybe make for of that more amusement/evolution of Larry's character? Him really living after all this time of a careful staid life, not the adventurous one he planned? Better late than never.

It doesn't really make sense that Ellen's now being cagey and self-deprecating, does it? She was trying to get him to look at the full story before, but now:
ELLEN
Larry, it’s a farm stand. You’re
not writing for Forbes.
ELLEN
You should’ve came with me, then.

Came?  (does Ellen speak a bit like a country hick with bad grammar?)

If so, perhaps John:
JOHN
I ain’t got no more answers for
you. Now get outta here.

-     Should say: clear outta here? Or, git outta here?

Maybe make farm stand one word?
The two PEOPLE stealing from the farm stand walk hand-in-hand...
That threw me.

How do the tomatoes work then? Because...
Ellen is youthful looking, but...

HERB and his wife
CLAIRE, both easily in their 70s.

-     Had their medical complaints cured.
-     But, they're not youthful looking?
-     
-     HERB
-     Claire’s libido is insatiable. And,
-     well, it’s been a long time since I
-     sucked a dick, but I’m flexible
-     like that.


You might get away with this if you (once again, tonally, steer this more in Comedy/Drama territory) up the comedy more, and also get The Farrelly brothers to direct it, or Apatow.

The tone could be the beauty of it too. I'm just not sure...

The next scenes with John and Ellen are pretty harsh. John's a real prick.

I'm going to read it again for the latter third, but -

A few observations and questions mainly:

I have no idea what aquatic accent lighting is. It sounds good though...
That's a hell of a long wait and a big crowd if there's a two hour wait.

After Larry eats the tomato he's meant to have experienced a youthful surge – or invigorating moment (virility returned) which is meant to be quite noticeable with Brenda jogging past. I think that was a bit played down. I made a suggestion up top about this.

You definitely sail through Larry meeting Ellen to them consummating their relationship too fast imho.

This serves so that I don't care as much about her as I should, and it seemed a bit quick regardless. Plenty to mine there more via courtship/dating, and to mine more laughs too.  You're spot on that Ellen is too under-developed at the moment. (Sorry for the repeat - I noted that up top too).

Your comedic touches are great. Just make sure enough of them land in dialogue.

Example: George's description. Loved all that with the Speedos and the python and Larry's awkwardness with the hug - (it made me laugh) but your audience won't be reading that line along with watching the film.

I'm left with questions re this elixer of youth.

Why doesn't Ellen keep her daily intake of tomatoes up? (Did I miss something?) The soil changing/alkalinity? There was no explanation in my mind as to why we went from it being a going concern with people-in-the know lining up from far and wide, to Ellen going with Larry to the wedding... And then collapsing? It's as if there's a big gap in the narrative or third Act here. Or maybe I missed something?

Why does Ellen go ballistic in the supermarket?
Is it a 'to hell with it' moment?

Ellen runs toward him like Baby running to Johnny in the
Dirty Dancing finale.

Hmm. I got it, but I think that's a cheat. Describe it your way with your originality.
She jumps into his arms. He swings her in a circle.

You know the sequence in 500 Days of Summer, after he gets laid and he's on top of the world? If you don't, watch it. It's the perfect fantasy sequence blended with animation and song and dance.
I feel like this with your supermarket scene. But the  jubliant 'got nothing to lose' choreographed sequence is too short and comes off as bad behaviour and vandalism instead. I'd personally go for it in a bigger way if the audience is in on why she behaves this way. I'm going to assume she knows she has nothing to lose, no-one can hurt her cause she knows her fate? If not, I'm confused again.

The Hospital sequence/Antonio Banderas etc., almost lands for me but it's also a bit messy? Do you need the Felipe gross out scene? Don't worry, I'm not a fan of Bridesmaids either. Most people think bodily-fluid jokes are hilarious. I'm just not one of them.

Your character descriptions are spot-on, like I said. The only ones I balked at slightly were the brutish and not quite brutish Nurses. The rest are perfect and put me in a good mind for the comedic moments that ensue.

Okay this bit too -

Larry sure did move on fast to Brenda without at least a time shift/segue in the scene header.

Overall, this feels like a  Forever Young / Father of the Bride hybrid.

You hooked me good, but it needs filling out a bit imho. I feel like you took too many shortcuts. And at times it's inconsistent and contradictory with characters and what they say.

There's so much terrific stuff in here comedy-wise. It's the blending with the utterly serious stuff that's hard to combine. But you're onto something very entertaining and unique definitely.

I'll probably have more on my re-read, if you want it?

I didn't go into typos etc., mainly cause there aren't many, and you wanted more in terms of story.
Very nice, Steve. Just add more to it I think.



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PAGE 33-34:


Quoted Text
ELLEN
You should’ve came with me, then.

LARRY
I did go with you.

ELLEN
Not all the way.

LARRY
I went as far as I could with you.
Besides, we’re here now.


Nice subtext, great dialogue.

Also, good unexpected cut to a water park of all places. Quirky.

PAGE 36:

How did he recognize Herb and his wife as the tomato thieves? When he saw them stealing, he thought they were kids? Maybe I missed something... I do like the little twist though.

PAGE 38-39:

Haha, funny scene (Herb and Claire setting up a three-way).

PAGE 55:


Quoted Text
DEBRA
Lawrence, you can’t write a story
like this based on instinct alone.
Peoples lives and livelihoods are
at stake. You need a smoking gun.


Hmm. Maybe I'm misunderstanding the stakes. But what happens if Larry writes this story about the farm stand being the fountain of youth. I understand it exposes a secret, but I don't see how this will destroy John and Ellen's livelihoods. John seems concerned, bu Ellen doesn't seem very concerned about it.

PAGE 59:

Larry gets knocked out with the butt of a rifle and the next scene is him at the grocery store getting Ibuprofen. Felt like an odd transition, him being knocked out. The natural transition would be him waking up.

PAGE 60 - 63:

Hmm. I don't understand this scene, why Ellen's trashing the grocery store.

PAGE 76-84:

This whole escape from the hospital feels a bit messy and not very interesting. It's nice that George is helping Larry out, but it feels... odd. Like it doesn't fit. Feels rushed.

PAGE 85:


Quoted Text
BEDROOM

John sits up in bed, eyes open but glassy. Lifeless.

A RIFLE is pointed directly at him.

Larry GASPS.

John has aged much more than Ellen. Skeletal and frail.

His finger curled around the trigger.

LARRY
John, I...

John mutters something inaudible. Maybe not a word at all.
Maybe the last gasp of air leaving his lungs.

His finger squeezes the trigger --
CLICK.

Larry flinches, but no report. Empty.

Larry slumps against the wall.


As I'm reading, I'm not sure what is happening here. Is Larry pointing the rifle at John, to put him out of his misery? Or is it the other way around?

OVERALL:

This started out pretty good, but I felt like the second and third acts were rushed and disjointed.

The whole senator story with the prostitute and the knife, the reveal that Debra was there... it didn't feel like it belonged in this story at all. I'm not even sure how it fits outside of being somewhat of a bookend. I'm not sure how the reveal sums up the whole story... and the theme seemed to escape me. What IS the theme exactly? I thought it was a statement on getting older given the premise, but I didn't really see that as a clear theme.

And why exactly are Ellen and John suddenly aging at a rapid rate? What happened to the tomatoes? Maybe I missed something.

The story, overall, doesn't seem very focused, especially later in the script. I felt like this was rushed and there was a lot of filler -- the fight in Larry's front yard w/ the Mormons didn't add anything to the story. It was kinda funny, but it didn't really serve much of a purpose. Then George helping Larry get Ellen out of the hospital felt sudden to me, didn't understand why George would leave his wedding to do that. It just didn't feel natural.

As a whole, I think that's the script's main issue -- especially the 2nd and 3rd acts, it didn't flow well or feel natural at all for me. A lot of the scenes felt forced in there, the developments felt forced and rushed and it threw off the rhythm for me. Ellen and John aging felt sudden -- and I still don't know why they were aging rapidly, maybe I missed something. I know John says that someone has been messing with the soil -- but WHO was messing around with the soil? Again, maybe I missed something. And the ending wasn't very satisfying w/ Brenda, who only appears in one line of description at the beginning -- getting asked out by Larry. When we see her at the beginning, she's just seeing Larry exercise in his window. He never has any interactions with her. And after that little scene, she disappears for the rest of the script.

I really like the premise -- it was like Cocoon meets Forever Young meets Safety Not Guaranteed. But the tone was all over the place, mainly because of that senator subplot. And story-wise, it felt like there were missing scenes.

I'd probably get rid of the senator subplot, just doesn't fit, at least IMO. The scenes don't fit the tone of the rest of this. And I'd work on expanding the 2nd and 3rd acts a bit. There's pieces here but at this moment but there are pieces missing, I feel like.

Overall, it's nice work, writing's good as always, but I really do think it needs a lot of work yet.

-- 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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SteveClark
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Libby and Mike,

I’m at work now and read your comments. Thanks! Forgive me if I don’t answer right away, but the wheels are spinning.

Perhaps I should have more emphasis on Larry really considering writing this big story about the farm stand and it’s magical properties? His big comeback. Which is really just giving him delusions of grandeur because once he falls in love, and is ultimately let down, he’s not going to go through with it.

He can’t catch a break. At all. But in the end, with Brenda, there’s hope. Even for Larry.


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spesh2k
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Quoted from SteveClark
Libby and Mike,

I’m at work now and read your comments. Thanks! Forgive me if I don’t answer right away, but the wheels are spinning.

Perhaps I should have more emphasis on Larry really considering writing this big story about the farm stand and it’s magical properties? His big comeback. Which is really just giving him delusions of grandeur because once he falls in love, and is ultimately let down, he’s not going to go through with it.

He can’t catch a break. At all. But in the end, with Brenda, there’s hope. Even for Larry.


I really think Larry having that choice weighing on him would bring more clarity to the plot and character motivations. I also think have a clear consequence would be beneficial, too -- maybe they have a limit on tomatoes? And having people know it's the fountain of youth would make John and Ellen age rapidly because there'd be too many people stealing?

I gotcha with the ending, but there's no real setup for that outside of Brenda seeing Larry work out in his window. In no way did I think that she found him attractive in that scene. And Larry, himself, doesn't have any interactions with her or doesn't express previous interest in her. I think that ending would work if it had a stronger setup so the payoff hits better.

-- 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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SteveClark
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Quoted from spesh2k


I really think Larry having that choice weighing on him would bring more clarity to the plot and character motivations. I also think have a clear consequence would be beneficial, too -- maybe they have a limit on tomatoes? And having people know it's the fountain of youth would make John and Ellen age rapidly because there'd be too many people stealing?

I gotcha with the ending, but there's no real setup for that outside of Brenda seeing Larry work out in his window. In no way did I think that she found him attractive in that scene. And Larry, himself, doesn't have any interactions with her or doesn't express previous interest in her. I think that ending would work if it had a stronger setup so the payoff hits better.

-- Michael



Yeah, I think the Brenda thing would be better served if there was a middle scene in there, just to basically let us know she’s kinda there, waiting in the wings, so to speak.

Oh, so I did allude to why the tomatoes - soil - holds special properties. On the yacht when Debra have Larry the info on the UFOs. My thoughts were that, supposedly, they had  done something to the soil. Who knows what that something is. Don’t think it’s important. But I think the problem is that I only alluded to it. I didn’t come right out and say so in the story, which I think is a mistake. I have a habit of tap dancing around certain subjects, and that one could use some clarity.

That said, the soil loses its magical properties because..? I didn’t say why either. My thoughts were it was just time. It finally wore off. Another thing I didn’t explain really at all. Clarity.


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eldave1
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Okay, Steven – done.

I am not going to spend too much time commenting on scenes that I liked, just trust that there were many of them, and also the writing is really solid - Crisp and clean, spot-on character descriptions, quickly paced and all that good stuff.

I had problems with the story itself. On a macro level, I think you threw the kitchen sink at a story that should be far simpler. You have a great premise – a farm discovered, pretty much off the grid, where there are life-renewing tomatoes by an aging journalist near the end of his career.  Now he has to assess does he investigate and publish the most explosive story he has ever run across, or instead, exploit the existence of these magical tomatoes to enhance his life/love as he enters the final stretch of his life.

Into that story you insert aliens, A Senatorial sex scandal, a madcap hospital escape,  a wedding on a yacht, an ex-wife with a mysterious past, etc. I wanted the simpler story.  It could just be my own personal taste – but it just seemed to be that you had a great concept that got a bit contorted with the bells and whistles.  I also see some logic issues that I’ll address as we go.

LOGIC PROBLEM – On page 2/3 you have a two-hour long line of people waiting to get the tomatoes from this farm. And I’m thinking - How secret can these tomatoes be if people are lining up for miles to buy them??? Wouldn’t all of these people be experiencing fountain of youth responses and wouldn’t this already be the most publicized thing on the planet?  It undermines the entire premise of Larry discovering something. i.e., how does one discover something this well-known?

Nit issue – but:

Larry digs into a can of cat food. A runt of a cat, Tommy, rubs against his ankles.
Even cat names are CAPPED. BTW – I generally dislike human names for pets as it just adds confusion when they are referred to later – you got a runt here – name him PEEWEE, ACORN, TIDBIT – whatever – to me anything other than a human name (I know – it is my own idiotic peeve).  But the larger issue here is the cat becomes a so what.  But the larger issue is that why have the cat if you’re really not going to use him for the story (he kind of disappears). You could use it as a story device – Larry loves this cat – it’s old and feeble but has spent the last 13/14 years with him – He takes the cat with him on one of his trips to the farm to see Ellen – he can’t t bear to see the old fella die without him around so he takes the cat with him – Ellen feeds the cat some tomato – next thing you know it’s bounding around like a kitten. i.e., use the cat somehow is a device to link the tomatoes to vitality and the create a moment between Ellen and Larry (it is literally the save the cat moment).

Page 19: LARRY Have you ever known tomatoes to increase your virility.

Is a suspicion that comes WAY too early in the story in my opinion.  He’s had a bite or two – the Tomato should not be a suspect yet nor should he even be concerned – he basically has had one day of vitality. This needs to be more of a rinse and repeat. More bites at the proverbial apple – except in this case it’s a tomato.

As I go on, I am getting a bit concerned about this being set in modern day – The war stories that Doug and Larry swap sound as if the heyday of their work was in the 1970s.  Also – everyone seems to be devoid of basic modern-day technology. Example - Larry concerned about tomatoes and vitality yet wouldn’t do a simple Google search on it???  I know you set him up as the non-digital type – but everyone in this script kind of screams 1980s to me. Not a cell phone in site. No computers. Laptops, text messages. etc. etc.

Page 29 - LARRY Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith.

Struck me as really odd. Why in the world would he be encouraging her to move forward when up till now every fiber of his being doesn’t want this to happen??? This is really inconsistent with the storyline you have set up to this point.

By page 30 – I am not feeling that the Ellen-Larry attraction is organic at all.  Certainly not as fast as it is developing. Part of the problem may be you dedicated so many of the early pages to Larry, Amy, George, Doug, etc,  that Ellen and Larry have not been together long enough to have these emotions. The relationship seems rushed. It feels that in the first act, it’s 20% Ellen – 80% other story elements when it ought to be the inverse.

I am on PAGE 54 now, and unless I have missed something – has he not eaten any more tomatoes?????? If I am wrong – ignore this note. If I am right – how is that he has discovered what he thinks might be magical tomatoes and has yet to take another bite?

The I love you from Larry on page 62 seemed a little early in the relationship to me.  Not because of where it happens page count-wise – more because they really haven’t had that many romantic moments together.

LOGIC PROBLEM:  JOHN thinks LARRY can mess with the alkalinity of the soil –  like somehow Larry could change the bio-chemical composition of an entire farmland in a nano-second. That didn’t make sense to me. I know that the soil losing it’s magical powers does – but John assuming Larry is the cause?? I think you would be much better here if there was some macro-level ticking time clock over this – i.e., John and Ellen already know that this is the last crop of magical tomatoes because (think of a reason) and this is their last season of that special life  - time to make decisions.  Ellen’s decision is Larry.

LOGIC PROBLEM - ELLEN AT THE HOSPITAL – The Doc is concerned about getting her on dialysis but not concerned that a 29 year old is again a decade every few minutes. Didn’t make sense to me – when you go to the hospital there’s going to be questions – age – name – DOB – etc. The Docs need to be shocked about what they are seeing. I don’t think the Q&A between Larry and the Doc on page 75 addresses this sufficiently.

Overall, to me – this should be a story about Larry and Ellen – the John angle is good because it provides great juxtaposition – i.e.,  as Larry is being judgmental about his daughter’s chosen mate, he doesn’t realize that he is in the exact situation with John (John being judgmental about Ellen’s chosen mate).  That would be interesting irony.   I don’t think you need the Senator at all (note – it was a riveting opening scene – loved it – it just doesn’t belong in this movie, IMO).  I don’t think you need the Doug wife’s dying (or even Doug for that matter).  I think you need Larry slowly falling in love with Ellen as he investigates this tomato thing.  I think she should end up not dying at the end but instead aging up to Larry’s age (60ish) – i.e., did he fall In love with her for looks/youth or – was it because who she was – the ultimate proof of that being does he love her as a 60 year old?

I know these notes are a bit scattered – hope they help in some way.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

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SteveClark
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Dave,

Thanks for reading. I’ll answer in detail later, but just wanted to mention your suggestion on Larry’s cat almost made me tear up. Lol. I’m such a wuss.


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eldave1
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Quoted from SteveClark
Dave,

Thanks for reading. I’ll answer in detail later, but just wanted to mention your suggestion on Larry’s cat almost made me tear up. Lol. I’m such a wuss.


Ha!


My Scripts can all be seen here:

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LC
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Yep, I kinda balked at the cat's name too until I realised it's a Tom-Cat.  


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eldave1
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Quoted from LC
Yep, I kinda balked at the cat's name too until I realised it's a Tom-Cat.  


Nice!


My Scripts can all be seen here:

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SteveClark
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Apparently, the cats name is the least of my problems.


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LC
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Steve, I don't expect or require a play by play in response to my feedback. So no probs there.

You have a lot of good stuff in this script.
Don't pull up stakes on it. (Little tomato joke there).  


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Robert Timsah
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Quoted from Grandma Bear
I read either the beginning of this or the short awhile back. Happy to see you finished the feature!

Just one question. Why The Surge? Is it important to the story? Reason I'm asking is you can't hardly turn on the news these days without hearing about the surge, but not in a good way. It's either the surge in covid cases or the surge of migrants at the border. For that reason, I think there's a possibility it paints the wrong picture in a potential reader's mind before they even read the logline.


Yup.


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Quoted from LC
Steve,

General kinkiness gone horribly wrong.

I'm just not convinced that's your best choice of subplot.

Things may be out of order here, so bear with me:

Debra's revelation later (linking it with Larry's career slump) she being his then Editor? – I don’t think this is ideal. The big story that never was either needs reference in conversation more (not just top n tailing) or it needs turfing altogether. It's too dominating and it feels like two different scripts/stories to me. I guess you were doing a jump-in-big with the opening, but it doesnt sit right imh.

Turfing. I'm definitely gonna have to get into that.

I'm reading through it again, but if I were you I'd open with some embarrassing or funny or telling scene with Larry instead to set the scene that this is his story. Establish mid-life angst perhaps, something where he's clearly out of his element, out of his depth - considering also that you're so good at the comedic elements make this shine comedically from the start. Maybe the funny opening is also something inherently sad or bittersweet, maybe about Larry's best days being behind him.  Perhaps also capitalise on his naivety with all things 21st Century tech, and bachelorhood?

Yeah, that seems to be the consensus with the opening, eh?

I strongly suggest you match Larry’s 'morning glory' with this phone call from Ellen:
Sorry about the hour,
but I took you for an early riser.


Glad you caught the early riser reference!

Perhaps have Larry and Brenda actually make eye-contact in the opening, if you're going with the current ending – him rigorously exercising, slightly embarrassed to see her looking up at him, and/ or he smiles down at her, shrugs?

Yeah. Already decided to give Brenda some more screen time. I like that the script ends with that, so if I could make it more meaningful then I'm all in.

I don't think this fits at this point in the story. I get it's a crucial part of the story and the title but it appeared a bit thrown in there.
Even Ellen asks what made you think of that? It felt like it was author intervention. Its placement could be more touching and profound later – like when Ellen is in fact on the way out, perhaps used as a segue to her saying she wants to dance? Or quite a bit before that actually.

I'll think on moving that to later in the script.

Also, she says she's twenty-nine. He says she seems older and she says she gets that a lot. Okay, granted we suss by this time she is a whole lot older, but what Larry says is not exactly complimentary.  Maybe he adjusts his wording – that she seems like she's an old soul or wise beyond her years. ? I felt not only were you telegraphing the plot, but it also seems contradictory to her description. So far everything else points to her being perfect, a real beauty - physically.

Good call.

Also, it's not exactly flattering to be told the article being written for the paper is a fluff piece. Larry says this to Ellen, then later on Ellen says similar to Larry.

Another good call.

On that: Why is Ellen determined to all but tell Larry the secret ingredient that is in the tomatoes? It seems a bit weird, contrived for the story that she wants the secret out there. Imagine if word did get out. The whole world would be on their doorstep.

Yeah, I also feel that that is an issue. Looking back, it seems she wants to tell him, but maybe was sworn to secrecy by her brother or something. Again, another thig that could be clearer.

Interesting thing you do here, and I noticed it more than once.
You often leave off reaction shots (descriptions) and skip right to next scene.
Yes, as the audience we can conjure the appropriate reaction Garvey might have had ourselves, but you leave it up to us a bit too often imho. Your comedic writing of same might be funnier than what I might imagine.

You're right. I do it like that because I feel for me to write what the reaction is would be a little presumptuous, if not awkward. I will try it, just don't want to overdo it and lose the comedy of the moment.

I personally would milk more with the purchase of the car.

Maybe he orders it in Cherry Red (good symbolism there too) – maybe Amy's favourite colour when she was a kid. Perhaps some intrinsically feminine touches or extras that make this definitely a woman's car.  Larry still sees Amy as a kid except now she's all grown up. He's having trouble letting go. Maybe that following scene where he goes to deliver it is fraught with genuine embarrassment when it dawns on Amy exactly that it was intended as a wedding gift for her. Maybe (the newspaper business is not very lucrative) we see first the lengths Larry goes to, to get the money for the car, only for it to fall flat cause he can't  compete with George and his wealth. Perhaps the penny drops for Amy finally after the bird-dropping visual. Then Larry overcompensates and gushes over George's gift.

I think if I let Amy in on that it would create sympathy, even pity, for Larry, and I don't want him being pitied. Misunderstood, yes? Pitied, no.

George reads a bit like Steve Martin in Father of the Bride at the moment... In a good way.
I think you can mine more comedy out of these sequences.

George or Larry?

This (above)  really doesn't tally with Larry being told Ellen is like another younger version of Debra (which is said later by?) It only works if he says something like I was madly and utterly in love with your mother, and then something like – life just came between us, or we had creative differences etc.

Larry on his blue tooth.
(So Larry's not tech illiterate entirely?)

Funny, I never really meant to have Larry seem like he's dead set against technology. He just likes his micro cassette recorders.

I like that Debra calls Larry Lawrence and that whole mixed up phone call intercutting with Ellen calling and George butt-dialing. It's very nicely choreographed. Great job.

Thanks!

A water Park? Hmm, something different, I suppose. But he pikes out? More tomatoes would've fixed that! And made it comedy gold. Maybe make for of that more amusement/evolution of Larry's character? Him really living after all this time of a careful staid life, not the adventurous one he planned? Better late than never.

I'll think about that.

It doesn't really make sense that Ellen's now being cagey and self-deprecating, does it? She was trying to get him to look at the full story before, but now:
ELLEN
Larry, it’s a farm stand. You’re
not writing for Forbes.
ELLEN
You should’ve came with me, then.

Came?  (does Ellen speak a bit like a country hick with bad grammar?)

No. I see her as pretty literate.

How do the tomatoes work then? Because...
Ellen is youthful looking, but...

Again, something I expect you to know without being told. My bad. The tomatoes, from where I stand, were something Ellen started when she was way younger, thereby allowing her to ALWAYS keep her youthful sheen. Claire and Herb started taking them when they were much older, so there various ailments were healed, but the tomatoes don't de-age you.

Aquatic, I'm thinking blue, teal and green.

After Larry eats the tomato he's meant to have experienced a youthful surge – or invigorating moment (virility returned) which is meant to be quite noticeable with Brenda jogging past. I think that was a bit played down. I made a suggestion up top about this.

Noted

You definitely sail through Larry meeting Ellen to them consummating their relationship too fast imho.

Agreed.

Your comedic touches are great. Just make sure enough of them land in dialogue.

Example: George's description. Loved all that with the Speedos and the python and Larry's awkwardness with the hug - (it made me laugh) but your audience won't be reading that line along with watching the film.

You're telling me a filmmaker can't make a Speedo look like it's housing a python?Half serious, but I did it more for the effect. I just thought it was kinda funny, and after all, I am initially trying to appeal to the reader.

I'm left with questions re this elixer of youth.

Why doesn't Ellen keep her daily intake of tomatoes up? (Did I miss something?) The soil changing/alkalinity? There was no explanation in my mind as to why we went from it being a going concern with people-in-the know lining up from far and wide, to Ellen going with Larry to the wedding... And then collapsing? It's as if there's a big gap in the narrative or third Act here. Or maybe I missed something?

Well, I did make mention of Ellen noticing age lines in her mirror, and then her brother getting slightly older, falling down. Some were subtle, some not. Again, it's basically me not being a hundred percent clear as to why this is happening. The tomatoes are losing their power... But how and why?

Why does Ellen go ballistic in the supermarket?

I think at that point she knows her days are numbered, so yes, a to hell with it moment. To me, that is a key scene of Ellen's youthfulness and her aloofness.

Is it a 'to hell with it' moment?

Ellen runs toward him like Baby running to Johnny in the
Dirty Dancing finale.

Hmm. I got it, but I think that's a cheat. Describe it your way with your originality.
She jumps into his arms. He swings her in a circle.

Agreed. I just got on Dave's case for name dropping a movie moment in Baggage, too.

You know the sequence in 500 Days of Summer, after he gets laid and he's on top of the world? If you don't, watch it. It's the perfect fantasy sequence blended with animation and song and dance.
I feel like this with your supermarket scene. But the  jubliant 'got nothing to lose' choreographed sequence is too short and comes off as bad behaviour and vandalism instead. I'd personally go for it in a bigger way if the audience is in on why she behaves this way. I'm going to assume she knows she has nothing to lose, no-one can hurt her cause she knows her fate? If not, I'm confused again.

Nope. You got it.

The Hospital sequence/Antonio Banderas etc., almost lands for me but it's also a bit messy? Do you need the Felipe gross out scene? Don't worry, I'm not a fan of Bridesmaids either. Most people think bodily-fluid jokes are hilarious. I'm just not one of them.

I really didn't see that as a big gross out scene, nor was it really meant to be.Just, they felt they were going to be outed, so he just threw up on him.

Your character descriptions are spot-on, like I said. The only ones I balked at slightly were the brutish and not quite brutish Nurses. The rest are perfect and put me in a good mind for the comedic moments that ensue.

Noted.

Okay this bit too -

Larry sure did move on fast to Brenda without at least a time shift/segue in the scene header.

I'll probably have more on my re-read, if you want it?

I didn't go into typos etc., mainly cause there aren't many, and you wanted more in terms of story.
Very nice, Steve. Just add more to it I think.

Thanks for your insight, Libby. Quality stuff. Don't bother re-reading it as it's clear I'll have to rework this a bit, but thanks for the offer. You're the best.



This post may seem a little disjointed. I had to whittle it down because your initial post was so long it wouldn't let me post all of my responses.


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LC
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Very good of you to reply to all that, Steve.

Yep, I meant Larry is like Gerorge Bank's character in Father of the Bride.  A good thing, not a bad thing. I just pictured Steve Martin all the way.

What are your thoughts about making your George younger?
Why not make him typically a good looking young bloke for Amy? And definitely way more intimidating for Larry, and an added bonus of eye-candy casting for your audience?

A python enclosed in a Speedo of an older guy - ick.
It's funny enough and still offputting in a younger guy.
FYI, I'm not sure if you know, but In Oz we call Speedos - Sluggos.  

What's wrong with Larry appearing a bit pitiful? Isn't that part of his evolution?

You're right. I do it like that because I feel for me to write what the reaction is would be a little presumptuous, if not awkward. I will try it, just don't want to overdo it and lose the comedy of the moment.

It's your job though... And it finishes abruptly when reading. I get what you're saying, but like you said... You're also writing it for the reader at this stage.
I'm just suggesting you try writing the reaction shot. It could top the comedy moment even further. No need to reply to this. Maybe just something to think about?

I look forward to the next draft.
I'm really glad you're not dropping it like a hot potato, I mean, tomato.  


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Quoted from spesh2k
PAGE 33-34:



Nice subtext, great dialogue.

Also, good unexpected cut to a water park of all places. Quirky.

PAGE 36:

How did he recognize Herb and his wife as the tomato thieves? When he saw them stealing, he thought they were kids? Maybe I missed something... I do like the little twist though.
He saw them from a distance. Will need to clarify that.
PAGE 38-39:

Haha, funny scene (Herb and Claire setting up a three-way).

PAGE 55:



Hmm. Maybe I'm misunderstanding the stakes. But what happens if Larry writes this story about the farm stand being the fountain of youth. I understand it exposes a secret, but I don't see how this will destroy John and Ellen's livelihoods. John seems concerned, bu Ellen doesn't seem very concerned about it.
Again, the stakes need to be fleshed out definitely.
PAGE 59:

Larry gets knocked out with the butt of a rifle and the next scene is him at the grocery store getting Ibuprofen. Felt like an odd transition, him being knocked out. The natural transition would be him waking up.
Totally understand that. Will try and blend in the transition better.
PAGE 60 - 63:

Hmm. I don't understand this scene, why Ellen's trashing the grocery store.
It's like an I don't give a fuck moment. That part where she realizes her fate, say fuck it. On further drafts this will be clearer.
PAGE 76-84:

This whole escape from the hospital feels a bit messy and not very interesting. It's nice that George is helping Larry out, but it feels... odd. Like it doesn't fit. Feels rushed.
Feels rushed or it just doesn't work??
PAGE 85:



As I'm reading, I'm not sure what is happening here. Is Larry pointing the rifle at John, to put him out of his misery? Or is it the other way around?
More clarity needed perhaps. John's pointing the rifle at Larry.
OVERALL:

This started out pretty good, but I felt like the second and third acts were rushed and disjointed.

The whole senator story with the prostitute and the knife, the reveal that Debra was there... it didn't feel like it belonged in this story at all. I'm not even sure how it fits outside of being somewhat of a bookend. I'm not sure how the reveal sums up the whole story... and the theme seemed to escape me. What IS the theme exactly? I thought it was a statement on getting older given the premise, but I didn't really see that as a clear theme.
The theme is the most important element here. It was supposed to have been -man denies his fate, then accepts it. So I guess acceptance is the theme, although I understand completely why it's hard to see. It needs fleshing out.

And why exactly are Ellen and John suddenly aging at a rapid rate? What happened to the tomatoes? Maybe I missed something.
The tomatoes were just supposed to "lose their power." Basically, their time is up. However, I didn't do a very good job explaining that
The story, overall, doesn't seem very focused, especially later in the script. I felt like this was rushed and there was a lot of filler -- the fight in Larry's front yard w/ the Mormons didn't add anything to the story. It was kinda funny, but it didn't really serve much of a purpose. Then George helping Larry get Ellen out of the hospital felt sudden to me, didn't understand why George would leave his wedding to do that. It just didn't feel natural.
I think George leaving the wedding is a good arc for George. And Larry, in that it makes Larry understand that George is not such a bad guy after all. He has his redeeming quality.

As a whole, I think that's the script's main issue -- especially the 2nd and 3rd acts, it didn't flow well or feel natural at all for me. A lot of the scenes felt forced in there, the developments felt forced and rushed and it threw off the rhythm for me. Ellen and John aging felt sudden -- and I still don't know why they were aging rapidly, maybe I missed something. I know John says that someone has been messing with the soil -- but WHO was messing around with the soil? Again, maybe I missed something. And the ending wasn't very satisfying w/ Brenda, who only appears in one line of description at the beginning -- getting asked out by Larry. When we see her at the beginning, she's just seeing Larry exercise in his window. He never has any interactions with her. And after that little scene, she disappears for the rest of the script.

I really like the premise -- it was like Cocoon meets Forever Young meets Safety Not Guaranteed. But the tone was all over the place, mainly because of that senator subplot. And story-wise, it felt like there were missing scenes.
Of all the movies mentioned, Cocoon was definitely one that came to mnd writing this. As well as About Schmidt.

I'd probably get rid of the senator subplot, just doesn't fit, at least IMO. The scenes don't fit the tone of the rest of this. And I'd work on expanding the 2nd and 3rd acts a bit. There's pieces here but at this moment but there are pieces missing, I feel like.
Losing the senator seems almost universal. Noted.

Overall, it's nice work, writing's good as always, but I really do think it needs a lot of work yet.

-- Michael






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SteveClark
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Quoted from eldave1
Okay, Steven – done.

I am not going to spend too much time commenting on scenes that I liked, just trust that there were many of them, and also the writing is really solid - Crisp and clean, spot-on character descriptions, quickly paced and all that good stuff.

I had problems with the story itself. On a macro level, I think you threw the kitchen sink at a story that should be far simpler. You have a great premise – a farm discovered, pretty much off the grid, where there are life-renewing tomatoes by an aging journalist near the end of his career.  Now he has to assess does he investigate and publish the most explosive story he has ever run across, or instead, exploit the existence of these magical tomatoes to enhance his life/love as he enters the final stretch of his life.

Into that story you insert aliens, A Senatorial sex scandal, a madcap hospital escape,  a wedding on a yacht, an ex-wife with a mysterious past, etc. I wanted the simpler story.  It could just be my own personal taste – but it just seemed to be that you had a great concept that got a bit contorted with the bells and whistles.  I also see some logic issues that I’ll address as we go.

I thnk you make a good point here, and it wouldn't be the only script I've ever done that -- have good scenes, but dialed down on the personal intrigue, the character's story.

LOGIC PROBLEM – On page 2/3 you have a two-hour long line of people waiting to get the tomatoes from this farm. And I’m thinking - How secret can these tomatoes be if people are lining up for miles to buy them??? Wouldn’t all of these people be experiencing fountain of youth responses and wouldn’t this already be the most publicized thing on the planet?  It undermines the entire premise of Larry discovering something. i.e., how does one discover something this well-known?

Yeah, it's more a case of me telling the story without filling in the background. I thought I had such a vibrant story here, but I failed to round out the small details.

Nit issue – but:

Larry digs into a can of cat food. A runt of a cat, Tommy, rubs against his ankles.
Even cat names are CAPPED. BTW – I generally dislike human names for pets as it just adds confusion when they are referred to later – you got a runt here – name him PEEWEE, ACORN, TIDBIT – whatever – to me anything other than a human name (I know – it is my own idiotic peeve).  But the larger issue here is the cat becomes a so what.  But the larger issue is that why have the cat if you’re really not going to use him for the story (he kind of disappears). You could use it as a story device – Larry loves this cat – it’s old and feeble but has spent the last 13/14 years with him – He takes the cat with him on one of his trips to the farm to see Ellen – he can’t t bear to see the old fella die without him around so he takes the cat with him – Ellen feeds the cat some tomato – next thing you know it’s bounding around like a kitten. i.e., use the cat somehow is a device to link the tomatoes to vitality and the create a moment between Ellen and Larry (it is literally the save the cat moment).

I'll make mention of this again -- I absolutely love that as a scene that could be heartstring tugging, as well as maybe Larry's watershed moment where he becomes a believer in the power of these tomatoes. To me, Larry remained the doubting Thomas throughout, but it would probably be a better arc if he became a believer before his world comes crashing down. Wonderful call.

Page 19: LARRY Have you ever known tomatoes to increase your virility.

Is a suspicion that comes WAY too early in the story in my opinion.  He’s had a bite or two – the Tomato should not be a suspect yet nor should he even be concerned – he basically has had one day of vitality. This needs to be more of a rinse and repeat. More bites at the proverbial apple – except in this case it’s a tomato.

noted.

As I go on, I am getting a bit concerned about this being set in modern day – The war stories that Doug and Larry swap sound as if the heyday of their work was in the 1970s.  Also – everyone seems to be devoid of basic modern-day technology. Example - Larry concerned about tomatoes and vitality yet wouldn’t do a simple Google search on it???  I know you set him up as the non-digital type – but everyone in this script kind of screams 1980s to me. Not a cell phone in site. No computers. Laptops, text messages. etc. etc.

Not true about the cell phones -- Larry and his daughter are on one early in the script when she's at the wedding boutique. Larry in his car on the blue tooth. I just don't make much of it because it's a nit issue of mine that I don't like movies where texts are shown onscreen in separate boxes and such. I think it's cheesy.

Page 29 - LARRY Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith.

Struck me as really odd. Why in the world would he be encouraging her to move forward when up till now every fiber of his being doesn’t want this to happen??? This is really inconsistent with the storyline you have set up to this point.

Yeah, you guys all called me out on that one.

By page 30 – I am not feeling that the Ellen-Larry attraction is organic at all.  Certainly not as fast as it is developing. Part of the problem may be you dedicated so many of the early pages to Larry, Amy, George, Doug, etc,  that Ellen and Larry have not been together long enough to have these emotions. The relationship seems rushed. It feels that in the first act, it’s 20% Ellen – 80% other story elements when it ought to be the inverse.

Correct and noted.

I am on PAGE 54 now, and unless I have missed something – has he not eaten any more tomatoes?????? If I am wrong – ignore this note. If I am right – how is that he has discovered what he thinks might be magical tomatoes and has yet to take another bite?

Again, it's me not explaining the background. I wanted to portray Larry as not wanting to be the type of guy to alter his fate. The kind of guy who accepts what comes his way, no matter what. That's why Larry tries only a slice, but never more. In further drafts I'll flesh this out.

The I love you from Larry on page 62 seemed a little early in the relationship to me.  Not because of where it happens page count-wise – more because they really haven’t had that many romantic moments together.

I get that.

LOGIC PROBLEM:  JOHN thinks LARRY can mess with the alkalinity of the soil –  like somehow Larry could change the bio-chemical composition of an entire farmland in a nano-second. That didn’t make sense to me. I know that the soil losing it’s magical powers does – but John assuming Larry is the cause?? I think you would be much better here if there was some macro-level ticking time clock over this – i.e., John and Ellen already know that this is the last crop of magical tomatoes because (think of a reason) and this is their last season of that special life  - time to make decisions.  Ellen’s decision is Larry.

I never meant to have you believe John would actually think that, but because he's just so really against Larry he's willing to blame him for pretty much everything. Something said out of anger. And, again, I really, really like the idea of Ellen's decision being Larry. I just have to think of why the soil/tomatoes are losing their power. Also like the idea that Ellen and John know this is their last go-round. Good stuff.

LOGIC PROBLEM - ELLEN AT THE HOSPITAL – The Doc is concerned about getting her on dialysis but not concerned that a 29 year old is again a decade every few minutes. Didn’t make sense to me – when you go to the hospital there’s going to be questions – age – name – DOB – etc. The Docs need to be shocked about what they are seeing. I don’t think the Q&A between Larry and the Doc on page 75 addresses this sufficiently.

Noted.

Overall, to me – this should be a story about Larry and Ellen – the John angle is good because it provides great juxtaposition – i.e.,  as Larry is being judgmental about his daughter’s chosen mate, he doesn’t realize that he is in the exact situation with John (John being judgmental about Ellen’s chosen mate).  That would be interesting irony.   I don’t think you need the Senator at all (note – it was a riveting opening scene – loved it – it just doesn’t belong in this movie, IMO).  I don’t think you need the Doug wife’s dying (or even Doug for that matter).  I think you need Larry slowly falling in love with Ellen as he investigates this tomato thing.  I think she should end up not dying at the end but instead aging up to Larry’s age (60ish) – i.e., did he fall In love with her for looks/youth or – was it because who she was – the ultimate proof of that being does he love her as a 60 year old?

You know, I never did catch the irony of John and Larry both being judgmental about basically the same things. I just sort of wrote it that way. Now that my eyes are opened, I'll exploit that further. The whole idea of Ellen being attracted to Larry was that she really IS his age, if not much, much older. So when people say why the attraction, that's it, but I do realize there must be something else that really kind of makes it make more sense.

I know these notes are a bit scattered – hope they help in some way.

Immense help. From everyone who chimed in. Thank you!




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