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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  Birthday Surprise Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: September 16th, 2012, 11:19am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Birthday Surprise by Alex Sarris (Alex_212) - Short, Comedy -  When Ernie turned 80, a quiet family get together was anticipated, nothing ever turns out as anticipated though. - pdf, format


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Gage
Posted: September 16th, 2012, 12:26pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Alex,

Well, this one, is um... different.

For starters, I'm not seeing any real story here.  This little nugget would be an okay scene in a Meet the Parents style comedy, but as a standalone short, it kind of disappoints.  There's no arc, or real conflict, just a funny little turn of events.  Which is fine, but it doesn't really satisfy on its own.

For such a short piece, I think you have a ton of characters (and most of them are all introduced at once).  In the beginning, there's Ernie, Mavis, and Steve.  At the party, you introduce Tony, Marcia, Cindy, Libby, Linda, and Reverend Simon.

What follows is confusing.  There's so many characters at once, all doing things, I lost track of where everyone was.  Cindy and Libby are blowing out candles, Ernie opens his present, Mavis is serving cake, Steve and Tony are sitting on the couch, Reverend Simon goes to the bathroom, and god knows where Linda and Marcia have gone.  That's a lot to take in all at once.

Then, you put two gags together, which kinda make them both weaker.  The iPad joke is cute (although I saw it coming as soon as Steve said "that's a bit much" over the phone).  I don't know how Ernie taped an iPad to his face, but the joke still works.

Then we find out that Mavis put Viagra in the cake and all the males have erections.  I really have no idea where this came from.  The problem here is that Ernie already has eye problems, so if someone was going to mess up and put Viagra in the cake, it should be him.  That gives purpose to his eye infection other than just the silly gag, it's efficient.  But instead, Mavis does it, which kinda render Ernie's eye thing and the Viagra joke moot.

Ernie's bulge is noticed, and Steve and Tony stand up and willingly show that they're randy as rabbits (which is odd, seeing as there are children around).  Then everyone laughs (still odd, I mean this is a family gathering and there are young girls around).  Reverend Simon peeks in through the doorway (I guess he went in the bathroom to conceal his... er, excitement?)

Overall, this script feels very cluttered and inefficient.  I would change it so that Ernie is the one who accidentally puts Viagra in the cake.  I would cut Reverend Simon, and one of the young girls, they just take up space.  You could cut additional characters but then it wouldn't be a very convincing party.

Additionally, you need a story here.  As is, I don't see any conflict or progression, just setups and payoffs to two jokes.  Maybe have Steve worry about the implications of his iPad purchase, maybe he's in financial trouble.  Create more conflict in the Viagra joke, they need to hide those bulges from young Cindy's innocent gaze.  Give Mavis a purpose, perhaps they forgot her birthday last year and she's trying to sabotage Ernie's.  There needs to be a sort of arc and irony that satisfies the audience.

Good ideas, Alex.  There's just always room for improvement.

Gage


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alffy
Posted: September 16th, 2012, 1:21pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Alex

SPOILERS!!!!



Your first slug is weird 'INT. DINING TABLE - NIGHT.  Are we in the dining table?

Ernie's response to Steve saying an eye pad is a bit much is a bit abrupt.

Why do you name some of the children but then not the others?

Ernie leaves the room but then looks at his present.  Is he in a different room?  If so, you need another slug.

I'm sold on this.  You have a lot of unnecessary characters, who are there purely for the erection gag.  The IPad joke is good though.  I actually think this would benefit from losing some of the characters though.


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Alex_212
Posted: September 16th, 2012, 8:33pm Report to Moderator
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Hi guys,

Didn't realise this one was posted, thanks Don and if you need help please let us know as I am sure a number of regulars on this site would be willing to jump in.

Thanks Gage and Anthony for the read.

Anthony you have made some valid points, never thought anyone could be in a dining table. Hee Hee will amend. Ernie was meant to look at his present as he leaves the room, will review the wording again. The second group of children dont interact with anyone so I kept them a nameless to save on introducing too much detail.

I do realise there is not a huge story in this and it is more or a joke stringed together with words, i have done this type of screenplays before and find they do get picked up by producers easily.

Gage you mention the Ipad joke was predictable, I do realise that and it was included to throw the audience of course so they believe that is the payoff, when there is more !!!

I also do realise there are a  fair few characters that get introduced fairly rapidly though it is a Birthday Party and that's what usually happens, they all turn up close to time and wander in, in numbers. Just thought the mass of adults and kids would give it a bit more realism.

Gage the "that's a bit much" dialouge does give it away ??? so not sure if I should lose it and just include an "OK" or similar, though as mentioned above it will trick the audience into thinking this is the payoff. Will have sleep on that one !!!!

Yes Gage, Ernie does have and eye problem though they are both old and eyesight does go with age, I don't think Ernie should be making his own cake and the reaction from Mavis at the end after seeing the buldge may be priceless. At their age I guess seeing a buldge is probably extremely uplifting. No pun intended.

I will look at the characters and maybe cut back a child, though I feel the Reverend peeking through the door will be fun as the viewer will sympathise with the predicament he is in !!!!! Oops not the Reverend !!!!! The devoted christians may not agree though it is just for fun.

The screenplay is only 5 pages and I didn't want to stretch it out with more details about the characters and their feelings and reactions, as mentioned it is just a joke n a screenplay and I feel the story will be fun to watch and the comedy part will be very amusing. I have already had a huge amount of interest from the producers that I have an association with so this one will be going ahead.

Thanks for your comments guys, I will get some of these comments incorporated.

Alex


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CoopBazinga
Posted: September 17th, 2012, 2:31am Report to Moderator
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Hey Alex,

The art of misdirection - I was going to give a hard time about this one because as soon as Ernie said "eye pad" which could have been called an "eye patch" I could see the joke coming. Steve's phone call confirmed this at the top of page 2 and I thought... not another three pages to reveal the obvious joke.

So when that joke came, it was fell flat and was unbelievable unless that's the new IPad and it's a lot smaller than the current model.

But then you pulled that ace from the pack with the Viagra and although I wasn't in stitches, I smiled and that's more than enough to say that this one was good but it should have been better.

For starters the writing needs some work, this was scattered with awkward sentences especially the last 2 pages and the opening slug needs attention.

And then all these characters started entering and I was lost about who was who by the end - it felt they were all coming from one of those clown cars or something. This area needs to tidied up and then when your punchline comes in at the end it won't get lost in a sea of confusion. I really couldn't keep up with it all.

And to have everyone standing around laughing at the end with their modesty on display in front of the kids just ain't doing it for me. Try to find a way to cut the kids out or have them leave the room before.

It could also do with a few pages shaved off, this only needs 3 pages at most IMO.

It's certainly not going to win any awards for being the best character development piece but it wasn't supposed too, it's a nice use of misdirection for a funny gag. Just try to clean up that ending so the punchline is more effective.

Good effort.
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Alex_212
Posted: September 17th, 2012, 2:57am Report to Moderator
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Thanks Steve,

I have been considering a few changes, because of the children in the room.

Maybe I get the kids run into the yard to play ball or similar.

It seems all the points that are getting raised are not catching me by surprise as it was something I had considered throughout the writing process.

Will give it all a look.

Alex


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Pale Yellow
Posted: October 12th, 2012, 8:19am Report to Moderator
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pg 2 The DOORBELL is heard  ... You could put The DOORBELL or The doorbell RINGS.

pg 4 As Steve point  ...should be 'points'

Ok Cute story....

Have to say the quick intro's of so many characters was a bit confusing. You need to trim this down IMO and I may even find a way to either reduce the number of characters or intro them differently.

But that viagra kick at the end was enough to make me say this was really good!

Good job Alex!
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Alex_212
Posted: October 12th, 2012, 11:26pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Dena,

Thanks for taking the time to read my screenplay as I have not had many posts for this one, maybe I am getting something right after all. Hee Hee

Seems the path I need to take with this one is clearcut, only a few comments here though all the posters seem to agree with one another.


Quoted from Pale Yellow
But that viagra kick at the end was enough to make me say this was really good!
Good job Alex!


Thanks for all your comments Dena, and especially the above comment, without comments like this, none of us would be here putting our souls on the line.
You're tops.

Regards Alex


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Pale Yellow
Posted: October 12th, 2012, 11:29pm Report to Moderator
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I love to read your work ...hit me up anytime!

Write on!
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justwrite
Posted: October 16th, 2012, 1:55am Report to Moderator
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Hi Alex... it's been a while since I've posted comments.  I really enjoyed the read, but if you're going to be displaying boners, maybe you should lose the kids and make it an adult birthday party for Ernie.

Not sure how sugar tablets and a Viagra bottle can get mixed up, regardless of whats on the bottle, but maybe work one of the young granddaughters adding the alleged sugar tablets into the mix while grandma chats on the phone and not paying much attention, and take it from there.  

All and all, I like the story, but just the boner part with the small kids witnessing it sounds a little disturbing, IMO.


"May the Fleas of a Thousand Camels Infest the Crotch of the Person Who Screws Up Your Day and May Their Arms Be Too Short to Scratch"
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Alex_212
Posted: October 16th, 2012, 10:26pm Report to Moderator
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Hey justwrite,

Thanks for taking the time to read my screenplay.


Quoted from justwrite
but if you're going to be displaying boners, maybe you should lose the kids and make it an adult birthday party for Ernie.

All and all, I like the story, but just the boner part with the small kids witnessing it sounds a little disturbing, IMO.


I am a little confused at your comments, the screenplay was modified some time back and the children do leave the room prior to the adult happenings, so not sure why you still mentioned this, unless you skipped that part. It was made more child friendly prior to you reading it.

Glad you enjoyed it though.

Alex


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justwrite
Posted: October 17th, 2012, 12:59am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Alex_212
Hey justwrite,

Thanks for taking the time to read my screenplay.



I am a little confused at your comments, the screenplay was modified some time back and the children do leave the room prior to the adult happenings, so not sure why you still mentioned this, unless you skipped that part. It was made more child friendly prior to you reading it.

Glad you enjoyed it though.

Alex


You're right, I stand corrected.  


"May the Fleas of a Thousand Camels Infest the Crotch of the Person Who Screws Up Your Day and May Their Arms Be Too Short to Scratch"
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