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Headlong (7WC) by Steve McDonell (stevie) - Comedy - On a U.S road trip, two Aussie brothers pick a recently turned zombie hiker. Unbeknownst to them, he carries a fortune in stolen gems. A wild chase ensues, from Phoenix to Las Vegas...114 pages - pdf, format
Hey Stevie. I read about up to page 70 before, so I read the rest today. Here are my thoughts:
You have montages where you don’t really need montages, just have action.
The problem with the Jaw’s quotes is that people that haven’t seen it won’t get it. Well done for picking a popular film, but I wouldn’t have quotes from the Jaw’s too important in the script.
The farting thing gets old quickly, and I think others on here will agree. I say in the rewrite take out a very occasions with farting.
I like the Heart Will Go On scene, funny stuff.
Okay, up to page 92 and I’m slightly confused. There are a lot of characters, and lots of things are happening at once. I think the characters have too much of the same voice, and their dialogue is similar. That could be a problem.
I think this line “We could all give chase in the RV, thus initiating a wild finale.” Needs to be taken out, it breaks with 4th wall and I think it could be done better.
It’s a bit long for what it is, but most of it’s dialogue, so it would go quicker than a minute per page.
I think the major problem with this script is that there is too much external conflict, and not enough internal. Most of the characters don’t really change that much by the end. You need them to have a problem... or something, so they can improve... or their issue becomes worse, by the end.
I think you actually need a chase scene. Going from saying they are going to drive after the chopper, to suddenly at the Bradshaw’s house – it all happens too quickly. There needs to be a reason in there for the suitcase to have a camera.
Have you seen two helicopters crash into each other? I have, and it’s a lot more hardcore than you say, small chance the people inside would survive. Maybe they jump into the pool before the helicopter crashes to the ground?
Some of your action lines could be split up. I know you are keeping under 5 lines, but to much happens in some of your paragraphs with different characters, it makes sense to split it up and give it a bit more space.
They wouldn’t get the bulk of the 3 mill as a reward... a lot less.
I really like how you bring back characters we saw before, without just having them on screen for a bit and then forgetting about them... Jack and Rose, The Fabs.
I dunno about having Matt Damon in there... if you can figure out a way to cut him out, I say do it.
Interesting ending, I like it.
There were some funny lines in this man, but it lacked in certain bits. There weren’t really any morals or lessons, and the characters didn’t grow that much from it.
I know you’re not really going for that though, it’s a plain comedy, and if you are going for that, it works.
Hi Tommy, thanks for the review. I've been hanging out for some feedback! hope you aren't too sick this morning!
Ok, I'll explain a bit about this script. Originally it was gonna be set at Christmas but the logistics and weather of an Arizona December would've buggered up the campground stuff. So i moved it to March which is when I have travelled the highways and places mentioned. it was also gonna be more violent with touches of humour, like Beverly Hills Cop. But the first 20 pages had an uneasy mix, so I made it a straight comedy. Taking this further, I made it like a parody of all the road trip/chase movies. I put a lot of odd characters in there(maybe too many) and the sitautions became more outlandish. I wasn't looking for character development -actually i don't in any of my scripts; i just write the story and whatever happnes, happens.
Yeah, i thought I overdid the fart stuff and maybe the Jaws quotes. I just wanted to have people only said certain stuff. I don't necessarily agree, Tommy, about readers not knowing much about Jaws - it is a very popular movie, even amongst young kids.
I had a chase scene planned involving the chopper, motorbike, RV, etc. But I was getting weary of the script by then, and just wanted to wrap things up. I felt it was too long anyway. Some of the logistics for this were a pain to write! Originally they all get to Vegas at night. I didn't want the finale to take place at night, so I had to make them get there in the day. And earlier, I had to work out the distances/vehicle speed ratio for the trip from Sedona to Flagstaff. I've driven that route but it was still a case of detail checking! when i went with pure comedy for this, I cut all the swearing, more as a challenge I guess. I was kind of looking for an M rating, maybe a PG with some fine tuning. I was inspired too, by Dressel's scripts, Producing... and Based on... in which he had a fair size cast and all this stuff building up.
Um, that's about it for now. cheers again Tommy. Matt Damon was originally George Clooney! Then when I was writing the final scene, i realised there were 2 characters named George! So i picked Matt. Who knows, he might read this one day and be in it!
Hi Gary. Thanks for th eerad and kind words - glad you liked it. It did become more crazy as it went on; that was my intention, to make it so unbelievable but theoretically possible! It was almost cartoonish in some parts.
Yeah, I see now, in retrospect, that Pop and Henry's lines would be tiresome. Maybe if I had quotes from different movies, and it peratained to stuff they were doing. I was just trying to throw in some different shit. and, of course, I always knew when I started writing this, what th elast line was gonna be. The killer roos thing stuck my head from Matt Chisholm's Halloween OWC, so I kept putting it out there. There were a few little in-jokes for SS people - the hillbillies from Deliverance for Rob, Officer Reynolds from KC for Balt( he was originally named after Balt but i changed it at the last minute).
I've read about half of your, Gary, and will finish it tonight and post a review. Cheers buddy.
I liked your road trip idea here. It was fun and crazy. I'm impressed you wrote this in just a few weeks. Great job. Now, there are some things that need to be changed here though for this to work better. Just remember to take my comments with a grain of salt. I'm not a pro as you know. I'm only telling you how I see things.
This script have a few major problems that you need to fix. First thing is that you have way too many characters in this one. They are all colorful in their own way, but because there are so many of them, we don't really get to know any of them and as a result, we don't care about them as much as we should. None of them. You have it set up as Jason and Brent are going to be our protags, but other than learning that one is an engineer and the other works a crummy job we know nothing about them. For this story to work you need to change this. Make us care about them. Make us want to know them. I would also if I were you axe a few of the characters as they IMO did nothing to enhance this script. Pop and Henry added nothing. Nor did Rose and Jack. You could easily get rid of Matt, Andrea and Tommy too. Why are they in this? You could at least have made either Brent or Jason fall for Andrea or maybe even both of them to get some conflict going here to make things a little more interesting. Tommy was nothing more than a big irritation for me…sorry.
The second problem with this is the dialogue. Everyone sounds exactly the same. Even Tommy and he's a 12 year old kid. Not only does he speak like the other adults, but he's got Australian accent or at least Aussie word usage. Which leads to another big problem. I started out typing up everything I read that IMO made this script ring false. Everyone always says write what you know. That doesn't mean you can't write a sic-fi about space traveling aliens, but if you decide to write a script about people and places in the US (as an example) like you did, it ruins the authenticity feel when over and over the characters say and do things that are not true the area. Maybe Jeff will point out all of these to you… I love you Aussies, I really do. Love the way you talk, but we don't talk like that here. I cringed every time they said crims. There were things like that throughout this script that screamed "the writer is Australian!! We love him, but…".
There were not that many typos, but those that were there came mostly near the end. Otherwise the writing was good. I would change some of your slugs however.
page 1. No need to mention he's a young man right before you state that he's 18.
page 2, you call Corey Connor.
I'm not an expert in motorhomes, but I think what you are referring to are campers. They are sort of like big pick-ups with a camper on top. The reason I'm mentioning it is because people usually refer to them by the name of the manufacturer of the camper not the truck base. In other words, I think it would sound more realistic if Corey says (just an example) "it 's a brown and white Adventurer". A Ford motorhome, just doesn't sound right since Ford doesn't make motorhomes. IMHO of course. Nit picking is all.
page 5. I liked their discussions about school and jobs. Says a lot about them.
page 6. Them talking about not liking Aussies doesn't ring true to me at all. As far as I know, it seems they are liked by pretty much everyone. Maybe Antonio has a reason, but Ray? I don't buy it and I don't think an audience would agree either.
If Slick can track the money so easily on his phone, why go to the rv rental place at all? Seems like a very stupid move. Also doesn't tell us anything new since we've already met Brent and his brother and they've already told us where they are going. Skip that scene and have Slick track them on the phone instead.
All Beatles! LOL.
Not sure I like Slick's line "this country used to be proud and free of sin". Not only doesn't it fit Slick's thug character, but I doubt anyone here would say something like that. Not eve an ultra conservative.
I think you need to make Tommy's dialogue be more like a 12 year olds. He sounds exactly like Jason…
page 19, Andrea says their granddad is trying to escape from the retirement home. As far as I know, you're not a prisoner there. You can come and go as you please. Okay, I see. You call it nursing home on the next page. Need to change that on the previous page then since the two are completely different things. You call it retirement home again later.
Not sure why Brent decided to ram the other rv. Usually people tend to not want to get any dents on rented vehicles as it could become costly. Also, it's not like they were being chased or anything so it comes off as a very stupid move.
Why did Andrea wait at the car? It's her Grandpa. Seems like she should be the one to go get him.
I liked the name Steakhouse!
page 36. Not so sure I like your slugs saying LATER. It's a completely new scene with new people…
page 38. Rose's dialogue at the bottom of the page…what teenager talks like that?? Ditto that for Jack.
It's gracias, not gracious.
Funny how Rose and Jack keep their lips locked even though they are thrown about in the rev.
IMO, the pages when we first meet Officer Reynolds go on too long. It would be boring on film to sit and listen to Jimmy tell what happened when we just watched it ourselves. Don't tell an audience what they already know. The dialogue there could easily be tightened up.
I find it a little too unbelievable that the police are not going to check out the truck and car and what really happened. I doubt there would just be Reynolds taking a few notes. I could be wrong, but would imagine a whole bunch of cops taking pictures of the tire tracks and such and then there would be police helicopters in the canyon and some people on the ground too. There's at least one body down there. I know the terrain is rough (I was there in June), but they would at least try to recover the body.
pages 71 and 76. I think that would be more like A SERIES OF SHOTS rather than a montage.
page 85. He feels a calm, a sense of wonder….
Airlifting injured people in a police helicopter? Are you sure about that? I'm not sure how things work in Vegas, but where I live, the airlifting of any injured people is done by "ambulance" choppers that are stationed at a hospital. I think most police helicopters only have two seats. There would be no room for patients nor two passengers. You may want to look into that.
It's a little far fetched to expect us to believe that not just Slick would survive the fall down the GC, but Rose and Jack too?…on top of glass. Btw, you can't just walk out on the Skywalk. You have to go through the building and it costs about $30.
I see that you took this story over the top in the second half. That's fine even if some things were really crazy.
All in all, I think you did a good job. Fix the characters, dialogue and words from Oz and you'll have a fun road trip script here.
Hey Stevie, sorry for the delay, bro. Too busy while visiting my sis’ family outside St. Louis.
I’m back now, and here’s my take on your 7WC script. I’m not going to go into great detail and edit this for you, but I will throw out a post of notes for you, on a semi page by page basis.
As this sits now, it doesn’t work for me, and I’ll go into why in a bit. I think it really can work though with a major rewrite of the first 50 or so pages.
I’ve read the other reviews, and first thing I want to say is that I agree with Pia on just about everything she said. She brought up some great points and I echo them all…poor dialogue, too many characters without enough characterization for most of them, and biggest problem is the Aussie dialect for everyone, which makes no sense and distracts from the read.
Stevie, as I said when I read your first 40 or so pages a month ago, the tone is the biggest issue here. What I mean is this…this script screams out zany, slapstick comedy. It needs to be this way from start to finish, and that’s not the case now. The first half isn’t nearly as zany as the last half and because of that, it feels very uneven and almost strange in a way when things go slapstick.
As I was reading along, I wasn’t enjoying it much at all…up until things got whacky, zany, and down right goofy. The 2nd half has a Cheech and Chong road trip feel to it…a Gumball Rally feel…even a Smokey and the Bandit vibe. At times, it veers into the Airplane/Naked Gun movies even, which is all good. But your opening 40 or so pages are completely different, and that’s a big problem, as the zany stuff comes out of left field and feels like a completely different movie.
The Jaws quotes go on way too long and I think you missed some classic ones, and some of the ones you chose to use are too remote for most to even have a clue they’re from the movie. The other guy quoting all this stuff from whatever Supernatural is flew over my head completely, and I would imagine most won’t get it at all. I’d choose something more memorable that everyone will understand, catch, and relate to.
At times, your dialogue exchanges go way too long and don’t offer anything we need in here. I’d hugely up the sight gags, the slapstick, the goofiness, and cut back on the dull dialogue.
I like many of your characters, but I don’t really care for any of your main protags, and that’s a problem. The 2 Aussie boys are both rather dull. Andrea offers very, very little (as Pia suggested, you should include some romance with her…it would add a lot!). Tommy comes off as an adult and his character needs a lot of work. The goons dialogue is terrible and needs lots of work. The old men could be great, but they need work as well. The best characters, IMO are everyone else, but none of them are really main characters, even though they have a lot of onscreen time.
Maybe, I shouldn’t say there are too many characters, because there are many examples of movies with a huge cast that do work. I think it can work but it needs work, and they need a unique voice, some quirks, anything that will make them more memorable. I doubt I’ll eve say this again, but I think playing up the clichés in your characters would help. Pepita is a perfect example. She’s hilarious at times. She could be even more over the top. Taylor, as well. She/he works but could be a lot better. Same with Steakhouse and the goons. Sometimes, in comedies, clichéd characters work cause it’s not meant to be taken seriously and clichéd characteristics are funny when they’re over the top. I’d go for that with everyone.
So, as things got zany, I started liking this and wish it was all written like this. I think if you redo the first half and start right off with some crazy stuff going on, it would work. The stuff with the cops ordering pizzas was hilarious! This is what you need on page 1 – 50. For a comedy to work, we need to understand what we’re in for right from the get go.
I’d also up the R rating, and include some nudity, a lot more swearing, and more over the top stuff. The stuff with Taylor and Pepita was great arly on, but then quickly disappeared. I’d have Steak and Peppy going at it somewhere…it would be a hilarious visual with a huge fat guy and a sexy little Mexican minx.
The Skywalk falling into the canyon was great, but again, it came out of nowhere and seemed out of place at the time. If people are going to be able to survive all sorts of near death experiences, give us some right up front. Go bigger in all regards. Throw out attempts at humor nonstop…some will work, some won’t, but at least go for it.
Potential here for sure, my brother. Excellent effort for 7 weeks. Clean it up, tighten it up, make the tone even throughout. Great job, overall!
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
Page 1 – Don’t like your opening intro’s at all. When you first intro a character without naming him, you need to use all CAPS. For instance, “Three hefty men pursue…”. This is their first intro, so “hefty men”, or at least “men” should be CAPPED. But the bigger issue here, IMO, is the fact that you’re wasting space by using words like, “a young man”, and “three hefty men”, as apposed to simply introing them with their name. Further muddying up this initial intro is the fact that we get almost zero description for these 4 characters. Corey is intro’d as “young”, which is a waste, because we know he’s 18. The only thing we know about the other 3 is that they’re “hefty”…no ages, no nothing else. Not a good way to start things off, IMO.
Missing commas in your SUPER
Page 2 – “bosse’s” - “boss’s”
Page 5 – “solid white guy” – Hmmm, why say he’s a white guy? Strange… Not sure about the “steel cap” thing either.
Page 8 – “The Taylor holds…” – No need for “the”.
Page 10 – So, the antags stole an RV? Why wouldn’t the “clerk” just call the police immediately after they left? Reality check problem here. They should have killed him, otherwise, we’ve got a problem that we can’t get around.
Page 11 – Funny line about “pitching a tent in my pants”!! Well done!
Page 13 – Funny about the Matt Damon lookalike, but I think you could have played this out a bit better.
Page 15 – Funny about the killer Roos.
Page 17 – “He’s not sure why.” – wasted aside. Stay away form these.
Page 18 – Love how you’re using actual places. Adds a lot of reality to the script. Problem is that Lo Lo Mai campgrounds is only 2 hours from Sky Harbor Airport. On page 10, Slick’s RV met up with Taylor, and it was day. Now, they’re pulling into the campgrounds, and it’s night (and, the boys have been there for quite awhile, as they’ve already eaten). Reality check issues!!!
General note – I see some comedy elements in here for sure, but I’m having trouble with the thugs, as they aren’t very funny, but they’re not very realistic either. The tone is kind of off kilter, IMO.
Page 19 – Very awkward and confusing with the bumping into Tommy thing. Needs some attention.
“starts yelling” – stay away from using words like “starts”. Very passive and not what you want in a script.
OK, now Brent says it’s midnight, which again is a reality check problem based on the above notes for Page 18.
General note – I don’t buy any of the exchanges or dialogue from Slick, Ray, and Antonio. Doesn’t sound real at all.
Page 22 – “He sees two guys in the front.” – Totally unnecessary line. Does absolutely nothing.
Page 23 – The use of “CONTINUOUS” in your Slug here is incorrect, as it’s impossible that this scene is continuous from the last one. It’s “LATER”.
Page 24 – “Torch”????? HUH???
Page 26 – “too” – “to”
Page 27 – “The Firebird will soon catch them.” – Here’s an example of what I’m talking about the dialogue between these goons. Just so unrealistic.
Page 28 – “They’re on 89a.” – Poor, confusing sentence. “a” should be capped, but you should offer more info as to exactly what you’re talking about.
Page 29 – Funny about the side effects of the meds, but I’m confused…the effects last 12 hours, and they take them once a day, so basically, you’re saying that they’re like this all their waking hours, right? Why weren’t they like this last night when they were picked up?
Page 30 – Why are both character’s dialogue O.S.? Doesn’t make sense…what is onscreen.
Page 33 – I don’t get the “Supernatural” references. Is that a movie or something?
Page 36 – “are” – “is”
Page 37 – “We’lll” – “We’ll”
General note – You’re going a bit overboard with the Jaws dialogue and whatever that Supernatural thing is as well. At first it’s funny, but it’s already getting annoying, and many of these comments are lost by the frequency of them.
Page 39 – “…in the same street…” – should be “on the same street…”
I don’t like the addition of Rose and Jack…don’t think they’re at all necessary.
Page 50 – “Gracious” – “Gracias”
Page 51 – Don’t put things like “aerial view” in your Slugs.
“are kissing” – “kiss”
Page 56 – a 5 line passage…cut it back to 4!!!
Page 59 – If this Jimmy character knows Officer Reynolds as “Mikey”, you should intro him as Officer Mike Reynolds, so we understand where that’s coming from.
No need for Jimmy to reiterate what we already just saw. Total waste of time, space, and would be very dull onscreen.
This entire scene seems like a big waste, and goes on way too long. Totally unrealistic with the way this officer is handling it.
Page 63 – Another 5 liner…cut it back!!!
Page 64 – Now we’re getting really goofy with the survival of Slick, and the entrance of hillbilly’s raping the campers. Doesn’t work for me, sorry to say.
“The gang are…” – should be “The gang is…”
Page 67 – “Reynolds lives in a house behind the police station.” – Very poor sentence! Totally an aside you’re telling us. No place in a script for this type of writing.
Page 71 – “Peach Springs is a town high up in the mountains.” – Another example of you telling us something we’ll never know from watching onscreen.
Page 81 – Very awkward with Brent’s dialogue near the bottom, about the broken down van. You need to set this up first with an action line.
WAY too much dialogue with the Beatles dudes. Isn’t working for me.
Page 85 – Wow, we’re really going overboard here now, huh? Getting really, really whacky, and I don’t think it fits. I think this is a problem with this script over all. I’d recommend starting things off just as goofy as you’re being here, otherwise it seems to hit from left field.
Page 86 – What’s with the coyotes all urinating on things? Really goofy, mate!
“Aaaaaargh!” – A classic no no, IMO. No one says “Argh” except maybe pirates.
Page 88 – “Damn, his phone is off.” – Another example of you not setting up the dialogue through action lines. This makes no sense without us knowing that he was trying to call him.
Page 92 – You have to CAP all new characters as they’re intro’d.
Page 93 – No way could a police chopper carry a stretcher. Also, how did Jack and Rose survive that fall with zero injuries? Reality check!!!!
Page 95 – Again, don’t put “aerial view” in your Slug. This thing wouldn’t play out well onscreen withy all the V.O.’s…we’d have no clue who was saying what.
Page 98 – “It is Gabe, Reynolds's buddy.” – Very poor sentence.
Page 100 – Why in the world is Cop 4 talking about Celine Dion? Nothing to do with anything going on here…very, VERY out of place!
Page 101 – Really getting zany now with the pizza delivery stuff. Again, as I said earlier, if this is the direction you want this to go in, you have to do it from page 1. It could work if that’s the way it was, but it wasn’t. As is, it just feels really weird now.
Page 102 – “We could all give chase in the RV, thus initiating a wild finale.” – HaHa…funny, indeed. It works for me, but as I keep saying…it only works if this is the tone of the entire script/movie. The first 50 or so pages need reworking…extensive reworking!
Page 103 – “…sits an outdoor…” – missing “at”.
Page 105 – “rubs” – “runs”
Page 112 – No need for “Credits Roll”.
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
Hi Pia and Jeff! Thanks for the read and comments. I really appreciate it. Hmm, where to start...ok, it seems I goofed with this script. I was pretty happy with how it turned out, re the story and action. Methinks some re-write is on the cards.
The major point was the second half upping the zaniness. This was exactly what I was trying to do. I think the first third of it labours because when I wrote that, the script wasn't planned to be as crazy. As I said earlier, the original idea was for a quite violent story, with dashes of comedy. Jeff read the initial 20 pages and said it didn't gel. So i went back, erased all guns, swearing(there was heaps of fucks, etc). Ok, that was fine but i see now I didn't adjust the surrounding sentences accordingly. A good example was when Slick confronts Taylor on the highway. He originally jumped out, jammed a gun in 'his' face and says...'Fuck off weirdo'. Taylor looks calmly at the barrel of the gun and says...'Looks like your gun is bigger than mine - for now'. Then he speeds off. So th efirst 30 or 40 pages still arc back a bit to the original idea. I did try and make the start a bit funnier, by having antonio fall overt the fence, that sort of thing. Corey was originally Connor(missed one there) and originally Slick has the gun in his face whilst getting info, ditto for the sales clerk.
Once I decided to go for pure comedy, I tried to make th esituations more unreal. Sure, in real life there would be search parties in the GC but that wasn't important here. I was kind fond of Jack and Rose, and thought they were ok. Um, i'm just throwing out stuff here....Jeff, i can't believe you don't know the TV show, 'supernatural'? Its huge here in Oz. Yeah, Pop and Henry did get boring after awhile. Actually, some of the Jaws lines fit with the current conversation, by accident. I need a way for Tommy to find the briefcase so used Henry's suitcase there.
The biggest surprise for me was that yiu guys thought everyone sounded like an aussie? wow, to me, th e weakest part of the script was that I didn't use Jason and Brent as more Aussielike! To me, they might as well be American, because nothing they really say or do, to me is classic Australian. Originally, when the story was darker, Jason was gonna be a heavy drinker come over to the US to dry out a bit. and their parents were gonna be going through a seperation. But of course, once i took the comedy route, all that shit went out. I better finish up, this is getting too long...thanks again guys! If you can suggest more chnages I can make to improve, please YELL out! I really think this is maybe the best script I've done so far, and I think it can become something. cheers
PS - Jeff , the Celine Dion stuff is like a running gag thing. evryone like paying out on her! PPS- re Andrea, yeah she is sort of a nothing character. I wanted her to cause friction between the brothers but I was running out of space.
Finally, my first 7WC review! And a good script to start with, too. Not particularly Christmassy, but then I suppose Christmas IS 362 days away...
Okay, I haven’t reviewed a feature in a while. In fact, I haven’t reviewed ANYTHING in a while, so forgive me if I’m a little rusty. When I reviewed Jeff’s Fade to White I split the review up into numbered topics and exhausted them one by one, so I think I’ll do that for this script, too. I’ve glanced at the other reviews, and read the end of Jeff’s, so apologies if I overlap or repeat. Oh, and also, I started doing page-by-page notes, but couldn’t keep them going, so stopped. There are typos in a few places, but I’m sure you’ll be able to catch them in subsequent drafts (watch out for incorrect apostrophes in ‘Aussies’).
I'm actually going to split this up into 3 broad sections - CHARACTERS, DIALOGUE, and TONE. Let me preface all of this by saying that overall, I enjoyed it. It was fast, and funny, but I feel that at the moment, there are things wrong with it. It's standard first draft syndrome, in fact - there's too much here, and the main thing I'm suggesting is cuts and focussing. I really like the basic premise - holidaying Aussies happen to have $3m stashed in their RV, causing them to hunted down by a variety of people after the money - but I feel that good idea is in danger of being drowned out. There's potential here, you'll just have to be ruthless to expose it.
Right, here we go. Brace yourself - this is long.
To put it simply, in my opinion, you have too many. I quickly listed the notable characters (by which I mean those that get any real screen-time), and the list came to 21. That's a lot for one movie - in an epic sci-fi or fantasy film maybe, but not in a road-trip comedy. So, my general thinking is this: you need to slash the total, and do more with the ones you keep. At the moment, it seems you added a character whenever you thought the script needed something new, instead of utilising the ones you already have. The end result is that the script feels crowded, and EVERY character feels underdeveloped, which isn't surprising given that by the end they're fighting for space. Fewer people, more personalities.
Right, now I'm going to focus on specific areas.
- SLICK: Potentially a good character, and I really like his name (although, and I noticed this happened with the brothers, too - you don't give us their names for a while). However, I think some of the things he does and, in particular, says, causes him to come across as a bit muddled. I'll come back to this in 'TONE', but I'd love to see a far more violent Slick. A Chigurh-type character, rather than what you have at the moment. Calling people 'my good man', referencing the Terminator films...those moments sap his villany. Have him ruthlessly blow Corey and the sales clerk away, be much sharper with his two hapless goons, and I think it'll work better. Not only will he come across as a more focussed, clear character, but it'll also heighten our concern for the inhabitants of the RV if we genuinely feel that the guy following them is dangerous.
- ANDREA: As others have said, I really do feel you missed a trick by not developing Andrea as a romantic interest for at least one, and most probably both, of the brothers. You specifically introduce her as a "pretty brunette". and then proceed to do exactly zilch with her in a romantic sense. Like I said, do more with what you have, rather than continuing to add more. You have two young Aussies on holiday and a pretty girl, and nothing happens! The absence of a romantic element is actually quite striking, which means I can only assume you deliberately chose to exclude it - I'd say that was the wrong move.
- THE BROTHERS: didn't seem particularly 'brothery', I have to say. Even at their meeting in the airport - where's the hug, man?! Also, having them shout their names to attract each other's attention would give them to us straight away, which is always a bonus. I never really got much sense of a connection, of a shared history, between these two. Again, I think that's a weakness. Another problem is that they're too similar - apart from superficial differences, like one liking the Beatles and the other not, they're really just the same person with different names. They need distinct character traits to distinguish them from each other. As I've been saying: fewer people, more personalities.
- CHARACTERS THAT SHOULD GO: I think there are a number of characters who add very little, and should therefore go. The first is Henry. You actually wouldn't miss him at all. Next - and this is, in a way, a shame, since they have some funny moments - is Jack and Rose. I know they're involved at the end, but I'll come to that in 'TONE'. I just don't think they do much. You feature them a lot, but ultimately I think they're just one single gag that you drag out for far too long. Matt the gas-station attendant should go, as should the whole 'Matt Damon' thing. Serves no real purpose, just another distraction from the main plot.
I also think you could ditch two of Pepita, Steakhouse, Reynolds and Taylor - probably Reynolds and Steakhouse, if I'm honest. I like the idea of a third group, but my suggestion is that you set it up like this: Pepita is a waitress who serves the main group, overhears them talking about the briefcase. She runs to tell her cop boyfriend, Taylor, and the two of them decide to give chase to grab the money for themselves. I know that's drastically different to what you have now, but at the moment this thing is crowded, and I think cutting and streamlining will help improve it overall.
I personally would also dispense of the Fabs, although I can see you being reluctant to do that. Generally, by the way, I think the Beatles references grated - I know they mean a lot to you, but they feel out of place and stick out in this particular script, Others may feel differently, but they felt gratuitous and (this sounds harsh but isn't supposed to be) self-indulgent.
So, that would be a total of 10 characters cut - half your cast, in fact. That would leave you with Jason, Brent, Andrea, Tommy, Pop, Slick and his two goons, and the third group of Taylor and Pepita. A much more manageable total of 11. That is all, of course, my opinion.
- GENERAL POINTS ABOUT CHARACTER: they're all a bit...isolated? Not really the right word. But what I mean about that is that the interactions between them don't really seem to carry any weight. The brothers don't seem very close, but there's no conflict between them, either. There's no real warmth between the trio of Andrea, Tommy and Pop. Slick isn't menacing enough towards his henchmen. Andrea should be a romantic interest for at least one of the brothers, but isn't. At the moment not only do all of the characters seem to similar, but the relationships between them do, too. There's no real group dynamics - he hates him, she's attracted to him, and so on.
The flip-side of that is that there is no real sense of conflict between characters, or character development of any kind. Characters don't necessarily have to grow in a script; they can end it pretty much the same person they started. But I think they have to experience SOME sort of change, there has to be some sign that the events they have witnessed have had some sort of an impact on them. A romantic link between Andrea and one of the brothers, and the jealousy / competition that could cause, would be a big starting point. Pop needs more than just film references...maybe he can really not get on with one of the brothers. You know the kind of thing I mean. Andrea and Tommy are recently orphaned, but there's no real evidence of that - I'd like to see some sort of emotional fall-out of that, Andrea struggling to be the one now caring for Tommy. Those are just suggestions, but I hope you see what I mean,
Fewer people, more personalities.
As others have said, it's clear that the author of this is Australian. Too clear, in fact. Don't get me wrong, I like the Aussie way of speaking, but when you have Aussie characters and American characters you have to make sure the two sound different, and you haven't done that here. The Aussies are too American and the Americans use 'Aussie-isms'. The main one is 'crim', a word we don't use here in the UK and they don't use in the US.
The movie references were too much for me. I've already highlighted the one Slick makes, and I think cutting Jack and Rose and their Titanic stuff would be a good move. Henry quotes Supernatural, which I don't think is universal enough (I've never seen it), but then I think he should go anyway (if you only take one of my suggestions, then please cut Henry. He adds absolutely nothing). I think having Pop just quote Jaws becomes old, fast. It began to feel like you were scraping the barrel for quotes by the end. My suggestion is this: have the reaction be that he can only talk in movie quotes, and then every time he does one the others work out what it is. They'd have to be well-known quotes from well-known films, and it would also be good if they were always relevant to exactly what is happening at the time. I think that could work better.
The other thing about dialogue really ties back into the last point I made in 'CHARACTER'. The character dynamics are all too similar, so the way they speak to each other is too similar, too. Slick should snarl at his henchmen, Jason and Brent should be flirtatious with Andrea, Pop should be affectionate towards Tommy. The dialogue needs more variety.
Jeff wants you to up the slapstick, taking this more down the Rat Race route. I want you to go the other way.
I think your original plan was, actually, the right one - a violent action-comedy, Tarantino / Coen brothers style. A black comedy, featuring moments of graphic violence but also snappy, amusing exchanges, with a menacing, psychotic Slick, a bent cop and his whiny waitress girlfriend, two brothers after the same girl and a pill-popping senior citizen who farts and can only speak in movie quotes. You have 'Fargo in the desert' here, and I think you should embrace that. In fact, turn Slick into Chigurh and you have the beginnings of a darkly comedic version of No Country for Old Men.
Have Slick kill Corey and the sales clerk at the start and we'll instantly be in the groove. Ray and Antonio can still be bumbling fools, but Slick can be impatient with them. At one point he says he may well shoot one of them, but as it stands I didn't really buy that. The menacing figure of Lucas in the background, like the Ralph Fiennes character in In Bruges, often spoken of but not seen until the end. Condense the Steakhouse/Taylor/Pepita/Reynolds strand into a story about a small-town waitress and her cop boyfriend trying to chase down money to escape their confined existence. A bickering couple, only together because there's hardly any eligible partners in their town, brought closer together by the end even though they fail to get the money (which, by the way, needs to be properly resolved at the end. In Rat Race the money is eventually donated to charity. I think a similar conclusion would work here - make sure none of the characters end up with it). Add more 'oomph' to the relationship between the other characters. Take out the Skywalk, the colliding helicopters, all the over-the-top stuff. Find the comedy in sharp exchanges, moments of unexpected brutality, character dynamics.
Those were your original intentions, if I understand you correctly. Well, you were right. At the moment this reads like a cheeky road-trip comedy in the vein of Rat Race. I'd much prefer the 'Fargo in the desert' version.
4. OTHER STUFF
Just a few quick notes:
- The super at the start, showing the time and date, is completely unnecessary. - It's never clear enough exactly who Lucas is, exactly who Corey is, and where the briefcase of money came from in the first place. No Country for Old Men was a drug deal gone wrong; you need something like that. - Big moments - the collision between the RVs, Ray's crash off the cliff - aren't big enough. The description of them is lacking. Use more charged verbs than 'hit ' - 'slam', 'smash', 'crash', that kind of thing. - The phone conversations: you don't need '(beat)' every time the person at the other end speaks. The dialogue should tell us when there are interruptions. Use ellipses, if you like, - The 'goat nips' / killer roos lines feel like unneccessary 'nudge nudge wink wink' moments, which no-one outside of SS will get. Believe me when I say you genuinely can look to do something with this, so ditch 'em.
Okay, that's it. I think I'm done. There are may well be something I've missed, in which case I'll post again. Well done for finishing the challenge, and like I said at the start, I did enjoy this. Your premise is good, there's just too much going on.
- Cut and streamline. - Fewer people, more personalities. - More interesting dynamics, varied dialogue exchanges. - Make the Aussies more Aussie, the Americans more American. - Tone down the slapstick, embrace the black humour.
If you follow any of my advice, I understand you'd need a fairly drastic rewrite. Whole chunks would have to be cut or rewritten, whole sequences would go, and the last 30 or so pages would need to be done again from scratch. I understand if you go down Jeff's more zany, slapstick route. But I urge you to revisit your original intentions, and turn this into the blackly comedic story it could be.
wow, Jonny, that is an awesome review! Shit, they all have been...
I could almost do two versions of this script - one comedy and the other violent. Yeah, as I said earlier, this was originally meant to be violent and funny. And it was set at xmas until the harsh Arizona winter raised it's ugly head. I wanted to try a really full on action film, which I hadn't done before, with deaths, etc. So I did 20 pages - Slick had a gun and was more menacing, there was loads of swearing. Jason was a piss head and their parents were in the throes of divorce ( i had a subplot worked that Adam Vale was a crooked lawyer, in deep with Lucas). all this was ok but I was still throwing in funny stuff, because that is my biggest strength in writing - I can't help it, lines have to be funny to me despite the genre. Ok, so Jeff read these first 20 and said the mixture of serious and comedy jarred too much. So i took - for me - the easy way out, and made it pure comedy.
Some of the stuff was made up as I typed, others were carefully planned. I knowed I goofed with Pop and the Jaws thing, but I wanted to make the whole thing as wacky as possible. Jonny, you have give me much food for thought, as have Jeff and Pia. Your idea for Peppy and Taylor (damn, i love these characters I've created!) is very good. Shit I'm torn now, as to what to do... I've already had some good ideas to making the first 40 pages as bent as the rest - zombies, weed, maybe. I'm worried though, that writing a darker, more violent script could be beyond me. I will always have that urge to put the comedy in. i might have to watch some of the films you mention, to get a better perspective.
Anyway, Jonny, thanks again for the kind words and tips. I'm gonna print this thread to really study all the helpful comments. Oh, and kudos again to you for being the force behind this challenge. At the very least, we all have a script that would nveer have been done. Cheers bro!
No worries, Jeff. I understand your reasoning, even if I disagree with your conclusion.
What we CAN agree on, I hope, is that as it stands this script falls between two stools - it's neither one thing nor the other, but a confused mix of the two. Whichever way Stevie decides to take it (and there's nothing wrong with what you suggested), a more definite, assured tone will be a big improvement.