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The Boy Who Forgot How To Ride A Bicycle by Sean Elwood (zombiesean) - Drama - A tragic bicycle accident leaves a boy powerless as he witnesses the crumbling of his family's seemingly perfect life. 94 pages - pdf, format
I told you what I thought about this script earlier, but since it's up why not put a little blurb? I really liked this script, it's a really nice change to see you working with this kind of genre, a hard genre to write to say the least. SPOILERS AHEAD: The emotional punches work well and though from a glance at the logline people will immediately think Charlie St. Cloud, you definitely stray from that film completely. To be honest, as a logline, I don't even think that adding the fact that Andy can see Eric is significant enough to add there. I like the underlying themes that are going on in this. In the beginning, I thought the picture perfect kodak commercial family was a little too peachy but I like how later after the death of Eric it becomes clear that that image was more of a cover for how dis-functional the family was, the problems that were never really out on the table until Eric's death. I think the scripts major strength is the dialogue between the parents, it's mature and feels honest, it flowed well with me and I found that their interaction the most intriguing of it all. The ending, which I interpreted differently than you later told me comes off as a little too harsh and I don't think it really fits with the tone of the script. The ending your implying is very dark and it seems a little too out of character for the mom. I give you kudos on trying such a brutal ending but I just think it's too dark to have Andy find happiness and freedom from death when he could have had his whole life in front of him. The last scene of Andy riding his bike happily seems like it might be asking too much of the reader to accept that after being hit with such a shock. Instead, I'd go for the mother killing herself and maybe just have Andy and the dad moving on and starting over, but it is a bold ending and I'm interested to see what others have to say about it. Overall, I don't have anything really negative to say about it, it seems to flow well, its well told and it's a nice change to see from you.
Thank you, Don, for getting this up. I appreciate it, as always!
To everyone who reads this: this is my first attempt at a serious dramatic feature that wasn't for an OWC. The idea came to me a while back, before I knew about Charlie St. Cloud (which, as Kevin said, is nothing like this—I haven't seen St. Cloud, so I wouldn't really know, but judging from what I DO know, I know that my script isn't like that), and I tried over and over again to start writing this. Now I have, and I am glad to finally get it onto paper.
I like the fact that you get a little turned away by how perfect the family is, but it just goes to show that when a family that seems to have it all going swell with them has something go shitty with them, you never know how they're going to react. The ending may come off as dark and morbid, and maybe not the right tone for this whole script, but it just goes to show how Lucy has accepted the fact that Eric is gone and that the family has gone to shit (by going bat-shit crazy, of course), Thomas has accepted that he's not the greatest father, and that his marriage isn't working well at all, and the fact that Andy doesn't really get into the bad stuff of the family (and the way he completely ignores the police and coroners and chaos on the streets at the end) shows how innocent the life of a child really is. The ending IS bitter-sweet. Everyone goes the way they go, but in the end, Lucy and Thomas are happy once again, and Andy gets to ride his bike and be with Eric at the same time.
I'm glad you liked it though, Kevin! I'm anxious to hear what others have to say about the ending as well because I've gotten mixed reviews for it before submitting it here, so we'll see what pops up.
Thanks for reading, and thank you, Don, again, for getting this up!
Okay, read the whole thing for you. Maybe you'll consider returning the favor, but hey, what am I, preachy?
I loved the ending. Really surprised me there as I thought you were going to send me off with just Eric floating into the stratosphere like Mary Poppins, "Ah, my job is done here!"
I had to go back a page or two and sort of put together that mom was poisoning the fam. I think I got that right.
I also really liked the way that Eric popped back up and started talking to Andy. I was surprised by this and I found it a little macabre, frightening. So casual and matter of fact, yet so other worldly and scary. Am I being clear? I liked it.
I don't know what that St. Cloud movie was but I found myself thinking about "Ordinary People" and a little about "Carrie."
Formatting, I'd have to give you a 10. Spot on across the board. I didn't notice any typos, or obnoxious newbie type issues. Looks good. Reads good. Very pro.
Ready for the bad?
The beginning bored the crap out of me. Fifteen pages or more of how great a little family unit we have here. Count the "I love you's" and it's enough to make you barf.
I don't know any families that act this was unless Dad owns a prozac distributorship. Come on dude, they are called "characters" for a reason. Give them something interesting, unexpected, or out of the ordinary to believe in, say, or do. These are like "Stepford" people here. I could barely read it. Almost gave up.
I don't mind if the kid adores his big brother but in all liklihood the older kid would hate and be annoyed by the little twerp most of the time. He'd only hang out with him under pressure from the parents and then only begrudgingly. In fact, it would be better if the kid was trying to ditch Andy in his dust when he get's creamed.
They look perfect but we know right away that they aren't by the ringing phone. This was a little inartful on your part.
Let me guess...you're really smart. You're usually the best one in the room at scrabble and trivial pursuit, right? You write smart. That's good. That's why you're a good screenwriter. Screenwriters are always the smartest guys in the room. But there's an offensive odor of arrogance to it all. Let me explain what I mean. Dad's phone rings suspiciously like at least 3 times. Maybe 4. This is you (arrogantly) assuming that the ordinary low-life's who read this will be too stupid to catch if you only do it one time. I caught it right away, and found further references redundant and boring.
Same with the mangled bike in the garage. This one I counted. Four! And then the fifth time it's fixed! Wow! Shocking. Two mangles and a reveal are better. Like standard joke-telling format, "Then the third guy walks up to the bartender and says..." Never the fifth guy. Never.
So, from the logline I can tell that one of these kids is going to buy it. By the way I found myself wishing for names that are easier to tell apart. Some kid named Eric could just as easily be named Andy. So in the beginning I'm just waiting for the hammer to fall. And waiting and waiting. He doesn't die until page what? 23? 24? I think this is too late for a movie about what happens when somebody's kid tragically dies.
Mom could still have some of dream sequence later with all of the car wash stuff, if you're really in love with it.
On page 22 Mom has 7 lines (seven!) of dialogue explaining what I already know, namely, the kids are out.
This is where I started thinking about "Carrie." Olivia could be a little rougher around the edges when it comes to getting people to church. Like, really obnoxious. Then later when the kid dies she could be even more obnoxious claiming that God was punishing her for not going to church. Or something.
BTW, if the kids grew up on this block they would probably know the kids across the street.
Pg 45. Too much description. This is just a note I jotted when reading, and I can't remember what it refers to.
Too much info when Sandra calls. A little on-the-nose.
Pg 49. Boil down the action sequences. This is a big problem I had with this script throughout. How's this:
Lucy peeks out the window.
Your description of this SINGLE action is about 20 words longer than this. Even throw away verbage like "she pulls back the curtain on one of the windows" or something like that, could just be: "she pulls back the curtain" or better yet, "she peeks out." Shorter is always better. Fight for the white space on the page. And I mean FIGHT. Like your life depended on it. I know there are curtains on the window. Or at least I assume there are.
Pg 55. I found myself thinking that it would be a better scene if they didn't sleep with each other. Or at least if it didn't start in bed. Dad's reaction to the tragedy has him rethinking his cavalier attitude toward his marital vows or something. Wants to break up with her, but she's such a god damn siren who can resist? He chooses wrong. Sleeps with her anyway, and get's found out. Leads to his demise.
Top of page 55. Way too on-the-nose from Dad here. She asks him how he feels, AND HE TELLS HER. Everything you've written is true. This is how he feels. But NOT what he says. What he should say is, "I'm okay."
The end. No more bad, okay? I really liked it, actually. The ending saved me from thinking I had just wasted an hour and a half. Good not great. 7.5 out of 10.
Thanks for the read.
Your comments welcome on: GOD GETS FIRED. Comedy, 89 pages. Humans are such a failure that God loses his job. Worse, his ex-wife is appointed to oversee Earth’s destruction. Luckily, God has a plan…but it’s not about saving us. It’s about winning her back.
Sorry for the late response; been out of town with Thanksgiving plans and everything.
Yes, you got the ending right with Lucy poisoning the rest of the family. Glad you liked what you did like, with Eric popping up, the ending, and the formatting of the script.
As for the bad,
Yeah, I've been getting some comments about how perfect the family is at the beginning. I can understand why you and others would think this, but just think that this all takes place in only one day. Not every day does the family have to fight or have something bad happen to them. Maybe that day was one of those rare perfect evenings where everything just goes right. But, like you said, it's not as realistic, since all families in the world obviously fight every second of their lives. As for the boring beginning, I was just setting up characters and giving them background information that you would need later in the script. Yeah, not much conflict happens, but only because much of the conflict happens in the majority of the script once Eric dies.
I don't know what you're talking about with the phone ringing, but I didn't have it ring only once to make it pass over the audience's head. I made it painfully clear that the phone rang and that it was a problem to begin with. The bike in the garage, I didn't show it five times in order to remind the audience that the bike is broken, I did that to show that Andy continues to forget that his bike is broken and that he is unable to ride it. He keeps on looking at it, hoping that one day, it'll fix itself (which, in the end, it does).
Don't worry about Eric dying on page 23 or 24, it's all character development before that.
I do have a problem with writing too much action sequence some times, but some times it's necessary if you want to have either a fast or slow flow. If your action is fast, then use shorter sentences with fewer words if you can. If your action sequences are slower, and you want to give that feeling that things are happening at a slow pace, I've been told that you can kind of stretch out action when it comes to writing it.
The discussion between Sandra and Thomas is a bit on-the-nose, I will admit, so I'll see what I can do about that.
Glad you liked the ending, thanks for reading and the comments/suggestions.
I hope these notes are in good enough order for you to make sense of.
TITLE AND LOGLINE great title okay logline -- must work because I read it -- and I liked Solium -- and wanted to see what you could do in a new genre
STORY/PLOT This was interesting. I liked it but could have been better – isn’t that the way it always is? See my page by page notes. Story had two halves. One, family-friendly first-half. And two, the adult section. I would not have predicted the second half from the first half. It may be a good thing. Getting to the accident may have been too long but then I might not have had the misting of eyes.
CHARACTERS I read this one because it would be to be more character oriented and I need to work on that.
Andy - very good with insights/nuances Eric - good as the too good big brother Thomas - weak until he showed his insights when arguing, then it seemed like he gave a shit - well done. Lucy - somewhat uncertain how believable her transition from wanting another baby to the deed doer. I thought more could've been done showing Andy's mental and physical challenges and how they affected Lucy. Olivia - annoying (to me) as the well meaning church lady.
PAGE NOTES 1 - tires buzz? Are you talking about tread noise? Hum might be better. 2 - she let's > lets 2 - are they washing a puppy? 7 - childish is redundant 8 - have a cow is corny 9 - father when to > went 10 - we love you is sappy having both kids repeat it 11 - lays > lies? 12 - I love you moment, sappy 12 - slug is by itself at bottom 13 - underline doesn't add anything 17 - a baby? Sap alert! 18 - leads > walks 20 - again underline doesn't add anything 24 - talking church and why they don't go - predictable 26 - into act II with accident, good use of slow mo 27 - reporter reporting really required? 31 - my eyes misted a bit at the cemetery 37 - eyes misted again 46 - fried > friend 48 - good way to describe Eric's reappearing 53 - without a mother’s love not needed, leave it for the reader to figure out 56 - there goes your family rating 60 - should Lucy have taken Andy to the hospital? 61 - underlining words that are naturally emphasized 62 - thomas is wound a little tight, eh? Does he need to go on and on like that? 68 - God works in... trite, overused 74 - Who is upset, Olivia or Lucy? Who is pouring the water, Andy or Lucy? 78 - Becky Sandra? Unusual combo 81 - Would the Becky reveal have worked better here? 85 - start to cry lasts for how long? just use cries? 87 - arguments seldom wait for each participant to complete their turn 90 - everything is going to be okay (x3) . Can't decide if this is cool or simply repetitious. Okay. Now that I've read the ending it's ominous. Maybe something visual could have been added like Thomas and Lucy holding hands. 90+ ending is dark enough to satisfy. Bittersweet.
Thanks for reading. I can't tell if you actually liked it or not, but hopefully you did. I don't really like my logline, honestly. I had so many that I tried using, but all of them were bad and I didn't like them. I finally went with the one I have because it sort of sums up all that happens in the script without really giving anything away except for the obvious that a child dies. I'm glad you liked the characters as well, and it's okay that you found Olivia annoying because she's more of an antagonist in this script. You can tell that I was sort of going in the direction where the audience would always feel for the kids, but dislike the parents.
With your page-by-page review, a lot of it are spelling mistakes so I want to thank you for that. I'll go through and fix them (because I've read over this script a couple of times to try and catch as many mistakes as I could). A lot of the suggestions you've made or things you've pointed out I could easily fix because you did bring up some good points (such as repetition in dialogue, questions about plot, etc.), so I'll see what all I can change from what you've pointed out.
I did like your story but it is hard to tell that from my notes. Based on your logline, I expected an in-depth examination of family life, religion and the psychological impact of whether Andy was seeing things are not. What I read, was lighter than that. Not a bad thing, just different expectations.
My biggest suggestion for improvement in this one, is more grit. For me, the scenes that held me, were the accident, the father's infidelity, the arguments and the mother's final deed. The rest of the script was fluffy sweet.
If this was the balance you are looking for, good job, but I would prefer something grittier.
PS -- if you want to play logline tag, let me know.
Hey, I’m new to this so I’m not really sure what kind of comments you’re looking for, but I’ll give it a shot! Going back to front here, I liked the end. I thought it was kinda sweet in some wonderfully cringe-worthy way. Didn’t know how to feel about Andy dying, too. But you made me feel happy which was weird. So, good! I think? Anyway, moving on.
I liked: when Eric asks Andy to beat up the bully( I agree with him.) And Thomas with his mistress. I really liked Eric’s and Andy’s characters, but they both seemed exactly the same to me. There was nothing really defining about each of them. And considering the age difference?
I’ve got to agree that the beginning is a ‘Kodak add’ overload. When you said this: Don't worry about Eric dying on page 23 or 24, it's all character development before that
I had to crackup. It might be character development, but hmmm… nobody really changed or anything of note really happened until the car crash. I’d have no problem with the death coming late if the build up was important, but we already get that they’re a happy family just from one dinner-table scene or the car cleaning. More than that is too much. I agree that happy days happen, but it would seem more realistic even with a tiny argument between the boys where the mum or dad has to step in. When Eric says: copy cat at the table - I went, huh? Let him be a kid. Let him be annoyed – we’ll still like him. He seems too young otherwise. I think eleven-year-olds boys are more smart ass. Oh, and I might just be biased because I hate this word, but ‘neat’ and some of the other words you had the boys using just didn’t seem ‘kid friendly/modern.’ Rough it up a bit.
Half of this was full of some great ideas and situations you put your characters in, but the other half felt redundant and expository. Especially the dialogue: it read great, natural in places, but then they would go off into these monologues of how they feel and what there are thinking when it’s just not realistic. In tragedy people tend to close-up more than start reeling off all their innermost feelings to one another. (Then again, what would I know? This is just my perception of things. For example – When Sandra phones.
--Who talks like that on the phone in a hushed convo? And, we already hear about how Lucy is so upset numerous times, so it’s just rehashing old things. Maybe let him forget when he’s with her. Not want to talk about it?
When Thomas is at Sandra’s: --We’ve heard all this before. Of course he’s upset, but I think he’d be more inclined to brush her off of just say he’s fine? In fact, their whole conversation feels artificial because of this. Some times silence and subtlety is best. It’s about visuals, after all. Show us? A simple look would be more effective than a drawn out explanation. We can already see he’s pained.
Another thing I noticed is all the room for conflict! Someone noted above (don’t remember who) that the most interesting time in the script was when they were arguing, the crash, etc…so why not amp things up! When Sandra talks about how she doesn’t know what loss is like/children, then why not have them yell/him argue with her before he sleeps with her? It’ll make the reader feel a bit sorry for her and make her seem more desperate, that way. Therefore almost justifying him being a bastard and sleeping with her. (What was with Sandra’s whole name change thing? Necessary, much? Am I being dim here?) All that ‘feelings talk’ from Thomas – not to piss anyone off here or seem stereotypical – but it made Thomas seem like a woman(sorry). And he was very put together! Have him yell at Sandra: no, you don’t know what it’s like! Actually that’s a terrible idea - but you get what I mean? Let me see some of that testosterone lol
The ending needs to be more setup, it is very interesting, but it seems a little out of the blue otherwise. Let us get an idea of what Lucy’s capable of first? When Annoying, Christian woman comes over why does Lucy only say she’ll call the cops? Pretty tame for a half depressed/crazy woman who just had her child taken? Raise the conflict levels.
So basically the beginning/middle of the novel needs more oomph, and undertones of dark/tension would help the novel feel consistent in tone from start to finish – the tone made it read as a light family drama, then comes the ending, and badabom! Balance is a goooood thing. Last thing - promise I don’t think Andy has to talk with an exclamation mark all the time just for us to get that he’s excited. Makes it seem like he’s five or six, otherwise, and not eight. Or just like he’s already being slipped his mum’s medication every morning with breakfast…
That’s all I can think of that I remember standing out. Have I been harsh? I don’t know. I actually did really like this. Hope there’s something useful in here, otherwise it’s easy enough to hit delete. And sorry this is miles long -- I don’t know how to write short feedback!
I'm currently talking with someone else who is interested in the script and sent me some notes about the beginning of the script, and how the beginning could definitely be changed up to fit more of the tone of the rest of the script. So we're working on that currently, and we're going to try and make the opening less sweet and fluffy. And if you would like to help me with my logline, I would definitely appreciate any suggestions you have.
How's it going? Welcome to the site. Don't worry about your comments, everything helps, and you brought up some good points. You felt the way I wanted you to feel about the ending, which I purposely made bitter-sweet, so that's good.
Concerning Eric and Andy's personalities, I can see what you're going for, but at the same time, since Andy looks up to Eric and wants to be just like him when he grows up, it sort of makes sense that they're sort of the same person. But I understand what you're saying, and I'll see if there's a way to make Eric come off as a bit more mature than Andy.
Like I said with grademan, I'm currently working out the beginning to make it more "adult" and have less of a family-feel to it, so the characters should become more interesting before the car accident as well.
Dialogue is my major problem with this script, especially with the monologues. I did notice that I repeated the same stuff over and over again, and I kept on reading over it to and see if I could cut stuff down and change things up, but for some reason I couldn't find anything I could take out or change, but hopefully with the person who I'm talking to who is interested in the script can help me with it.
I definitely see what you're talking about with the scenes with Thomas and Sandra, and how he needs to man up and grab Sandra by the balls to show who's boss. That's actually a really good idea to get into an argument with her, because looking back on these scenes, he definitely is being the woman with these scenes.
Just curious, when Lucy and Olivia interact one last time before she says she'll call the cops, what's a way that I could amp up the conflict levels to really show what Lucy is capable of? I don't want her to go batshit crazy and put a dent in Olivia's car, or have Lucy smack her around a bit. Maybe, if you had any suggestions, you could give me an idea of what you wanted to see.
I'll definitely be working on the mood and the dialogue, and take out a few exclamation points as well with Andy's dialogue But thank you so much for your review, every little bit helped. Your apology for your review being "miles" long is unnecessary, because a short review for a feature-length script wouldn't be a very good review, now, would it? And if you have any suggestions on how I can make the logline better, feel free to help me out if you would like.
I'm glad you liked it! Thanks for reading and your feedback!
Seems this wasn't getting much attention, so I wanted to give it a read. With the plethora of genre material here, it's nice to see a drama. I got through the first third of it today, I'll continue as work allows.
Grief is a funny thing in movies. It's what you don't say that's more important than what is said. Grief doesn't come out of people head on, it spills out and taints every day stuff. Sometimes, grief boils over and make folks irrational.
Grief here is presented in a straightforward manner that doesn't ring true to me. Everybody says what they're thinking the moment they think it. Except for the affair which is painfully obvious early on in the script. The family is rarely doing anything when the dialogue heavy scenes play out. Dinner table, bedside, front lawn, everyone's pretty sedentary.
There's a film that came out last year you might want to check out. It's called, "Rabbit Hole". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0935075/ There are a lot of similarities between the two stories. I think it would be worth your time to check it out.
Here are some scene specific notes:
p. 5 Phone call lie super obvious. Affair. p. 6 "your father when to this small school". Typo. p. 7 Six page opening dinner table scene, way too long. p. 9 "Following in footsteps". Too on the nose and Hallmarky. p. 14 Be nice to bullies scene didn't ring true at all for a fifth grader. p. 22 News anchor lines sounded phony. Too much detail. p. 23 Doctor comes off like an arse. Says condition of kid before saying he's dead. p. 28 Sandra passionately touches him at his kid's funeral? Yuck. p. 30 Back to normal? There is no normal after that, sounds trite. p. 31 Dad lets his brain damaged kid go out alone to play after death in street? There's no set up for Dad being detached, this reads as irresponsibility.
I give you full marks for going out of your wheelhouse. This is real delicate stuff, check out Rabbit Hole and Ordinary People. Stories like this play better when the truth is between the lines.
Keep writing and rewriting!
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Pages 31 - 63 completed this morning. I did not see the "return" coming. It's very "Charlie St. Cloud", a 2010 feature film starring Zac Efron. I'm not sure where you intend to go with this plot development. In the aformentioned film, it was a coping mechanism to help the protag move on. There's a lot of arguments in your mid section, they don't affect change or growth. I like the parents less as the story unfolds, particularly the father. I was surprised by the level of profanity, not sure what it adds to the story.
Scene specific notes:
p. 38 Goes all "Charlie St. Cloud". You may want to check out that film. p. 42 "fried", think you meant "friend" there. Typo. p. 44 Dad left brain damaged son to go get laid. That's fairly unforgivable. p. 51 Thomas/Sandra dialogue plays very on the nose. Unrealistic sounding. p. 58 Argument. People telling other people what to do. Old cliche. They seem more interested in the blame game than their son. Meh.
I'm intrigued to see where you take the Eric thing in the final act.
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I finished pages 63 - 93 today. The End. I'll cut to the chase. I found the parent characters extremely repulsive. Self centered cry babies that I can't fathom ever having a good marriage ever. A selfish affair with a selfish high school sweetheart adds fuel to that fire. Olivia and the boys are the only characters that aren't loathsome in the script. I'm sorry but I just don't buy these people as legitimate caring adults. I'll give you some points for taking a hard line with your ending. However, it undermines everything that went before it. With that kind of ending you trash your theme of redemption and healing. That poor child is f*cked for life. So much for the guardian angel helping out. I'm sorry but I just don't see what your point was with that kind of ending. Perhaps you would enlighten me, I'm just not connecting the dots.
A few notes...
p. 63 I like the "echo" moment in the church. p. 64 Feels weird that Andy feels no guilt over his brother's death or family's state. p. 69 I like the Olivia scene, rare light spot, but it's a bit long at six pages. p. 72 Broken glass scene feels off. Would have been better if she kept Andy at bay. But the boy crawled the minefield of glass to hug his mother that needed it. Would have been a nice metaphor for "reaching her". p. 75 Becky is epic selfish, why can't she get hit by a car?
Sean, it's great you went outside your wheelhouse for this one. But these characters are beneath you, there's a better message here somewhere. Guilt, redemption, shame, healing, all these are great themes to explore. I wish you luck with your work and thanks for sharing.
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