Script Review Parlour

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Book Smart

Title - Book Smart

Written By - Emily Halpern & Sarah Haskins

Book Smart is another Black List 2009 script, receiving 13 votes. The premise?

"Two overachieving high school seniors realize that the only thing that they haven't accomplished is having boyfriends, and each resolves to find one by prom."

So, being a big girl I was attracted to this script from the get-go. I love high-school movies, but there's been few recent ones that are girl-oriented that have actually been good, the one glaring exception being the Tina Fey-penned Mean Girls which is one of my all-time favourite films. So, how does Book Smart compare?

Book Smart tells the story of best friends AMY and MOLLY. They're extremely high-achieving, and have gotten into Yale and Columbia. One day it dawns on them that the only things missing from their high-school experience are boyfriends. Now these girls aren't so engrossed in their studies that they haven't noticed any boys that appeal to them. AMY likes a high-school jock by the name of Ryan while MOLLY likes CONOR, her co-president of the student council. They enlist the help of their old friend JULIA to help them find boyfriends by prom. JULIA encourages them to attend parties, dress differently and join different extra-curricular activities to help attract the notice of RYAN and CONOR. AMY joins the softball team, as RYAN plays baseball, and the baseball & softball teams often have to share buses to events, while MOLLY auditions for the school musical Guys & Dolls where Conor is the leading man. AMY successfully manages to attract the attention of RYAN, but MOLLY encounters unforeseen difficulties - CONOR likes the female lead of Guys & Dolls  ROSE. MOLLY, consumed with jealousy, proceeds to spread rumours that ROSE is a slut, however it does little to deter CONOR. However, MOLLY decides to take matters into her own hands and asks CONOR to prom, an offer he accepts. During this little project, AMY and MOLLY drift apart somewhat, thanks in no small part to MOLLY's mini-psychotic obsession with CONOR.
So, MOLLY and CONOR go to prom and AMY and RYAN go to prom. There, MOLLY can no longer deny the fact that CONOR likes ROSE, and goes to the bathroom to cry. JULIA comforts her but tells her that they need to find AMY as she's gone into a room with RYAN alone. They find her with relative ease in a hotel room, where AMY'S reading Gideon's Bible while RYAN wrestles with his friend. She leaves, everyone's happy. MOLLY asks AMY if RYAN's her boyfriend. AMY's like "I prefer the term 'friends with benefits'", and then they're both like "There'll be boyfriends in college." They continue walking home and FADE OUT.


Okay, so reading my synopsis there, one might arrive at the conclusion that Book Smart is just another teen comedy. Nothing special. And in some ways, one might be right. It's not overly special or even original, but there's something about it that's really wonderful. Amy and Molly are innocent to the ways of the world in a multitude of ways, but Halpern and Haskins succeed in making their innocence/naivete endearing - these girls might have a lot going for them academic-wise, but in pursuing their goals, they have neglected to partake in important parts of the adolescent experience, and so they are lacking and we can root for them.

One thing that I loved in this script was that AMY and MOLLY weren't Juno-esque wise cracking girls, the new teenage female stereotype that's pervading a lot of scripts (see Freshly Popped or Betty's Ready). They were smart and sometimes funny, but they weren't smarter than everybody else in the film. They weren't cool, but they weren't total nerds either. In other words - they actually resembled real teenage girls.

Another thing - Molly's pursuit of Conor might seem a little psychotic, but let me tell you - teenage girls do crazy things if they like someone enough. So while it was a little embarassing to read, it was pretty true to the actions of teenage girls, and what I loved was that Conor didn't respond to these actions. Hell, he didn't respond to Molly full stop. If this were any other movie, Molly and Conor would have been crowned prom king & queen.

One thing that I had kind of an issue with was that there wasn't really enough interaction between Amy and Ryan. One minute he sits next to her on the bus, the next minute they're going to prom. There wasn't enough of a build-up of their relationship, and I would have enjoyed a few more moments with just the two of them, so we could see what drew Ryan to Amy and vice-versa.

All in all, Book Smart is an entertaining teen comedy. It's no Mean Girls, but it's got some killer moments and lines. The characters are real, the ending was more authentic than a lot of high school movies (hi, Easy A! You were great and all, but your ending made me want to barf!) and it all just felt very genuine and wonderful.  Definitely worth a read.

Grade - B+

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Title - Lovestruck

Written by - Annabel Oakes

Lovestruck is yet another of this year's Black List scripts, receiving a total of 9 votes. Reading the premise, I knew I had to get my hands on this script. As someone who lists romantic comedies among her guilty pleasures, a film ridiculing the conventions of the modern rom-com seemed right up my alley.

The script tells the story of two thirty-something friends AMELIA and RUTH. We meet AMELIA and RUTH en route to serving as bridesmaids at their friend MINDY's wedding. As you may have guessed, AMELIA and RUTH aren't exactly the romantic types. In fact, at the wedding the bride overhears them making a toast to "fairytale bullshit". Cue bride running off crying. AMELIA and RUTH follow her to the rest room to apologise and coax her out of there. While there, two flower girls dressed in cupid costumes (KARMA and DESTINY) chastise AMELIA and RUTH for making MINDY cry. AMELIA and RUTH are also not into kids, and are having none of their crap, and decide to spray them down with champagne bottles. In an act of revenge, the flowergirls shoot AMELIA and RUTH with their arrows. When they open their eyes, their vision is blurry and everything is in slow-motion. They see impossibly good-looking men roaming around, and happen to literally bump into two guys CHAD and SKIP - welcome to rom-com land, baby!

They share an instant connection - AMELIA with CHAD and RUTH with SKIP. That night, they both have the most amazing sex of their lives with musical accompaniment provided by Coldplay. The next morning when they wake up, their apartments are larger, they're slimmer and they remember basically nothing about the sex from the night before - just that it was amazing. They pretty much put it all down to a hangover and head to work. AMELIA is a professor while RUTH works at NPR. At work, AMELIA stops by her gay friend REID's class "The Romantic Comedy - Love & Laughs in The Reel World". When she stops, he's listing some of the rom-com's cliches e.g

"Cliche 5 -She's under-appreciated and over-looked at work, despite fierce integrity. Kate Hudson in How To Lose A Guy, wants to report on The Middle East, but instead has to do features on how-to-get guys. Sympathetic and likeable!"

That night, the girls notice some strange things. First, they're receiving calls from 555 numbers, next AMELIA discovers a breakfast nook in her apartment that wasn't previously there, while RUTH bought a tub of Ben & Jerry's to combat her feeling of emptiness. They decide to go out with CHAD and SKIP again. RUTH discovers that SKIP is a struggling musician - something that she's ordinarily dead against, while AMELIA discovers that CHAD works in advertising and that SKIP and CHAD are brothers. While everything seems to be going great, AMELIA finds that something is way off - New York is clean, the Knicks are doing well, it's sunny in February, they look different and they actually like CHAD and SKIP. She deduces that they are in a romantic comedy.

AMELIA and RUTH go to find MINDY to see if she knows anything about this strange sequence of events. However, when they go to her apartment, MINDY's AWOL. They begin to notice tons of Missing Persons posters, all of missing couples who disappeared on or before Valentine's Day. They go to report MINDY missing, however in rom-com land, the police won't allow them to report a missing person for a week.
The girls go to REID to tell them about their rom-com land predicament. Of course, he doesn't believe them, and they're back to square one. AMELIA figures out that the missing couples have all vanished due to there being no "end" in rom-coms, just happily ever afters. After the "happily ever after", the couples simply disappear, and they believe that this must be what happened to MINDY.
The next day, when they meet REID, he's acting different. He's wearing an ascot, he's got a brand new dog "Xena Warrior Princess", and he's using phrases like "O-M-G" and "crazytown". He's the token gay best friend in rom-com land.

Le sigh. You know me, anything for my besties!
FYI, you would never say that.

That day, REID, AMELIA & RUTH head to MINDY's apartment. They ram in the door to find MINDY lying on the floor - very much alive. Initially she refuses to talk, because as it turns out, she sounds like this -

Girl, I don't know what the hell happened, but it ain't right! It ain't right!

MINDY's the token sassy black friend in rom-com land!

AMELIA and RUTH embark on a plan to make CHAD and SKIP stop liking them, so as not to disappear like all the other happily-ever-after couples. They go to CHAD and SKIP's family house in the Hamptons, where they vow to be the anti-Julia Roberts. How, you ask?
  • They pretend to be drug addicts, addicted to "crack meth".
  • They fart.
ALSO, there's this great little moment.
Does that mean you're ready for the beach Mel?
Yeah -- just let me go upstairs and get my strap-on. Just in case you wanna try something new while we're there!
When this plan doesn't work, and RUTH winds up getting engaged to SKIP, AMELIA decides that they have to kill CHAD and SKIP. She goes to St. Patrick's Cathedral where RUTH and SKIP are getting married, and tells CHAD and SKIP about their theory. Turns out they've been feeling off too (no, they're not fake rom-com people, they're real people), and decide that somethin needs to be done. They jump off St. Patrick's Cathedral despite SWAT being on their asses, and fall in slow-motion until they reach the ground, where everything is back to normal.
Then AMELIA and RUTH realise that they actually kinda like CHAD and SKIP, and they ask them out on a date. The film closes with text - "AND THEY LIVED."
Lovestruck is a script that kinda blew me away. It's one of those ideas that has you kicking yourself for not thinking of - I mean, what film genre is more ripe for comedy and parody than the romantic-comedy?! However, it's an idea that could have turned out badly, but Annabel Oakes manages to execute it really well. Best of all though, it's really funny and it's got two great female characters, and two great supporting characters. AMELIA and RUTH are the type of women who are smart, funny, and don't suffer fools gladly. I'll admit that I didn't dig the opening conversation between them - it was a little forced - but for the remainder of the film, the banter and dynamic between them is authentic, funny and really well done. As for REID and MINDY, Oakes does a really good job at painting these real people-turned-romantic comedy stereotypes, and often REID's lines are the funniest because they are so absurdly campy, but sound like they were lifted exactly from shows like Sex and The City or any number of rom-coms.
Oakes never lets up on the parodies of romantic comedies, but not so much that it overwhelms/takes over the story. One of my favourite parts is when, at a bridal shop, RUTH and the other characters in the scene start singing and dancing to "It's The End of The World" by REM. Reid explains that this is an increasingly popular device implemented by writers of romantic comedies (SEE - 13 Going on 30 and 500 Days of Summer).
The end is when it starts to fall apart a little bit, which is a shame because it is so strong and funny up until then. To be honest, I would have preferred had CHAD and SKIP turned out to be rom-com pod people, instead of real New Yorkers. And if they must be real, why do AMELIA and RUTH have to ask them out? It's just not in sync with the tone of rest of the movie, and seems like something AMELIA and RUTH would never do.
Overall, this has the potential to be a hilarious movie, that will once & for all call out rom-com filmmakers on their bullshit. It's a shame that the ending is kinda disappointing because for the rest of the script, I was laughing harder than I have at any other script I've read lately. Also, I'd just like to say that this is the one script that I have read lately that I could picture in my head as a movie. It truly has the makings of a great female-oriented comedy.
Grade - B+/A-

The Diversification of Noah Miller

Title - The Diversification of Noah Miller

Written By - Adam Cole-Kelly & Sam Pitman

The Diversification of Noah Miller appeared on this year's Black List receiving 10 votes. It's the second post-Obama America script that I've read in as many days, the first being Liars (A-E).
This one tells the story of NOAH MILLER, a 35 year old white guy who presents a food review programme. It's the day of the inauguration, and NOAH holds an inauguration party at his house with wife LIZ and friend PETE among other unnamed friends. During the party, NOAH is approached by PETE, both of whom are bursting with joy at the new Obama-ness. Noah says,
"I just wanna hug a black person, y'know?" He then surveys his living room only to realise that there's not a single black person there, and not only that, but for all of his liberal ideals, he doesn't really have any black friends. Then, NOAH & LIZ are called into their child MICAH's school, to discover that MICAH tried to erase the skin colour off a black classmate's (ANTOINE) face. MICAH's teacher encourages NOAH and LIZ to diversify their friends circle so as to surround MICAH with African-Americans. When asked if they want to meet ANTOINE's parents to resolve the issue, NOAH & LIZ decline and head off on their merry way, with NOAH more certain than ever that he needs a black friend.
As luck would have it, NOAH winds up sharing a cab with a black man RASHON. They get talking and hit it off somewhat, as RASHON recognises NOAH from his food review show. When RASHON exits the cab, NOAH realises that he has left his umbrella in the cab. Having found out where RASHON works through an aside by RASHON, he decides to give the umbrella back. On returning the umbrella, RASHON invites NOAH to play some basketball. And a friendship is born!

At the basketball court, RASHON introduces NOAH to his girlfriend KIM and his son ANTOINE, y'know the kid whose skin colour NOAH's son tried to erase earlier. Though he doesn't mention it at first, NOAH finally admits to RASHON that he's the parent of ANTOINE's hate crime perpetrator, and things turn icey and awkward between the new inter-racial buds. However, their significant others LIZ and KIM initiate a reconciliation between the two and soon they're best buds, with the four hanging out all the time - in black joints, in soul food restaurants.
However as time goes on, NOAH's friend PETE begins to grow weary of his friend's increasing lack of time for him, and one day sorta lets slip to RASHON that NOAH was just using him to have a black friend. Then at a party that NOAH attends after having a fight with wife LIZ because she says that he's abandoning his family responsibilities, NOAH gets wasted and basically says as much. RASHON ain't havin' none of that, and they's over!

Then NOAH makes up with LIZ after he sings a song to her, and she informs him that KIM and RASHON have broken up. There was always a little tension between KIM and RASHON as KIM wanted to get married but RASHON didn't, and that evidently lead to their demise as a couple.
However, NOAH decides that he must take matters into his own hands, and rushes down to RASHON's place of work where he tells RASHON that he's sorry and that KIM is the one, and he needs to get her back ASAP. Brother can't stay mad at cracker, and they's all good again!

So NOAH organises a viewing party of his new NBC show Noah Eats New York (yeah, he got an NBC show) and invites KIM. In the episode he walks up to RASHON and asks him why he's eating alone. RASHON says that he's waiting for someone and will wait forever if that's how long it takes because he loves her. Then in real life, RASHON proposes to KIM and everybody lives happily ever after.

CONSENSUS - Okay, so I would say that about half of The Diversification of Noah Miller is funny and well-executed. The premise is very reminiscent of this year's I Love You, Man in which the protagonist seeks out a male best friend to serve as his best man at his wedding, only this one deals with the sensitive subject of race, and I've got to admit, it's a great idea (it's also really like that Seinfeld episode). But as it wears on, it kinda slowly comes apart and the ending is overly-schmaltzy for my liking.

The writers do a good job of placing NOAH in uncomfortable situations with lots of black guys where NOAH's awkwardness really shines, and in doing so, makes a good comment on where race relations really are in America right now. We may have a black President, but that doesn't mean that everything's automatically fine & dandy regarding race relations. Even when RASHON and NOAH are friends, their friendship isn't without their awkward moments. In one instance, NOAH while rapping at a nightclub, lets the n-word slip to the dismay of every African-American there.

However, the whole sequence involving Noah and Rashon's reconciliation and Kim and Rashon's reconciliation is where it all kinda comes apart at the seams. It's just way too cheesy and nonsensical and well - Hollywood. One thing that worries me about the project is that Tyler Perry is in line to produce (and make a cameo appearance at the end). I worry that any edge that the movie has will be lost if Perry produces and it will turn into another "white boy meet black boy" movie.

Overall, enjoyable read and I can see it working well if it retains its edge and good actors are cast. Personally, I'm thinking Romany Malco for the role of Rashon, and someone like Chuck's Zachary Levi for the role of Noah. However, it can very easily turn into a schmaltzy buddy comedy if it's not careful.

Grade - B

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Liars (A-E)

Title - Liars (A-E)

Written By - Emma Forrest

Liars (A-E) is a script that appeared on this year's Black List - the list of the year's most-liked spec scripts in Hollywood. It was characterised as a hip romantic comedy in a lot of articles I've read about it, and naturally I had a compulsion to board the bandwagon to see what attracted Richard Linklater, Rebecca Hall & Kat Dennings to the project.

Liars (A-E) tells the story of BACALL LOOMIS, a 29 year old woman who has just been dumped by her famous musician boyfriend MARK FRIDAY, who on the very day he broke up with her was discussing having children with her. So he's kind of an asshole.
Also, the next day (or perhaps that day, I'm not really sure) is November 4th - election day. Everyone in this film is an Obamaniac. They LOVE Obama. So in the midst of her grief & mopiness, BACALL summons the strength to go to an election party with her friend ELISHIA (seriously, is "Elishia" supposed to be like "Alicia"? Or is it a fake name like "Bacall"?) where they watch Obama win the election and deliver his acceptance speech. Upon overhearing a remark about BACALL being upset about Mark, BACALL decides that she must go to Mark's and collect her belongings. Then she whines about MARK having a copy of the Bob Dylan documentary No Direction Home, because she's the one who loves Dylan and it's not fair that this is yet another thing that he gets to take from her. 'Cause you know how Bob Dylan and Martin Scorcese are like kind of avant-garde and not a lot of people like them, so BACALL totally deserves to be the only person allowed like them.

Then BACALL goes home and gets drunk. Then she goes to MARK's house and asks him "for her blowjobs back". Then it's six weeks later and BACALL is painting her living room, and she starts moaning about how she had these Shephard Fairey (the guy who designed the iconic Obama-Hope image) paintings but her ex-boyfriend kept them. Then she falls off a ladder and breaks her nose. Then she doesn't have health insurance, and is left with a bill of $18,000. So she decides to embark on a cross-country road trip with ELISHIA before they go to Obama's inauguration, and collect her belongings from ex-boyfriends along the way, including the Shepard Fairey paintings which upon their retrieval, she will sell in order to pay for her medical expenses. That way ELISHIA can pimp out her unpublished post-feminism book for pre-teens to book stores all over the country.

Among the items that she wants to get back are a nude picture of her taken by a guy, Judaism (her religion) from an Irish ex-boyfriend, her mother's handwritten recipe for kugel ('cause her Mom's dead and she needs something to hold onto her memory), her dog, her motorcycle, a VHS tape of The Dark Crystal and of course the Shephard Fairey paintings. She gets them all back hassle-free, with the exception of the paintings (I'll get to that). Along the way she meets a handsome African-American dude TOM who happens to work for Obama. They have a mini-connection but BACALL starts crying in the middle of a make-out session, thus putting a temporary kybosh on anything happening there.

Finally, she gets to New York to retrieve her Shephard Fairey paintings from her ex-boyfriend NEIL. She meets him, chastises him for being late this one night only for him to explain to her that he was buying an engagement ring and that's why he was late. Since she was the one who dumped him, and did so in a pretty callous way, she decides that she can't take the paintings from him.
So we're back to square one.

But then, BACALL has an Edison moment, and decides that she should sell her newly retrieved motorcycle, and then bet the proceeds. Bet on what, you ask? Bet on MARK winning a Grammy for Best Song. Then he wins, and then her & ELISHIA are set.
They go to DC for an inauguration ball that cute black dude TOM invited her to. Guess who's there? Mark! They have a moment, where he gives some lame explanation for dumping her - basically he's not in any place for a relationship - and then she puts that Mark thing to rest, and cute black guy TOM gives her his card and tells her to call him when she feels ready.
Then she goes to the inauguration, and looks at the card like "Yeah, I'm gonna call him" and it's over.

Oh, and ELISHIA gets her book published. Turns out it's not serious like she thought. It's actually really satirical, so she'll probably get to appear on Jon Stewart and write for The Onion now.

As you can maybe tell from my tone, I wasn't a big fan of this script. I felt like it wasn't funny enough, it wasn't realistic enough, and the lead character wasn't likeable enough.
The character of BACALL is probably what I had the biggest issue with. She was kind of a moany asshole with no real personality, and ELISHIA says it best when she says -

I'm so mad at you right now. I wish I'd done this trip alone. Seriously, Bacall. Seriously, fuck you.

Seriously, I mean BACALL had no personality. There was no evidence that she was funny, smart, kind etc. She was completely self-absorbed, annoying and moaned about everything, and her entire focus was on these ex-boyfriends, which made it difficult for the reader to get to know her at all. Same can be kind of said for ELISHIA. We get a sense that she's quirky, off-kilter and sarcastic (she makes constant sarcastic remarks about Mark) but it's all a little forced.

The idea of getting the items back from her exes seems good on paper, but it just didn't really work. Each of the item retrievals takes up maybe two pages, and there is never a struggle. With the dog, she literally walks into a room to find her ex-boyfriend high on cocaine, takes the dog and leaves. End of. For the kugel recipe, ELISHIA distracts the ex for a minute, BACALL looks in a drawer, finds it and leaves. For Judaism (which was a totally stupid idea), we listen to an Irish guy say Hebrew words, and she continues on her merry way.

I also feel like Forrest tried too hard to be hip. From the nonsensical title to the character's names (BACALL?! REALLY?) to characters reciting quotes from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to a sing-song of Bruce Springsteen to BACALL having sex with Bob Dylan at one point, it's all so forced and barf-worthy.

ALSO - ELISHIA seems to have no natural curiosity whatsoever. BACALL tells her a heap of asides that are never elaborated on like, "Oh, I was backing singer for Ladysmith Black Mambazo for two weeks" or "I worked as an assistant for Terrence Malick".The only explanation given? "I just fell into it." If I were ELISHIA, I'd be like "Hold up, you what?" BACALL isn't 90 years old, she can't brush off past events with something vague like "I just fell into it."

Look, I'm sure Liars (A-E) will make a fine rom-com. Like most rom-coms it has broadly drawn characters, an unrealistic premise poorly executed, not enough comedy and not enough romance. Liars (A-E)'s biggest asset is Obama, but I'm not sure how valuable it will be come 2011 - the film's planned release date.
In conclusion Liars (A-E) was a major disappointment that was a largely frustrating read. The writing is pretty bland, and the only hope that is had of being elevated was with the help of Richard Linklater, Rebecca Hall and Kat Dennings. However according to numerous sources, the project is dead so we may not see it hit out screens after all. Maybe someone re-read the script?

Grade - C-

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Spectacular Now

Title - The Spectacular Now

Written By - Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber

So, what drew me to The Spectacular Now? The writers, of course! Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber are the writers of the insanely good (500) Days of Summer, so naturally I had to read their follow-up. The Spectacular Now is based on the novel by Tim Tharp, and is centred around the character SUTTER KEELY, a gregarious high school senior who focuses solely on having a good time and living in the now. The script opens on Sutter having just been dumped by his beautiful girlfriend CASSIDY. To get over the break-up, he goes on somewhat of a partying/drinking binge. One morning he awakes on a lawn with a classmate AIMEE asking if he's okay. AIMEE is that cute, meek girl-next-door with a pretty crappy family situation.

Now seeing AIMEE enter, I naturally thought "She's going to save Sutter from his party-boy/lackadaisical work ethic ways." What unfolds however is something completely different. Of course, AIMEE & SUTTER develop a friendship which in turn becomes romantic. He encourages her to stand up to her mother who forces her to carry out her morning paper route with no compensation in return, while AIMEE urges SUTTER to ask his mother about his father's whereabouts. So while they better each other in certain ways, SUTTER's influence on AIMEE isn't always positive. SUTTER is a pretty heavy drinker, who frequently drinks & drives. Slowly but surely, AIMEE begins to adopt this habit, drinking between classes and getting wasted at prom. SUTTER can't see the harm he's doing until his ex CASSIDY and his friends stage an intervention of sorts, highlighting the harm he's doing to AIMEE. He denies it at first, and maintains that he's helping AIMEE.

Then there's a sequence where SUTTER and AIMEE go to meet his long-estranged father who walked out on his family when SUTTER was a child. SUTTER's always held him in a high esteem, blaming his mother for their split, however his romantic visions of his father come crumbling down all around him when he sees him for the selfish guy he is. Then there's a pretty dramatic event involving a car which I won't spoil for those curious to read the script.

So is The Spectacular Now good? While reading it, I can't say I enjoyed it a great deal. But on finishing it, I realised it's not a movie meant to be enjoyed necessarily. It's a tragic character study of a high school senior with not a lot going for him as regards a future, and is desperate to cling on to the "fun party guy" perception of him that people have. There's a line in the movie where Cassidy's new boyfriend TOM tells Sutter that he's not the joke that everyone thinks he is, and that kinda summates SUTTER's existence pretty nicely. Here's a guy who everyone thinks of as the fun guy at the party, but in actuality has a lot of hidden depths to him as regards intelligence and kindess.
I feel like the script could be punched up a bit. It feels like it's lacking something - perhaps comedy/comic relief? It's been a few days since I read it, but I don't remember anything making me laugh, and I believe that the book is equally tragic and hilarious.

All in all, it's worth a read. I think that it will translate into a very good film, particularly if Marc Webb remains involved with the project. There's an instruction in the script as regards colour that says the lighting/surroundings are brighter and more beautiful when SUTTER is drunk/at a party, while it's duller while he's sober. Might seem like a minor detail in terms of the entire script, but with good casting and direction, I think this could turn out very well indeed.


The Low Self-Esteem of Lizzie Gillespie

TITLE - The Low Self Esteem of Lizzie Gillespie

Written By - Mindy Kaling & Brent Forrester

The Low Self Esteem of Lizzie Gillespie tells the story of LIZZIE, a girl who has just been dumped by her boyfriend JOEL. She is forced to move out of their apartment and move in with her married friend MAGGIE, her husband CRAIG and their child SYDNEY. During the obligatory post-dump moping period, it emerges that LIZZIE purposefully goes for geeky-looking guys because she doesn't think that she stands a chance with better-looking guys. One day, MAGGIE and CRAIG force her to take SYDNEY to a children's museum, where LIZZIE meets the ridiculously handsome PATRICK, an actor playing Thomas Edison in a live-action exhibit. LIZZIE and PATRICK soon develop a relationship, and before you know it, the kids are in love! However things turn majorly ugly when LIZZIE finds PATRICK denying that he has a girlfriend on an MTV reality show he's on, thus reinforcing her belief that good-looking guys are out of her league. Will Lizzie & Patrick reconcile? You're just gonna have to read the script!

For those of you who don't know, Mindy Kaling & Brent Forrester are writers on The Office. Kaling also plays Kelly Kapoor on said show, and I believe will play the character of MINDY in this film, another of Lizzie's friends. Kaling has been responsible for some of the funnier episode of The Office and with The Low Self Esteem of Lizzie Gillespie has created a very funny, modern romantic comedy sans most of the cliches we've grown accustomed to within this genre.

Kaling & Forrester succeed in incorporating both comedy and romance, a combination tragically absent from so many rom-coms nowadays. The girls are smart & funny, and believably so. The banter between them is so authentic and often hilarious. And don't forget the romance! There's romance abounds here, but none that is so sickeningly cheesy that you'll want to vomit and none that is so minimal, you're like "What's the big deal? Get over it, girl!" Personally, my favourite character in this was Mindy. She has the best lines of any character, and if Mindy Kaling does play her, it'll be perfection. She's got killer lines like this -

Why are you being so mean? I just got dumped.

Yeah, by a loser. I hated that dude. It's like "We get it, Joel. You like Brooklyn."

Another of my favourite moments was this, where Lizzy realises that she has been settling for conventionally ugly/geeky guys.

That is so cool. You know, I always thought Quentin Tarantino was so sexy.


Yeah. (realising) Maybe there is something wrong with me.

Overall, I loved this script. It's a perfect romantic comedy, and if there are any flaws, then they are outnumbered 10 to 1 by greatness, because I sure as hell didn't notice them. Get your hands on this one!

Grade - A-

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I'm With Cancer

I'm With Cancer is the story of Adam Schwartz, a twenty-something who is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Normally, I do not enjoy movies that deal solely with illness/death, but the casting (like Valentine's Day) is what grabbed my attention. James MacAvoy (he of Atonement) has signed on to play the lead Adam while Seth Rogen will play his sometimes insensitive best friend Seth.

Reading the synopsis, I thought "Huh, Seth Rogen is doing another Funny People?", and you would be forgiven for drawing comparisons between the two films, but I'm pleased to say that the two are very different. While Funny People deals with a a superstar comedian who has cancer and who consequently discovers he has beaten the illness, I'm With Cancer is essentially a story about a person diagnosed with cancer and the road he must take to recover.

ADAM SCHWARTZ is a young regular guy who works as a museum curator and lives with his girlfriend RACHEL. He discovers he has a rare form of cancer and must embark on a course of chemotherapy before the tumour turns metastitic. As part of his treatment, he begins to see a psychologist KATE whose role is to help ADAM cope with his disease. We soon meet Adam's parents, EDITH and ART. EDITH is your stereotypical Jewish mother while ART has had a stroke and pretty much lives in his own little world. We also meet SETH, ADAM's best friend, who is a crass pothead but also extremely loyal to ADAM. From here we witness Adam's journey through all the medication, therapy and his relationship problems with RACHEL.
RACHEL pledges loyalty to ADAM upon his diagnosis and promises to look after him during his hour of need, but soon she emerges as too selfish and too immature to deal with ADAM's illness, the main example of this being when she neglects to bring him to his appointments.

I won't give too much away, but I will tell you that this script is definitely worth a read. It deals with cancer in a totally realistic way and addresses both the physical and mental suffering of cancer patients. The film is somewhat of a comedy, but not so much that the writer Will Reiser (a cancer survivor) could be accused of making light of the subject. I often find films/programmes about illness/death to be a little melodramatic which in turn can detract from the genuine suffering of cancer patients/survivors. I'm With Cancer finds the perfect combination of comedy and drama, and approaches the subject in a very realistic way that I think will ring true with cancer survivors and those who have witnessed a loved one go through the disease.

Overall - A-

Monday, August 31, 2009

Valentine's Day (2010)

Valentine's Day grabbed my attention a few months ago when word about the exceptionally starry cast was released. Comparisons have been made between it and He's Just Not That Into You, which are totally understandable given that the two movies share two of the same writers (Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein who performed rewrites on this one).

Directed by Garry Marshall, the film stars Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba, Anne Hathaway, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Topher Grace, Emma Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Eric Dane, Jamie Foxx, Patrick Dempsey - like I said, super-starry.

The setting is Los Angeles on, of course, Valentine's Day. The film opens with a florist-cum-coffee shop owner REED proposing to his girlfriend MORLEY (that name needs to be changed ASAP). From there we meet a host of other characters. KELVIN, a sports journalist who hates Valentine's Day, and is asked by his boss to film an aerial piece based on people's thoughts on Valentine's Day. JULIA, a young woman in a relationship with a doctor HARRISON who unbenownst to her, is married with two kids. JASON, a mailroom guy at CAA who forgets it is Valentine's Day and is unsure of how he should celebrate it with his current flame LIZ given that they've only slept together once. JANICE, a super high-achiever who is eager to tell everybody and their mother about her plans to lose her virginity to her boyfriend ALEX on Valentine's Day. Estelle & Edgar, an old married couple whose relationship is thrown into turmoil when Estelle reveals that she once slept with another man years previous. KARA, a publicist who hates Valentine's Day and therefore organises a "I Hate Valentine's Day" dinner every year. SEAN JACKSON, a football player, whose career is the subject of much interest i.e will he retire/continue to play? EDISON, a 10 year old kid, who is sort of the smartest person in the movie. KATE, a soldier returning home to spend Valentine's Day in Los Angeles before swiftly returning to Iraq. HOLDEN who is basically a guy who sits beside Kate on the plane.

So, is it good?

Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is I read the full script in one sitting, so the fact that it kept me interested is a positive sign. However, the bad news is that there is simply too much going on in the film. There's all these characters that we barely get to meet or get to know properly, and some really pointless and badly-executed stories, the worst being that of Edgar and Estelle, the film's resident old folks. When we first meet them, they're that old couple that are still completely in love after all these years. The next time we meet them (this all takes place the same day) Edgar discovers that Estelle was unfaithful to him once during their marriage. Then he's packing his suitcase, and then he's at an outdoor screening of Pillow Talk and they reconcile ALL IN THE SAME DAY. The story is totally unnecessary and implausible. What I would have enjoyed more was if the couple served as mentors to the younger characters for the film - the proof that love exists. Introducing an affair - well, it's nonsense.

Another character I was frankly unsettled by was Janice, the weird teenager insistent upon telling every Tom, Dick & Harry about her plans to have sex with her boyfriend Alex for the first time. While it's never explored, I'm pretty sure any teenage girl who is that open about her sex life has some behavioural problems and should not be responsible for looking after a child, as Janice is (she's Edison's nanny).

By far the most nonsensical scene in the movie is when JULIA, the young woman having a relationship with a married man, goes to catch him in the act. She goes into a restaurant, approaches HARRISON and his wife, and fakes labour pains (Harrison, of course, delivers babies). She never properly confronts him, just writhes around the flooor in faux-agony while Harrison's wife looks on concerned. Then she gets up, insists everything is fine and charges some stuff to Harrison. That's her only closure - that she left HARRISON with a bill.

Another flaw in the script is that some stories are left by the wayside. The story of Kate, a female soldier returning home from Iraq to spend Valentine's Day with her loved ones, is barely touched on and could have been the most affecting story in the movie. Instead we're forced to watch Reed embark on a wild goose chase after Julia to tell her that Harrison's married.

All that said, I did read it all in one sitting and while I cringed a couple of times, I was genuinely curious to see how it would all unfold. I'm hoping that the cast and the great Garry Marshall can elevate this movie and bring out the comedy in it.
If you enjoyed He's Just Not That Into You, you'll probably like this. If you didn't like the aforementioned HJNTIY, then you'll most likely hate this.

Overall - C+


Taking a cue from the wonderful blog ScriptShadow (which everyone should check out at, I've decided to start my own blog reviewing Hollywood's latest in-production scripts.

If there are any scripts in particular that you would like me to review, please leave a comment and I'll try hound down the script!