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.
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-