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Well Done

Overall Recommendation:
5 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
5 stars
 
Character:
5 stars
 
Dialogue:
5 stars
 
Emotion:
5 stars
 
May 03, 2012
This is definitely professional-level work -- this writer is solid and comedy is a hard game to get right. But he does. Really enjoyed this read and genuinely feel it deserves to get produced. What you have here is a comedy in the vein of "Cedar Rapids", "Jeff Who Lives At Home" and even "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." There are some really terrific laugh-out-loud moments at the beginning followed by some sweet emotional end-notes at the end. So, the good news is that I think this script is DEFINITELY worth reading. I do have some notes, however: the first 30 pages are extremely funny. However, we need a little more reason to care about Ray. The dream sequences don't do enough to make us root for him. Obviously, the point is that Ray is the kind of guy who has been walked on most of his life and that stuff needs to remain in the story. However, it would be a good idea to give us a couple small moments that show us Ray has more potential in him. I am not going to evoke Blake Snyder and tell you to "Save the Cat" because that could ruin what the writer is going for. I think we need what I call a "Luke Skywalker Staring At the Twin Suns" Moment. That moment in ANH is great because it's such a strong visual that conveys to us that Luke longs for a better life AND he's got a ton of potential within. As it stands now, Ray metaphorically gets the crap kicked out of him for 30 pages and while it's all funny, after awhile I felt it was too much. We need just some more hopes and dreams out of him. Little grace notes to add some unrealized potential. Once Lydia enters the story, we are able to see a side to Ray that we can root for because she brings that out in him. However, we just need to see that ourselves in that first 30pgs. The dinner scene with the in-laws is too long and just need shaved back -- I would also cut some of the grandmother's chastisement of Peyton except as it pertains to blaming Ray (it derails some of the narrative if Peyton is the focus but if Ray is the cause then it keeps the story and the scene about him.) The Janet and Terry scenes need to be trimmed back significantly. We get their relationship and really only need slivers, that way it is now makes things lag a little. (btw, is Janet and Terry a Three's Company reference?) I also would suggest that maybe you try to redeem Fergus a little bit during the happy hour scene the way they redeemed Sid in "The Descendants". A nice little moment where Fergus kind of is an actual shoulder to cry on (because by that point in the story, we need a repreive from all the awfulness Ray has experienced.) Lydia is a fantastic character. Well done. So is Herman for that matter (would love to see him come back into the story again somehow.) Bobby is also strong. Very likable. The reveal on Lydia is GREAT from an idea perspective but the conversation about her that Ray has with Bobby on pg 84 needs a LOT more emotion. The potential for a very powerful scene is all there, you just have to let it breathe a little more. Ask yourself what Cameron Crowe would do. I love that you bring Fergus back (nice touch there.) And I like the way things evolve between Ray and Lydia but the wrap up between Peyton and Ray needs a little more work. (One suggestion: what if Fergus and Peyton are broken up at the same time Ray and Janet break up and then Ray actually kinda/sorta has a heart to heart with the two of them that repairs their relationship and also reflects to Peyton that her Dad not only understands her a little better but also cares about her? It's just a thought.) But all-in-all, this is really strong work and I think you definitely have a future as a pro screenwriter.
 

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