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5.0 stars
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Premise:
5.0 stars
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Story structure:
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Character:
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Dialogue:
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Emotion:
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1 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

It's a winner all around

Overall Recommendation:
5 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
5 stars
 
Character:
5 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
January 25, 2011
I believe this script could be a great film, and I think your title and graphics really expresses the overall nature of this fun story.

The opening is strong, Allison is likeable, and all the characters are very distinct. I noticed you listed it as a comedy, but it felt like a rom-com in the beginning. Although I do see in hindsight the main story is about Allison's career dilemma/personal growth and the romance is secondary, so perhaps that was your reason. Nevertheless I will use WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS as one example to compare and contrast with, since they at least share a common setting.

The premise is clever and very timely, the characters all very intelligent, obviously since they are from the world of academia, but early on I had a hard time trying to nail the tone. I wasn't sure if you wanted it to be a hyper-realistic comedy ( I just made that up to describe a type of tone in a film I've occasionally seen that represents every situation and every dialogue exchange so realistic they could have occurred in real life). The best examples I can think of would be Whit Stillman's 1990 film METROPOLITAN, but a better example is two early Noah Baumbach films, KICKING AND SCREAMING and MR. JEALOUSY. But these examples worked with that style because the films lacked an action oriented plot and relied solely on the wry humor and neurotic nature of the characters. Your story has a very "action-oriented" plot, this "journey through the night" that allows for anything to happen. I love that.

And this is why I'm using WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS as a better comparison, even though I feel your story is far better than that. One thing VEGAS had going for it was using secondary colorful characters to take the comedy up a notch. The two main characters were very realistic, they had careers and other issues, but the friends weren't realistic at all, just one dimensional comic relief, most apparent when you look at a scene with only them in it, similar to a Saturday Night Live sketch... yet it worked. That is because its actually an old technique, very Shakespearian. It seems unthinkable to leave the focus of the principles while these cartoon characters talk yet that pause, a moment to breathe or just digest the story enhances the story.

In your story, first of all, you used a Julia Roberts structure (that would be where the main character is in every scene, which works fine for Julia but the story depth usually suffers, even in her films). I'm not saying Allison has to share the limelight, but either that or she needs to up the comedic tone herself, and I really can't imagine her turning into Lucille Ball.

Back to the tone. I think another reason I couldn't nail the tone early on is because your main characters and primary secondary characters all have about the same range on their "excitability barometer" which tops at medium-high and bottoms at middle. I understand they are all intelligent academics, but when I look at all of them from afar its like listening to a choir, very harmonious, yet that makes the tone of the story very monotone.

Back to the Shakespearian reference, I couldn't help but see the similarity between this and A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM, its an adventure throughout the night, its has Vegas allure rather than fairies, and alcohol, very dreamy and magical. I think this is where you have a chance to recalibrate your levels. You started to at several points, someone shouts out how its like an adult version of Sesame Street, different types mingle in the event-hopping group, but why not let a few of these colorful characters elaborate, that was the whole point of Allisons mission: to bring science to the masses and everyday people. Grant it, its limited to Vegas people including clubbers, gamblers, tourists, and casino workers (and academics). A very surreal but dreamlike representation of everybody. This is really very cinematic in nature. So far so good.

As an example, you could have a science professor proclaim after a demonstration he's so glad someones taking the nerdiness out of it, and have a serious gambler, mustache and slick backed hair who looks like he hasn't left a poker table in twenty years but got caught up in this hysteria reply, "I love science" becoming fast friends with the prof, which of course would lead to probing questions like the principles of card counting... just creative ideas. I'm not suggesting you turn it into ITS A MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD, but there is room to expand a couple of select scenes. I do love what you did with the events, the use of Cirque du Soleil aerial dancers was brilliant.

Before I forget: In the beginning you tease us with Ryan having a dry sense of humor, but nothing is said when he is introduced. In fact, as written, we don't really see any connection between Allison and Ryan, he just walks up and grabs her bag. Perhaps you meant to downplay it, but at least acknowledge his presence with a direction line exchanging glances that describe what they're thinking, Allisons- already exasperated... and they just landed. Ryan- I told you so.
But I would have preferred a quick dialogue exchange, maybe Allison (mock perky/enthusiasm) maybe doing a quick flight attendant impression "And how was your flight?" Ryan (monotone) "The best." or something like that, but definitely lead with Allison, because we saw her horrible experience, we only need assume Ryans was as bad. (But just a creative suggestion, not absolutely necessary)

But one flaw that needs addressed is Luke on the bridge. It felt like he left character. In the beginning he is established as narcissistic bastard who ruined her life, now he backpedals when he should be demonstrating his true colors. He's in this dreamworld too, which should bring out a more intense version of him. He's blackmailing her and he wants two things: to take her thesis and to have her (but he's playing it like its love when it should be a more carnal invitation) His dialogue should ring like it did in the first two scenes (don't try to humanize him), remember she's sitting on the railing (symbolically her life is in his hands) she's dressed up by him, he would be more of a wolf at this moment. Allison would still play it the same, perhaps momentarily hypnotized by his words like she had been so many times before.

BTW: I haven't mentioned a thing about the overall premise or structure because its flawless: the way everything unfolds, the use of technology as part of story and plot, the movement from scene to scene. No comments needed. I'm perplexed why such a project isn't a finalist, and my conclusion is these little areas I mention, where you don't just go for it. You have great set-up, but you don't follow-through, or you buffer the pay-off. Example: At the climax Allison wins, but what is her reward? She got the boy (but he was there all along), she is free from her servitude and going back to pursuing her PHD (but she could have quit yesterday and decided that without this incredible adventure). She also got recognition from a hero, but two seconds, an empty job opportunity she can't pursue. I do realize it was an internal growth for Allison, but you also have to acknowledge it was much more, as well. This is also a story of empowerment; in a time when the playing field is equal, women are still sometimes tripped up on a psychological level and lose opportunity they are rightly qualified for. It's terrible and its something that is hardly ever addressed, but this story is rooted in that dilemma. Allison is a victim of her own making, she could be, and should be, among her peers yet she fell into this situation as a "slave." When she gets angry enough to "go for it" Sparticus style, she creates a movement in the course of a night, she ascends at a rapid dreamlike velocity. But more importantly, the audience is cheering for her to keep going.

I would have liked to have seen Experimental Eric be more awed by Allison during their exchange, perhaps creating an opportunity online as a regular contributor, making comments like, (with a wink) "we could use your name recognition" referring to how she is now accepted among her peers or will be very recognizable shortly after. And maybe "our online weekly show allows you to work remotely, just like being with us side by side", or "Of course there would be the occasional required duty, like the Paris ScienceExpo (I just made that up, but I'm sure there's some exotic event like that).

And example of buffering the pay-off: When Belle breaks Kelners balls, she decides and declares he will not lose his job because of tenure. I realize you being a teacher, maybe you felt an urge to save Kelners job. But remember the audience doesn't share your forgiveness for the douchebag. He doesn't have to lose his job, but at the very least, leave it hanging. A quick fix would just be Belle rewording her threat to something like "God help you if your tenure can't" along with "...regardless, your life will be hell". We don't have to have resolution for his outcome, and you satisfy all, those who think he needs to be fired will imagine he was, and those more sympathetic will imagine he wasn't.

So if I was wrong, and you didn't use A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM as a reference point, do take the time to do a comparison. What a lot of people don't know is that MIDSUMMER was an early work that Shakespeare was commissioned to write for a wedding. It was suppose to be nothing more than a fun spectacle with a happy ending. That is eerily like yours. But you can do better (no offense, Mr. Shakespeare). On the surface you have the science/technology theme, you have the Vegas spectacle, underneath you have the empowerment issues and the journey to self discovery. A few tweaks would make it very satisfying and hopefully move you into the finals.

I have a few other notes/suggestions I will inbox you shortly. I hope you find this helpful.
 

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