ALLIGATORS IN A HELICOPTER

a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Monday, January 09, 2006

This Week's Bad Writing Excerpt

I know I have been remiss recently in posting examples of bad-writing-that-is-nevertheless-being-submitted-to-production-companies, but business is picking up and the bad writing is starting to flow in again.

First off, let me say that I can sympathetize with writing a scene in a script, and then seeing the scene turn up in a major motion picture, and then worrying what to do with the scene in your script; do you jettison it in favor of something else? Do you find a fresh spin on it?

In this particular script I read over the weekend, there is a sequence in which the main character gets his chest waxed. I want to believe that it was written before "The 40 Year-Old Virgin" came out, but either way, since this draft is dated last week, there's no excuse for the writer not to do something with the chest waxing scene. But no, it just happens, and sits there, not even as interesting as the one that set the bar. Basically, it's a complete copy of it; the character yells a lot as his chest hair comes out in chunks.

(Ironically, the scene is there because it sort of fits into the story. Without going into the (godawful) plot too deeply, suffice it to say that it involves a midget who goes into hiding by disguising himself as a baby. Not that a chest wax really helps that much).

The bad writing comes in because the screenwriter obviously felt that someone reading the script was going to notice that the scene was similar to The 40 Year-Old Virgin's. But instead of reworking the scene, or doing something - anything - interesting with it, the writer settles for writing this to start of the scene.

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INT. SALON PRIVATE ROOM - MOMENTS LATER

King lies on his back as Madame Wong applies the first bit of wax and a strip of cloth to his chest hair. (Author's note... blatant rip-off coming.)

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Here's a tip. If you are ripping off something so completely that you feel the need, in the script, to confess that you are ripping it off, you've already lost.

11 Comments:

At 11:35 AM, Blogger Steve Barr said...

I think I recognize that script! Are we allowed to "out" the bad scripts here?

 
At 11:39 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

No outing, unless it's written by David Mamet. Which it wasn't.

 
At 2:07 PM, Blogger Shawn said...

Man, that's terrible. I'm reading contest scripts at the moment, so I feel your pain.

 
At 2:31 PM, Anonymous cwmagee said...

Well, if you're looking to take the writer but not the writing, at least you could say that, "He's a very honest man."

In your town, that might mean he would never work again.

 
At 4:00 PM, Blogger Bill Cunningham said...

Let's try and turn this into a positive:

How would you change it?

Does the midget have tequila handy? That and a match gets rid of body hair awful fast. I think it would be funny if he thinks he's put the entire blaze out, farts and re-ignites himself taking off all the pubes in a "tighty whitey firestorm"...

Okay, maybe not that funny.

 
At 5:25 PM, Blogger ScriptWeaver said...

If the midget screams "KELLY CLARKSON!" at the end of the scene, I think you just might have to forgive the author.

One of the greatest expletives ever.

 
At 6:00 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

No, he screams "Ruben Stoddart".

Seriously.

Though that seems more an attempt to make it seem like he's parodying the scene, when he's actually just cloning it.

 
At 9:56 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

This type of thing has happened to me before; I get pissed off, swear someone somewhere somehow ripped me off, then go about changing, altering, or losing the scene.

 
At 6:38 AM, Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

Once I had this idea about a story set in space where the characters wielded swords. But get this... the swords were not made of steel, but of light.

Oh, never mind.

 
At 8:02 AM, Blogger Schrumpfkopf said...

The comment may of course also be a pun. Not that it makes it that much better...

 
At 5:37 AM, Blogger The Moviequill said...

of course that the draft was titled "30 Year Old Virgin" didn't give it away (snickers)

 

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