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

Friday, February 24, 2006

Enough With The Homage Character Names

Last night I read a script (a major script, with agents and everything) that wasn't a really a comedy; it was more of an offbeat drama/fantasy/thriller.

Yet one of the main characters was named Rupert Pupkin. For no reason at all.

The character has nothing to do with the character Robert DeNiro played in "The King of Comedy". The reference adds nothing to the script; none of the characters remark on it; the character's mother doesn't mention naming him after anyone.

Things like this are just a pointless distraction. They don't make your script better; the joke was even getting old by the time that "Office Space" had a character named Michael Bolton. And at least that film tried to make it a joke by having other characters riff on it.

They just remind the reader that they are reading a script.

At first, I thought it was just an awkward attempt by the writers of this script to put in a little... in-joke, I guess, though it's not funny.

Ultimately, it's likely more of an awkward Scorcese (or DeNiro) fetish on the part of the writers.

How do I know?

Later in the script, there's a minor character named Rabbi Travis Bickle.

I can't make this stuff up.


At 11:40 PM, Anonymous Norm said...

It's entirely possible the writers are unaware of the names connection. I swear to you I once read a script submitted to the prod. co. I was interning at where the main character's name was GARY COLEMAN.

With no mention of the deminutive TV star turned security guard turned governer candidate to be found. I kept waiting for the punchline. Nothing.

At 5:03 AM, Anonymous Lucy said...

So with you on this! Reading scripts myself I get sick of homage names. Character names should say something about the character as far as I'm concerned. Real irony, sure - that can be cool. Homage names like Travis Bickle though have no place in a script as far as I'm concerned.

At 7:53 AM, Blogger William said...

Sacrilege! That's just hack.

The Michael Bolton joke is a funny riff in a very funny movie IMHO but using those two names to connect yourself to a greater entity than you, c'mon!

This isn't so much a character reference but it's a scene. In Swingers they reference Scorsese and Tarantino in a way that gets us all in on the joke. It's okay. We, as a film audience, and an astute one at that, dig the visual cue of these guys one minute commenting on how Tarantino rips off Scorsese's visual style and the next scene Favreau is paying homage to Tarantino's bad guy march in Reservoir Dogs.

At 6:39 PM, Anonymous David Anaxagoras said...

Reminds me of that dreadful unproduced Planet of the Apes script where all the ape characters were named after Lord of the Rings characters. Not only was it silly and distracting, but it would have been very awkward once the LotR movies were released.

I invariably try to work an homage to Ray Bradbury into every script I write -- "Bradbury Library", "Bradbury Avenue" -- and I always end up cutting it out. It just feels too forced and more than a little on-the-nose.

Then, of course, I'm watching Butterfly Effect, and what do I see? A big BRADBURY school pennant on the dorm room wall...

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Scoopy said...

I remember reading THE MACHINIST and getting annoyed by the lead's name Trevor Resnik. It made me feel that it was supposed to mean Trent Reznor. Maybe my imagination was working overtime, but the way he was described and the industrial punk tone made me read it snidely.


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