ALLIGATORS IN A HELICOPTER

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cleaning Up Other People's Messes

So my friend Tom posted a meme (no, I can't pronounce it or define it either) over on his blog, challenging people to name four films they'd like to rewrite, for any reason.

Good question.

I think the best answer are movies that almost work for you. Not utter crap, but films that hint at the great film that is there, but just wasn't realized.

So a quartet, completely underthought and off the top of my head --

UNBREAKABLE. Though this could be any of M. Night Shyamalan's post Sixth Sense oeuvre. He's a great director (really), but seems to be a lazy writer. Unbreakable could have been great, and has some great sequences, but it peters out at the end, wastes a main character with a lot of potential, while the climax is as flat as flat can be. I'm not sure how I would have fixed it (it probably needs a whole new third act), but it would have been worth the whack.

PEARL HARBOR. 40 minutes of great combat stuff, lost in some really bad character stuff. How would I have fixed this? Let's start by setting the entire movie at Pearl Harbor. Make it about the place, the arriving pilots, the seemingly-easy-paradise-duty, and allow the (better-developed, more-interesting) characters to unfold against the backdrop of this world. And then the roof caves in.

ELIZABETHTOWN. Again, some very good scenes, lost in a story that really never gets started. I like some of the cute romantic stuff, I even like the road trip at the end, which could have been a quirky road movie all of its own. But the family stuff needs some real reworking; it's a complete non-starter here. It needs an actual plot, not just secondary characters bumping up against the lead for no real purpose, or a main character who too often seems comatose.

STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE. I'd make it more about the kid; tell it from his POV, have the Jedis come into his world. Lose the racist stereotypes, lose all the painfully dry political stuff, and keep in mind throughout that you can make a movie for all ages without putting something like Jar Jar Binks in it.

Fell free to crack on my picks here, though if you're going to make picks of your own, do it over at Tom's place (The One Year Push); it's his meme.

9 Comments:

At 8:12 AM, Blogger taZ said...

I can clearly see what you mean on Unbreakable and Elizabethtown.

Don't quite get the Pearl Harbour improvement, but I guess you're right considering I didn't like it (the movie).

I would want to remake a whole bunch of movies, but the one I can remember this instanse is "The Aviator". The third act is too bad.

 
At 10:11 PM, Anonymous cwmagee said...

Scott,
What did you think of TORA TORA TORA?

 
At 11:22 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Better than Pearl Harbor. And much less bad Affleck.

 
At 2:36 AM, Blogger Random Brandon said...

I heard that a good excercise for new screenwriters is to rewrite a bad movie...for educational purposes of course, not actually submiting it. Anybody have any thoughts on the subject? I ask, because I am a newbie myself and having trouble deciding on what to write first.

 
At 3:00 AM, Anonymous cwmagee said...

With UNBREAKABLE, there was way more trouble than act 3. That entire movie was a train wreck (ahem). Specifically, it was trying to string out suspence without giving us something to care about or take interest in first. I actually thought the ending was the least tedious part of the movie. There was one funny bit, though. About 40 minutes in, a guy in the middle of the theatre started snoring like a buzz saw. And every other waking person in the theatre started snickering, then giggling, then laughing out loud, hard, until the noise evidently woke him up.

I've never seen anything like that before, but I think it was totally appropriate to the movie.

 
At 8:56 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Brandon -- I think that when you are starting out, and learning about the whole screenwriting process, anything that helps you write more is good.

I think too many screenwriters put pressure on themselves to write stuff off the bat that they are going to be able to sell.

I think it would be freeing to just work on something that you know has no chance of selling, that you can just write the hell out of,

 
At 9:23 AM, Blogger Webs said...

I am writing a good version of "Pearl Harbor". It's called "101"

 
At 6:49 PM, Blogger Jodi Davis said...

The script I read for Etown was perfect wonderful complete. Who know what happened in between - it's Crowe's loss that he didn't trust that script and changed it.

JD

 
At 4:07 AM, Blogger Robin Kelly said...

Unbreakable is the only one that comes to mind in terms of re-writing as it is so clearly a very good opportunity wasted.

 

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