Does anyone mind if I vent about Stranger Than Fiction? (If you do mind, then... click the "Back" button or something.) I’ve been waiting for this movie to get released for what has felt like the frickin’ Stone Ages. I also have in my hand as I type this (yes, I’m typing with only ONE HAND - I’m quite talented) a GIANT full-page spread in my new “Creative Screenwriting Magazine” proclaiming:
I’d give Zach the award for “Best Original Concept,” if there was such a category, but original screenplay? Unfortunately, no.
Watching this movie felt like I was reading one of many high concept amateur screenplays on TriggerStreet written by smart, talented, ambitious writers who are still in need of sharpening their skills - just a bit more. I wish Zach had known us. He could’ve gotten one of my outrageously thorough 2,000 – 5,000 word reviews that left zero stones unturned. He could’ve gotten a review from Mickey Lee who would’ve happily printed his script, written all over it, rescanned it, and emailed it back to him. (And he would’ve treasured Mickey’s notes, by the way.) Or he could’ve had his problems spelled out for him in 200 words or less by David Muhlfelder. Or he could’ve received one of many damn good and insightful comments by Matt, Miriam, Peter, Carl, Bob or any of a number of other obsessively devoted students of the craft.
Because let me tell you, this movie was weighed down with way, way, way too much dialogue. Every newbie screenwriter out there should see this film in a theater and observe the audience go from delighted to restless in about 30 minutes or less. You might also catch people sigh loudly, adjust in their seats, check their watches, or (if you’re lucky) give up and make-out.
We had Emma Thompson’s many voice overs, which were essential to the story, but when she wasn’t talking, the characters were talking… and talking and talking. There were too many scenes in a row early in the film that went on too long with too much talk. And when they weren’t talking, Emma was talking. Oy vey... I remember thinking toward the end of Act II that a lot of what was being said felt redundant.
I could hear my own TriggerStreet review get written as I watched this movie. And let me tell you, everyone on TriggerStreet, and I mean everyone, would’ve said with one clear voice, “You’re a great writer, but you’ve got too much damn dialogue. You gotta show, don’t tell.”
Side note - Maggie was so cute. I can’t imagine that anyone would’ve fallen in love with Ana Pascal as she was written on the page, but Maggie can pull it off. She could play the meanest bitch in the world and you’d still fall in love with her.
As we left the theater, I heard a guy say, “It was okay. It got us out of the house for one night.”
He should've stayed home and rented “Adaptation.”
Monday, November 13, 2006
“For your consideration: Best Original Screenplay, Zach Helm”