Monday, August 10, 2009

Script Review - “Balls Out”


A Truly Somewhat AWESOME Original Screenplay



I can’t tell you how many e-mails I’ve received about this script. Over a hundred, I’ll bet, all asking (sometimes begging) me to do a script review. I added this to my to-do list. And God help me, the moment has arrived. So I took time out last weekend (from writing, tweeting, watching the masterpieces of Kurosawa, and studying Shakespeare) to consider a script called Balls Out by The Robotard 8000.

First, the script is available
here via The Robotard 8000 who also twitters. In fact, he has a (tasteless/insulting?) photo of an obese mentally-handicapped male with an award. You can also read his random bursts of comedy-writing:

My balls, y'all.

Though I can't taste them, I know they're salty, crunchy and delicious.

My motherfuckin' balls.


Second, a variety of individuals have sung the praises of Balls Out, most notably
William Goss at Cinematical and Craig Mazin at The Artful Writer who wrote, “Balls Out isn't safe, it isn't family friendly and it might be illegal. But it made me laugh. Out loud. A LOT.”

On the flip-side, Jeff Lowell is quoted as saying, “Balls Out is a stain on the craft of screenwriting. I'm sure that I'm worse as a person for having read it. I could feel precious things slowly slipping away from me with every page I turned - my skill as a writer, my decency, my hope for humanity. Is this the kind of quote you were looking for, Robotard? Good. Now release my children, you monster!”

And Scott Frank reportedly said, “if you love jamming shards of broken glass into your eyeballs, then by all means tuck into Balls Out.”

I will start with praise of the writer. Balls Out is a great title for a comedy. The grammar was surprisingly decent. I believe this writer actually has potential to create superb comedy. This is important enough to be repeated: I genuinely believe this writer has potential to create great, gut-busting comedy.

Having said that, I found this script to be a vile, degenerate, 107-page piece of shit, about as witty as a maggot-infested corpse but only half as intelligent. At this stage of his writing career, Mr. Robotard has merely ascended to the level of comedy butcherer, and that’s it. The only way he could make any (good) money for these types of scripts is if the WGA paid him to stop writing, which isn’t an altogether bad idea. It’s a tragedy how this writer revels in the most base instincts in mankind, as well as the most brutal behavior between human beings, and calls it “comedy.” Every unbearably boring, ultra-shocking, execrable idea he can dream up is paraded across this flimsy story with such repetition that the script should be guilty of murder by monotony. A poor reader would have to swim through a football-field-sized septic tank of shit to find microcosmic evidence of wit. It’s like peering into some quaggy latrine into which every imaginable iniquity had already flowed twice-over. This is the running sore of comedy, the putrid puss of screenwriting, the rancid gangrene of storytelling. Abandon hope all ye who enter! Struggling in vain to lift yourself out of the muck, this script just sucks you in deeper.

I know what you’re thinking: “That was so brutal, MM.” I’m being as brutally honest as Mr. Robotard was as brutal with his assault on humanity and exploitation of all things degenerate. How I wish I had stopped after reading the Title Page, which is a good starting point:


A Truly Somewhat AWESOME Original Screenplay



As I said before, Balls Out is a great title for a comedy. Within those two words you know it’s a comedy of the outrageous gross-out variety, which is perfectly acceptable, and you also know its theme.

But then the writer felt compelled to tell us that he’s written a TRULY SOMEWHAT AWESOME screenplay, and herein lies the first red flag - no confidence in the reader. He’s telling you what to think before you’ve even been given a chance to read the script. More than that, I’d say he has a disdain for his readers, because he doesn’t think you have the intelligence to figure out its greatness for yourself. If someone has to tell you they’re funny, they’re usually not funny. Likewise, if they have to go out of their way to tell you that what they’ve done is truly somewhat awesome, more than likely it’s shit. Overselling is a sign of no confidence in the reader.

And then you see that the script’s written by “THE ROBOTARD 8000,” which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. In fact, the name has the unmistakable stench of arrested development.

If the Title Page wasn’t enough to warrant outright dismissal, this first scene will surely get the job done:


A brief, painful MONTAGE establishing THE COD:

CAPE motherfucking COD.

What a disaster we have with just this opening scene alone. “FADE THE FUCK IN” screams immature amateur screenwriter. He incorrectly has the transitions and Master Scene Headings in bold. This is also not the proper format for a MONTAGE. Since Robotard tossed format to the wind, he has undermined confidence because he isn’t proving that he understands how a screenplay actually FUNCTIONS.

Exactly how would this montage be “painful?” There are no specifics. While “CAPE motherfucking COD” may sound slightly funny, this does nothing to help sell the film because the visuals presented in the script are not funny. All we’re seeing is Cape Cod. Okay, so?

So far, what has actually happened in the film? We faded in and we’re given an unspecific montage about Cape Cod. That’s it. Thus, we already have a misfire in terms of the writer trying to be funny in his action lines about something that may not translate into funny visuals. From this point forward, the reader will have to knowingly endure a mental war with the script to determine what would actually be funny in a scene despite how the writer has written the action lines.

What’s the most important aspect about an action line? It’s not how funny it’s written. It’s THE FINAL RESULT – what winds up on the screen. You must convey with absolute clarity what we’re seeing ON THE SCREEN. Thus, Robotard communicates in his first scene that his action lines are not to be trusted. What may sound funny in his action lines may not translate into funny visuals, a poisonous thought to start with for anyone who is reading and reviewing your work. And, of course, you will find that the rest of the script is filled with a litany of unfilmmables in the action lines - incidentals, asides, backstories, inner thoughts, author’s intrusions, ad nauseum.

That is, if you continue reading after that awful Title Page.

“Okay, MM,” you’re thinking, “Enough of this nit-picky junk. Didn’t you find the script funny?”

I never laughed once, but I frequently wanted to cry.


A COMPUTER ANIMATED world of snow. The Canadian arctic. Just like in those classic Coke® commercials, we see a MOMMA POLAR BEAR and her BABY BEAR playing with a ball.

LIVE ACTION ROB is a short distance away, watching from astride his snowmobile.


Baby Bear paws at the ball, accidentally knocking it into a hole in the ice. Baby Bear tries to reach the floating ball but has no luck. Momma Bear just smiles...“Isn’t he precious?”

Just then, a BABY HARP SEAL pops up in the water. Locks eyes with Baby Bear. They smile, not as lovers but as friends. The tableaux is so cute it hurts.

The fluffy white baby harp seal nudges the ball so that his new friend can retrieve it. The Baby Bear leans over the hole and...

Without warning, the Baby Harp Seal latches onto the Baby Bear’s throat! Blood gushes from the “bahhing” Baby Bear’s mangled throat as...

FIVE MORE BABY HARP SEALS erupt from beneath the water and pounce on the Baby Bear.


Like piranha, the Baby Harp Seals ravage the Baby Bear, taking him down, consuming him even as he fights for his life. Soon there is nothing left but bone and red snow.

Momma Bear’s eyes are wide with shock. Even MORE BABY HARP SEALS emerge from the water and swarm toward the Momma Bear. She finally comes to her senses and takes off running.

They flop after her shockingly fast. Within seconds, they’re on her, devouring her hind quarters before she even realizes it. Momma Bear roars in agony as the reality of her pain reaches her brain...

Rob winces as the bloodthirsty Seals finish her off, leaving nothing but a nasty swath of guts and bones. Time to leave. Rob tries to fire up his snowmobile but it won’t turn over!


They flop towards him, a seething mass of crimson fur and teeth. Rob yanks the starter cord furiously.

I’d suggest to you that this sequence is analogous of the entire screenplay. The Baby Seal is Robotard. The Baby Bear is comedy. And Momma Bear is the audience. Rob is Hollywood.

I’ll go out on a limb to say that I think Robotard is at war with himself. He has that potential to achieve the heights of great comedy, but he’s sidelining himself with an obsession about ultra-shock humor, which in the context of his stories does nothing more than create abominable characters for which we feel no emotional connection. Characters come first. The hints of wit and potential, for me at least, came out in isolated moments between characters like between Jim and Jill early in the story. There’s so much more to comedy than this ultra-shock schlock, and Mr. Robotard 8000 can be so much more than this.

Recommend: Trottier’s
Screenwriter’s Bible, Helitzer’s Comedy Writing Secrets, and you can download (for free) Screenwriting for Dummies.

You did NOT just say that.

“Fuck YEAH, I did!”

I'm sure you're thinking “What was the story about?” My point exactly.




NOTES (up to page 17):

On the title page, get rid of “A Truly Somewhat AWESOME Original Screenplay.” You should never have to tell someone what to think. It’s like the guy who has to tell you, “I’m not a pervert.” If you hear that, you better hide your animals. Pg 1 – “FADE THE FUCK IN:” Here’s a thought: keep it professional. And don’t put Master Scene Headings in bold. That looks amateurish. This is also not the proper format for a MONTAGE. You have to convey in the first few pages that you understand how a screenplay FUNCTIONS and what you’ve presented here is woefully inadequate. Go buy Trottier’s
Screenwriter’s Bible so that a) you know what you’re doing and b) you can build early confidence in the reader. In the action lines, keep the cursing to PG levels. “CAPE motherfucking COD” may be slightly funny to a few readers, but it does nothing for your film because all we’re seeing is Cape Cod. And thus, we already have a misfire in terms of you trying to be funny in the action lines about something that will not be funny in the film. What’s the most important thing here? THE FILM, THE FINAL PRODUCT. You’ve already conveyed the idea that what may be funny in the action lines will not translate into something funny on the big screen which is a poisonous thought to start with for anyone who is reading and reviewing your work. Just write “DAY” instead of “SUNNY DAY.” Scenes are shot for DAY or for NIGHT. Your action paragraphs should be four lines or fewer. This is wrong:

In the distance, we HEAR the persistent sound of a STUCK CAR HORN getting louder.

“Stuck car horn” does not need to be in caps nor “hear.” Sounds do not need to be in caps. And there’s no point in “we hear” or “we see” in a spec EVER. Rewrite as:

In the distance is the persistent sound of a stuck car horn.

Let’s talk about this paragraph:

It’s a scene, man. He’s folded in half, ass submerged in the trash can, knees dangling over the side. Jim flips to the sports page, seemingly unaware of the slack-jawed GAWKERS crowded around.

Cut “It’s a scene, man.” Obviously it’s a scene, right? This is a screenplay. Second, how would we know he's reading a sports page? Is this a shot over his shoulder to show us a sports page? How does this matter to the scene? Third, I’m not even sure this moment would be funny unless it’s a moment filmed in real life a la Jackass or Bruno. Even then, we may not laugh because we’ve seen this very prank in many different forms in the Jackass films and TV show.

Bottom of page - you don’t even have the correct transition. This is a MATCH CUT not a CUT TO. Plus, to do a match cut transition to boiling water “for no good reason,” “no good reason whatsoever,” is unimpressive, uncreative, and will likely not get a laugh. (Granted, you returned to the boiling water on pg 92 with the hot dogs, and there might be some meaning there with hot dogs boiling in water, but you keep saying that it's there for no good reason, which is annoying. Mostly, I'm guessing you wrote that merely to setup the introduction of Tom Cruise, all of which was necessary. You avoided the story by bringing in Tom Cruise. His appearance in your script was an act of screenwriting insecurity, as if you needed to include Tom Cruise to validate the telling of this story and that's a mark of weakness on your part as a writer. Your story should be able to stand on its own two feet without any star-studded cameos. Stick to the story! Back to my notes...) “TWO WEEKS EARLIER” should be in quotes. Pg 2 – Get rid of “MORNING” in the Master Scene Headings. Scenes are shot for “DAY” or for “NIGHT.” I’m not mentioning these again. Consider this line:

The barking dog next door wakes Jim up two hours too early, just like always.

How would we know that? A detail like that has to come out through the story. All the audience is going to see is that a barking dog woke Jim. And that’s all we, the readers, should know, too. The BATHROOM need only be a Secondary Heading. Consider all of the other places that need only be Secondary Headings. Cut “The proper place to shit.” That’s obvious, since this is a bathroom, right? This is what we call an author’s intrusion and should be avoided always. “But he’s not.” is another author’s intrusion. You should focus on Jim’s REACTION to what he said in front of the mirror. That’s what we’ll be seeing in the film and that’s what the audience will be caring about. Consider this line:

But the second he steps onto the sidewalk, A BIG ASSHOLE DOG - the same one whose barking woke him earlier - menaces him.

What does this mean “menaces him?” What exactly are we seeing here? Clarity is the key about what we see in the film. Pg 3 – Finally something funny! The string dangling from the dog’s ass would be funny. I actually smiled. Unfortunately, 3 pages is too late to get your first laugh. What would happen if he tried to pull the string out? You cannot reference specific songs in a screenplay unless the song’s in the public domain or you have the express written permission from the artist. Besides, someone might think of a better song to use. Write about an 80’s pop tune. Pg 4 – You should use DUAL DIALOGUE for the moment with Jim and the Hot Young Clerk. Pg 5 – You don’t need “(CONT’D)” when a characters speaks twice in a row. You’re breaking one of Trottier’s Ten Commandments. Pg 6 – “(O.S.)” is not correct when we’re hearing a voice from a speaker phone. I’m not even going to give the answer. Pg 7 – Consider this line:

Her response is another forty-five second burst of insane chattering.

This action line is wrong on so many levels. You talk about another forty-five second burst when you never mentioned the first forty-five second burst. Forty-five seconds is a lifetime in film. A minute and a half of nothing is intolerable. So we have a minute and a half of indecipherable screaming from a woman on a phone. A) it’s too long to be funny and after some point, the audience will be irritated. I’d workshop this first to see for how long this will be funny, and B) something that takes up forty-five seconds of screen time should fill up ¾ of a page in a script because one page equals one minute of screen time. This is supposed to be a comedy. Now, granted, many laughs are had by dragging something out longer than usual, but one page equals one minute of screen time. Thus, you should write out what’s going on for the full length of this routine. In this case, I’d suggest a MONTAGE for, perhaps, half a page. What should you write? Well, all YOU tell us about is this woman screaming. But what would be seeing? JIM’S REACTION. So write about funny things he does as he endures this woman chewing him out. He takes a nap, he cooks breakfast, he clips his toe nails, he reads a big book, whatever. THAT is comedy. And that is the difference between thoughtless action lines thrown into a script by an amateur and quality craftsmanship.

Okay, the next Master Scene Heading: “INT. COPY ROOM - FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER”. And then you have “INT. FILE ROOM - FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER” How would we know that it’s fifteen minutes later? Are you going to SUPER the words? Maybe we’ll see a clock? Does it even matter? Just write “MOMENTS LATER”. Pg 9 – This is SO wrong: “VOICE OVER LOUD SPEAKER (O.S)” Pg 14 – No point in the CUT TO. Readers always assume it’s a cut unless they’re told otherwise. Pg 15 – Avoid “then” in the action lines. Let’s consider these action lines:

Jim and Rob turn to see LARRY WILLS, 40’s, decked out in a tank-top, flip flops and lifeguard shorts. He’s a beach parking lot attendant by day and thieving playboy by day, too.

This second sentence concerns me greatly and also gives the impression the size of a tidal wave that you have yet to learn how a screenplay FUNCTIONS. How are we, the movie-going audience, to know that Larry Wills is a “beach parking lot attendant by day and thieving playboy by day?” This is the kind of information that should come out THROUGH THE STORY. “So what,” you might say. This matters. You wasted two very precious lines in your script when you only have (for a comedy) about 100-110 pages to work with. If you didn’t have these wasted two lines, you would’ve had room for MORE COMEDY. Question: what’s more important - pointless information in the action lines or comedy? I’d say comedy. You’re shooting yourself in the foot by neglecting format and wasting space in your screenplay. Writer, edit thyself. Pg 17 – If you’re still in the same location and it’s later, you don’t need a new Master Scene Heading. Just write, as an action line, “LATER”. And I don’t for a minute believe that “an hour later” is relevant to the story in any way. I’m going to stop with the notes because if I write down every complaint, my notes will grow to 10,000 words before I finish reading the script. So very sorry. Wait, Pg 55 – “SHKA-BANG!!!” was obnoxious to the point of immaturity. Don’t ever do that.


The Robotard 8000 said...

Are you fucking INSANE?

Naive London Girl said...

Harsh, but fair.

Somebody had to say it.

The Robotard 8000 said...

Are you REALLY that naive?

Piers said...

MM: I'm really sorry. I can't tell if you're being serious or not.

Anonymous said...

All valid criticism.

However, as usual in cases like these - we've seen semi-bold scripts hitting the web before - the writer(s) will claim that the whole "We can't live by your screenwriting rules" attitude is part of the art.

I found Balls Out to be a decent attempt at freestyle writing - somebody obviously didn't give a rat's ass about the details, and it shows. The script is quick and dirty and satisfying if you as a reader enjoy something "different" (TM), it's lousy and a useless piece of garbage if compared to most "serious" (again, TM) screenplays. Hell, it even has troubles matching most of the rejected-pile.

I've read it a couple of times and I'd say it's a good example for "why you should do your screenwriting homework". It may have been written by a bunch of amateurs or by an anonymous Hollywood legend, and that's pretty much what I'd base my final reaction on - John August spitting this out would at least be an ironic take on screenwriting.

Racicot said...

FADE THE FUCK IN and all the other comedic asides don't match the boring-ness of the characters and plot.

S'as if Robotard wrote a very tepid script and his crazy roommate went in and added in the 'comedy' while Robo was at work. At Strabucks.

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

Gee, I wonder if it's that LexG douche-bag who's behind the Robotard Loser.

Emily Blake said...

Daaaamn son.

This sounds like a typical first screenplay that got out because of a very clever marketing strategy.

bob said...

I'm leaving a fucking post here...Ok, does this mean this is the funniest fucking post you've ever read?

Yeah, didn't think so...

Christian H. said...

I guess that's a reason why I'm confident to search for the person who likes my crap with all of its attention to scene transitions and juxtaposition of characters.

Hell, I rarely even describe clothes or furniture so my characters can talk more - with their heads. :-)

Just kidding.

BTW, there's a large breast in the comments. Now that's funny.

As far as your commentary, I'd say you're right on but it scares me that so many people lauded the script.

It makes me really wonder what the scripts that win contests are actually like.

Anonymous said...

I read it a few months ago when Julie Gray said it was the funniest thing she'd read in a long time. (Really??) I do think there is a certain voice on the page that is fun for about 2 pages, but that is it - the actual story is stupid. I would way rather read a high-comedy script like The Hangover or even Little Miss Sunshine. Scripts with real humor and characters who come to life on the page.

Anonymous said...

Tony Clifton is so overrated.

Mr Dan said...

Two questions for either MM or anyone else that is nice enough to answer:

1. "Get rid of “MORNING” in the Master Scene Headings. Scenes are shot for “DAY” or for “NIGHT.” I’m not mentioning these again."

Is this correct, all of the time? What if you have a scene set at dusk? Is it ok to put "EXT. GARDEN - DUSK" if it's important for the audience to know that scene is happening towards the end of the day.

2. Newbie question, but what is a "secondary heading" and what formatting does it use? I'm guessing it's when you change between close by locations, in real time within a scene?

Lucci in the sky said...

I really really hope that Mystery Man is in on the joke.

That being said I laughed so hard at the excerpts.

STUCK CAR HORN got me so hard.

battle dolphin zero said...

You scrubs don't know what you're talking about. And what's up with that black titty?

anthuswilliams said...

MM, I usually like your reviews, but you couldn't be more off the mark on this one.

BALLS OUT is great. I read it a few months ago when Julie Gray recommended it, and I was as satisfied with it as she was.

It's never going to be a movie. The Robotard knew that going in. It's a "fuck Hollywood" raunch-fest that is an entertaining read. At a time when most screenplays are gouge-me-in-the-eyes boring, the brilliant writing in the script keeps you turning pages all the way through.

And by the way, I'm not sure if you know who the Robotard is, but it just so happens he's a little guy I like to call Ron fucking Bass. I'm gonna go out on a limb here, but I think Ron Bass knows a little more about screenwriting than you give him credit for.

David Kahane said...

Hmm...according to Facebook, the group Mystery Man On Film has 31 members, while the Robotard 8000 has 154 fans. Many of the Robotard's fans are working screenwriters. Well done, Mystery Man on Film, I predict a spike in traffic to your blog.

Anonymous said...

It's not a produce-able screenplay. It's not meant to be. It's prose in a screenplay format.

(And how did you not laugh at the Tom Cruise scenes?!)

Jeff Lowell said...

Thank god someone else is brave enough to say the emperor has no clothes! The formatting in that script was abominable.

David Alan said...

At this point, would he be fair to say you have a man-crush on Kurosawa?

As far as Balls Out goes, I remember saying this in an e-mail. As an actual film, I just don't see it working at all. But as a mockery of screenwriting, it kills- which is what I think the author was going for. If not, oh well.

-- David Alan

James said...

Bottom line is --

Look how many people have read it.

Whether you like it or not, the fact you know about it, read it, and have an opinion about it -- the script conquered one of the toughest obstacles in Hollywood --

-- getting people to sit down and read a script.

I'd say MM.'s criticism is on the nose. I just disagree. "Fade the Fuck in" "The COD. The motherfucking Cape Cod." I laughed out loud when I read these.

As a reader, I gave the writer MUCH more rope because he made me laugh right off the bat.

There are scenes that have no place in the screenplay, in terms of story (The crapping in the trashcan beach scene), but I already was on the writer's side because he made me laugh and showed me something different.

To put a fine point on it -- I enjoyed reading the screenplay. Most screenplays I do not.

Whether I think it'll make a good movie or not is something entirely different -- and in all honesty, not really the writer's responsibilty. :)

Anonymous said...

If I had the bucks I'd be all over this script. It's the mother****ing money. Get me a hot shit cast and I'll get it out in over 5000+ screens and make me some serious fuck you money. Start rolling now and get a nice 04/01/2010 release.

David Alan said...


At this point, would *it be fair to say you have a man-crush on Kurosawa?

James -- How is the writer not responsible? Just curious as to what led you to that conclusion.

Mystery Man said...

Just so you guys know, I'm not going to comment on the article. I thought the whole thing spoke for itself. At least I had hoped it would. Perhaps I didn't succeed.

However, I'll answer Dan's question: yes, Trottier teaches that all Master Scene Headings should be "DAY" or "NIGHT" none of this "DUSK" business. I have an article on Secondary Headings here.


Anonymous said...

You're the old guy who doesn't get the joke. NEVER say craft around the ROBOTARD 8000. He'll shiv you with the same dildo his great-great-great-fucking great grandfather used on Mrs. Lincoln after the play. By the way, I've seen many bought screenplays that use "morning" or "afternoon". It's not a big deal. Unlike ROBOTARD's dick.

A Slap to the Face said...

You are both an idiot and a douche bag. Anyone pretentious enough to repeatedly call attention to the fact that they are studying Kurosawa and Shakespeare clearly has no sense of humor.

You missed the point entirely, and your focus of such inane things as having "the transitions and Master Scene Headings in bold" just shows that you really don't comprehend screenwriting beyond the books you read. Writing for Script Magazine doesn't validate your oblivious and out of touch opinion.

And since you so clearly missed it, I'd just like to point out that the whole goddamn script is a massive inside joke.


Mr Dan said...


Cheers for the link to your secondary headings article. Makes sense. I think I'll be using them from now on! I've always just been using master headings to move around a location, but I can see secondary headings would be much clearer.

I'm not sure I agree on the use of only DAY or NIGHT though.

For example I'm writing a script at the moment about a man that hikes along a trail. He stops hiking around dusk. The reader needs to know it's towards the end of his day, so wouldn't it just be easier to have "EXT. CLEARING - DUSK" than "EXT. CLEARING - DAY." Then you don't have to explain to the reader that it's dusk...otherwise they'd assume he's stopping in the afternoon (if that makes sense.)

Anonymous said...

Dear MM,

your funny.

biG huGs!

- Everyone On The Internet And In Hollywood Who Got This But You

Anonymous said...

Come ON!!!!!


How is it that so many people don't get something that is so obvious?

Anonymous said...

To all you people who keep posting (including The Robotard himself?) trying to explain to MM that this was somehow a great "joke" that he didn't get (ie. He didn't follow screenplay format because it's not REALLY a screenplay!! Get it??? Hilarious!!):

Putting however many hundreds of hours into thinking, writing, typing, promoting, commenting on a "screenplay" that 90% of people won't get past page 3 of was a colossal waste of time, not a joke.

It's not even a parody of a bad screenplay, which, while unsellable, might have led to an assignment on a spoof or something.

We get it. It's just not funny.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marianne!

Anonymous said...

This is a brilliant satire of the way most comedies getting attention in Hollywood these days are written. F-bombs all over the place and lots of cock/porn references, and supposedly this makes the writing "edgy" and gives it "a voice". Haha... Nice work, Robotard.

Emily Blake said...

Well I finally tried to read it.

Joke script or not, this is the Oceans Twelve of screenplays: 109 pages of giggling over your own cleverness.

bob said...

I hate to say this, but I read scripts like this all the time on Triggerstreet. Plus I'd read a couple similar purchased scripts like "O'Quinn" on ScriptShadow before he had to pull his links. I suppose it's a dig at the current state of screenplays to the extent that it takes the dick joke humor and formatting quirks to the nth degree, but I guess I'm a little confused as to why it's such great satire. Satire usually points out the absurdity of something that is maybe usually taken fairly seriously. Pointing out the absurdity of absurd humor? I would call that personification of the genre, not satire.

Casey McC said...

Mystery Man,

Are all your favorite books really "how-to" books about writing?

Because that is just monsterously sad.

Anonymous said...

HAHA, MM, you're such an immense douche. I can't believe you really took this script that seriously.

E.C. Henry said...

Mystery Man,

Wow! You're quite a trouper. The title page and inital puroseful screwing with the opening transition line was enough for me -- but you stuck it through and actually READ some of this, saw hope in this writer, and even gave him something to build on!

Did no one else catch that?

Didn't Shane Black break a lot of "rules" in his writing of "Leathal Weapon?" Maybe this writer thinks he's a sort of Shane Black in a different genre.

It would be interesting to hear what other writers known for writting script in the gross-out guys genre think of this writer's script.

Some of what this guy wrote sounds kina funny, its just a little too out there, and a snide spit in the face of screenwriting conventions for my tastes.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

setchmo said...


You are officially my hero. Love your posts.

Jason L. said...

Wow, I am so shocked! Not a single person has said what seems so obvious about this script. They had me at Fade The Fuck In.

Balls Out is not a screw-you, or an I-just-don't-give-a-damn.

It's a straight-up exaggeration of all the wrong ways to write a script. All the mistakes people make, magnified to a very humorous level, that any of us who review scripts should get a kick out of.

I laughed my ass off for just three pages and knew that was enough. Of course there would be no real story! Of course they had to make it feature length, or it would never even have the the first page read. Who would read a three-pager on the don'ts of screenwriting?

I applaud their commitment. Bravo!

And I kept hoping I would find the tongue-in-cheek in MM's review, but it never came. I am now sadly forced to rethink anything that I read of his.

Sorry, MM, I actually do love your work, and I will continue to follow you, but there will be some taint there now.

Though I will "wipe my taint" if you can do what our own president hasn't the backbone to do: see the truth, and be man enough to say that maybe you were wrong. Restore my faith, Man.

I know you are smart enough to see your error.

Cleanse my taint!

-Jason (Proud Triggerstreeter)

The Robotard 8000 said...

Hey, what can we say?

We admit it - we wrote a polarizing script.

If you get it and like it, fantastic.

If you don't get it and hate it, that's great too.

If you get it and hate it, well, sure, okay that's fine.

If you don't get it and love it - to the point of obsession - that's, um, well, sure, that's cool.

If you hate it simply because it doesn't adhere to strict formatting guidelines as laid out in a screenwriting book written by a failed screenwriter, you're seriously kidding yourself about the reality of the film industry.

Mim said...

As Bob pointed out, you can find scripts just like this at Triggerstreet all the time. The only difference is that this writer created a website and managed to generate a considerable following for this one.

This writer is like that guy who farts in a crowded room because he truly believes that it smells wonderful and everybody else should share in the awesome experience. Most people like that manage to grow out of it. Some don't.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps MM really stands for "Mental Midget." Or "Moronic Motherf***er." Or "Misguided Magpie." Or...

Mystery Man said...

Hehehe... "Misguided Magpie," I kinda like that one.

I thought the whole thing seemed rather obvious, considering the author, but perhaps not.

Let me ask another question - are you story lovers or do you blindly accept what certain people write based upon who they are? Even if the script is no better than piles of very similar rejected amateur attempts? I wrote earlier about how "Even Shakespeare Failed." Sometimes writers need to purge certain needs out of their system and there's nothing wrong with that. I wonder, if perhaps this writer needed to wag his middle finger at HW with this script just as Shakespeare needed to purge Marlowe and Kyd from his system with "Titus Andronicus." This may have been a good experience for the writer, but the story has no intrinsic value to the rest of us. The only reason we care about "Titus," is b/c Shakespeare wrote it... kinda like "Balls Out."


Anonymous said...

Holy Christ. I'm starting to think that The Mystery Man might have been born with his head up his ass. There is nothing about any aspect of art that is important enough for it to be taken seriously. People without much talent seem to spend a lot of time studying whatever it is they can't succeed in. They think that by knowing the rules of the game, that somehow makes up for the fact that they're not inspired and creative people. It's like the baseball fan who can tell you every player's stats but can't throw a ball.

Steve the Creep said...

I was really excited to read this script after the opening. Espeically after "FADE THE FUCK IN."

Unfortunately that was the most interesting part of the entire script. Reads like one of those horrible parodies that seem to show up every six months. Should have been titled 'Movie Movie.'

I think the joke that all the anonymous commentors are getting on your case for missing is the fact that this writer managed to get people to read what he crapped in a garbage can while reading the sports page.

Anonymous said...

Pathetic devotion to proper formatting doesn't mean shit outside of message boards, "how to" books, and third rate writing contests. This is Truth. Argue not with my Truth.



bob said...

it's hard to argue with an anonymous person...ya know?

Is it possible that the wrong people aren't getting the joke?

f. chong rutherford said...

Greatest notes ever.

Christian H. said...

Wow, the best thing still in these responses is the big tit.
I can't believe people from TS actually criticized him.
From what I've read he's helped a lot of you over there.

GameArs said...

Wow. That's about all I can say about the script. I am ashamed to say that what I read of it did make me laugh - it also make me feel like killing myself.

Anne Nonymouse said...

James said...

Bottom line is --

Look how many people have read it.

Look how many people watched George Bush land an airplane on a carrier.

Anonymous said...

You are right Mystery Man.
You got the right cinematic vision.
I like your view on this.

What I want to say is this script is a fluke that it was made.

History will never remember this
screenplay or movie.

It's a write off.

And good laugh at writers who think they understand stuffs.

In reality they have no clue.

Thanks Mysteryman for your honesty
and brilliance.

You got the vision. Keep it up.

right said...

(I see you Ben, you sneaky bastard.)

MM how often in your life do you feel like you're the only one in the room who doesn't get it?

They wrote the script to GET it produced. But everyone told them it couldn't happen, so they posted the script online. And they made it over the top as a protest against the elitist writing 'rules' that fill the soft screenwriting books you masturbate into.

SteveH said...

Look kids, there is no doubt that MM is a ridiculously talented writer. Have you ever read one of his scripts? I have. Damn good. So the implication from some “anonymous” poster that he is one of those who studies what he does not have the talent to actually do is absurd.

He’s also the best screenplay reviewer I've ever come across. If you know someone who can breakdown a script any better than he can, please give me their number.

That being said, MM does, in my opinion, concern himself too much with the supposed “rules” of screenwriting. That doesn’t diminish his efforts, talent or ability. That just means he’s an anal bastard. Probably one of those guys who actually hangs up his clothes in the closet thingy.

So his reaction to this testicle script shouldn’t really surprise anyone. Of course he’s going to comment on something like “FADE THE FUCK IN”. Or the fact that the screenplay contains more unfilmables than actual filmables. The man looks at a screenplay as a blueprint for a film. Not something to entertain readers on a lonely Sunday night while they wait for the latest episode of Entourage to air.

Yeah, MM’s butt cheeks are squeezed so tight he can’t fart while in a standing position. But he takes this craft seriously. The writers of Balls Out obviously don’t.

Anonymous said...

"Craft" is a pretentious word used by people who take shit too seriously or by those who defend people who take shit too seriously. Remember how Mozart laughed at Salieri when he took all this art shit seriously. Every art form has rules that eventually get broken and stuffed up the asses of all those that came before.

Anonymous said...

I found this screenplay greatly entertaining. I greatly respect MM, his blog posts, and his reviews. One of the best TriggerStreet reviewers of all time.

He knows his shit, but yes, I think he does take formatting a little too seriously. Did that take me out of this script? Yes, at times. But I found some of it hilarious. This:


I thought that was hilarious. In my opinion, it directly lampoons the amateur screenwriting which will use such terminology as "CLOSE ON A POT OF WATER." But, in this case, the writer is self conscious that there is no good reason for it. That's why reading this screenplay was hilarious, but ultimately, I don't know if it could ever be a movie.

It was hilarious but only in its genius attempts to lampoon amateur screenwriting. I think the Robotard certainly has a massive amount of potential to write a great script, though.

bob said...

why does every anonymous poster who has a beef with MM's review either talk about leaving a load of sperm on something or shoving something up your ass? What was it that Freud said about these kinds of fixation. It would be totally cool to see someone present a cogent disagreement in something more than 7th grade scat humor.

Anonymous said...



BALLS OUT aspires to top the SOUTH PARK MOVIE as the funniest vulgar and vile movie ever!

BUT it needs a bit more focus to reach the following depravity of SOUTH PARK:


You're such a pigfucker, Phillip!

What?! Why would you call me a pigfucker?!

Well, let's see... First of all, you fuck pigs.

Oh, yeah.

Terrance and Phillip laugh merrily.

The dialogue is amped up a bit in the movie itself. The boys don't laugh merrily, they laugh like HYENAS on CRYSTAL METH! BUT it's the cricumstances of the dialogue make it truly TARDORIFFIC.

The TARD must also admire the TOTALLY AWESOME...

Cal: Oh, man, I had a weekend.
Andy Stitzer: Yeah?
Cal: We went to Tijuana, Mexico, you know? And we thought it would be fun, you know, to go to a show. Everybody says you gotta check out one of these shows. And... it's a woman fuckin' a horse. We get there and we think it's gonna be awesome and... it is not as cool as it sounds like it's gonna be. It's kinda gross.
Andy Stitzer: Yeah.
Cal: You think "A woman fuckin' a horse" and you get there and... it's a woman fucking a horse.
Andy Stitzer: Yeah.
Cal: It was really giving it to her. And you know what? To be honest I just felt bad for her, we all just felt bad for her.
Andy Stitzer: Yeah.
Cal: I kinda felt bad for the horse!

IN FORTY YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, there's no circumstance for this PROFOUNDLY SICK JOKE (you know, kinda, kinda...), save that it is disturbingly real-life male office humor. How many women tell MAN HORSE SEX jokes when the men are not listening? How many of you girls know about ERROL FLYNN? TARD does a bit better in BALLS OUT, because THE MACHINE SETS UP EVERY JOKE.

In fact, FADE THE FUCK IN sets up the MOOD efficiently.


Point of fact, CRAPPING is a good way to start a NOVEL, but NOT a MOVIE.

For instance, PAUL AUSTER starts his NEW YORK STORIES with his protagonist (named Paul Auster) taking a crap, ruminating upon the really bad shit that happened in his life and then more shit happens. That was OKAY. That was a parody of FLAUBERT.

In contrast, at the beginning of MONTY PYTHON'S MEANING OF LIFE, there's this really gross birth scene that leads into the EVERY SPERM IS SACRED song. TOO GROSS! I need a bit of a build-up before I'm ready to SEE that. I nearly BARFED! FARTS at the beginning of a movie are OKAY, they're little attention getters, but BLOODY AFTERBIRTH, or SHIT IN A CAN, five minutes in? YUCKO! BLECH! That's why MEANING OF LIFE is not as good as LIFE OF BRIAN.

BUT it's NOT the CONTENT, it's the TIMING!

Later on in THAT MOVIE, the MR. CREOSOTE SKIT is THE FUNNIEST GROSS SCENE EVER! IT'S UNTOPPABLE, TARD, YOU MUST KNOW THAT! If it had come at the beginning, it would have not been funny.

BUT enough of TOILET HUMOR, for in fact, TARD is actually SOPHISTITARD! THE TOM CRUISE MONTAGE is like the mindfuck at the end of PHILIP K. DICK's VALIS. To think that up on soul-killing FINAL DRAFT, Jeez, that's the way FRENCH CRITICS watch movies on VOUS TUBE.

On a personal note, YODA-CANTALOUP-FUCKING channels my playing LIMP BISCUIT with my BUDDIES while watching STAR WARS seven times in the theater in 1977.

Pure Nostalgia.


The Robotard 8000 said...

Differences of opinion aside, thanks MM for reviewing our script.

The end result is that more people are reading it and offering an opinion.

We linked to your review on our site so that you might enjoy a similar benefit.

So we're all winners here.


Anonymous said...

"One of the best TriggerStreet reviewers of all time."

Well, that pretty much says it all. It's like being the best sprinter in a nursing home.

bob said...

Now that's much better! No pee-pee jokes...

Now if we could only find out who the brave man behind the green curtain is, it would be that much more impressive.

FWIW- MM is not one of the best reviewers on TS, he's one of the best reviewers period.

Anonymous said...


You want a better reviewer than MM??? Try Scott the Reader.

It Doesn't Fucking Matter, Now, Does It?

Ted's Anonymous Douchbag Emporium said...

Hey, Bobby Boy,

For somebody who gives shit to those of us who choose to withhold our names -- IT'S THE FUCKING INTERNET, NEARLY EVERYBODY IS ANONYMOUS -- you come across as a hypocritical douche when the link provided on your "name" goes to a "Profile Not Available" page.

And let's clear the air a bit: Isn't Mystery Man anonymous? While, he/she has this blog, how are his/her opinions any more valid than those of us who couldn't care less about providing our real names?

While Mystery Man may be the fastest, strongest, and least Mongoloid-like retard at the Special Olympics (aka the best reviewer at Triggerstreet), he/she was a weeeeeee bit off the mark on this one. BALLS OUT was written by PROFESSIONAL SCREENWRITERS that don't necessarily have to adhere to the "screenwriting rules" perpetrated mostly by The One, The Only, The Cancer In Every Newbie Scribe's Asshole: Dave Trottier (who is NOT a professional screenwriter, just in case you haven't noticed). Just because somebody writes a book with the word "Bible" in it doesn't necessarily make it fucking industry standard.

Yours Truly,
Ted Scheckler

bob said...

I have to do this everytime one of you losers goes on a poopy, pee-pee, douchebag rampage. Names bob thielke, google my guest.

The fact that you can't make any cogent argument without calling somebody a retard or a douchebag makes me wonder if your mom knows your on the internet with out her permission. You don't know what the hell you're talking about and I'll just leave it at that.

bob said...

Ted Scheckler? Big Opie and Anthony fan. Gee, never saw that one in my radar.

305Writer said...

The recommended reading was a nice touch. :)

Mongo said...

Hi, everyone!


The Robotard 8000 said...


I meant...



Anonymous said...

How can you seriously say that what is important is THE FILM, THE FINAL PRODUCT??

You should know, obviously, that most screenplays never get made, and the priority for any spec script is to ENTERTAIN THE READER.

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Joe Valdez said...

I haven't visited Mystery Man of Film in several months -- I'm sorry to report -- so I'd never heard of Balls Out or Robotard. It took three paragraphs of your "script report" to get the feeling that both were terrific in-jokes.

In the great adventure of learning all these "rules" and hustling to get material read or land an agent and taking ourselves so seriously in the process, you reminded me how important a sense of humor is to a writer.

Thanks, MM! I'll be following you at your new location.

Anonymous said...

Kurosawa masterpieces? Studying Shakespeare? Secondary Master Headings? Dude,'ll never get Robotard's humor. Just close the door to your immaculately clean bedroom in your mom's house and keep obsessing about secondary headings and ALL CAPS while THOUSANDS of industry professionals in Hollywood read BALLS OUT and The Robotard's new TV pilot that just got posted called ASSHOLE NINJA, which is HI-larious ( I'll never return to this lame ass blog. Exit stage fucking left.

Anonymous said...

You only succeeding in predisposing me to loving the script before even reading it. Pretentious fuck.

Anonymous said...

Nothing says innovation like an "An Officer and a Gentleman" parody to close out your film!

Mongo said...

Consider the ending in relationship to the whole and I think you might find a greater level of satisfaction in it.

Anonymous said...

Dude -- page 10 and I'm howling. Why? Because this kid has some personality! If I were reading scripts all day (I have) and I was stuck in some lame office on the 21st floor of HELL (I was) and I was bored out of my mind reading ANOTHER story about baby woolly mammoths or time travel machines or 100 screenplays about personal growth (sorry if those were yours) then I would have been humping the air with joy after page two for the simple reason that BALLS has BALLS. It's not perfect but it's a freaking riot. Hey, maybe I'll hate it by 60 but I'm not ready to gouge out my eyeballs with a rusty brad just quite yet and that has to mean something.

Havza said...

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Mongo said...


We worked hard on it.

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