Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Today's Review

Let us now speak firmly about erections

The first time I laughed out loud reading this very charming piece of screenwriting was in an airport waiting for my flight while reading about Bob being in custody at his airport because of his prescription-less viagra bottle and the TSA Official who (in order to verify if these pills were, indeed, viagra) took Bob into a room, made him take a pill, popped in a porno, and told him, "Sir, at this time, I'm going to ask you to direct your attention to the TV monitor." I don't know why but that joke really hit me and made me laugh out loud. I got some looks. (I always get looks, but this time, it was more so than usual.)

Then I thought, "wait a minute," and that joke hasn't stopped bothering me ever since. I have a number of thoughts about this sequence, so just bear with me. First, I think the viagra could've been setup better. The idea really came prematurely (no pun intended). I may have missed something, but there didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for his friends to give him viagra before his trip. You could set that up with an earlier scene where (perhaps with "Bob's Date"), we had the beginnings of passion but he couldn't perform simply because he wasn't attracted to her or he's turned off because it's obvious that she's attracted to his money. Or something. He tells the guys, and they "poke" fun at his inability to perform. Thus, we have the viagra bottle given to Bob as a gift at the airport. That makes more sense to me. On the other hand, it didn't make ANY sense that the TSA Official would make Bob watch a porno. A porno would naturally give a man an erection, would it not? So how would watching a porno prove that the pills in the bottle really were viagra? This scene would be WAY funnier if they just sat in this room and... did nothing. And these officials just stared at his crotch. And took notes. And there's all this tension in the room. Bob tries to cross his legs to get more comfortable and they yell, "Keep your legs spread!" Sweat forms on his forehead. He sees confiscated "Why We Fight" videotapes lying around and he asks to watch a porno. An officials shakes his head. He starts mumbling to himself names of porno stars to help things along. An official tells him that he can't visualize sex or women and then rambles on about dead dogs and gory murder scenes. Perhaps Bowie's "Under Pressure" is playing in the background. Suddenly, there's A SLIGHT movement in his nether regions and everybody JUMPS. A look of relief on Bob. And then, slowly but surely, an erection rises up in his pants, which clears him of everything, and he's allowed to leave. And then they think he's crazy because he actually got it up under those circumstances. Bob tries to retain his dignity and walks out.

I'm also a believer in the idea that it's better to incorporate motifs with props like the viagra bottle so that it feels essential to the story and not simply thrown in one scene just to get laughs. So that, say, for whatever crazy reason, one of Bob's friends agrees to sleep with a really scary girl in order to accomplish something important to the story, and thus, he actually NEEDS the viagra. Or perhaps Marty finds the bottle and that is why the RV was rockin'. And thus, the viagra saves their marriage (because those classes sucked the sex drive right out of him). And while I appreciated the fact that the Old Man sang about viagra, it might have been better if, say, Bob (or Marty) sees him and throws the bottle at him as a gift and the Old Man sings "Halleluiah." Or something like that.

Click here for the full review.


Unknown said...

thanks for the review Mystery!

Mickey Lee said...

"Well, I did feel a bit stiff for a while, but it eventually passed."

BWHAHAHAHA, I'm going to assume this was Muhlfelder's contribution, because it's a line from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." I love stuff like that, it makes the fan boy in me smile.

Sounds like you have a good story on your hands, boys. Can't wait to read it.

Anonymous said...

>>I'm going to assume this was Muhlfelder's contribution, because it's a line from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." <<

Mickey Lee, I knew I could count on you to pick up on that. Bless you, my son.

Unknown said...

That one flew right by me. My original line was "It had it's ups and downs"

Mim said...

Oh goody. Erection discussions. We have a hardness testing station at work. I fantasize all day about using it.

The review cracked me up. I can hardly wait to read the screenplay.

Anonymous said...

I'm just sorry Members Only clothing is no longer in fashion.

Unknown said...

HA! The suggested scene that you wrote in the review gave both me and my nephew a huge laugh! I could visualiize it sooooo clearly!

*stupid typos*

Mim said...

"I'm also a believer in the idea that it's better to incorporate motifs with props like the viagra bottle so that it feels essential to the story and not simply thrown in one scene just to get laughs."

I agree. Comedy should be organic to the story. I'll take it one step further and say any good comedy film should incorporate different types of comedy.

There is comedy based on dialogue, such as puns, double entendres, and non sequiters. There is physical comedy, such as pratfalls and revealing hidden items.

There is intellectual comedy and lowbrow comedy, such as fart jokes.

All of this comedy should be organically linked to the story, and emerge naturally from the story.

BTW, Bob, I'm not saying you don't do this. I haven't read your latest masterpiece. I'm just making a general comment.

You can't rely on one kind of comedy to write a funny story. You have to include several different kinds, to pace the humor.

Unknown said...

hey Mim- Totally agree with you about balancing the humor. Otherwise you have a one-trick pony. For your consideration. Czechmate has lines from Kafka, poopy jokes, Jesus being thrown through a window, and a tolstoy joke.

Mim said...

Jesus being thrown through a window works as three kinds of humor, I think: physical, intellectual, and religious.

Or would you classify religious as a sub-group of intellectual?

Unknown said...

plus it counts as irony and satire I believe...

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, too, Mim with regard to mixing up the humor. However, I don't totally buy the argument that all gags have to be organic. Basically, I think there are two kinds of gags: running and throwaway. Running gags should come out of the characters and their situations. They should relate to and advance the story. Throwaways are more like sleight of hand. It throws a momentary diversion into the situation, or temporarily upsets the flow of events in the story for comic effect. The danger with trying too hard to make a throwaway an integral part of the story is that you risk losing focus for the sake of a gag (or series of gags). It's a real balancing act.

Mim said...

Oh duh! I forgot that part. I call them stand-alone jokes. They have to be there so you can retell those parts of the movie and get a laugh while reliving the whole experience.

Mystery Man said...

I'm so sorry that I've been away for a couple of days. I loved the story, and at the risk of sounding wishy-washy, I don't feel any of my suggestions are absolutely essential. I just throw them out there, because it's better to talk and throw things out there than to say nothing at all.

I first tried to write a review in honor of David Muhlfelder - 200 words or less. Yeah, that wasn't happening.


I loved it guys. Keep at it.


Mystery Man said...

While we're on the subject of props and motifs, these examples come to mind:

Barton Fink - all the little props in Barton's hotel room like the typewriter, pad and pencil, and postcard all reappear later.

Bound - the garden clippers reappear a number of times and get used in a variety of ways. It's used for good and evil.

And there was the motif with cars in Harold and Maude. Harold's fascination with death is represented by his homemade "hearse" out of a Jaguar. Maude also had a redefined vehicle, and in the end, Harold's liberation from his obsession with death is symbolized with him sending his homemade "hearse" over a cliff.