Screenplay Review - The Leonardo Job

There hasn't been a good art heist screenplay in over a decade. Does The Fugitive screenwriter finally crack the code?


Genre: Action/Adventure/Heist
Premise: A pair of rival art thieves must team up to steal a Leonardo da Vinci painting that nobody knows exists.
About: This is a spec script written by David Twohy. Twohy is probably best known by today’s moviegoers as the writer of Pitch Black. But his most well-known work is, obviously, The Fugitive. Right now, Twohy is currently filming the new Riddick movie with Vin Diesel. If they’re filming the same script that I read, that one will go back to Pitch Black’s roots, keeping things simple (Riddick stalking a group of men on an isolated planet).
Writer: David Twohy
Details: 117 pages – April 16, 2011 draft (This is an early draft of the script. The situations, characters, and plot may change significantly by the time the film is released. This is not a definitive statement about the project, but rather an analysis of this unique draft as it pertains to the craft of screenwriting).


I kind of love David Twohy. How can I not. He wrote The Fugitive, the best thriller ever. He also penned one of the great sci-fi screenplays of all time with “Pitch Black.” Not only did it have one of the coolest central characters you've ever seen in a sci-fi film, but talk about a midpoint shift! An entire planet turning dark and billions of aliens shooting out of the planet's core to feed on anything they can find!

Where I'm still smarting, however, is in Twohy’s last effort, The Perfect Getaway. That movie was awesome for about 90 minutes. And then……well, and then…the ending happened. The “big twist.” And oh boy was it not good. It was everything you don't want your twist to be. Manufactured. Forced. Nonsensical. So while my love for Twohy still remains, I still haven’t gotten over that flick.

But I have good news. Twohy is back! And if The Leonardo Job turns out anything like the script, it’s going to be great.

Steve Styles is a gadget heister. He's the kind of guy who will build a $50,000 mechanical dragonfly to scout out the room that houses the painting he's about to steal. And that's exactly how this movie begins, with Styles deftly using a number of gadgets to get into a museum and steal a 3 million dollar painting.

But as he’s speeding away in a getaway car, he's unaware that a man on a sled is secretly breaking into his trunk, stealing the very painting he just stole…AT 65 MILES PER HOUR. When Styles figures this out, he knows exactly who’s responsible: Kofax.

Kofax is much older than Styles and doesn't believe in gadgetry. He believes in good old-fashioned hard work. And this is just one of the many differences between these two rivals – art thieves who hate each other with every bone in their body.

After Kofax steals from the stealer, he learns of a big deal going down in Europe and so he flies there, where he eventually meets Gina, a woman who claims to know about a secret 23rd painting from Leonardo da Vinci. But this isn't any ordinary painting. It's a fresco. That means it's the size of a giant wall. It's also hidden behind another wall in a museum due to a misguided construction choice 500 hundreds years ago.

Kofax thinks the job is impossible (how do you even get behind a wall in an active museum?) and isn't convinced that the painting exists anyway. So he’s out. Enter Styles, who's eager to take on the challenge. But once Kofax realizes Styles is on, he wants back on too, and Gina’s solution is to have them work together.

Of course, since this is a Twohy script, there are lots of twists and turns along the way, and just when you think you know what's going on, you realize you don't. There is plenty of jockeying to figure out who here is telling the truth, who’s lying, who you can trust, who you can't. In the end, someone’s going to end up with this painting – if it indeed exists. The question is…who?

Let's start off with the obvious. This script is expertly written. This is what a script looks like from a seasoned professional who’s mastered his craft. Let me give you an example.

The movie starts out with an art heist. It's a reasonably simplistic scene that we've seen many times before. It's well written but nothing special. Yet here’s the difference. Most amateurs would stop there. They’ve written their opening heist scene. They’re done.

What makes Twohy different is that he’s not done. As Styles races away, we cut to somebody on a sled, picking the lock of the trunk. This surgeon of a man is about to lift the painting this guy just lifted. Now THAT’S something I’ve never seen before. In other words, the writer pushes himself to do something different – to do something fresh.

The next awesome choice Twohy makes is in the construction of the heist itself. Whenever you create a heist scenario, it's imperative that you make the heist look impossible. If it doesn’t look impossible, then we’ll have no doubt our hero can pull it off. And if there’s no doubt, there’s no movie. The doubt is what creates the drama! So the more of it you can produce, the more exciting your movie will be.

Thirdly, Twohy creates a ton of conflict between the two main characters. No, we're not talking Chris Tucker/Jackie Chan conflict here. Styles and Kofax have tons of history together and absolutely despise one another. They've stolen paintings from each other worth millions of dollars. So we have a real conflict and a real distrust between the two. That makes every scene between them fun.

On the flip side, there were a few things I didn’t like. One thing that always bothers me is when a writer starts the movie off with one character, then switches over to another character, who becomes our hero. The reason I don’t like that is because, mentally, I’m always waiting for that first character to come back and lead the story. He was introduced first, so naturally I assumed he was the hero.

So I kept waiting for Styles to reemerge, until, after 25 pages, I realized Kofax was the protagonist. Complicating this is that Kofax is introduced as the bad guy. He's the one who stole the painting from the guy we liked. It would be like in Raiders, if after Belloq stole the idol Indy just secured from the cave, that we followed Belloq for the next half hour. Do we really want to follow him? Or do we want to follow the guy who stole the idol in the first place?

I admire that Twohy likes to explore the antihero (as he did with Riddick), but it threw me off guard as I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to be rooting for for the first 40 minutes.

Twohy also makes the questionable decision to bring in our villain late. I don’t think he shows up until page 75. This is something I tell writers to avoid if at all possible. Not only does the audience need someone to root against in these kinds of films, but it's really hard to build up an entire bad guy with just 45 pages left in a screenplay. So I wish Twohy would've found a way to get him in earlier.

Still, Twohy is such a great screenwriter that even with these unconventional choices, he finds a way to make it work. And like I always say, you have to do something differently in your script or else it feels cookie-cutter, which can sometimes be worse than writing a straight up bad script. So in the end, this is definitely a script worth celebrating.

[ ] What the HELL did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[xx] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: To spice up a predictable scene, add a ticking time bomb. There's a nifty little scene early in the movie where Styles is chasing Kofax after Kofax stole the painting Styles stole. Styles, in order to catch him, calls the On-star people on a fake police line, telling them that Kofax’s car is stolen. The Onstar people remotely turn Kofax’s car off, inadvertently stopping it in the middle of some train tracks. This allows Styles to confront Kofax, while in the distance, a train approaches. With the painting tucked into the trunk, neither of them will leave until it’s safely secured. – Notice how the ticking time bomb here adds tension to the scene. If Styles had simply run Kofax off the road, hopped out, and demanded the painting, there’s no “ticking time bomb,” there’s no reason to take care of things immediately. It might’ve been an okay scene. But it wouldn’t have been nearly the scene that’s in the script now. So add a ticking time bomb to your scenes to bring them alive (you’ll notice that we had a similar scene in The Fugitive – with Richard Kimble trying to get out of the bus before the train hit).

Screenplay Review - The Leonardo Job

There hasn't been a good art heist screenplay in over a decade. Does The Fugitive screenwriter finally crack the code?


Genre: Action/Adventure/Heist
Premise: A pair of rival art thieves must team up to steal a Leonardo da Vinci painting that nobody knows exists.
About: This is a spec script written by David Twohy. Twohy is probably best known by today’s moviegoers as the writer of Pitch Black. But his most well-known work is, obviously, The Fugitive. Right now, Twohy is currently filming the new Riddick movie with Vin Diesel. If they’re filming the same script that I read, that one will go back to Pitch Black’s roots, keeping things simple (Riddick stalking a group of men on an isolated planet).
Writer: David Twohy
Details: 117 pages – April 16, 2011 draft (This is an early draft of the script. The situations, characters, and plot may change significantly by the time the film is released. This is not a definitive statement about the project, but rather an analysis of this unique draft as it pertains to the craft of screenwriting).


I kind of love David Twohy. How can I not. He wrote The Fugitive, the best thriller ever. He also penned one of the great sci-fi screenplays of all time with “Pitch Black.” Not only did it have one of the coolest central characters you've ever seen in a sci-fi film, but talk about a midpoint shift! An entire planet turning dark and billions of aliens shooting out of the planet's core to feed on anything they can find!

Where I'm still smarting, however, is in Twohy’s last effort, The Perfect Getaway. That movie was awesome for about 90 minutes. And then……well, and then…the ending happened. The “big twist.” And oh boy was it not good. It was everything you don't want your twist to be. Manufactured. Forced. Nonsensical. So while my love for Twohy still remains, I still haven’t gotten over that flick.

But I have good news. Twohy is back! And if The Leonardo Job turns out anything like the script, it’s going to be great.

Steve Styles is a gadget heister. He's the kind of guy who will build a $50,000 mechanical dragonfly to scout out the room that houses the painting he's about to steal. And that's exactly how this movie begins, with Styles deftly using a number of gadgets to get into a museum and steal a 3 million dollar painting.

But as he’s speeding away in a getaway car, he's unaware that a man on a sled is secretly breaking into his trunk, stealing the very painting he just stole…AT 65 MILES PER HOUR. When Styles figures this out, he knows exactly who’s responsible: Kofax.

Kofax is much older than Styles and doesn't believe in gadgetry. He believes in good old-fashioned hard work. And this is just one of the many differences between these two rivals – art thieves who hate each other with every bone in their body.

After Kofax steals from the stealer, he learns of a big deal going down in Europe and so he flies there, where he eventually meets Gina, a woman who claims to know about a secret 23rd painting from Leonardo da Vinci. But this isn't any ordinary painting. It's a fresco. That means it's the size of a giant wall. It's also hidden behind another wall in a museum due to a misguided construction choice 500 hundreds years ago.

Kofax thinks the job is impossible (how do you even get behind a wall in an active museum?) and isn't convinced that the painting exists anyway. So he’s out. Enter Styles, who's eager to take on the challenge. But once Kofax realizes Styles is on, he wants back on too, and Gina’s solution is to have them work together.

Of course, since this is a Twohy script, there are lots of twists and turns along the way, and just when you think you know what's going on, you realize you don't. There is plenty of jockeying to figure out who here is telling the truth, who’s lying, who you can trust, who you can't. In the end, someone’s going to end up with this painting – if it indeed exists. The question is…who?

Let's start off with the obvious. This script is expertly written. This is what a script looks like from a seasoned professional who’s mastered his craft. Let me give you an example.

The movie starts out with an art heist. It's a reasonably simplistic scene that we've seen many times before. It's well written but nothing special. Yet here’s the difference. Most amateurs would stop there. They’ve written their opening heist scene. They’re done.

What makes Twohy different is that he’s not done. As Styles races away, we cut to somebody on a sled, picking the lock of the trunk. This surgeon of a man is about to lift the painting this guy just lifted. Now THAT’S something I’ve never seen before. In other words, the writer pushes himself to do something different – to do something fresh.

The next awesome choice Twohy makes is in the construction of the heist itself. Whenever you create a heist scenario, it's imperative that you make the heist look impossible. If it doesn’t look impossible, then we’ll have no doubt our hero can pull it off. And if there’s no doubt, there’s no movie. The doubt is what creates the drama! So the more of it you can produce, the more exciting your movie will be.

Thirdly, Twohy creates a ton of conflict between the two main characters. No, we're not talking Chris Tucker/Jackie Chan conflict here. Styles and Kofax have tons of history together and absolutely despise one another. They've stolen paintings from each other worth millions of dollars. So we have a real conflict and a real distrust between the two. That makes every scene between them fun.

On the flip side, there were a few things I didn’t like. One thing that always bothers me is when a writer starts the movie off with one character, then switches over to another character, who becomes our hero. The reason I don’t like that is because, mentally, I’m always waiting for that first character to come back and lead the story. He was introduced first, so naturally I assumed he was the hero.

So I kept waiting for Styles to reemerge, until, after 25 pages, I realized Kofax was the protagonist. Complicating this is that Kofax is introduced as the bad guy. He's the one who stole the painting from the guy we liked. It would be like in Raiders, if after Belloq stole the idol Indy just secured from the cave, that we followed Belloq for the next half hour. Do we really want to follow him? Or do we want to follow the guy who stole the idol in the first place?

I admire that Twohy likes to explore the antihero (as he did with Riddick), but it threw me off guard as I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to be rooting for for the first 40 minutes.

Twohy also makes the questionable decision to bring in our villain late. I don’t think he shows up until page 75. This is something I tell writers to avoid if at all possible. Not only does the audience need someone to root against in these kinds of films, but it's really hard to build up an entire bad guy with just 45 pages left in a screenplay. So I wish Twohy would've found a way to get him in earlier.

Still, Twohy is such a great screenwriter that even with these unconventional choices, he finds a way to make it work. And like I always say, you have to do something differently in your script or else it feels cookie-cutter, which can sometimes be worse than writing a straight up bad script. So in the end, this is definitely a script worth celebrating.

[ ] What the HELL did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[xx] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: To spice up a predictable scene, add a ticking time bomb. There's a nifty little scene early in the movie where Styles is chasing Kofax after Kofax stole the painting Styles stole. Styles, in order to catch him, calls the On-star people on a fake police line, telling them that Kofax’s car is stolen. The Onstar people remotely turn Kofax’s car off, inadvertently stopping it in the middle of some train tracks. This allows Styles to confront Kofax, while in the distance, a train approaches. With the painting tucked into the trunk, neither of them will leave until it’s safely secured. – Notice how the ticking time bomb here adds tension to the scene. If Styles had simply run Kofax off the road, hopped out, and demanded the painting, there’s no “ticking time bomb,” there’s no reason to take care of things immediately. It might’ve been an okay scene. But it wouldn’t have been nearly the scene that’s in the script now. So add a ticking time bomb to your scenes to bring them alive (you’ll notice that we had a similar scene in The Fugitive – with Richard Kimble trying to get out of the bus before the train hit).

Screenplay Review - The Leonardo Job

There hasn't been a good art heist screenplay in over a decade. Does The Fugitive screenwriter finally crack the code?


Genre: Action/Adventure/Heist
Premise: A pair of rival art thieves must team up to steal a Leonardo da Vinci painting that nobody knows exists.
About: This is a spec script written by David Twohy. Twohy is probably best known by today’s moviegoers as the writer of Pitch Black. But his most well-known work is, obviously, The Fugitive. Right now, Twohy is currently filming the new Riddick movie with Vin Diesel. If they’re filming the same script that I read, that one will go back to Pitch Black’s roots, keeping things simple (Riddick stalking a group of men on an isolated planet).
Writer: David Twohy
Details: 117 pages – April 16, 2011 draft (This is an early draft of the script. The situations, characters, and plot may change significantly by the time the film is released. This is not a definitive statement about the project, but rather an analysis of this unique draft as it pertains to the craft of screenwriting).


I kind of love David Twohy. How can I not. He wrote The Fugitive, the best thriller ever. He also penned one of the great sci-fi screenplays of all time with “Pitch Black.” Not only did it have one of the coolest central characters you've ever seen in a sci-fi film, but talk about a midpoint shift! An entire planet turning dark and billions of aliens shooting out of the planet's core to feed on anything they can find!

Where I'm still smarting, however, is in Twohy’s last effort, The Perfect Getaway. That movie was awesome for about 90 minutes. And then……well, and then…the ending happened. The “big twist.” And oh boy was it not good. It was everything you don't want your twist to be. Manufactured. Forced. Nonsensical. So while my love for Twohy still remains, I still haven’t gotten over that flick.

But I have good news. Twohy is back! And if The Leonardo Job turns out anything like the script, it’s going to be great.

Steve Styles is a gadget heister. He's the kind of guy who will build a $50,000 mechanical dragonfly to scout out the room that houses the painting he's about to steal. And that's exactly how this movie begins, with Styles deftly using a number of gadgets to get into a museum and steal a 3 million dollar painting.

But as he’s speeding away in a getaway car, he's unaware that a man on a sled is secretly breaking into his trunk, stealing the very painting he just stole…AT 65 MILES PER HOUR. When Styles figures this out, he knows exactly who’s responsible: Kofax.

Kofax is much older than Styles and doesn't believe in gadgetry. He believes in good old-fashioned hard work. And this is just one of the many differences between these two rivals – art thieves who hate each other with every bone in their body.

After Kofax steals from the stealer, he learns of a big deal going down in Europe and so he flies there, where he eventually meets Gina, a woman who claims to know about a secret 23rd painting from Leonardo da Vinci. But this isn't any ordinary painting. It's a fresco. That means it's the size of a giant wall. It's also hidden behind another wall in a museum due to a misguided construction choice 500 hundreds years ago.

Kofax thinks the job is impossible (how do you even get behind a wall in an active museum?) and isn't convinced that the painting exists anyway. So he’s out. Enter Styles, who's eager to take on the challenge. But once Kofax realizes Styles is on, he wants back on too, and Gina’s solution is to have them work together.

Of course, since this is a Twohy script, there are lots of twists and turns along the way, and just when you think you know what's going on, you realize you don't. There is plenty of jockeying to figure out who here is telling the truth, who’s lying, who you can trust, who you can't. In the end, someone’s going to end up with this painting – if it indeed exists. The question is…who?

Let's start off with the obvious. This script is expertly written. This is what a script looks like from a seasoned professional who’s mastered his craft. Let me give you an example.

The movie starts out with an art heist. It's a reasonably simplistic scene that we've seen many times before. It's well written but nothing special. Yet here’s the difference. Most amateurs would stop there. They’ve written their opening heist scene. They’re done.

What makes Twohy different is that he’s not done. As Styles races away, we cut to somebody on a sled, picking the lock of the trunk. This surgeon of a man is about to lift the painting this guy just lifted. Now THAT’S something I’ve never seen before. In other words, the writer pushes himself to do something different – to do something fresh.

The next awesome choice Twohy makes is in the construction of the heist itself. Whenever you create a heist scenario, it's imperative that you make the heist look impossible. If it doesn’t look impossible, then we’ll have no doubt our hero can pull it off. And if there’s no doubt, there’s no movie. The doubt is what creates the drama! So the more of it you can produce, the more exciting your movie will be.

Thirdly, Twohy creates a ton of conflict between the two main characters. No, we're not talking Chris Tucker/Jackie Chan conflict here. Styles and Kofax have tons of history together and absolutely despise one another. They've stolen paintings from each other worth millions of dollars. So we have a real conflict and a real distrust between the two. That makes every scene between them fun.

On the flip side, there were a few things I didn’t like. One thing that always bothers me is when a writer starts the movie off with one character, then switches over to another character, who becomes our hero. The reason I don’t like that is because, mentally, I’m always waiting for that first character to come back and lead the story. He was introduced first, so naturally I assumed he was the hero.

So I kept waiting for Styles to reemerge, until, after 25 pages, I realized Kofax was the protagonist. Complicating this is that Kofax is introduced as the bad guy. He's the one who stole the painting from the guy we liked. It would be like in Raiders, if after Belloq stole the idol Indy just secured from the cave, that we followed Belloq for the next half hour. Do we really want to follow him? Or do we want to follow the guy who stole the idol in the first place?

I admire that Twohy likes to explore the antihero (as he did with Riddick), but it threw me off guard as I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to be rooting for for the first 40 minutes.

Twohy also makes the questionable decision to bring in our villain late. I don’t think he shows up until page 75. This is something I tell writers to avoid if at all possible. Not only does the audience need someone to root against in these kinds of films, but it's really hard to build up an entire bad guy with just 45 pages left in a screenplay. So I wish Twohy would've found a way to get him in earlier.

Still, Twohy is such a great screenwriter that even with these unconventional choices, he finds a way to make it work. And like I always say, you have to do something differently in your script or else it feels cookie-cutter, which can sometimes be worse than writing a straight up bad script. So in the end, this is definitely a script worth celebrating.

[ ] What the HELL did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[xx] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: To spice up a predictable scene, add a ticking time bomb. There's a nifty little scene early in the movie where Styles is chasing Kofax after Kofax stole the painting Styles stole. Styles, in order to catch him, calls the On-star people on a fake police line, telling them that Kofax’s car is stolen. The Onstar people remotely turn Kofax’s car off, inadvertently stopping it in the middle of some train tracks. This allows Styles to confront Kofax, while in the distance, a train approaches. With the painting tucked into the trunk, neither of them will leave until it’s safely secured. – Notice how the ticking time bomb here adds tension to the scene. If Styles had simply run Kofax off the road, hopped out, and demanded the painting, there’s no “ticking time bomb,” there’s no reason to take care of things immediately. It might’ve been an okay scene. But it wouldn’t have been nearly the scene that’s in the script now. So add a ticking time bomb to your scenes to bring them alive (you’ll notice that we had a similar scene in The Fugitive – with Richard Kimble trying to get out of the bus before the train hit).

Screenplay Review - The Leonardo Job

There hasn't been a good art heist screenplay in over a decade. Does The Fugitive screenwriter finally crack the code?


Genre: Action/Adventure/Heist
Premise: A pair of rival art thieves must team up to steal a Leonardo da Vinci painting that nobody knows exists.
About: This is a spec script written by David Twohy. Twohy is probably best known by today’s moviegoers as the writer of Pitch Black. But his most well-known work is, obviously, The Fugitive. Right now, Twohy is currently filming the new Riddick movie with Vin Diesel. If they’re filming the same script that I read, that one will go back to Pitch Black’s roots, keeping things simple (Riddick stalking a group of men on an isolated planet).
Writer: David Twohy
Details: 117 pages – April 16, 2011 draft (This is an early draft of the script. The situations, characters, and plot may change significantly by the time the film is released. This is not a definitive statement about the project, but rather an analysis of this unique draft as it pertains to the craft of screenwriting).


I kind of love David Twohy. How can I not. He wrote The Fugitive, the best thriller ever. He also penned one of the great sci-fi screenplays of all time with “Pitch Black.” Not only did it have one of the coolest central characters you've ever seen in a sci-fi film, but talk about a midpoint shift! An entire planet turning dark and billions of aliens shooting out of the planet's core to feed on anything they can find!

Where I'm still smarting, however, is in Twohy’s last effort, The Perfect Getaway. That movie was awesome for about 90 minutes. And then……well, and then…the ending happened. The “big twist.” And oh boy was it not good. It was everything you don't want your twist to be. Manufactured. Forced. Nonsensical. So while my love for Twohy still remains, I still haven’t gotten over that flick.

But I have good news. Twohy is back! And if The Leonardo Job turns out anything like the script, it’s going to be great.

Steve Styles is a gadget heister. He's the kind of guy who will build a $50,000 mechanical dragonfly to scout out the room that houses the painting he's about to steal. And that's exactly how this movie begins, with Styles deftly using a number of gadgets to get into a museum and steal a 3 million dollar painting.

But as he’s speeding away in a getaway car, he's unaware that a man on a sled is secretly breaking into his trunk, stealing the very painting he just stole…AT 65 MILES PER HOUR. When Styles figures this out, he knows exactly who’s responsible: Kofax.

Kofax is much older than Styles and doesn't believe in gadgetry. He believes in good old-fashioned hard work. And this is just one of the many differences between these two rivals – art thieves who hate each other with every bone in their body.

After Kofax steals from the stealer, he learns of a big deal going down in Europe and so he flies there, where he eventually meets Gina, a woman who claims to know about a secret 23rd painting from Leonardo da Vinci. But this isn't any ordinary painting. It's a fresco. That means it's the size of a giant wall. It's also hidden behind another wall in a museum due to a misguided construction choice 500 hundreds years ago.

Kofax thinks the job is impossible (how do you even get behind a wall in an active museum?) and isn't convinced that the painting exists anyway. So he’s out. Enter Styles, who's eager to take on the challenge. But once Kofax realizes Styles is on, he wants back on too, and Gina’s solution is to have them work together.

Of course, since this is a Twohy script, there are lots of twists and turns along the way, and just when you think you know what's going on, you realize you don't. There is plenty of jockeying to figure out who here is telling the truth, who’s lying, who you can trust, who you can't. In the end, someone’s going to end up with this painting – if it indeed exists. The question is…who?

Let's start off with the obvious. This script is expertly written. This is what a script looks like from a seasoned professional who’s mastered his craft. Let me give you an example.

The movie starts out with an art heist. It's a reasonably simplistic scene that we've seen many times before. It's well written but nothing special. Yet here’s the difference. Most amateurs would stop there. They’ve written their opening heist scene. They’re done.

What makes Twohy different is that he’s not done. As Styles races away, we cut to somebody on a sled, picking the lock of the trunk. This surgeon of a man is about to lift the painting this guy just lifted. Now THAT’S something I’ve never seen before. In other words, the writer pushes himself to do something different – to do something fresh.

The next awesome choice Twohy makes is in the construction of the heist itself. Whenever you create a heist scenario, it's imperative that you make the heist look impossible. If it doesn’t look impossible, then we’ll have no doubt our hero can pull it off. And if there’s no doubt, there’s no movie. The doubt is what creates the drama! So the more of it you can produce, the more exciting your movie will be.

Thirdly, Twohy creates a ton of conflict between the two main characters. No, we're not talking Chris Tucker/Jackie Chan conflict here. Styles and Kofax have tons of history together and absolutely despise one another. They've stolen paintings from each other worth millions of dollars. So we have a real conflict and a real distrust between the two. That makes every scene between them fun.

On the flip side, there were a few things I didn’t like. One thing that always bothers me is when a writer starts the movie off with one character, then switches over to another character, who becomes our hero. The reason I don’t like that is because, mentally, I’m always waiting for that first character to come back and lead the story. He was introduced first, so naturally I assumed he was the hero.

So I kept waiting for Styles to reemerge, until, after 25 pages, I realized Kofax was the protagonist. Complicating this is that Kofax is introduced as the bad guy. He's the one who stole the painting from the guy we liked. It would be like in Raiders, if after Belloq stole the idol Indy just secured from the cave, that we followed Belloq for the next half hour. Do we really want to follow him? Or do we want to follow the guy who stole the idol in the first place?

I admire that Twohy likes to explore the antihero (as he did with Riddick), but it threw me off guard as I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to be rooting for for the first 40 minutes.

Twohy also makes the questionable decision to bring in our villain late. I don’t think he shows up until page 75. This is something I tell writers to avoid if at all possible. Not only does the audience need someone to root against in these kinds of films, but it's really hard to build up an entire bad guy with just 45 pages left in a screenplay. So I wish Twohy would've found a way to get him in earlier.

Still, Twohy is such a great screenwriter that even with these unconventional choices, he finds a way to make it work. And like I always say, you have to do something differently in your script or else it feels cookie-cutter, which can sometimes be worse than writing a straight up bad script. So in the end, this is definitely a script worth celebrating.

[ ] What the HELL did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[xx] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: To spice up a predictable scene, add a ticking time bomb. There's a nifty little scene early in the movie where Styles is chasing Kofax after Kofax stole the painting Styles stole. Styles, in order to catch him, calls the On-star people on a fake police line, telling them that Kofax’s car is stolen. The Onstar people remotely turn Kofax’s car off, inadvertently stopping it in the middle of some train tracks. This allows Styles to confront Kofax, while in the distance, a train approaches. With the painting tucked into the trunk, neither of them will leave until it’s safely secured. – Notice how the ticking time bomb here adds tension to the scene. If Styles had simply run Kofax off the road, hopped out, and demanded the painting, there’s no “ticking time bomb,” there’s no reason to take care of things immediately. It might’ve been an okay scene. But it wouldn’t have been nearly the scene that’s in the script now. So add a ticking time bomb to your scenes to bring them alive (you’ll notice that we had a similar scene in The Fugitive – with Richard Kimble trying to get out of the bus before the train hit).

A few formatting nuances

Jeff writes in with a couple questions:

Mr. Bitter Script Reader,

Please, "Mr. Bitter Script Reader" is my father.

You can call me "Doctor."

Let me start by stating how depressed I was to find you are not repped.

After a joke like the one above, are you still surprised?

If you don't have an agent, well, let's just say it doesn't make a poor amateur like myself feel better. Good goals though.

Is it distracting to the reader to incorporate different screenwriting styles or does it add to the style of the script?

I've been reading a ton of screenplays lately. A move I should have made before I even attempted to actually write one. I noticed how some writers use different tools to convey the same meaning.

Example: when stating the age of a character, some choose (21), while others go with the simple, 21.

I'm sure there's a Formatting Nazi who's even more rigid than I who will cringe at this, but I'm not sure it makes a great deal of difference. I've seen both, though the (21) format is FAR more prevalent in the pro scripts I read. Either one is preferable to not including the age at all, or saying "She's 45, but looks 30" which is a maddening description that leaves me wondering "So who am I supposed to imagine here, Sandra Bullock or Katie Holmes?"

He continues:
Another example: when transitioning, some simply end the sentence. Start a new logline. Others will give the ol' ... at the end ... then use a simple logline like "KITCHEN", bypassing the "INT" and "DAY".

Misha Green uses it a lot in Sunflower.

Goes into the ...

DINING ROOM

... where Eve is setting the table with plastic utensils.

What do you think? If I give character names or just transition from scene to scene using different techniques, is it too distracting, or is that what people write about when they write about style? I'd hate to think I have to stick with one way throughout the entire script.

Minor point: you're actually talking about sluglines not "loglines."
I tend to favor the full sluglines, and again I see that a lot more in the pro scripts.
I hesitate to bring up secondary sluglines because I've seen instances on other boards were doing so conjures up all sorts of raving madmen who have such raging hard-ons for secondary slugs that they drag you into a fight about style, to the point where just engaging them ends up escalating the debate to such a degree that YOU end up sounding like the crazy one.
Here's my personal rule of secondary slugs: use them only in cases of sub-locations within a larger set. Example:
INT. BALLROOM - NIGHT
The wealthy mingle and socialize, as JAMES VANDERMEER (30) makes his way to...
MAYOR SWANSON'S TABLE
He sits down, then looks across the room at...
SENATOR BIGOT's (pronounced Bee-Go) TABLE
Now, my feeling is that one room in a larger house doesn't count as a sub-heading. So I'd write INT. DINING ROOM, INT. KITCHEN, and so on.
At the end of the day, though, these are really, really minor nuances. Using the wrong font is a much bigger deal than alternating between either of the options you're asking about above.

Cliches I'm Tired of Seeing - Part Eight - Bets as a catalyst

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to get your story going. And I get it, if you know all the fun and games you want to have with your premise, it can be tedious to line up the dominoes to get to that result in a plausible way. So the lazy screenwriter opts to artificially motivate some implausible behavior with that tried and true method - the bet.

The terms could be anything from the hero having six weeks to turn a outcast girl into the prom queen (She's All That, brilliantly parodied in Not Another Teen Movie) or a ridiculously convoluted story where the male bets that he can get any girl to fall in love with him in ten days, only to be set up with a woman tasked with alienating a guy within ten days (How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days). It almost always feels contrived and artificial. If you find yourself using a bet to get the action going, please give serious thought to any other way to get your characters to interact.

One of the big problems I have with this is that it not only makes the set-up contrived, but in romantic comedies involving bets, it all but ensures that the turning point at the end of Act Two will find the object of the bet finding out about the terms of the wager. Thus, they'll feel used and lash out at the person who was using them. However, this won't happen until just after the film's protagonist has expressed either misgivings about collecting on the bet, or has affirmed that the experience has caused them to develop genuine feelings for the other person. Thus, even though the whole relationship is built on a lie, genuine feelings have resulted, thus creating emotional stakes for the protagonist when the other character predictably says "I never want to see you again."

Then the third act becomes all about the protagonist winning back their former mark, usually by appealing to some emotional tie that was established during a bonding moment between the two midway through the story.

I'm sure there's an argument to be made that such premises are high concept and easy to promote, but I feel the predictability of such a story is likely to work against the script. If by page ten I can already guess exactly where the story is going to go, it's going to be a boring read. Never forget the First Commandment of Screenwriting - "Thou shalt not bore the reader."

Screenplay Review - Jeff, Who Lives At Home

The screenwriting duo that is The Duplass Brothers follow up Cyrus with their new screenplay about fate.


Genre: Drama-Comedy-Indie
Premise: A thirty-something man who still lives at home unexpectedly bonds with his brother when the two try and find out if his brother’s wife is cheating on him.
About: “Jeff, Who Lives At Home,” is coming to theaters soon. It stars Jason Siegel, Ed Helms, and Susan Sarandon. The screenplay is written by writer-directors Mark and Jay Duplass. Their previous films include Cyrus, Baghead, and The Puffy Chair.
Writers: Mark and Jay Duplass
Details: 87 pages – June 1, 2009 Draft(This is an early draft of the script. The situations, characters, and plot may change significantly by the time the film is released. This is not a definitive statement about the project, but rather an analysis of this unique draft as it pertains to the craft of screenwriting).


Some people blame the Duplass Brothers for pioneering the horror that is Mumblecore. You know what I’m talking about. Those movies shot on video with available lighting and a handheld camera and characters who improvise. It's not that the movies are bad so much as they’re terrible. I mean, you’re not supposed to want to throw your TV out the window during a movie, right?

My problem with the Duplass Brothers is that they have a tendency to back away from the moments that define a movie. For example, in Cyrus, I kept waiting for something interesting to happen with Cyrus but it never did. Cyrus was only *sort of* psycho, so you always felt safe, like our hero was going to be okay in the end. And was that movie a comedy? I’m still not sure.

However, I’ll always give the brothers a shot for one reason: Baghead. Baghead was one of the weirder movies I've seen. It’s about these four people who head up to a cabin in the middle of the woods and start getting stalked by a man with a bag on his head (we’re unsure, of course, whether the stalker is one of them or someone else). It walks this unpredictable line between humor and horror that I’ve never seen baked up that way before. It's a film you should check out if you have the chance. But be prepared for something really different or you’ll leave disappointed.

That brings us to “Jeff, Who Lives At Home,” about a guy named Jeff (Jason Siegel) who, well, lives at home. While we’re not clear WHY Jeff lives at home, the implication is that some traumatizing event happened to him as a child which never allowed him to grow up.

When we meet Jeff, he’s sitting around, thinking about how the movie Signs is the best movie ever, mainly because it was about fate and how we all have a purpose. So Jeff starts thinking, what's his purpose? What signs are out there to guide him through his life?

Right at that moment, Jeff gets a call from someone asking for “Kevin.” There’s no one named Kevin who lives there, but Jeff thinks this is a sign, and rearranges the letters in the name “Kevin” to come up with “knive.” He then goes and checks the silverware drawer, grabs a knife, and finds the word "Delta” carved on the handle. Cut to Kevin in his closet where he finds a group of Delta Airlines playing cards. He throws them against the wall (no, I'm not kidding) and the only card that is face up is the ace of hearts. This is the end of the sequence.

Naturally, at this point, I was thinking about peeling the skin off my body with a potato peeler. But I forced myself to press on. Jeff then goes to pick up something for his mother but since he can't drive, he takes the bus. On the bus he spots an African-American kid about 18 years old who’s wearing a jacket with the name "Kevin" on his back.

So he follows him to a basketball pickup game and ends up somehow playing. It turns out Jeff’s really awesome at basketball (even though this has nothing to do with the story at all). Afterwards, he and Kevin become quick friends until Kevin robs him. Friendship over.

At this point I was getting so angry at the pointlessness of the story that I wanted to pillage my neighbor’s basement. But I soldiered on. Eventually, Jeff runs into his brother who he has an even worse relationship with than Snooki and The Situation (sorry, I had to get a Jersey Shore reference in there). He and his brother become convinced that his brother's wife is cheating on him. So they decide to follow her around.

During this time, Jeff shares his new revelation about fate with his brother, who thinks his theories are insane. We’re also intercutting with their mother, who spends the movie in a cubicle at her office, and finds herself the recipient of a secret IM’ing admirer.

Eventually, the three of them come together in the end and encounter an unexpected event that may or may not prove Jeff’s theory about fate.

 Jeff, at home.

Where to begin here. The first 25 pages of this script where almost unreadable. I don't like scripts where no story emerges within the first 25 pages (I don’t like scripts where no story emerges within the first 10 pages!). I want to know where my story is going. We don't get a whiff of that here so Carson not happy.

But when Jeff's brother enters the equation, the script takes a turn for the better. Maybe it's because we were thankful that at least SOME purpose had entered the story, but I thought the conflict between the brothers was actually pretty authentic. As soon as you present a relationship that needs to be repaired to an audience, the obvious response is going to be wanting to see if that relationship can be repaired (which means - most importantly - we want to keep watching!).

As for the cheating stuff…I don’t know. Here was my problem with it. We only get one scene with the brother and his wife that establishes their relationship. And neither of them seemed to like each other. So when the brother becomes devastated by his wife’s cheating, I’m not sure we buy into it. I mean, I barely know these people. Why do I care if his wife is cheating on him?

That’s the problem with an 87 page screenplay. You don’t have enough time to establish the relationship to the point where we care what’s happening with it. And it doesn’t help that you spent the first 30 pages of your script with one of your characters throwing cards at a wall.

I also felt the subplot with the mom was too thin. It basically entailed a secret admirer IM’ing her from inside the office all day. It’s a nice little surprise when we find out who the person is, but the storyline itself was so lightweight that it felt like padding to get the script up to feature length.

The script’s shining light is probably its ending. I like indie movies that go big with their endings and the climax here definitely has some weight to it. I just wish there was more of that weight throughout the rest of the script.

[ ] Wait for the rewrite
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Flesh out your subplots. Thin subplots feel empty and pointless. To combat this, try to add as much detail and thought to your subplots as you do your main plot. The mother’s storyline here amounts to a woman at a cubicle receiving IMs. I don’t know what the mother does. I don’t know what her company does. It seems like there’s nothing for her to do all day other than answer IMs. That’s not how the real world works (well, for most of us anyway). Build up the details of your subplot world. Give her company a purpose. Maybe she’s a debt collector (would explain why she’s angry all the time). Or maybe she’s a customer support person (again, would explain why she’s so angry – she gets yelled at all day!). Have her boss demand that something be done by the end of day. Now those IMs are interrupting all the calls coming in AS WELL AS a deadline. It’s much more compelling to watch a character make a tough choice (do I answer this IM or keep working?) than freely answer IMs to her heart’s content. Flesh out those subplots people. Add details. Add reality. Or else your subplot is nothing more than a boring distraction.

Screenplay Review - Jeff, Who Lives At Home

The screenwriting duo that is The Duplass Brothers follow up Cyrus with their new screenplay about fate.


Genre: Drama-Comedy-Indie
Premise: A thirty-something man who still lives at home unexpectedly bonds with his brother when the two try and find out if his brother’s wife is cheating on him.
About: “Jeff, Who Lives At Home,” is coming to theaters soon. It stars Jason Siegel, Ed Helms, and Susan Sarandon. The screenplay is written by writer-directors Mark and Jay Duplass. Their previous films include Cyrus, Baghead, and The Puffy Chair.
Writers: Mark and Jay Duplass
Details: 87 pages – June 1, 2009 Draft(This is an early draft of the script. The situations, characters, and plot may change significantly by the time the film is released. This is not a definitive statement about the project, but rather an analysis of this unique draft as it pertains to the craft of screenwriting).


Some people blame the Duplass Brothers for pioneering the horror that is Mumblecore. You know what I’m talking about. Those movies shot on video with available lighting and a handheld camera and characters who improvise. It's not that the movies are bad so much as they’re terrible. I mean, you’re not supposed to want to throw your TV out the window during a movie, right?

My problem with the Duplass Brothers is that they have a tendency to back away from the moments that define a movie. For example, in Cyrus, I kept waiting for something interesting to happen with Cyrus but it never did. Cyrus was only *sort of* psycho, so you always felt safe, like our hero was going to be okay in the end. And was that movie a comedy? I’m still not sure.

However, I’ll always give the brothers a shot for one reason: Baghead. Baghead was one of the weirder movies I've seen. It’s about these four people who head up to a cabin in the middle of the woods and start getting stalked by a man with a bag on his head (we’re unsure, of course, whether the stalker is one of them or someone else). It walks this unpredictable line between humor and horror that I’ve never seen baked up that way before. It's a film you should check out if you have the chance. But be prepared for something really different or you’ll leave disappointed.

That brings us to “Jeff, Who Lives At Home,” about a guy named Jeff (Jason Siegel) who, well, lives at home. While we’re not clear WHY Jeff lives at home, the implication is that some traumatizing event happened to him as a child which never allowed him to grow up.

When we meet Jeff, he’s sitting around, thinking about how the movie Signs is the best movie ever, mainly because it was about fate and how we all have a purpose. So Jeff starts thinking, what's his purpose? What signs are out there to guide him through his life?

Right at that moment, Jeff gets a call from someone asking for “Kevin.” There’s no one named Kevin who lives there, but Jeff thinks this is a sign, and rearranges the letters in the name “Kevin” to come up with “knive.” He then goes and checks the silverware drawer, grabs a knife, and finds the word "Delta” carved on the handle. Cut to Kevin in his closet where he finds a group of Delta Airlines playing cards. He throws them against the wall (no, I'm not kidding) and the only card that is face up is the ace of hearts. This is the end of the sequence.

Naturally, at this point, I was thinking about peeling the skin off my body with a potato peeler. But I forced myself to press on. Jeff then goes to pick up something for his mother but since he can't drive, he takes the bus. On the bus he spots an African-American kid about 18 years old who’s wearing a jacket with the name "Kevin" on his back.

So he follows him to a basketball pickup game and ends up somehow playing. It turns out Jeff’s really awesome at basketball (even though this has nothing to do with the story at all). Afterwards, he and Kevin become quick friends until Kevin robs him. Friendship over.

At this point I was getting so angry at the pointlessness of the story that I wanted to pillage my neighbor’s basement. But I soldiered on. Eventually, Jeff runs into his brother who he has an even worse relationship with than Snooki and The Situation (sorry, I had to get a Jersey Shore reference in there). He and his brother become convinced that his brother's wife is cheating on him. So they decide to follow her around.

During this time, Jeff shares his new revelation about fate with his brother, who thinks his theories are insane. We’re also intercutting with their mother, who spends the movie in a cubicle at her office, and finds herself the recipient of a secret IM’ing admirer.

Eventually, the three of them come together in the end and encounter an unexpected event that may or may not prove Jeff’s theory about fate.

 Jeff, at home.

Where to begin here. The first 25 pages of this script where almost unreadable. I don't like scripts where no story emerges within the first 25 pages (I don’t like scripts where no story emerges within the first 10 pages!). I want to know where my story is going. We don't get a whiff of that here so Carson not happy.

But when Jeff's brother enters the equation, the script takes a turn for the better. Maybe it's because we were thankful that at least SOME purpose had entered the story, but I thought the conflict between the brothers was actually pretty authentic. As soon as you present a relationship that needs to be repaired to an audience, the obvious response is going to be wanting to see if that relationship can be repaired (which means - most importantly - we want to keep watching!).

As for the cheating stuff…I don’t know. Here was my problem with it. We only get one scene with the brother and his wife that establishes their relationship. And neither of them seemed to like each other. So when the brother becomes devastated by his wife’s cheating, I’m not sure we buy into it. I mean, I barely know these people. Why do I care if his wife is cheating on him?

That’s the problem with an 87 page screenplay. You don’t have enough time to establish the relationship to the point where we care what’s happening with it. And it doesn’t help that you spent the first 30 pages of your script with one of your characters throwing cards at a wall.

I also felt the subplot with the mom was too thin. It basically entailed a secret admirer IM’ing her from inside the office all day. It’s a nice little surprise when we find out who the person is, but the storyline itself was so lightweight that it felt like padding to get the script up to feature length.

The script’s shining light is probably its ending. I like indie movies that go big with their endings and the climax here definitely has some weight to it. I just wish there was more of that weight throughout the rest of the script.

[ ] Wait for the rewrite
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Flesh out your subplots. Thin subplots feel empty and pointless. To combat this, try to add as much detail and thought to your subplots as you do your main plot. The mother’s storyline here amounts to a woman at a cubicle receiving IMs. I don’t know what the mother does. I don’t know what her company does. It seems like there’s nothing for her to do all day other than answer IMs. That’s not how the real world works (well, for most of us anyway). Build up the details of your subplot world. Give her company a purpose. Maybe she’s a debt collector (would explain why she’s angry all the time). Or maybe she’s a customer support person (again, would explain why she’s so angry – she gets yelled at all day!). Have her boss demand that something be done by the end of day. Now those IMs are interrupting all the calls coming in AS WELL AS a deadline. It’s much more compelling to watch a character make a tough choice (do I answer this IM or keep working?) than freely answer IMs to her heart’s content. Flesh out those subplots people. Add details. Add reality. Or else your subplot is nothing more than a boring distraction.

Screenplay Review - Jeff, Who Lives At Home

The screenwriting duo that is The Duplass Brothers follow up Cyrus with their new screenplay about fate.


Genre: Drama-Comedy-Indie
Premise: A thirty-something man who still lives at home unexpectedly bonds with his brother when the two try and find out if his brother’s wife is cheating on him.
About: “Jeff, Who Lives At Home,” is coming to theaters soon. It stars Jason Siegel, Ed Helms, and Susan Sarandon. The screenplay is written by writer-directors Mark and Jay Duplass. Their previous films include Cyrus, Baghead, and The Puffy Chair.
Writers: Mark and Jay Duplass
Details: 87 pages – June 1, 2009 Draft(This is an early draft of the script. The situations, characters, and plot may change significantly by the time the film is released. This is not a definitive statement about the project, but rather an analysis of this unique draft as it pertains to the craft of screenwriting).


Some people blame the Duplass Brothers for pioneering the horror that is Mumblecore. You know what I’m talking about. Those movies shot on video with available lighting and a handheld camera and characters who improvise. It's not that the movies are bad so much as they’re terrible. I mean, you’re not supposed to want to throw your TV out the window during a movie, right?

My problem with the Duplass Brothers is that they have a tendency to back away from the moments that define a movie. For example, in Cyrus, I kept waiting for something interesting to happen with Cyrus but it never did. Cyrus was only *sort of* psycho, so you always felt safe, like our hero was going to be okay in the end. And was that movie a comedy? I’m still not sure.

However, I’ll always give the brothers a shot for one reason: Baghead. Baghead was one of the weirder movies I've seen. It’s about these four people who head up to a cabin in the middle of the woods and start getting stalked by a man with a bag on his head (we’re unsure, of course, whether the stalker is one of them or someone else). It walks this unpredictable line between humor and horror that I’ve never seen baked up that way before. It's a film you should check out if you have the chance. But be prepared for something really different or you’ll leave disappointed.

That brings us to “Jeff, Who Lives At Home,” about a guy named Jeff (Jason Siegel) who, well, lives at home. While we’re not clear WHY Jeff lives at home, the implication is that some traumatizing event happened to him as a child which never allowed him to grow up.

When we meet Jeff, he’s sitting around, thinking about how the movie Signs is the best movie ever, mainly because it was about fate and how we all have a purpose. So Jeff starts thinking, what's his purpose? What signs are out there to guide him through his life?

Right at that moment, Jeff gets a call from someone asking for “Kevin.” There’s no one named Kevin who lives there, but Jeff thinks this is a sign, and rearranges the letters in the name “Kevin” to come up with “knive.” He then goes and checks the silverware drawer, grabs a knife, and finds the word "Delta” carved on the handle. Cut to Kevin in his closet where he finds a group of Delta Airlines playing cards. He throws them against the wall (no, I'm not kidding) and the only card that is face up is the ace of hearts. This is the end of the sequence.

Naturally, at this point, I was thinking about peeling the skin off my body with a potato peeler. But I forced myself to press on. Jeff then goes to pick up something for his mother but since he can't drive, he takes the bus. On the bus he spots an African-American kid about 18 years old who’s wearing a jacket with the name "Kevin" on his back.

So he follows him to a basketball pickup game and ends up somehow playing. It turns out Jeff’s really awesome at basketball (even though this has nothing to do with the story at all). Afterwards, he and Kevin become quick friends until Kevin robs him. Friendship over.

At this point I was getting so angry at the pointlessness of the story that I wanted to pillage my neighbor’s basement. But I soldiered on. Eventually, Jeff runs into his brother who he has an even worse relationship with than Snooki and The Situation (sorry, I had to get a Jersey Shore reference in there). He and his brother become convinced that his brother's wife is cheating on him. So they decide to follow her around.

During this time, Jeff shares his new revelation about fate with his brother, who thinks his theories are insane. We’re also intercutting with their mother, who spends the movie in a cubicle at her office, and finds herself the recipient of a secret IM’ing admirer.

Eventually, the three of them come together in the end and encounter an unexpected event that may or may not prove Jeff’s theory about fate.

 Jeff, at home.

Where to begin here. The first 25 pages of this script where almost unreadable. I don't like scripts where no story emerges within the first 25 pages (I don’t like scripts where no story emerges within the first 10 pages!). I want to know where my story is going. We don't get a whiff of that here so Carson not happy.

But when Jeff's brother enters the equation, the script takes a turn for the better. Maybe it's because we were thankful that at least SOME purpose had entered the story, but I thought the conflict between the brothers was actually pretty authentic. As soon as you present a relationship that needs to be repaired to an audience, the obvious response is going to be wanting to see if that relationship can be repaired (which means - most importantly - we want to keep watching!).

As for the cheating stuff…I don’t know. Here was my problem with it. We only get one scene with the brother and his wife that establishes their relationship. And neither of them seemed to like each other. So when the brother becomes devastated by his wife’s cheating, I’m not sure we buy into it. I mean, I barely know these people. Why do I care if his wife is cheating on him?

That’s the problem with an 87 page screenplay. You don’t have enough time to establish the relationship to the point where we care what’s happening with it. And it doesn’t help that you spent the first 30 pages of your script with one of your characters throwing cards at a wall.

I also felt the subplot with the mom was too thin. It basically entailed a secret admirer IM’ing her from inside the office all day. It’s a nice little surprise when we find out who the person is, but the storyline itself was so lightweight that it felt like padding to get the script up to feature length.

The script’s shining light is probably its ending. I like indie movies that go big with their endings and the climax here definitely has some weight to it. I just wish there was more of that weight throughout the rest of the script.

[ ] Wait for the rewrite
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Flesh out your subplots. Thin subplots feel empty and pointless. To combat this, try to add as much detail and thought to your subplots as you do your main plot. The mother’s storyline here amounts to a woman at a cubicle receiving IMs. I don’t know what the mother does. I don’t know what her company does. It seems like there’s nothing for her to do all day other than answer IMs. That’s not how the real world works (well, for most of us anyway). Build up the details of your subplot world. Give her company a purpose. Maybe she’s a debt collector (would explain why she’s angry all the time). Or maybe she’s a customer support person (again, would explain why she’s so angry – she gets yelled at all day!). Have her boss demand that something be done by the end of day. Now those IMs are interrupting all the calls coming in AS WELL AS a deadline. It’s much more compelling to watch a character make a tough choice (do I answer this IM or keep working?) than freely answer IMs to her heart’s content. Flesh out those subplots people. Add details. Add reality. Or else your subplot is nothing more than a boring distraction.

Screenplay Review - Jeff, Who Lives At Home

The screenwriting duo that is The Duplass Brothers follow up Cyrus with their new screenplay about fate.


Genre: Drama-Comedy-Indie
Premise: A thirty-something man who still lives at home unexpectedly bonds with his brother when the two try and find out if his brother’s wife is cheating on him.
About: “Jeff, Who Lives At Home,” is coming to theaters soon. It stars Jason Siegel, Ed Helms, and Susan Sarandon. The screenplay is written by writer-directors Mark and Jay Duplass. Their previous films include Cyrus, Baghead, and The Puffy Chair.
Writers: Mark and Jay Duplass
Details: 87 pages – June 1, 2009 Draft(This is an early draft of the script. The situations, characters, and plot may change significantly by the time the film is released. This is not a definitive statement about the project, but rather an analysis of this unique draft as it pertains to the craft of screenwriting).


Some people blame the Duplass Brothers for pioneering the horror that is Mumblecore. You know what I’m talking about. Those movies shot on video with available lighting and a handheld camera and characters who improvise. It's not that the movies are bad so much as they’re terrible. I mean, you’re not supposed to want to throw your TV out the window during a movie, right?

My problem with the Duplass Brothers is that they have a tendency to back away from the moments that define a movie. For example, in Cyrus, I kept waiting for something interesting to happen with Cyrus but it never did. Cyrus was only *sort of* psycho, so you always felt safe, like our hero was going to be okay in the end. And was that movie a comedy? I’m still not sure.

However, I’ll always give the brothers a shot for one reason: Baghead. Baghead was one of the weirder movies I've seen. It’s about these four people who head up to a cabin in the middle of the woods and start getting stalked by a man with a bag on his head (we’re unsure, of course, whether the stalker is one of them or someone else). It walks this unpredictable line between humor and horror that I’ve never seen baked up that way before. It's a film you should check out if you have the chance. But be prepared for something really different or you’ll leave disappointed.

That brings us to “Jeff, Who Lives At Home,” about a guy named Jeff (Jason Siegel) who, well, lives at home. While we’re not clear WHY Jeff lives at home, the implication is that some traumatizing event happened to him as a child which never allowed him to grow up.

When we meet Jeff, he’s sitting around, thinking about how the movie Signs is the best movie ever, mainly because it was about fate and how we all have a purpose. So Jeff starts thinking, what's his purpose? What signs are out there to guide him through his life?

Right at that moment, Jeff gets a call from someone asking for “Kevin.” There’s no one named Kevin who lives there, but Jeff thinks this is a sign, and rearranges the letters in the name “Kevin” to come up with “knive.” He then goes and checks the silverware drawer, grabs a knife, and finds the word "Delta” carved on the handle. Cut to Kevin in his closet where he finds a group of Delta Airlines playing cards. He throws them against the wall (no, I'm not kidding) and the only card that is face up is the ace of hearts. This is the end of the sequence.

Naturally, at this point, I was thinking about peeling the skin off my body with a potato peeler. But I forced myself to press on. Jeff then goes to pick up something for his mother but since he can't drive, he takes the bus. On the bus he spots an African-American kid about 18 years old who’s wearing a jacket with the name "Kevin" on his back.

So he follows him to a basketball pickup game and ends up somehow playing. It turns out Jeff’s really awesome at basketball (even though this has nothing to do with the story at all). Afterwards, he and Kevin become quick friends until Kevin robs him. Friendship over.

At this point I was getting so angry at the pointlessness of the story that I wanted to pillage my neighbor’s basement. But I soldiered on. Eventually, Jeff runs into his brother who he has an even worse relationship with than Snooki and The Situation (sorry, I had to get a Jersey Shore reference in there). He and his brother become convinced that his brother's wife is cheating on him. So they decide to follow her around.

During this time, Jeff shares his new revelation about fate with his brother, who thinks his theories are insane. We’re also intercutting with their mother, who spends the movie in a cubicle at her office, and finds herself the recipient of a secret IM’ing admirer.

Eventually, the three of them come together in the end and encounter an unexpected event that may or may not prove Jeff’s theory about fate.

 Jeff, at home.

Where to begin here. The first 25 pages of this script where almost unreadable. I don't like scripts where no story emerges within the first 25 pages (I don’t like scripts where no story emerges within the first 10 pages!). I want to know where my story is going. We don't get a whiff of that here so Carson not happy.

But when Jeff's brother enters the equation, the script takes a turn for the better. Maybe it's because we were thankful that at least SOME purpose had entered the story, but I thought the conflict between the brothers was actually pretty authentic. As soon as you present a relationship that needs to be repaired to an audience, the obvious response is going to be wanting to see if that relationship can be repaired (which means - most importantly - we want to keep watching!).

As for the cheating stuff…I don’t know. Here was my problem with it. We only get one scene with the brother and his wife that establishes their relationship. And neither of them seemed to like each other. So when the brother becomes devastated by his wife’s cheating, I’m not sure we buy into it. I mean, I barely know these people. Why do I care if his wife is cheating on him?

That’s the problem with an 87 page screenplay. You don’t have enough time to establish the relationship to the point where we care what’s happening with it. And it doesn’t help that you spent the first 30 pages of your script with one of your characters throwing cards at a wall.

I also felt the subplot with the mom was too thin. It basically entailed a secret admirer IM’ing her from inside the office all day. It’s a nice little surprise when we find out who the person is, but the storyline itself was so lightweight that it felt like padding to get the script up to feature length.

The script’s shining light is probably its ending. I like indie movies that go big with their endings and the climax here definitely has some weight to it. I just wish there was more of that weight throughout the rest of the script.

[ ] Wait for the rewrite
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Flesh out your subplots. Thin subplots feel empty and pointless. To combat this, try to add as much detail and thought to your subplots as you do your main plot. The mother’s storyline here amounts to a woman at a cubicle receiving IMs. I don’t know what the mother does. I don’t know what her company does. It seems like there’s nothing for her to do all day other than answer IMs. That’s not how the real world works (well, for most of us anyway). Build up the details of your subplot world. Give her company a purpose. Maybe she’s a debt collector (would explain why she’s angry all the time). Or maybe she’s a customer support person (again, would explain why she’s so angry – she gets yelled at all day!). Have her boss demand that something be done by the end of day. Now those IMs are interrupting all the calls coming in AS WELL AS a deadline. It’s much more compelling to watch a character make a tough choice (do I answer this IM or keep working?) than freely answer IMs to her heart’s content. Flesh out those subplots people. Add details. Add reality. Or else your subplot is nothing more than a boring distraction.

Is it really a happy ending? My disappointment with the Chuck Finale

Several days after the fact, I still can't quite shake my disappointment over the final episode of Chuck. Final episodes are always hard, owing to the difficulty of matching raised expectations and providing some level of closure for devoted fans who've stuck it out across several long seasons.  We've talked before about some of the best finales and the worst finales, and if there's one universal lesson, it's that it's hard to please everyone.

For the last five years, Chuck was one of my favorite shows for pure escapism.  The series dealt with an average guy who finds himself as one of the CIA's greatest counter-terrorism assets against evil spies, and in a post-9/11 world, playing terrorism and CIA ops for laughs are pretty rare.  Even Alias, which was similarly escapist, often treated some of its villains and overarching storylines with an almost melodramatic seriousness.

Chuck pulled off the incredibly difficult balancing act of treating the characters seriously enough to invest the relationships with a great deal of depth and growth, while never letting the James Bond-ian absurdity of some of the plots ever feel ridiculous.  We live in an era where we demand that our James Bonds and our Batmans be grim, gritty and "realistic," but Chuck's world was almost always a place where the audience could go for a fun romp.  Even so, every now and then that fun would be tempered by an incredibly dramatic beat - such as when Brandon Routh's Daniel Shaw shot Chuck's father in cold blood right before Chuck's eyes.  Fewer comedies could have killed off such a beloved character and not lost the audience, but it worked, due in no small part to the talented actors involved.

I don't think anyone would dispute that Zachary Levi's Chuck and Yvonne Strahovski's Sarah were the heart of the show.  In the pilot, she was assigned to be Chuck's CIA handler and to maintain that cover, she had to pretend to be his girlfriend.  It was probably inevitable that the characters would get together for real, and Levi and Strahovski's screen chemistry was always one of the show's best assets.  And as a writer, I get why the creators chose to up the stakes in the final episodes by threatening that coupling.

To recap the final arc in brief: Sarah gets captured by a bad guy who erases the last five years worth of memories from her, convinces her that her relationship with Chuck is just an assignment, and tells her that she is to use Chuck to break into CIA Headquarters.  Once there, she is tasked with stealing "The Intersect" and killing Chuck.  Without her memories of the last five years, Sarah reverts to being the cold, efficient assassin she was before her time with Chuck softened her, and the first hour of the finale is an exercise in breaking Chuck's heart in two as he has to admit that the Sarah he knew may be lost forever.

I want to deal with one issue before getting on to my bigger disappointment with the finale. The bad guy played by Angus MacGuffin - er, I mean, MacFadyen - is probably one of the least compelling "big bads" Chuck has ever produced. He first materialized a few episodes prior to the end and has no backstory or real connection with our characters. The idea of the villain turning Chuck and Sarah against each other would have been a lot more interesting if the antagonist was someone who had a personal beef with both.  Just putting Shaw in place of McFadden would have elevated this story further.  Shaw brings a history with him and if there's one thing Brandon Routh has shown in his last few appearances on this show, it's that he is great at playing a character the audience loves to hate. MacFadyen's character was little more than a plot device and it wasn't helped by the fact at least a third of his dialogue was him talking about how much he wants "a pristine version of the Intersect."  For a show that had been so good at creating its baddies and stunt-casting them appropriately, this character felt like a big swing and a miss.  It being the finale, that disappointment is, naturally, magnified.

In the second half of the show, Sarah realizes that Chuck is on the side of angels, but without her memories of the last five years, all she wants to do is stop the bad guy and then go off on her own.  During the mission, Sarah experiences a few echoes of memories that should have been erased.  In the show's final scene, Chuck finds her on the beach and tells her every last detail of their time together.  He wraps up by saying that his friend had this crazy idea that kissing her would bring back all her memories.  Sarah, looking at Chuck as if she desperately wants to remember everything she told him about, says, "Chuck, kiss me."

And that's where the writers leave us, with Chuck and Sarah's kiss.

As a writer, I get what they were going for.  They wanted to leave it up to the audience to decide if Sarah got her memories back right then and there, or if she got them back at all.  When pressed about it in an interview, writer Chris Fedek said, "I would certainly say it's not erased. It's not all gone. It hasn't been five seasons all for naught. It's in there. And the fun will be remembering it and falling in love again. How could you imagine anything better?"

My take: I get what the writers were going for.  Hell, I'll even conceded that it's the sort of romantic idea that sounds like a brilliant concept when you come up with it.  One of the clever conceits about Sarah's memory loss was that it allowed the show to harken back to its beginnings and explore just how much the characters have grown and changed. It's always a good idea to find a way to bring things full circle in a finale.

As my list of Best Finales shows, I'm not adverse to dark or ambiguous twists in a finale.  The Angel finale is a great example of both, as it ends with our heroes overwhelmed, but still ready to take on thousands of opponents in a battle that makes 300 look like an even match.  But then, that ending honored the tone and the style of the series.  Chuck is a different case, as it was never a show that seemed designed to end on such an open note.  Across its run, the show produced several episodes that nearly served as series finales and none of them left the status of the Chuck/Sarah relationship in quite so ambiguous a state.

I can't help but think this might have been a more interesting course of action to take at the start of this final season. (Comic book/novelist Peter David actually postulated last season that the 4th season finale could have gone in the direction of erasing Sarah's memory.)  If the writers wanted to use amnesia to explore the show's history, it could have been an arc that streatched across the entire season, or even just half the season.

Heck, even just confining Sarah's mind-wipe to the final episode might have worked better had there been more of a coda.  This article exploring what it takes for a film to have a satisfying ending has been making the rounds.  Several other bloggers have written articles about it, so I won't go in depth here.  One of major points that script doctor and producer Lindsay Doran makes is that an audience has a better reaction to a happy ending when they see the heroes celebrating their success as opposed to just seeing the success itself.

Doran says, "Audiences don’t care about an accomplishment unless it’s shared with someone else. What makes an audience happy is not the moment of victory but the moment afterwards when the winners shares that victory with someone they love."

That's what was missing on Chuck. By fading away on the kiss, we don't see Sarah's reaction.  We don't see her and Chuck truly celebrating whatever connection they've rediscovered.  We don't get to see their friends happy for them in whatever life they end up building.  The show denies us a wrap-up that shows them finally moving into their dream home, settling down, raising the children they talked about.  We're shown the kiss, but not a hint of the happily-ever-after.  The writers have given us enough that we can intellectualize that happy ending is possible, but do we feel it?  A brief coda could have made all the difference.

"Give the audience what they need, not what they want," was a favorite motto of writer Joss Whedon.  Even though I can respect that Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedek may have made a bolder, less conventional choice in how they resolved the Chuck/Sarah relationship, I can't help but feel that in this case, what the audience wanted (Sarah to be restored as the person Chuck knew and loved) was exactly what they needed.

There was a lot I liked in the finale, too much for even that one moment to totally smear, but yet I can't help but feel that the ending hits a double when the writers have shown they were more than capable of hitting home runs.

For Chuck fans, Alan Sepinwall did a great 5-part interview over on HitFix.com.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

GREY DAY!

Awesome screenplay finally arrives in theaters!

 


It's National Grey Day my friends!  Yes, it is the day where you tell your boss you're leaving work early to go see The Grey.  If he has a problem with this, give him my e-mail and I'll have some words with him.  Explain that I've been trumpeting the awesomeness of this script for a couple of years now and that movie watchage must occur on opening day.  Explain to him that Liam Neeson cannot be fighting wolves with glass shards strapped to his knuckles and you NOT be there.  It's simply impossible.  If he's still giving you a hard time, tell him to go read my review of the script here.  Of course, there's a strong possibility that he will now want to come with you so only use that as a last resort.

GREY DAY!!!

GREY DAY!

Awesome screenplay finally arrives in theaters!

 


It's National Grey Day my friends!  Yes, it is the day where you tell your boss you're leaving work early to go see The Grey.  If he has a problem with this, give him my e-mail and I'll have some words with him.  Explain that I've been trumpeting the awesomeness of this script for a couple of years now and that movie watchage must occur on opening day.  Explain to him that Liam Neeson cannot be fighting wolves with glass shards strapped to his knuckles and you NOT be there.  It's simply impossible.  If he's still giving you a hard time, tell him to go read my review of the script here.  Of course, there's a strong possibility that he will now want to come with you so only use that as a last resort.

GREY DAY!!!

GREY DAY!

Awesome screenplay finally arrives in theaters!

 


It's National Grey Day my friends!  Yes, it is the day where you tell your boss you're leaving work early to go see The Grey.  If he has a problem with this, give him my e-mail and I'll have some words with him.  Explain that I've been trumpeting the awesomeness of this script for a couple of years now and that movie watchage must occur on opening day.  Explain to him that Liam Neeson cannot be fighting wolves with glass shards strapped to his knuckles and you NOT be there.  It's simply impossible.  If he's still giving you a hard time, tell him to go read my review of the script here.  Of course, there's a strong possibility that he will now want to come with you so only use that as a last resort.

GREY DAY!!!

GREY DAY!

Awesome screenplay finally arrives in theaters!

 


It's National Grey Day my friends!  Yes, it is the day where you tell your boss you're leaving work early to go see The Grey.  If he has a problem with this, give him my e-mail and I'll have some words with him.  Explain that I've been trumpeting the awesomeness of this script for a couple of years now and that movie watchage must occur on opening day.  Explain to him that Liam Neeson cannot be fighting wolves with glass shards strapped to his knuckles and you NOT be there.  It's simply impossible.  If he's still giving you a hard time, tell him to go read my review of the script here.  Of course, there's a strong possibility that he will now want to come with you so only use that as a last resort.

GREY DAY!!!

Screenplay Review - The Augmented Geologist (Amateur Friday)

A period sci-fi screenplay with some amazing writing. But does screenwriter James Hutchinson do enough with the story to get that rare Friday "worth the read?" 


To submit your script for an Amateur Review: Send your script in PDF form, along with your title, genre, logline, and why I should read your script to Carsonreeves3@gmail.com. Keep in mind your script will be posted in the review (feel free to keep your identity and script title private by providing an alias and fake title). Also, it's a good idea to resubmit every couple of weeks so that your submission stays near the top of the pile.

Genre: Sci-Fi
Premise: (from writer) In Victorian England, a respected geologist studies a strange crystal artifact that grants him incredible powers, tears his life apart and sends him on a deadly chase to discover its unearthly origin.
About: This is the part of his query that really got me interested in reading James’ script: “Here's why I think you should read it: This is big budget original sci-fi with a twist (in that it's set in the past). Imagine HG Wells writing about nanotechnology, or Sherlock Holmes crossed with District 9. These are not your usual science fiction characters, and it's a pretty unique and exciting world, hopefully I've done it justice.” Count me in!
Writer: James Hutchinson
Details: 96 pages

Jude Law for John?

First of all, I really like this writer. I really like you, James. In a purely platonic screenwriting man-love sort of way. Your writing is just so…smooth.

It’s now showy. You’re not trying to impress anyone. All you care about is telling the story.

Okay, it’s getting creepy that I’m talking to you directly so let’s regroup. Basically, this is some wild subject matter “Augmented” is dealing with. Nanotechnology, alien crystals, augmented powers. And yet I was never confused. I was never at a loss for what was going on. That may not seem like a big deal but I can’t tell you how many amateur scripts I read where I get confused by characters doing something as simple as walking across the room, the writing is so clunky.

Here’s a paragraph from the script, a POV from John as he’s experiencing his augmented powers: “A searing amount of INFORMATION captured at inhuman speed. Each column, paragraph, sentence, letter is rapidly scanned by boxes of light. The alphabet is being deciphered. And - TIME SLOWS. People inside the carriage are FROZEN. The rattle of the speeding train is now a soothing CLUNKING sound. Scenery glides gently by.”

That image isn’t easy to convey. And yet I imagined it as if I was right there in the theater. So why am I not giving The Augmented Geologist a big augmented thumbs up? Read on to find out...

London. 1894. A young archeologist is out on a dig and finds something remarkable. But we don’t see what it is yet. Cut to John Haldane, a 30-something bookish gentleman with polio. He hobbles into Godfrey Colleton’s home with an excitement he hasn’t felt for a long time. Godfrey shows John what they found on the dig – some sort of polygon crystal buried inside 500 million years’ worth of sediment.

The crystal is unnaturally pristine, which has John desperate to study it. Godfrey allows him a few days to conduct some experiments before he puts it on display at the museum. But when John brings it home, the crystal starts changing, gradually smoothing out into a sphere and finally a liquid. The liquid emits such a strong aroma that John ends up drinking it. And that’s when everything changes.

His vision becomes enhanced to the point where distances and measurements appear inside his eyesight. He can hear animals communicate with each other in bare-bones English. His polio disappears. He becomes stronger. Smarter.

However, while all this is really cool, it’s not what John was expecting, and it’s not like the guy’s had a steady diet of Terminator and Predator films to prepare him for becoming a cyborg. He’s living in 1897. They won’t even have the internet for another 10 years. So naturally these advancements are scary as hell.

This causes him to be manic, out of control, sort of like Britney during her whole hair-shaving incident. His already deteriorating relationship with his wife gets worse as a result. And soon Godfrey is back, looking for his crystal. John tells him that someone stole it, and the local cops start looking into possible suspects. But when it becomes clear that it wasn’t stolen, they center their efforts on John. So John decides to hightail it out of there and go back to the crystal’s origin, hoping it will provide some answer to what’s happening to him.

Okay, so like I said, I love the writing here. I also thought the story was AMAZING for about 40 pages. It was building. It was mysterious. It was different. I felt like I was reading a screenplay I’d never read before. And that doesn’t happen often. So it was exciting.

But here’s where I think The Augmented Geologist became unagumented: A true story never emerged! Or at least, not a big enough story. Essentially, what we have here, is a guy who gains superhuman abilities, lies to his friends about it, then runs to a mountain. I mean, for a premise like this, that’s not a big enough choice. People don’t want to read about a guy running away from people when he has superhuman powers. They want him encountering scenarios where he can UTILIZE his powers.

Let me try to be more specific. Once we hit the midway point, our hero’s powers no longer matter. He’s just running away from people. He could be ANY person in the world at this point and the story wouldn’t change. So that was upsetting.

Also, I didn’t like the passiveness of the storyline. When you have a hero, especially a literal hero with super powers, you’d like him to be dictating the story. You’d like him to be making choices that push the narrative forward. John spends most of this movie running away or avoiding things. Dramatically, it’s just not very interesting.

Now I’m not saying that The Augmented Geologist needs to become Spider-Man or Iron Man. But I do think in order to get the most out of this premise, there needs to be a foundation that takes advantage of the situation. You have a man with powers here. Let’s conceive of a few scenarios that put those powers to use.

Obviously, you can go a bunch of different ways with this but the most obvious is to create some sort of threat that only John (and his augmented body) can stop. There’s this late-story revelation that Godfrey is also augmented. It feels tagged on and therefore doesn’t work. But if you brought this up earlier in the story, and Godfrey started taking advantage of his power, and John had to stop him? That could be pretty cool.

Assassin's Creed

Another thing that bothered me was that in the second half, this felt a hell of a lot like Assassin’s Creed. Ironically, that’s the only video game I’ve played in the last two years (so if I hadn’t played it, I never wouldn’t have caught this). But everything from the way he sees things to the story’s setting to the way he’s running around on rooftops – it feels like that game. This is another reason to ditch the “running away” storyline and make our hero more active.

Finally, I thought the ending was too trippy. It was sort of cool but once you commit to these metaphysical abstract endings, it starts to feel like you’re fudging things. That may not be your intention. But that’s how it feels to the audience. I mean, I’m still not sure what happened exactly. He was a beacon? So the alien race could find earth? Hmmm… Kind of confusing.

But like I said, I think James is PACKED with talent. I wouldn’t be surprised if 3-4 years from now, you see him writing some big Hollywood sci-fi film. And hey, if he can get a handle on this story and give us something more mainstream and less existential, he might be able to salvage it. Either way, he’s a writer to look out for.

Script Link: The Augmented Geologist

[ ] Wait for the rewrite
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: One thing you want to be conscious of, especially with high concept ideas, is that each successive plot point in your story be better/more interesting than the last. Because what I see with a lot of screenplays is the opposite. The script starts off REALLY good. But then every leg of the story becomes less interesting than the previous. The opening to The Augmented Geologist – with the mystery behind this crystal - was great. Ingesting the crystal and gaining powers was also great. But after that, each leg got less and less interesting. He fakes the crystal robbery. He suspects his wife is cheating on him. He tries to find a random dude and pin the fake robbery on him. He runs away from everyone. None of those choices were nearly as interesting as that opening act.