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Archive for the Category "Comedy"

MY DEMON GIRLFRIEND – Short Film Feb 13

Here’s the short horror/comedy film I wrote and directed — My Demon Girlfriend.

Logline:
A lovable loser introduces his new girlfriend to his best friends — only to discover that there may be more to this woman than meets the eyes.

 

Let me know what you think!

And if you’re in the L.A. or Orange County area, and are interested in joining the Gemini Powers team to collaborate on some great videos, let me know.

My Demon Girlfriend

Short Film: Script Cops Jun 10

I’ve been getting some great screenwriting links from my friends lately. I’ll share them with you over the next few days.

Today’s link is to the following hilarious short film by Writer/Director Scott Rice, called SCRIPT COPS.

Script Cops

Sorry, I wasn’t able to embed the video.
Click the image above to view at the filmmaker’s web site.

According to Rice’s web site:

This award-winning parody became a hit Sony Pictures web series. Maverick Award Winner – LAWebFest 2011.

You can view more episodes of SCRIPT COPS here.

Category: Comedy, Diversions, Links  | 2 Comments
Deckchair Sep 04

DeckchairI love it when a short film can make you laugh out loud a couple of times in the space of 90 seconds. That’s more laughs than many modern comedies can generate in the space of 90 minutes.

Here’s Deckchair by sheepfilms.

The Madness of Comedy Movie Ratings Aug 01

Invictus

InvictusA while back I watched Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman as President Nelson Mandela, and Matt Damon as the smallest rugby captain I’ve ever seen. (I know Invictus isn’t a comedy, but bear with me.)

I haven’t read the script (written by Anthony Peckham), but what I do know is that the resulting movie (directed by Clint Eastwood) was just okay. Fundamentally, it didn’t really know what kind of movie it wanted to be.

There were scenes of:

  • political struggle, suggestive of an inspiring story of great leadership… However, the Mandela in this movie seemed to only have one master plan — hope to hell that the national rugby team would win and therefore unite the country.
  • a rugby team striving to become winners, suggestive of an inspiring tale of underdogs that triumph against all odds… However, we only ever really got to know one character on the team. We also got a lot of inexplicable moments where somebody on some team would do something that we were supposed to care about. But if you have no idea what the rules of rugby are, you might as well be watching Blernsball.
  • security personnel working hard to keep Mandela safe, suggestive of a political assassination thriller… However, there were no real threats depicted in the movie. It was all contrived misdirection to add tension to otherwise tepid sequences.

Despite all that, the movie rates a 7.5 on IMDB.com. That’s fine. My beef isn’t with the Invictus rating per se — it’s with the fact that many of the best comedy movies of all time rank lower.

A Few Case Studies

Wedding CrashersHere are ten of my favorite comedies off the top of my head, sorted in descending order of IMDB Score. Only two of them beat Invictus.

Most of these movies routinely appear on “best comedies of all time” lists, were all box office successes, and produced some of the most quoted lines ever.

So why the low ratings for these, and other, comedy powerhouses?

My Theories

Perceived Level of Difficulty

In gymnastics, routines are judged based on the level of difficulty exhibited. If the level of difficulty of the moves being performed is high enough, the gymnast is eligible to receive a maximum score of 10. If the level of difficulty is lower, however, the gymnast may start out with a maximum score of 9 or 8.

Even though it’s a widely held truth in the film industry that the comedy genre is the most difficult to write (and get right), perhaps the perceived level of difficulty is lower than for other movies. After all, “It’s just a bunch of guys telling jokes and acting like idiots.”

When many people rate comedy movies, do they have a set hypothetical maximum score that’s less than 10?

There's Something About MaryPerceived Importance

Invictus (IMDB Score: 7.5) tells (or tries to tell) the story of an inspirational South African leader’s journey to unite his country. There’s Something About Mary (IMDB Score: 7.2) is about a bunch of guys who want to bone a hot chick.

The Road (IMDB Score: 7.5) is bleak story about a father and son struggling to survive in a post apocalyptic world. Wedding Crashers (IMDB Score: 7.2) is about a couple of guys who crash weddings so they can bone hot chicks.

Does a more serious plot imbue a movie with a greater perceived importance and qualify it for a higher score? (Or does a “boning hot chick(s)” main plot necessitate a sub 7.5 score?)

Hitting the Right Emotional and Intellectual Chords

Maybe it’s not the plot. Maybe it’s the emotional and intellectual range of  the movie.

Groundhog Day — the highest scoring movie on my spur-of-the-moment list — takes us on a complete journey with the Bill Murray character. When he’s trapped in his recurring day, we go through all five stages of grief with him — Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. We also feel sad for an old man who dies, warmed by the romance of the two leads and enlightened by the main character’s journey.

Perhaps strictly tickling our funny bones isn’t nearly as satisfying as pulling our heart strings and other emotional or intellectual chords. But then again Airplane! scores a 7.8, and that movie only has one speed — fast and furious comic gags.

Jackson PollackSubjective Nature of Comedy

Many people look at a Jackson Pollock painting and see pure genius. I just see paint dribbles. Who’s right? Art appreciation is subjective and so is comedy.

For every person who roared with laughter when Cameron Diaz used Ben Stiller’s… hair gel in There’s Something About Mary, perhaps there were just as many who found the comedy puerile and crass (in a bad way).

Do the rating scales tend to balance out for even the funniest comedies?

Conclusion

There are some great comedies that do indeed score higher than InvictusToy Story 3 (IMDB Score: 9.0), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (IMDB Score: 8.4), Back to the Future (IMDB Score: 8.4), The Princess Bride (IMDB Score: 8.1), The Hangover (IMDB Score: 7.9)… but they are few and far between.

Invariably when you ask someone what their favorite kind of movies are, they’ll include on the list, “comedies.” Yet, for whatever reason, comedy movies just don’t get the respect they deserve when it comes to ratings.

Do you have a favorite comedy that I haven’t mentioned? Punch it into IMDB. You may be surprised by its score. Conversely, would you rate your favorite comedy movies a 10? No? Why not?

As a rule, are the best comedies just not as good as the best non-comedies? I certainly don’t think that’s the case.

What are your thoughts? Do the best movies rise to the top of the ratings heap regardless of genre? Or are comedies judged more harshly than other movies?


Need someone to review your screenplay? Please take a look at my script services.

Category: Comedy, Movie Reviews  | 7 Comments
Steve Kaplan’s Comedy Workshop Part 2 Jun 09

Steve Kaplan Comedy IntensivePart 1 can be found here.

Steve Kaplan’s Comedy Intensive is hailed as “The Industry’s #1 Course on Comedy.”

This past weekend I had the opportunity to check it out. So this week I’m imparting a few of its key teachings to all you aspiring comedy writers out there.

Today I’ll tell you about another one of The Six Hidden Tools of Comedy that I found to be particularly useful.

Note: All of the examples are my own, based on my understanding of the material. For a definitive discussion of the concepts, you’ll need to take Kaplan’s workshop.

Metaphorical Relationship

A metaphor is when something literal is used in place of another to suggest a likeness between the two ideas. In film it can be used to great comedic effect.

Remember this scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles?

The bedroom scene starts out looking like a classic moment where two lovers wake up together. While that’s obviously not what’s going on here, it suggests the bonding of these two friends, and we get an immediate understanding of the predicament they’re in. The result is pure hilarity.

There’s actually a double whammy of the Metaphorical Relationship in this scene. After the two characters leap out of bed, horrified, they go into a stilted discussion of football. It’s a metaphor for the stereotypical conversations that all red-blooded American males of course have.

More Examples

Suppose you have to create a scene in a living room where Friend A needs to tell Friend B about something that’s troubling him. If you played it straight, you might end up with just a couple of talking heads.

But what if, when the two friends walk into the room, Friend A lies down on the couch and Friend B sits next to him in a chair like a psychiatrist? When Friend A starts unburdening himself, Friend B says things like, “And how did that make you feel?”

Or suppose you had to write an office scene where your nervous protagonist is about to go in to an important meeting. What if he gets a pep talk from his coworker in the style of a cornerman giving advice to a boxer, complete with a swig of bottled water and a spit into a garbage can?

“I want you to go in there and keep the witty banter up, dodge those budget questions and pepper them with your statistical reports. This is your meeting! Got it?!”

***

This tool is just that — a tool. It doesn’t have to appear in every scene, but it can certainly help you craft a comic moment if you’re stuck for an approach to use.

Are there opportunities to ramp up the funny in your scenes by using a Metaphorical Relationship?

Note: There’s never a good substitute for taking a class yourself, so if any of the ideas posted here intrigue you, I encourage you to sign up for the workshop the next time it’s offered (December 4-5, 2010 in L.A.).

For more information go to www.kaplancomedy.com.


Need someone to review your screenplay? Please take a look at my script services.

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