Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Hangover: Ahh, the Dangers of Alcohol

I was pretty excited to see The Hangover. I am a twenty-four year old male, who enjoys drinking and has experienced more black-outs than I’m proud of. The day after a black-out includes me sheepishly calling a friend, recounting my few memories, and subtly trying to inquire about my post-blackout actions. Then, after the initial laughter, I am forced to reconcile said actions with who I am as a person. This movie was made for guys like me.

It's not uncommon for guys to take their buddies to Vegas for a last hurrah, drink too much, and do stupid things they don’t remember…stupid, meaning, going $400 over budget or getting thrown out of a casino. What the fine gentlemen in The Hangover get into is beyond surreal. Their night begins innocently enough with three friends (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis) toasting their soon-to-be buddy Justin (Doug Billings) atop a Vegas rooftop. And then…they wake up. They can’t remember a thing, but with the room trashed, they guess they had a good time. Until they discover the groom is missing.

This begins the arduous process of piecing together the previous night which includes – but is not limited to – the following discoveries: a bed atop a Vegas hotel; a baby in their hotel room; a tiger belonging to Mike Tyson; a missing tooth; a valet ticket which gets them a police car instead of their convertible; a Chinese gangster inside said convertible. Though incredibly random, the movie is able to make it work within a logical timeline (which is the Add Imageonly logic necessary, given that most drunken behavior is illogical).

And yet, I left the theatre pretty under whelmed. It’s a pretty basic story, held above water by the reveals and the jokes that go along with them. I feel like most of the action in the now was not spent paving over the previous nights' events, and that we were treated to a slew of characters saying variations of, "Oh, you don't remember what happened? Oh, you were so wasted..." I didn’t love the cast, nor did I feel that they would have actually been friends (Galifianakis is a HUGE exception; everything he says is gold). And the Chinese gangster bit, though initially funny, gets tiresome.

I still liked it, in that I can remember and laugh at certain jokes and moments. But I definitely expected more. If we judge the movie from the box office, it was insanely successful. I don’t know…maybe after X years of drinking, I’m a bit desensitized to this sort of stuff?

(PS - Sit through the credits)

The Writing Week (Vol. 2) part 76 - How Things Do Change

(Speaking of change, this Writing Week has the pleasure of appearing on a Tuesday. Ooops.)

Anyway, as we all know, writing is a process of evolution. Not only do we evolve as writers, honing our skills and abandoning amateurish tendencies, but our projects evolve, as well. That gem of an idea you had evolves from an indie, two character drama set in a beach house to an ensemble shoot-em-up that takes place in Manhattan. It happens. Different drafts often mean different movies altogether. It's not something that necessarily meets with resistance; often these developments go unnoticed as we make them. Notes come in and the script goes a completely different way.

Take, for example, Simon Kinberg's "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." We all remember the action flick about a couple who find out that neither is what the other thought. But look at these two very different loglines that I found on Done Deal Pro.

A bored married couple discover they are enemy assassins hired to kill each other.
Logged 2/26/2003


A couple forms a bond while escaping a coup in Colombia.
Logged 1/15/2002
Obviously, Kinberg's script evolved. But where did the changes come from? Who influenced them? In re-working my post-Apocalyptic spec, I am incorporating notes from my new manager and from the producer who is trying to set the picture up. Luckily, the changes don't create such a drastic re-inventing of the script as Kinberg's loglines make it seem that he experienced. Nonetheless, what was merely an interesting, albeit briefly visited location in the draft I sent out is now becoming a much larger focus of the script - to the point where I've been encouraged to work it into the title. My character's arc now ends with triumphing over forces in this location, whereas before, any obstacles he faced there were merely hurdles before his greater goal.

Similarly, I've been mulling over a new idea recently. I haven't bothered to put anything down on paper about it, because there are some very large, very obvious questions I have to address first. I've spoken to Onyx at some length about it, and his suggestions have already started to reshape my original idea. I'm not displeased with where it's going - I actually like it a lot - but I can definitely see the differences. It's funny, considering that there isn't a whole lot to it at this point, either. The basic framework is largely the same, but some of the fundamental ideas woven into it have been altered.

Writing is evolutionary, there's no doubt in my mind. I think that's one of the things I like most about it. And who knows, the superficial action that my post-Apocalyptic spec is becoming to help its sale along will hopefully evolve into something deeper and more meaningful, something I had envisioned for it initially.