Hey folks, Harry here with Dr Quack and his look at two very different scripts - One by a genius and the other by a not a genius. I'll leave it to you to decide which is which. However, I don't think it'll take you long to decide which one you must see turned into a movie, and which one you could care less about. So here ya go with Dr Quack's very nice looks at one to catch and the other to hurl...
Long time fan, first time contributor. I recently got my grubby paws on two screenplays and thought you might be interested in a review. The screenplays are: "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" written by Charlie Kaufman (who's consistently the best screenwriter working in Hollywood today) and "The Ringer", a screenplay by Ricky Blitt, which is being produced by the Farelly Brothers and is set to star Johnny Knoxvile.
Okay, I'll just get down to brass tax, here.
First up: "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" by Charlie Kaufman, unspecified draft.
This script was hard for me to wrap my head around the first time I read it because there are so many textures and layers to this thing. I'm going to try to lay it out here without giving too much away, though.
The screenplay follows a Man, Joel Barish (set to be played by Jim Carrey), who discovers that his girlfriend, Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet), has had him permanently erased from her memories. Naturally, this comes as quite a shock to him because he didn't know their relationship was over. Unable to bear the thought of living the rest of his life as the sole owner of these memories, he decides to have her erased from his memories as well.
A majority of the scenes in the movie actually take place in his head. We literally see his entire relationship with Clementine laid out in a reverse order from the last time they spoke to the first time they met. As each scene (memory) plays out, they abruptly end and are erased from his mind.
I'd just like to say here that this script isn't very funny, nor is it intended to be. Ladies and gentlemen, Charlie Kaufman has written a beautifully somber, melancholy screenplay. One that, I suspect, will share a tone with a film like "The Royal Tennenbaums".
While the memories play out Joel soon realizes the importance memories play in our personal histories and decides that these memories must be preserved, so he begins to hide Clementine in memories that she doesn't belong. He takes her to a memory of himself sitting in a crib when he was two years old. He also takes her to a playground fight in grade school.
This film has an interesting subplot, which involves the inventor of this memory erasing procedure, his two assistants, and his secretary. We watch their lives and dramas develop and unfold while Joel's past is quickly disappearing. But I'm going to be vague because I don't want to spoil it for anyone. It's a brilliantly conceived story about the past, the future, the present, sadness, regret, the price of love, and the virtues of moving on with ones life.
The characters are beautifully realized. Joel is a timid, melancholy figure who wants to be a free spirit. Clementine, on the other hand, is a free spirit. Her hair is dyed blue, and later orange, she says what she feels and feels what she believes. She reminds me of a younger incarnation of Maude from the classic film "Harold and Maude", with a slice of Juliet Hulme (also played by Kate Winslet in Peter Jackson's equally brilliant "Heavenly Creatures"), except, of course, without Juliet's delusional madness.
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" has numerous possibilities. My only fears in regards to this movie is that itÃs being directed by Michel Gondry, who helmed another Kaufman penned screenplay "Human Nature". Gondry showed a prowess in terms of visual style, but he failed to show any range as a filmmaker who can handle complex characters. "Human Nature" was okay at best and if Gondry would have tried to open up and show real depths with his characters the movie would have blown up in his face.
I pray that he shows artistic development and doesn't ruin this wonderfully conceived screenplay.
On an arbitrary scale of one to five, I'd give this
script a FIVE.
Lastly: "The Ringer", by Rickey Blitt, unspecified
draft, dated 6/15/01.
Just let me say that I am a big fan of Johnny Knoxville and truly believe that he is a star in the making. Unfortunately that star won't rise with "The Ringer", an uninspired, completely unfunny screenplay.
The screenwriter, Ricky Blitt, has a moderate sense for the absurd but is dreadful in his attempts to write funny dialogue. Which didn't come as a surprise when I discovered that he was a writer on the lamest-wants-to-be-hip-and-edgy-so-bad-it-hurts television show to ever disgrace the television screen, "The Family Guy".
Interesting aside: early on in the script, Blitt has Knoxville's character laughing hysterically at, you guessed it, an episode of "The Family Guy".
Okay, so let's get into the nuts and bolts of this thing. Johnny Knoxville plays bumbling ne'er do well Steve Barker, a lowly office worker, who listens to self-help cd's in his cubicle. He builds up the courage to ask his boss for a promotion, who, reluctantly agrees. Steve's first job as managerial trainee is to fire the loveable, hard working Janitor, Stavi.
Upon confronting Stavi in the men's bathroom Steve is heartbroken to discover that Stavi is a recent widower and is struggling to raise eight children on his own. Unable to throw Stavi to the dogs, Steve actually hires him (at $400 a week) to mow his lawn. But they have to keep this agreement secret so the boss doesnÃt find out that Steve didn't have the heart to fire him, which is completely unnecessary because we never see Steve at work again, nor is it mentioned for the duration of this script.
So Stavi reports to work at Steve's apartment to mow the lawn. And, wouldn't you know it, he loses three fingers in a bizarre, supposedly funny off-screen accident. While at the hospital, the doctorÃs tell Steve that he seven days to get twenty-eight thousand dollars in order to pay for the surgery or Stavi will forever lose those fingers. This is called the internal clock, a lame plot device used to propel uninspired scripts.
So Steve approaches his uncle Gary, a middle aged bar owner/degenerate gambler, who is too steeped in debt to loan his nephew any money. We discover that Gary owes the mob a large sum of money and only has a few days to pay up. Gary and the mobsters, while discussing these matters, watch a news report on the television about Jimmy, a mentally challenged man who has captured the nations heart with nine consecutive wins at the Special Olympics. This gives Gary an idea.
He convinces the sweet, good natured Steve, who, coincidentally was an actor and a gold medal winning athlete in high school, to pretend to be 'retarded' so they can rig the Special Olympics, bet on it, and make a ton of money.
So Steve creates Jeffy Dahmer (get it, like the serial killer) his bumbling, mentally challenged alter ego. Jeffy places in the tryouts and is sent to a Special Olympics training camp along with the other finalists. At the camp his meets Lynn, a beautiful humanitarian who volunteers to work with the mentally challenged.
Naturally Steve falls in love with her and is conflicted because heÃs lying to her by pretending that heÃs mentally challenged. Of course Lynn is dating a seemingly sweet man, who Jeffy discovers is cheating on her with various women. So Jeffy tries to end their relationship so he can be with Lynn.
At the camp Steve befriends a group of 'tardo's' as they're called at one point, who discover that he is putting them on with the whole Jeffy act. But they don't care because they're anxious for someone to beat Jimmy, who has grown arrogant and cocky. So they set out to secretly train Jeffy while keeping his secret safe.
So this is pretty much the dreadful script. We watch as these wacky characters train Jeffy. We watch as he forms a real bond with these people. We also watch as his relationship with Lynn grows, and blah blah blah.
This script is an unfunny, low brow turd that may have been mildly amusing had it been made before "Porky's" in the early eighties. Perhaps then it would have been considered hip and edgy. This script is filled with one desperate attempt after the other to make you laugh and it just doesn't work. The humor (or lack thereof) is more dialogue oriented but sight gags abound, such as Steve trying to jump a hurdle but instead runs into it balls first (the time tested physical comedy that kept "America's Funniest Home Video's" on the air for eighteen thousand years).
And the representation of the mentally challenged is disgusting. Let me say real quick that I'm not some tree-hugging hippy who loves clean humor. I'm a big fan of John Waters early works, South Park, Troma films, Jackass, CKY, etc. So I can generally laugh at decadent and derogatory humor. But the way these characters are portrayed is ridiculous. They're all monosyllabic buffoons whose vocabulary is less expansive than Tarzan's. And the one's who do talk "normal" speak with a speech impediment or are cocky and sexually obsessed.
I wish I could point out some good things about this script, but it just isn't going to happen. I'm looking through it trying to find one thing that I enjoyed but I'm coming up empty handed. Seriously, this movie is going to make Rob Schneider films look like unappreciated works of genius, and that, in itself, should speak volumes.
In doing some research, I discovered that Ricky Blitt has no less than three projects in development, including a spin-off of the mostly unfunny Jim Carrey comedy "Me, Myself, & Irene". God help us. Ricky Blitt will turn out to be the screenwriting equivalent of Rob Schneider or Adam Sandler. His movies will be dreadful, unwatchable, crap but they'll use gimmicks like casting the hottest newcomers or having hip soundtracks to sell movie tickets. Which, in turn, will facilitate Mr. Blitt's career.
On an arbitrary scale of one to five, I give this a ZERO. It's that bad.
Well, I hope you can use this somewhere on the site.
Hopefully this won't be the last time you hear from me.
Just call me,