Hank here.

Tip of the day:

An “isle” is what we all hope to buy once we sell our scripts for millions of dollars, while an “aisle” is where we buy the Ramen Noodles that sustain us while we wait.

Today we’re looking at WallyWorld by J. Ryan.

Christmas Eve and our sad, lonely crew of grocery store employees can’t wait to punch out for the night. Too bad some “down on their luck” robbers have different plans for the evening.

1.) Can we visualize the description?

Yes. J. Ryan does a good job of giving us details, and the mental pictures weren’t really a problem. Taking two points off though as there is some description that isn’t needed throughout the script.

Page 4:

They get out of the windy winter weather outside and back inside their workplace of WALLYWORLD. They both enter through the GENERAL PRODUCTS SECTION of the store on the right side.

Should be:

Evan and Cassie enter WallyWorld through the “General Products Section” on the right side of the store.

Another example from page 5:

Evan continues back towards the employee section in the back of the store to clock back in from lunch. CASSIE already went back while EVAN and TREVOR were talking.

EVAN walks through the double doors which read “Employees Only” above, and makes a right towards the Time Clock and Employee Lounge.

Should be:

Cassie leaves Trevor and Evan to say their goodbyes. Evan turns and enters the “Employees Only” door. He makes a right into the employee lounge and punches back in on the time clock.

I’d argue that some of this stuff isn’t entirely necessary either, but if J. Ryan needs it in the script, then it’s time to trim the fat on large portions of it.

8 out of 10 points.

2.) Does the author use an acceptable format?

First thing, as some of you may have noticed this was in RTF format. J. Ryan, switching over to PDF is so much easier for the reader.

The format wasn’t bad, but there were a few places where the description ran over 5 lines which isn’t good.

Characters names were also capitalized throughout which isn’t needed. Rule here is either first time they’re introduced, or a max of the first time they’re introduced in each scene.

This sort of script coming in at 135 pages is pretty long, especially when a lot can be trimmed from it due to unnecessary dialogue and description.

All in all though, not too many problems (unless reading it on an iPad which I did initially, and it looked horrible).

9 out of 10 pages.

3.) Is the dialogue free of exposition and rich in subtext? Does each character have a unique voice?

No. Three problems here that support that answer.

Easiest first. No need to capitalize every name in dialogue. While we’re at it, not all characters need to call other characters by their name. 75% of the dialogue is that way, and in several instances Evan even has to say “Evan” when talking to himself.

Unique Voices.

All of the characters sounded alike and that needs to be fixed. I’d argue even before some of the plot changes I’m going to suggest later on.

Here are a few examples from various parts in the script:

CASSIE
Tell me why she gonna start scanning her own damn groceries? I never seen anybody this rude in my life. This lady was crazy!

EVAN
Yes it is. I’ll be here Saturday and Sunday. You know WALLYWORLD not gonna give me any weekends off, Christmas or not.

ANDREW
You one of my best workers, I don’t need EVAN distracting you or trying any funny business.

VINNIE
Alright. Lets roll out of here and start getting ready. We gonna do this right today bro!

ERIC
You already know. This the day we been waiting for. It’s time to go to work.

Now, most of this is the lack of “is” and “are” and some other stuff, but another part of this is what they’re talking about.

Most of the entire first Act is the staff bitching about how work sucks and us seeing it. We all know work sucks, that’s why most of us hate our jobs, so WHY would we go to pay for a movie where have to watch other people “work”? (An exception to this is something like Waiting, where it was poking fun of a lot of things restaurant staff goes through, but this isn’t a comedy.)

Grammar, Proofreading, and Matter of Fact Dialogue…

I’ve already mentioned part of the grammar in the above statement, but also watch using slang terms, especially “gonna”. A rule of thumb is to write dialogue in proper English, and if a certain tone or dialect needs to be added to the character let the actor do that.

This script needs a thorough proofreading also. A lot of small mistakes peppered the script. Mainly words that weren’t caught by spell-check because they’re spelled right, just the wrong words.

Lastly, and where the script had the BIGGEST dialogue problem was the “on the nose” back and forth. I’ll give one quick example, but in an effort to save time, this REALLY needs to be reworked.

Page 128:

MARCUS
You got em! Damn that gun is loud as hell.

ERIC
Only got one more shot left. Keep the wheel steady!

MARCUS
This is some madness EVAN. You paying me back for these car damages!

EVAN
No problem. It might take me a few months but no problem.

Then later:

MARCUS
These dudes are nuts. Where the cops at? They might mess around and pull us over first with you flapping a shotgun all out the window and shit!

EVAN
If I don’t take one of these tires out with this last shell I got we might as well let the cops grab these psychos. You know I’m just trying get some payback for tonight right? No way would I kill us on Christmas man.

MARCUS
I can’t tell! You should be taking me to a hospital if anything. Instead you got me out here about to bleed to death on the highway and damn near about to get me shot again. Damn it EVAN! The idiots in the van gonna get theirs eventually. You out here trying to be Steven Seagal in my damn car about to get us both killed! Skip that EVAN man!

EVAN
Just one more shot left.

And it goes on like this for some time. This is a CAR CHASE and one of the more exciting parts of the script, but unfortunately the action gets sacrificed so these characters can deliver their speeches.

*NOTE* Evan also talks TOO much about being stuck at work for the rest of the night and having to come right back on December 26. Give him something else to say instead of beating us over the head with it.

1 out of 10 points.

4.) Does the writer understand the challenges and rewards posed by the medium chosen in which to tell his/her story? Shorthand version of this is: Is it a movie and not a play?

Yes and no. It was set in a store for most of the script which is fine, but there was a lot of talking. Even once the bad guys show up and start taking hostages it has a “hum dee dum” feel to how they’re conducting the heist.

Needs more big action or compelling suspense.

Two scenes that save it are once Evan gets a gun from Tyler and the car chase. Even the back and forth once half the staff gets free is kind of dull.

2 out of 10 points.

5.) Is there anything unique in what the writer presents? Are the writer’s ideas, based on this sample, likely to continue to be original?

Setting the heist in a grocery store is kind of interesting, but not enough to warrant much of a score.

Keep in mind Reindeer Games and Die Hard both had these Christmas Eve type set ups where hostages are taken. Die Hard did it very well, and trying to beat that will be tricky, considering most film professors still drool all over that particular film.

The title needs to be changed too. When I asked the kids where they wanted to go this year, you know where they said? WallyWorld, dad. Google Wally World if you don’t know what movie that’s from, but it was a pretty big plot point at the end of it.

Other than the initial premise there’s nothing we really haven’t seen before.

3 out of 10 points.

6.) Does the script have a hook?

Yes. The initial premise wasn’t entirely up my alley, but I’ll say the title misled me, as I thought it was going to somehow be a spoof on National Lampoons Vacation or tie into it somehow. Even when I saw it wasn’t I still hoped there’d be an action packed script inside a super Walmart type store.

8 out of 15 points.

7.) Is that hook effective?

Negative. Even when the first bad guy, Eric, comes to spot out the joint, we’ve been stuck reading 15 pages of people bitching about working Christmas Eve. I used to work retail, I know it sucks, but I’m pretty sure someone can guess that even if they haven’t.

The one thing I will award points for is the introduction of a love interest (or two actually). This helped the story and should have led to more drama later on. (Sadly it didn’t.)

5 out of 15 points.

8.) Is there enough to maintain the hook? Reveals, conflict, etc.?

I mentioned the two scenes above. That was pretty much it.

Too many characters.

This seems to be my new pet peeve, but GOOD NIGHT, how many managers were there? How many supervisors? I get this is a big store, but most of the assistant ones just seemed to hold hands with the main bosses. GET RID OF THEM!!! The beauty of Hollywood is we don’t have to be completely realistic with our stories.

Jeff can stay. Steve can stay. They’re both crucial to getting the safe opened. Andrew can stay but Kelly needs to be merged into Annie or vice versa. That way they can be incentive for Jeff and Steve giving Vinnie what he and the gang wants.

Where did Cassie go? Did J. Ryan change her to Tiffany and forget to change the first part?

Don’t make everyone buddy, buddy.

Everyone seems to like Evan, which is fine, he’s our main character and should be likeable. After that though, some people need to dislike each other or have doubts about one another. Especially Jady. There was a real chance to make her a better character by having the rest of the staff wonder what was up with her, and have a few characters suspicious of her.

She’d be torn as some of these people have become close friends, but she doesn’t want to upset Eric who should be more of a love interest. Make it known she likes him, and make her more of an enigma to her coworkers, like holiday help or something, where she’s friendly at work, but doesn’t really hang out with them after. Make characters drop a hint or two about that fact.

Drag…tension…out…

There are several scenes where we could have been left guessing what was going to happen to Evan.

A WONDERFUL idea for scripts of this nature is to show bad guys waiting at one door, while Evan approaches a door, only we find out at the last second he’s gone in through a different door. These “oh crap” moments keep our heart rates up.

Same idea for when Tyler is hunting him down initially in the aisles. He could be in one aisle, and Tyler looks like he’s getting closer, but at the last minute Evan isn’t there or in another aisle that looks similar. This builds conflict and keeps us on the edge of our seats.

One more idea I had was when Eric’s chasing Evan through the back of the store. It’d be cool if earlier Evan saw Mike or another lazy employee hiding back there. Evan knows about the hiding spot and chews Mike out but doesn’t rat him out.

This serves two purposes. One is Evan’s a respectable guy who says when someone’s wrong but doesn’t tattle on them. But is also gives him knowledge that allows him to escape Eric later on.

Add MORE of this action to the script, and START it faster, but for what there is now:

2 out of 10 points.

9.) Does the story play to a target audience, and have the elements demanded by that audience?

In addition to the above, work on the love story.

I’m not saying change this into a romantic comedy, but why is Evan doing this? I get he’s a good guy that doesn’t liked to be pushed around, but he’s no ex-marine or the like.

We need a believable reason why he’d step up like this. As I mentioned above I think there’s an EXCELLENT opportunity to set up a love triangle between he, Tiffany and Nicole.

It’s obvious he likes Nicole, and that should initially be why he does this, but then have him get stuck with Tiffany or something (perhaps have him save HER with that hiding place idea mentioned above). Maybe the reason she finally broke up with her boyfriend was because she finally realized how she felt about Evan. The two of them running from Tyler or Eric really builds the conflict of their relationship, leading up to a KISS at the end, not a lame ass hug.

This type of stuff yields new and exciting plot points to consider, which right now is needed.

As I’ve said in other reviews, these characters should be in trouble…always. Being held at gunpoint isn’t enough. We expect to see these folks fighting for their lives for at least 60 of the 90 minutes we’re paying to be entertained.

2 out of 10 points.

Conclusion:

The script needs a lot of work. More white space needs to be created, and some parts should be ejected altogether in favor of more fast paced, intense scenes.

Things I liked though:

I enjoyed the payoff of Evan talking about being a cashier. This was set up perfectly in that he made reference to it twice in the script, which set up his one liner with Vinnie at the end. Keep that exactly as it is.

I also enjoyed the colored masks idea, and how the crooks communicated by calling themselves by colors. Careful with this though, as it’s very close to Reservoir Dogs. I think there’s an opportunity where one of them forgets and calls someone by their name.

Lastly, I think it was cool to have more cash than usual in the safe. At first when Eric said, “We’ll be millionaires,” I lol’ed. The reason why after though made sense, BUT I think it should be explained by Steve or Jeff to someone else early on, that they need to be extra careful.

In closing, I think there’s a good idea in there, but it’s going to take some work for J. Ryan to flush it out.

I, for one, hope he does, because none of us should give up on our writing.

40 out of 100 points.

3 COMMENTS

  1. First off, thanks for taking the time to review my script! This website is extremely useful of aspiring writers. Second, thanks for pointing out the “isle” mistake. Thirdly, OUCH!!! Wasn’t expecting a critical thrashing of that proportion.

    I do agree that there was a lack of action for the first half of the script, but I felt the characters were appealing enough to carry that portion of the story along until the excitement begins. I really want the audience to actually care about the outcome of the employees who are put in this scary scenario. Apparently that was not the case for your reading enjoyment. I will definitely work on tightening up that first act.

    The main point I have to disagree with in your review is your opinion that all the characters lack separate personalities. The main character Evan is your everyman young adult, and not your typical action hero. He’s an average Joe placed in a tough situation, and he is able to rise to the occasion because of his work ethic, which is displayed in the opening act of the script. His friend Tiffany is the polar opposite of his love interest Nicole. Tiffany is a down-to-earth, laid-back, friendly personality, while Nicole is hinted at being a talkative, stuck-up, pretentious drama-queen. And supervisor Andrew is a trash-talking, head in the gutter exploiter. The criminals are not your average bunch either. Vinnie is a white guy obsessed with gaining back his riches and street respect, while also working with people half his age. Eric and Tyler form an unusual friendship that you don’t see in movies that often. Tyler in particular has the potential to be an audience favorite!

    I really thought the idea of shotgun displays being shattered open, along with exploding propane tanks and a martial arts fighting female would excite you a little more as well. Glad you liked the car chase though!

    So while I do feel you were a little harsh on the script, you pointed out some valid points that will help me going forward. And yes I have seen the Vacation movies! The theme park was spelled “WalleyWorld” with an “E” though in that film. I got the name “WallyWorld” from the common slang applied to Wal-mart stores. Until I find a name that has the same ring to it, I’m gonna have to stick with it. Plenty of movies have been released with the exact same title as a previous movie (Bad Boys), let alone a movie title that has a similar name to a fictional theme park in a 30 year old movie. But thanks again for your advice as it is greatly appreciated. Keep up the great work on the site!

    • Ryan,

      Thanks for checking back and letting me read the script.

      I noticed you’ve gotten a few more downloads of your script on Amazon Studios, so maybe a few of those people who read it could weigh in.

      Roy and I always like to be proven wrong if it benefits the writer!

  2. I noticed the extra downloads as well. You guys here get full credit for that! Your review was extremely helpful, and I will keep those notes handy when working on the next draft. You also get first dibs on my next (and hopefully better) script. Thanks again!

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