An excerpt from my script review for Nautica which will be available 2/23/15:
2.) Plot Stability
Very sound plot.
Like I mentioned above, I was kept on my toes the entire time trying to figure out exactly what happened and who I could, and couldn’t, trust.
Three characters. Three different stories. (Even with one of them dead.)
It’s the job of Inspector Anderson, and we the readers, to figure out what is true.
Max, high seas ladies man, is stranded on the remote Caribbean island of Cristos, but not for long. Fate smiling upon him, a kid from his neighborhood (from 20 years ago) suddenly sails in, and damn near crashes into the dock.
Max helps him out, and one things leads to another, with Max hired on to help Frank, the friend, and Kathy, Frank’s girlfriend sail back to Florida.
Frank is a dick to Max, and Kathy wants Max’s hands all over her, so of course there’s trouble. Not to mention Max stumbling upon a sack of cash and lightening it a bit for his troubles.
Everything blows up when Max makes one fatal mistake, anchoring the boat for the evening, and telling Frank he’s not continuing on to Florida.
Frank loses his temper, there’s a storm, “accidents” happen, and the result is Max and Frank fighting each other overboard, leaving Kathy to choose who to save.
Abusive Frank she’s’ known for “three weeks” or the chiseled Max she’s currently lusting after?
She picks Max.
Okay, but here’s the problem, that altercation took place several months ago, but Frank’s dead body only just washed up. On top of that, Max and Kathy don’t have the same story.
We’re essentially presented with 3 different versions:
A.) Max’s Story
B.) Kathy’s story
C.) Max’s “Real” Story
The beauty of this plot is the more stuff changes, the more interested we become.
Did Frank kill two people back in New York?
Is Kathy innocent?
Who are they running from?
Can we trust Kathy?
Why are they after Max?
Why isn’t Kathy working in the travel agency back in New York?
Each of these questions kept me turning the pages, fantastic work of the writer.
The ONE problem…
Turns out Frank successfully switched places with Max, and we’re treated to an end credits scene that shows us who is really who (different from the “Max” and “Frank” we watched the whole film).
It feels like a “quick fix” and a real issue needed to pull off a great plot.
So what can we do?
Very first scene, “Max” is found on a wrecked Nautica (the boat’s name btw), and he’s not looking great.
Simple here, play up the bruises, the salt water sores, everything, so it’s hard to see his face. Do so early, and we’ll think, “Shit, this guy’s had a rough go of things,” and not that there’s a twist coming later.
Couple this with Anderson chatting up a recovering “Max” and the payoff still works at the end, with no need to cheat. (Bonus points if there’s some physical feature that gives him away at the end, tattoo, birthmark, lack of either, etc.)
Another suggestion for improving the plot is tying in Anderson to the bad guys chasing Frank and Kathy, ESPECIALLY with him stealing the money at the end.
Want the full review? Follow this link to the Nautica Script Review and please chime in if you’d like to see this one get made!
And be sure to check out our Notes Service, where I give my detailed thoughts and suggestions on your script.