An excerpt from my script review for The Menu which will be available 12/19/22:
3.) Quality of Characters
Here’s where I took the most issue.
Creating Character Motivation That Works…
Why was he so obsessed with Chef Slowik? It’s never fully explained, I mean he’s literally sitting there mentally “jerking off” to the courses as people are dying around him.
You can’t make one of your main characters a complete douchebag…so far as if you’re going to try and sell us on a romantic relationship with your main character.
That’s all I could think about the more Tyler opened his mouth to fanboi over the Chef and the food.
It was hard to read…
Now don’t get me wrong, the dock scene builds some fantastic character tension in the awkward way Margot and Tyler interact, Margot avoiding eye contact with Richard, and Tyler with the “Bernie Bros” or whatever they were meant to be.
The problem is it doesn’t take but the boat ride to figure either…
- The writers aren’t doing a proper job selling this relationship.
- Margot is a hired escort.
Your script is trying to be mysterious, build tension, and tease us to the real reveal…why not sell this relationship a bit better?
Tyler can be an “uber fan” without needing to be a dick to Margot. In fact if you did it properly, you could write him to be elusive to what the final theme might be for the menu, but teasing Margot along.
Or have him make references to the girlfriend that was supposed to be there, and apologize to Margot for bringing it up. Maybe the other girl was a foodie too. Him being apologetic (and not pathetic) makes the reveal at the end all the better because he saved one life by bringing Margot instead.
Margot’s profession just didn’t come as a twist for me, because it became more and more transparent as she was pushed for personal information and Tyler became more unlikable.
Then the one other fact…if Tyler knew everyone was going to die, why would he take pictures of the courses?
He won’t ever be able to use them and he pissed Chef off by doing so.
It was dumb.
(Granted there’s this throwaway line before he hangs himself where Chef said Tyler thought he was going to live, but it seemed like an “after the fact” fix to an issue brought up in an earlier draft.)
Honestly, Tyler couldn’t die soon enough for me, and the only issue I had with the hanging was that it didn’t come 15+ pages earlier. And this was before I learned he doomed Margot to die!
That’s an issue folks. Audiences can dislike members, they can even hate your villain with a certain amount of respect for the motivation, but if you create a character audiences are cheering for to die…I’d rethink some things.
Particularly when you already have a group of three tech douchebags to use as meat for the grinder.
Enough rage about Tyler.
These parts were all done well.
You’re curious if they’re all just eccentric…or something more.
Elsa…Linda…introduction of Chef Slowik…kitchen staff that act like robots…
All of this was good.
Like I mentioned in the previous section, I enjoyed the mannerisms of how Chef pressed Margot on who she really was.
Did he need to follow her into the bathroom? For the story, yes, as it was more for information than anything sexual.
He almost felt devoid of sexuality by the time this story takes place.
One last thing…
Yes they were pretty awful people, who maybe didn’t deserve to die, but as a reader I could understand where Chef Slowik was coming from.
(That said, yours truly wouldn’t campfire people.)
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