Welcome to another Saturday with your ol’ pal Hank.
Today we’re headed down to HOTlanta and hitting some of the shadier neighborhoods around the city.
War and Pain by D.K.
Logline: Huck wants to be a rapper, and he is putting it all on the line to chase his dream. When the hard work he and his friends have put in on their album is forcibly taken from them, they have no choice but to venture out into the mean streets of Atlanta to find out why, and who.
That said, let’s get to it.
1.) Can we visualize the description?
The description wasn’t horrible.
EXT. HOUSE- DAY
A two story home backed by forest on a quiet street.
INT. BEDROOM- DAY
HUCK, A young man of about 19 sits on his laptop computer at
a desk in a room lined with posters of various famous
figures, including The Godfather, Einstein, and Biggie
The computer screen displays a summer community college
engineering course schedule. The right of the screen is cut
off, but white is visible of the two lines in the top right
corner read as follows. -Line 1: Huck -Line 2: GPA: 4.
All the courses are check marked and highlighted.
Huck clicks a button reading “DROP COURSE.” A window comes up reading “Drop all courses?” Huck clicks yes, shuts the computer and puts it in the backpack by his seat.
He grabs the backpack and a duffel bag and is about to leave
the room when a HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK catches his eye.
Huck picks up the yearbook and turns to a prom photo of
himself with a girl- clearly his date. He sighs, puts the
yearbook back on its shelf, and exits.
It gives us what we need (but drop the first part since the forest never becomes important). Huck is a smart guy who just dropped all his classes. He also has feelings for the girl in the picture.
Nothing really grabbed me though.
One major problem I had was character introductions.
HUCK, A young man of about 19 sits on his laptop computer…
…in walks MICHAEL, a skinny friend of Huck’s. He wears a Big L t-shirt and golf shorts.
… lets in GEORGE, a heavier friend, wearing jeans
and a collared short sleeve shirt, and carrying a black bag
containing the shape of forty ounce bottles.
Now on top of what they’re wearing not being important, the crucial description (at least for this story as a comedy) is that they’re white.
At first I thought Daniel was just being clever and letting the characters be whoever we wanted, keeping casting options open, but then towards the middle of the script we meet Primp the Pimp who calls them all out.
Another problem with not knowing for the first half of the script, is there’s a lot of jokes and situations the boys are in where the humor depends on knowing that they’re white.
For instance on page 4, a black girl stares at Huck on the bus. Once she leaves, the guy next to him said she liked him, so why didn’t he hit on her? Then he accuses Huck of being gay or not liking black girls. The last part’s funnier if he’s white because it puts him in the awkward situation of being called racist.
I didn’t know at this point, so I was unsure of how to take the joke.
Other than some characters using a version of the N word, nothing was really racist, but again some of the jokes might have been lost on me due to the fact that the 3 main characters were nerdy white guys.
Some smaller stuff.
The bus stops, and Huck climbs on, reaching back into his pocket for his wallet.
Description like this can be dropped. We don’t need to see anyone get on a bus, pay the bus driver, open doors, etc.
As Roy always mentions, use inferring. He’s running after a bus with the next scene being on the bus. We’ll understand he caught it.
There’s a lot of this stuff throughout the script that can be eliminated. (Don’t feel bad, as I do it too.) Parking the car and then getting out. Opening and closing doors, etc.
Go back and edit it out.
Along with unnecessary action is character descriptions. I included it above, but we don’t need to know what the characters are wearing unless that’s somehow important to the plot.
(For instance the taggers, we need to know they have spray paint, since they use it later in the script.)
5 out of 10 points.
2.) Does the author use an acceptable format?
Format was good. The only problem I had was the incorrect (and overuse) of “(beat).”
This gets its own line.
I don’t like to use them.
But sometimes you need a dramatic pause.
At most I’d say use this trick 3 times tops in a script. Most of the dialogue it’s used in for this script doesn’t need a pause aside from a normal pause at a period.
8 out of 10 points.
3.) Is the dialogue free of exposition and rich in subtext? Does each character have a unique voice?
Unique voices, not really. Huck, Michael, and George all sound the same. They’re friends and part of that makes sense, but they need to be speak similar while maintaining different character traits.
The one exception is George’s dialogue. Most of it that makes sense sounds like the other two, but half of his lines make no sense. It felt like it was an inside joke, that we as the audience aren’t clued in on. That’s a problem.
Well, I mean, there’s gotta be a
reason, right? Do you have any
The guys look at one another. (George stops swearing.)
Tons, what’s that got to do with
Yeah, you make no sense, woman.
Both Michael and George’s reactions bothered me here, as it’s clear why Mona’s asking. Someone stole something from them. An enemy would want to do that.
Other than that, Michael steers back on track (or at least he did for me) but George just seemed out there anytime there were girls around.
He needs a bit of clearing up.
Another thing that didn’t make sense was on page 11. George and Michael speak at the same time, but Michael’s line doesn’t add anything. It’s a misuse of double speak, which a lot of folks aren’t huge fans of anyway. If you’re going to do it, make sure you need it and that the dialogue’s fantastic.
Dialogue ran longgggg….
A lot of it needs trimming. (Don’t say in three what can be said in two.)
No! It’s your life! You’re choosing
to throw it away on some idiotic
fad, and when you fail, you’re not
going back to cushy technical
college, you’re going to the army!
First can we name Huck’s father?
Second, how about a little subtext.
Remember, once you fuck this up it’s off to the Army you go.
One line. Now go back and ANYTIME someone has more than one line in a bit of dialogue, ask yourself if you can trim it down.
One last note, on page 17 you have a line for Lisa when you mean Mona. (Save this for your reveal.)
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?
It’s a trip around Atlanta.
There’s some definite hijinks worthy of a movie, but it lacks structure, which we’ll get to later.
Still the funny bits would lead to a funny trailer.
7 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?
It felt like a stoner comedy. Ironically, and I’ve only seen parts, it felt like a more amateur version of Malibu’s Most Wanted. I kept picturing Jamie Kennedy as Huck.
The one thing I do believe Daniel has going for him though is he made Atlanta feel real, especially Ponce Street and the folks that inhabit it.
3 out of 10 points.
6.) Does the script have a hook?
I liked the logline, although initially I thought it was stolen as in they created this awesome rap, and some big rap star stole it.
Essentially though, the first two pages drew me in.
Like I mentioned, Huck’s a smart guy who’s following a dream despite his dad not agreeing, and there’s a potential romance hinted at.
The one thing I didn’t like was the dialogue running long.
13 out of 15 points.
7.) Is that hook effective?
Again, it was.
Huck’s out on his own. He has his friends over. They’re mixing some beats. See a hot girl…and BOOM. Two thugs break in with guns and steal their USB drive.
Not only is their chance at fame taken away, but it’s clear they’re not the guys the goons were after in the first place.
Everything’s set up for a good story.
My problem here though is the unnecessary description both with what everyone’s wearing/carrying, and spelling out every action for us (like running, getting on, and paying for the bus).
12 out of 15 points.
8.) Is there enough to maintain the hook? Reveals, conflict, etc.?
Sadly, no this is where the story falls apart.
It was very episodic.
Characters literally go from scene to scene with their misadventures, but it isn’t driven by plot.
The entire time they’re searching for Ryan, who the goons were actually looking for, and never seem to find him. Conveniently for Daniel and his script, Leia keeps showing this picture she drew of him and people recognize it pointing them onward.
It’s a convenient plot point, especially since most people can’t remember the face of someone who mugged them 5 minutes ago in real life.
There needs to be MORE driving us through the story. The funny parts are good, and Ponce is a weird and wacky place, but being there needs to relate more to the plot. The group can’t just check there and oh, lucky them, Ryan was there after all. They need a reason to check every place that they do.
They can’t spend a lot of time on Ryan either, because he’s not the person who took the drive in the first place. The goons did because they THOUGHT Huck and company were Ryan and company.
It’s all too convenient how these random people have seen Ryan. When they were at the diner and the waitress tells them Ryan gave a CD to a strange lady, and our group gets all excited, I wanted to scream. It made no sense why Ryan would have their USB port, the goons took it.
The script felt like a quest around Atlanta to get high.
However, as I mentioned some of the scenes were funny, they just need to drive the plot more.
3 out of 10 points.
9.) Does the story play to a target audience, and have the elements demanded by that audience?
There’s probably a market for this, but again, I’d check and see how well Malibu’s Most Wanted did before continuing.
The main problem the audience will have is the ending.
It’s too convenient that they get high and wander around Atlanta only to have the bad guys they’re looking for find them. (Oh and Mona’s twist was kind of lame.)
Not only do they fall into the laps of the bad guys, but they’re let off the hook AND given a $1 Million recording contract. (And why did Huck get beat up only to be left in the gutter?)
Too happy of a happy ending.
It needs to be harder for them, and they need to spend less time on Ryan.
Mona vs. Leia was never really planned out either. This was a HUGE missed opportunity that the audience will have a problem with, since Huck more or less ends up with Leia for no other reason than they do. And on top of that she’s bisexual, or thinks she is.
What would be better is for them both to have feelings for Huck, and he should sense this. One step further could be that Leia ALSO notices new feelings for Mona. That’d be funny and add a lot of depth, not to mention Mona having feelings would make watching Huck and Co. less of a job and more of a desire.
It’s an empty plot point right now with all sorts of potential.
I loved the idea that Huck was a smart kid who essentially following an unintellectual path, or at least what most parents would consider unintellectual.
The problem was, other than seeing his 4.0 on the computer initially, nothing is ever done with this. He seems just as stoned and clueless as his two friends. What might help is to have him mask his intelligence and play it down. Maybe he makes suggestions, but then back peddles, embarrassed that he’s smarter than his best friends.
Something should shine through here as I feel it’s another missed opportunity a reader or audience won’t be happy about.
Again though, there were some low brow jokes that I chuckled at and would appeal to a certain audience, especially one who would watch this movie baked.
4 out of 10 points.
The script was 98 pages and I read it quickly.
The one problem I had is trying to figure out why they were spending so much time trying to find the guy that duped them into renting the apartment. Then I was further confused by the fact that they’d seem to be getting close, but would stop to eat, get high, or go buy more weed to get high.
They didn’t seem very interested in their goal, other than to remind us every once in a while that their phat beats were stolen.
My suggestion would be to go back and see what jokes work, and then tie them into the story. Those that don’t, get rid of them. How do you tell? Well if a joke is in there and it has nothing to do with them finding the two goons that stole their USB drive (losing your pants on the subway), it doesn’t belong. And I’m talking a STRONG connection to the plot, not just a funny chance to show someone a picture of the guy you think might know something about the guys that stole your intellectual property.
Total 56 out of 100 points.