Hi Hunter, Nice work. You have a grammar issue with periods. 70% of your sentences lack them. It’s all in your dialogue, the last line, unless it’s a question mark or an exclamation mark, you’re missing periods, all throughout. It must be your software, of which the brand is watermarked in the lower left hand corner of every page: “Created using Celtx.” I would use better software that doesn’t make you advertise on your script for them. It looks cheap. It must’ve been free. Whatever the case, I think any legit producer or reader is going to be put off by it. Spend some money, this is important, this is your writing. Why would you let some cheap brand advertise on your artwork? (Also, I think the standard is double space after each sentence.) On page 7 Price’s dad says, “how about you actually learn to count today.” What’s he talking about? It’s the first thing he’s said and presumably it’s about hockey, but I don’t get what counting refers to. Price’s mom’s insistence on talking about Louisiana to the point she’s in the locker room, before the game, and tells Price to go talk to her, is a bit much. It’s annoying and delusional, because Price has said nothing, nor anyone else, to encourage her fantasy of the two of them. If you want a deluded character that’s fine, but I don’t think she really serves the plot. She’s a nuisance at this point. Why does Price want to play so badly after twisting his ankle? He’s been shown as aloof, more interested in playing Mario Kart than connecting with his teammates. He doesn’t respond to his dad, the coach, when he’s trying to motivate him. I would think an injury would be just what he wanted. Price insists “it’s the finals” (18). But my impression is he’s not good enough to make a mark in the finals and he knows it. Even though later Louisiana says that he’s a good player, I tend to lean more towards the Asperger’s diagnosis (that is only mentioned once, but please go more into that!), that describes him, as he’s always awkward, and has a diminutive size for an athlete. This is a great line: “You’re telling me that yesterday is today and today is tomorrow which is supposed to be today” (23)? A pharmacist would never ask what kind of tranquilizer his customer wants. Prescriptions are set in stone by the doctor. I like Price and Louisiana’s scenes together, especially as they walk with their lemonades and she gives her MO on her perception of what’s normal, and actually nothing is normal, and everyone deep down is a weirdo. It’s nice to hear a character lighten up and be free, especially one who’s twenty and idealistic, rather than someone who’s too affixed to things materially, like social media, and the superficiality of a pretty girl. I’m really confused as to why Price goes to such an extent of asking Louisiana out when she already motioned to kiss him several scene back. They were just interrupted by Kent. Why would Price spend so many days, nine attempts, at asking her the right line? He’s already got this. And entertainment-wise, if you are going to do what “Groundhog Day” did, you need to have a dialogue with her that goes far more into it than just one line. It’s not that interesting. It’s one line rephrased nine times. Remember, when Bill Murray, or Phil, had a good game going, ‘cause he learned from all the previous scenes various info about what makes Andy MacDowell tick? We saw all those failed attempts. Then we saw him get close. Then he would blow it again, and try yet again, ad infinitum. We were in the game with him. Here, so far, your character is continually being saved (where he should fail) by Louisiana. Even when he spills water on her, and when he doesn’t even try to attract her or flirt, she’s still sticking around him, letting him be a “weirdo,” she says that he’s not, even though he’s never dated at the age of nineteen. So why would you have nine scenes of him saying the first line of a pickup, when she’s already sold? Unless you want to make him such an oddball that he doesn’t see Louisiana’s flirtatious nature toward him, at which case you still need longer scenes. We want to see how he capitalizes on moments he failed before, and then the new challenge as their conversation gets closer to intimacy, and right at that moment of kiss and connection Phil says/does the wrong thing, and we could just kick him! You know, that’s the fun of the infinite do-overs you get with a game like this. Of course, the Aspergers could be the culprit in all this and would explain why he doesn’t catch onto her obvious flirtations. But we need more Aspergers’ like behavior. It’s not enough to make him aloof (though it is a good start), but don’t they have repetitive, and, to some degree, redundant behaviors? Their very speech is staccato. Think of Freddie Highmore in “The Good Doctor.” And I would imagine there are subtler degrees of it, but I think what you captured at the cliff suicide scene is real. That’s your golden ticket. Establish more of the mental illness with Price and you’ve got a viable sci-fi., Rom-com with a collegiate level hockey tournament. Your writing is great. Very believable, and has a flow, it’s just making everything match. Delve more into Price’s psychosis, and also you need to somehow explain why he’s repeating the same day over again. In “Groundhog Day” it was this sort of Buddhist ideology of acceptance and turning away from temptation, and this Christian altruism where he was helping everyone out. You end with him winning the game and the girl, and if that’s it then that’s fine, but you have to somehow show his ongoing day ending. And if that sounds a little shallow compared to “Groundhog Day,” then maybe you should explore more reasons as to why his day would be recurring in perpetuity. What you have works but what I’m saying is you should discover more as to why this supernatural event is occurring. Think about this, you’re perhaps the first writer to be tackling this theme of repeated days occurring since Harold Ramis and Bill Murray. That’s a loaded subject, since their movie is already heralded as a classic. That’s mighty big shoes to fill, and you know everyone will be comparing your movie to theirs. Overall, good work, but get to work! I want to see this developed to its fullest potential. You’ve got a great start. Also, consider some social media, or more references to texting. I think you mentioned it maybe once. Everyone is going to be expecting modern technology, and I'm sure they discount it when it's not readily mentioned.
Firstly, when you introduce your main character you should have a last name for him. Even if it’s not used, we need his last name. It not only reveals perhaps ethnicity (which you note of others’), but it gives us a better mental image. And also, it looks bad, as if he’s a poorly created character. We’re not told Eddie’s last name till page 9. This line is clunky. Try to say this clearer: “PATRICK O’ Donnell (67) has a face that would crack anything but a smile and a feral, predatory glare” (1). Also, you need the full name in caps when first introduced. Patrick’s response to why he hires Eddie is great: “Because you’re cheaper than a jukebox and smaller than a table” (1). It’s confusing about the money transaction. Patrick gives Eddie money for the game, calling it a loan, then he yells, “Girl! cash [sic] up Mr [sic] Presley here for tonight’s little group therapy session” (3). Then you say, “Patrick snatches the money from Eddie and sharply pulls Lorna towards him, forcing the soiled banknotes into her bra” (3). Which bank notes? He just gave Eddie some, then he yells to a girl to “cash up” Eddie, Lorna, being the only girl so far introduced, so it has to be her. But that transaction isn’t described, so is Patrick snatching the loan he just gave Eddie, and forcing it down his daughter’s bra? But why? Also, his insult, calling Eddie’s Elvis act a “little group therapy session” (3), to me isn’t a good metaphor. How is a musical act anything like group therapy? The only thing I can think of is if you’re trying to say Eddie is working out his psychological issues by performing. But that would be his own, not pertaining to a “group,” and a far better allusion would be it being his own personal therapy session. But there’s still confusion about the money transaction, as on the next page, Eddie asks Lorna for “a little credit extension, keeping this between us” (4). Then “Lorna cautiously hands back Eddie’s earnings” (4). If they’re his “earnings,” how is it a “credit extension?” And if they were his then Patrick did snatch his money after telling Lorna to “cash up,” and shove it down her bra, for what reason then I don’t get. Just to be evil and misogynistic? Why would he loan money to Eddie then steal money from him, giving it to his daughter who just gives it back to Eddie as a credit extension, “keeping this between us,” as Eddie says, apparently completely ignorant to the fact that it’s already his money. That the characters would do this seems not only irrational and nonsensical, but outside any meaningful actions people would engage in. If you could rewrite it as if the characters were cognizant of this paradox, then you would have something. But that kind of humor may not be your style. (If you don’t mind I’d like to use it, lol!) So Lorna sounds like she’s trying to dissuade Eddie from gambling when she says, “Why do you even play that poker, it’s all blooming luck and that’ll end the day a nag finally comes through for ya” (5). Ok, so she says’ don’t play poker because it’s luck, but bet on horses because it’s not luck? Huh? What is she saying here? It doesn’t make sense. This is a nice description: “Eddie’s opponent is reflected in his oversized aviators, nervously tapping his fingers and occasionally re-checking their two cards,” though it should be his two cards (6). On page 7 it’s the brain of the Scarecrow, not of the Tin Man, he was looking for a heart. On page 10 Patrick derides Eddie for losing the five grand that he leant him. The mysterious money trail continues. You know, I’m wary about even mentioning it, but I like the line, but it’s such an old reference by now, when Patrick says, “I’d say you’ve had about as much luck with them ponies than that Christopher Reeve” (11). And the fact that Lorna, who’s only 27 would get it, which is indicated by her response, “Da stop it! You’re disgusting,” is unlikely (12). He died in 2004. Also, I like Lev making an argument as to why Russians always play bad guys in movies, and yet they’re not played by Russian actors, like Dolph Lundgren in “Rocky IV.” Again, it would be more marketable for you to mention more recent films. Though I like how he insists that Alan Rickman played a Russian character in “Die Hard,” even as Boris says he was German, his name being “Hans.” It’s a fine line. These are iconic movies, so maybe younger people know them. I’m 45 and definitely get the references. But then you reference Steve McQueen, and the Cincinnati Kid, the latter of which I’ve heard of, but don’t know, and the former, I think I saw some of “Bullitt,” but that was released back in 1968, so you’re pushing it. This is an excellent line: “You’re free to choose your path Eddie, but just remember you’re not free to altar the consequences of that choice” (24). I like the scene with Lorna and Eddie at Paddy’s Wake when they’re alone, where she’s drunk, saying she wants her ashes smoked with crack. It’s irreverent and funny. And Eddie is kinda in his own world, thinking about the negatives of funerals. Like their dialogue is overlapping, as easily as thoughts. Overall, I like a lot of it a lot. I think you could have a more defining moment for Eddie, and his Elvis persona. You could do more with it. It just seems like he performs a couple of times to a small, unappreciative audience, and that’s it. Some stuff about his performance is mentioned at the beginning, as the old inebriated, Conor, says Eddie resembled Elvis towards the end of his life, as he’s bloated and drugged-out looking. And Patrick insults him now and again for being a lousy performer. Conor says his singing isn’t like him, and Lorna quips, “You get to die in a toilet, every night” like Elvis (3). Which begs the question, why does he do it? He’s your protagonist. Protagonists, with the exception of Forest Gump, and maybe the two protagonists of “Dumb & Dumber,” are supposed to be smart, crafty. They’re supposed to be heroes, or show traits of them. The only trait that is redeemable (and it’s a big one), is Eddie’s generosity. That last scene where he gives the sister his World Series of Poker gold bracelet is reminiscent of Whoopi Goldberg in “Ghost,” where Patrick Swayze convinces her to write over the check for millions of dollars to the nun. You could even milk it more like they did in that movie. It’s a character- defining scene, and he does it a few times, so I commend him on that. However, don’t short-shrift the Elvis thing. I think the only other place Elvis is mentioned is near the end where he says he likes to hide behind different personas, the other being “Fast Eddie” from Paul Newman’s “The Hustler.” If he is really bad at playing Elvis then explore that. Why is it the only thing, outside of gambling, that he does? He must really love Elvis. So give us some scenes, even a monologue as to why he loves Elvis so much. Or why he loathes him that he was so talented, and he apparently has none of his traits; and how he loathes his audiences for never giving him the compliments he wishes he would get, and for not even being there; for him not able to attract an audience. These are big things for someone who has the desire and yearning to perform. He’s still a performer, even if a bad one, and that should carry over into his life more. What you have is great, but with 96 pages, you still have another 24 to play with. Go for it. It will help endear us to Eddie, because aside from those charitable moments, and his sweet underplayed relation and affection with Lorna, he’s not as likeable as he could be. Your dialogue is great. I like how you think. It’s witty, sardonic, and it adds to the bleak ambiance. Born- losers type of dialogue. The characters are specific and real. Lev and Boris are great. Patrick is a real asshole and his lines cut deep. The only other thing I would say work on is clarify the money issue, because I don’t understand how Eddie owes Patrick money towards the end at that final tournament. It was around 5 grand, and I thought they resolved that, or dealt with it in the beginning. And if you recall, I didn’t get it there. You need to clarify for us with ADHD. I admit I am a little weak on plotting. I focus more on characters, but I did read your script twice, and I just did not understand the money trail. Overall, fellow screenwriter, I really liked it, and I think you should really focus on Elvis, because he’s someone we’ve all heard of, but he’s kind of yesterday’s news. Make him relevant again. You’re in that rare position to reinvigorate an icon’s career. Like that ’68 comeback special.
Basically, I feel this is a very good first draft. There’s some strong ideas here, but they get undermined by clunky dialogue, and some typos. I try to be specific to the text, and quote it as much as possible to let you see your own errors. Mason’s parents’ scene, when Katherine confronts her husband, sounds like a computer wrote it. His mom is defending her son, but she just says in rote what happened. What she is accusing him of is child abuse: “And not only did you called [sic] him a faggot – you got up and took him to his room to beat him with your belt. You decided to do this when it was his last day of high school ever” (37). We already know this. What you’re missing is Katherine’s emotional life. How it affects her, and their marriage. You don’t describe anything specific to 1979. You name Tommy’s car model, that’s it. In fact, when Mason and Mandy go to a retro diner, you write it “[s]eems to look like it’s from more the 50s than 70s” (39). You don’t describe it at all. Arguably it would be a retro-retro scene. The reason for being 1979 is never justified. There are times you write what the character is thinking in the stage directions, which an audience can’t know. For instance, “Mason is in shock that Mandy might actually be a mind reader. He doesn’t know what to say” (44). You have to show this through action and dialogue. It’s futile to write like a novelist. Mason’s aspirations to “Hopefully go big. I’m talking Hollywood Mandy. Get out of Garden City and forget this place” (47), reads as cliché. It’s generic. He doesn’t get specific as to why he likes Elvis. He just says “All his songs were masterpieces” (46). That’s not saying much. We know he was good, he’s “The King.” But what exactly - or at least more specifically - does he mean to this young man? He dresses like him, but we don’t know if Mason sings like him. We’re not told if he tries to imitate his singing, which is very distinct and should be mentioned. Andy Kaufman, for instance, did an amazing Elvis impersonation (on YouTube his video has 6.8M views). In fact, Elvis impersonators are widely known. The fact that it’s not mentioned if his singing style imitates him is really overlooking a big detail. Furthermore, that his dad thinks he looks gay for dressing like Elvis makes no sense. He’s not cross-dressing. Elvis was as macho and masculine as you can get. He had a deep, commanding voice. And he’s more out of Mason’s dad’s era than his own. His dad should be all the more accepting, as Elvis has never had any negative connotation associated with him. It’s not like he’s acting like Michael Jackson. Mason says something inexplicable, “It’s nice that my friends see me as the next Elvis Presley, but I don’t wanna be. That’s not what I want to be seen as. I want to be seen as Mason Washington” (47). Then why does he dress like Elvis, sing his songs, does his hair like him? Someone who wants to be seen as an original wouldn’t cover his walls in Elvis posters and all the aforementioned imitation of him. This is an odd statement: “He cares about one other thing, which is my little sister. He loves that little brat more than he loves his own wife. Can you believe that” (48)? It’s not uncommon for parents to love their children more than their spouse. In fact, it’s pretty much a universal sentiment. Mason’s mother asks him to resolve “[w]hatever is going on with you and your father” (58). This reads as very odd. Firstly, his father calls him gay unprovoked, secondly, when Mason defends himself his father beats him. This is a serious issue of child abuse, and his mother just nonchalantly tells Mason, “I’d like it to be fixed at some point… I don’t support what your father does to you… you should know that, but I do support you” (59). Is Katherine completely dense? Rightfully so, Mason responds, “He calls me a faggot any chance he gets. He walks all over, not only me but you too. Ma… he doesn’t love us” (59). She just reiterates, “Talk to him sometime. Okay” (59). This is very odd. If it is the writer’s intention to make the mother in denial, wouldn’t she just not address this? Since she does, why does she act like it’s not a systemic cycle of abuse that is going to take a hell of a lot more of an intervention than the victim trying to stop it? His father’s abuse is real, and no one really thinks of it as that. It’s as if they’re just having a spat. Even Tommy, striking Louis should be a big deal. Have you interrupted an argument your friend’s parents had by striking one of them? And if Katherine immediately brings up to Mason about resolving it with his father, and not “supporting” the abuse he inflicts on him, after seeing her husband clutching Tommy’s collar (and probably with an exasperated look and red face from just being struck by him), why does she just accept what they were doing as “[g]uy horseplay” (58)? It’s endemic in how the script brings up serious issues that get glossed over. There’s intermittent Elvis songs that have nothing to do with the story. As they’re driving to the beach it says “CUE: YOU’RE THE DEVIL IN DISGUISE BY ELVIS PRESLEY” (59). I don’t know how this helps the aesthetic. The title means something looks good but is actually of the Devil. The next scene is them arriving at the beach and seeing the jocks there. This is not welcomed, but has nothing to do with the theme of a devil in disguise. You’re trying to infuse the movie with a soundtrack that forces an ambiance of Elvis’ spirit, but it seems arbitrary. The resolution with the jocks and Mason’s crew is effective, though “this bullshit high school war” is never explained (63). Presumably, there are groups, or cliques, at school - though the jocks’ group is self evident, it’s never explained what kind of group is Mason and his friends. It does show maturity on the protagonist’s side that he wants to stop the fighting because they are finished with high school and should be above that. This is one of the rare moments of character development, and I would ask that it should be further developed. What are other areas of Mason’s life that are changing, and he is getting a new, mature perspective on? The party at Mason’s grandmother’s house is not described or portrayed very interestingly. A line like, “Y’all like music, right?” is redundant (73). Who doesn’t like music, especially at a party? Another example of Mason’s contradiction of wanting to be an original is when he is to sing for the party he says, “Fuck it. Let’s do it. You guys like ‘The King’” (73)? Even with a tepid response, he still persists, “Oh c’mon. Well, tonight is gonna be different. I’m gonna get all of ya to love ‘The King’” (73). He sings “Burning Love.” Again, there is no description of his style, whether he sings like Elvis, which would make sense, since he specifically said he wants them to “love ‘The King.’” All that’s supplied are the lyrics of the song, and at its completion everyone cheers. However, reading lyrics and not hearing the music is akin to skiing without snow, it just doesn’t work. So I suggest you use actions, gestures. What does he do while singing? You can even say: “He hangs on every word, drawls, grimaces, as if in pain and then oscillates to pleasure.” Paint the picture for us. Reading lyrics is dull. The next scene Mandy mentions there were “hundreds of kids” at the party that Mason turned onto Elvis (79). That was not depicted, so you should describe that massive turn out. Hundreds of kids at a house party is exciting, and that he sang for all those people, and they liked it, is a huge deal. You should describe the teens, individually and as a group, because they’re not depicted at all. At the diner Mandy’s dad is very abrasive, and it comes off as another two-dimensional parent portrayal. After Mandy has had a disagreement with her father over his new girlfriend he cheated on her mother with, she leaves and Mason decides to confront him. He’s only been going out with Mandy a few days, so frankly, I don’t see what gives him the balls to go up to his new girlfriend’s father and address his infidelity. It feels more like you’re running low on plot developments, so you take up the occasion for conflict wherever you can get it. Her dad’s reaction, and temperament, are exactly like Mason’s dad. He cusses at Mason just when he simply solicits a conversation, saying, “Mr. Davidson?” and Mandy’s dad responds, “Yes? Who the fuck are you” (82)? When he says, “Just wanna talk.” Mr. Davidson says, “I don’t wanna talk. Get the fuck outta here before I make you” (82). This is almost a mirror image of Mason’s dad. And the same exact thing occurs. He calls Mason a faggot (and as this is the second person calling him a faggot, and as the word is very offensive, even in 1979, you should really decide on a detail that makes people see him as effeminate, because, again, Elvis wasn’t ever considered effeminate. You act like he’s dressed as Freddy Mercury). Mason strikes him three times in the face, just like one of Mason’s friends did to his father. They just seem like rote actions, same ones, so far two different fathers, yet nearly identical characters, and soliciting the same violence, which rings false. People rarely strike each other after just one insult, especially in a public place. And I’ve never heard of a friend hitting their friend’s father, even telling him (Mason’s dad) that he’s an abusive parent and deserves it. Child abuse is such a serious thing. For Mason’s friend just to outwardly confront him with it, seems forced. It’s psychologically damaging, coming from a damaged person, inflicting that damage onto his son. To have another character address it, then strike the man is way too simplistic a depiction. It’s very primitive and not nearly as interesting as it could be if played more discreetly. Based on Mandy’s father’s threat, Mason thinks he’s endangered his friends and family. He only wanted to make them safe, he says, he’s trying to fix it, however, “We can deal with his bridge when it comes” (91). I’m guessing it should be this bridge, not his, but the saying isn’t correct either. It’s generally, “We can cross that bridge when we get to it.” And in one of the more rudimentary plot developments, Mason worries inexplicably about Larry, Johnny, and Tommy. Why? Mandy’s father wouldn’t even know who they are, and what do they have to do with Mason’s punching him? Apparently, Mandy’s father is a force to be reckoned with, as Mason’s dad exclaims, “He’s gonna get us all killed” (91)! Into the fray comes Mary Allen, Mason’s kid sister, who wants pancakes. She’s refuted by her mother, but stands firm, “I want pancakes” (92). And here you revert back to your stage direction thoughts: “Katherine looks at Louis that says ‘Are you serious?’ Louis then gives her a look that says ‘Now!’” (92). Louis folds and tells Katherine to make the pancakes, and “Mason can’t believe what he has just seen. He gives his father a look that says ‘You son of a bitch’” (92). Then he actually says, “You motherfucker” (92). “Everyone can’t believe what Mason has just said” (92). And if Mason wants to read the riot act to his father, and claim he doesn’t love him or his mother, it’s not good form to then call his sister a derogatory name, because his father values her more than the others, as Mason says, “That you clearly have a higher amount of love for this brat than you do for your own son and wife” (93). Mason is supposed to be our protagonist, and he comes off as petty and uncaring as his father that he claims is mistreating and not loving them. Obviously, he’s jealous of his sister, but he’s disrespecting her in his attempt to gain respect with his father. It’s not very heroic, or honorable, especially at a moment, which should be loaded with significance: The asking of the love from one’s parent. What should be a revealing and intimate exposure to a character, and his attempts to control and win his destiny (at this point in the script which should be its rising climax), comes off as shallow and foolishly fought for. Louis’ defense is laughable. He says he’s always loved Mason, and gives two examples of fatherly love, both of which are shallow: “When you were thirteen and broke your leg, who came out to make sure you were okay? And then took you to the hospital… When you were seven and started choking on that piece of lamb on Christmas, who got up off their ass as soon as they noticed you couldn’t breathe” (94). The use of the word ass here sounds really strange. As if he was saying he’s a pain in the ass, or it was a pain in the ass to have to get up and help him. Also, he, or you are confused about which limb he broke, because he then says it was his arm: “If I didn’t love you, I would’ve let you choked and died. I would’ve let you sit there in pain when you broke your arm” (94). Actually, Dad, if you didn’t help him in those two instances it would be child abuse and negligent homocide. Overall, I like a good family drama, and a kid with a dream to be somebody, as your title suggests. I just think you need to further develop these characters. Like Mason’s three friends, they all seem the same. And the two fathers speak with the confrontational cussing and the same temperament. And they both call him a fag, which seems very strange. Katherine just speaks the obvious, and Mandy blatantly leaving her jock boyfriend for Mason seems unwarranted. Hope you keep at it, and that I helped in some capacity!