Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Genre: Comedy
Premise: A college-aged kid becomes his father's boss.
About: Lord and Cohen sold this to Disney two weeks ago for an undisclosed amount of moola. Scott Rudin will produce. Lord was a co-producer on "The Heartbreak Kid", which, btw, I thought was hilarious.
Writers: Tony Lord & David Cohen

Harvey Hutchinson has been working at the Hibrau Beer company for over 20 years. When his boss unexpectedly dies of a heart attack, the owner of the company tabs Harvey, who's been working his ass off for a promotion, as the likely successor.

Harvey's 21 year old son, Hutch, is a beer-drinking pot-smoking recent college drop-out. He doesn't know a thing about responsibility nor does he really want to. He spends his days trolling for desperate chicks, hanging out with his deadbeat friends, drinking, and playing video games.

Harvey forces Hutch to take a job at the brewery. After only one day of work, Hutch has had enough and plans, a la Jerry Maguire, to write a "memo" to the company telling them how terrible their product is in hopes of getting fired. But wouldn't you know it! The president is "happy" that someone was brave enough to "tell it like it is". So instead of getting fired, Hutch gets promoted!

After this, there are about 6 or 7 gimme jokes associated with the premise. The dad is humiliated and angry. The son takes advantage of his money and power. The company, of course, does better under Hutch's fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants leadership. The dad waits for the luck to end. It doesn't. The son "learns a lesson" when he starts caring more about the stock price than what club to hit that night. His friends think he's too serious. Don't like him anymore. Blah blah blah. Everybody's a better person.

I was going to write a scathing review of Boss. I'm talking "Wedding Banned" scathing. But then I remembered that universal truth: It's really hard to write a script. I mean, it's really fucking hard. A lot of people on the outside see movies like "Betrayal" and think it's easy. But trust me when I say this: Even writing a movie like Betrayal is hard. It's why the same guy who wrote the genius "The Sixth Sense" can also write a movie about a pool fairy. It's why the same guy who wrote Jerry Maguire can also write Elizabethtown and Vanilla Sky. Because there is no formula. Even the best writers are capable of writing complete and utter shit.

But that doesn't excuse a company for buying this.

Most writers, when they get an idea for a movie, they start writing down all the cool scenes and characters and lines that come to mind. Like in Boss, you know you're going to get that line where the dad is at work and his son is ordering him around, and the dad screams back, "You're grounded!" That's a given before even a page is written. So you cobble together all these ideas, come up with a starting point, sit down, start writing and............

.....and then you realize that the entirety of your ideas amounts to 15 pages of screenplay. Which means you still have to come up with another 90. And it's in those 90 where most writers fail. Because it's really hard to come up with a story that takes advantage of a cool concept.

To me, Boss felt like a script that never had anything more than those 15 pages. Even the first 30 pages, which tend to be the easiest to write, repeated information over and over again, treading water until the first act break (when the son becomes the boss).

But Boss's problems run much much deeper than that. The biggest issue I had was that I absolutely hated the son. I mean I hated him. He's lazy, rude, a loser, a dick, a deadbeat, and stupid. And on top of that, he spends the entire script telling his dad to fuck off. You can have deadbeat characters in your movie but at least give us something to latch onto. Take Knocked Up for instance. Seth Rogan may be a deadbeat pot-smoking loser. But he's also a big teddy bear without a mean bone in his body. It doesn't have to be a lot. But give us something.

For the record I did laugh once in the script. Once. It's near the beginning, during dinner, when Hutch is telling his family that he dropped out of college and makes his case for taking a year off from work.

Okay. Since I have yet to clearly define my career path, it makes smart business sense, especially in these tough economic times, to evaluate the various opportunities out there. So why not take a year off, really research this thing, and 'find myself'? Then bang! I’m back in school, heading toward a career and a life filled with huge financial rewards and tons of emotional stability. To top things off, you guys won’t have to worry about cash if things get really bad. ‘Ol Hutch here will unselfishly be able to provide for the whole family and we’ll live happily ever after.
(like Barack Obama)
Yes, we can.
So for the record I didn't hate all of Boss. In the end, I'm guessing Disney fell head over heels with the concept (make no mistake: it's a great concept) and plan to rewrite the thing immediately. There's a good movie in here somewhere. They just haven't found it yet.

[ ] trash
[x] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Oh no! We're back here again! The main character being "likable" argument? Unfortunately, that's really what this script boils down to. If you're going to give us someone who's despicable and worthless, you gotta offer something/anything for us to latch onto so we at least sort of like the guy. In Pierre Pierre, it was that Pierre was funny (or at least I thought he was). In American Beauty it was Lester Burnum's desire to break free of his miserable marriage and be happy again. Hutch is just a deadbeat with no goals and nothing to offer. He ruined this script.