Tuesday, July 21, 2009

One Night Stan

Early Edition - still editing.

Genre: Comedy
Premise: When Stan is given a one night "pass" from his fiance to have as much sex as he wants, all hell breaks loose.
About: Spec script that just sold Friday. Lionsgate picked it up. Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg (writers of Harold and Kumar 1, directors of Harold and Kumar 2) attached to direct.
Writer: Joshua Friedlander (draft dated July 6, 2009 - 115 pages)

You want me to do what?

What some of you might not know is that the spec market is disastrous right now. Absolutely nothing is selling. I think a month went by without a single spec sale. The studio coffers were closed. Laptops were shut down. Writers refused to subject their material to the harsh market. But then a script came along. A script by one Joshua Friedlander that gave writers across the globe hope again. And what was it that changed Hollywood's mind? Why a script about a one-night stand of course. Makes sense when you think about it. The people in this town aren't exactly relationship friendly. But was One Night Stan that good? Or did Hollywood just get bored and feel like they had to pull the trigger on something? There are only so many comic books you know. At some point you gotta buy original material.

Stan is a nice caring 20-something who's lived a life full of long relationships. Yeah, he's the friend in your group you call "Relationship Guy." Stan loves being the relationship guy. The crazy confusing disease-ridden rock'em sock'em singles scene just doesn't suit him. Stan is most happy when he's sharing his life with a woman. And he's about to marry the woman of his dreams, Julie. Julie is seemingly just like Stan - a responsible committed sweet person. They're best friends with Russel and Marie, a former couple who still live together and Neal and Karin, a slightly older couple who own the video game company Stan works at. During a night of slightly excessive drinking, the dreaded "number" comes up. As in "the number of people you've slept with." One by one people start revealing their numbers and when they get to Julie, we find out that she's slept with over 30 guys. This is all sorts of news to Stan, who, no matter how hard he tries, can't seem to get the number out of his head. Later on he presses her for details, and it only gets worse (or better - depending on your perspective).

Before I answer, can we clear something up? I just wanna make sure that your number includes all your partners. That's every guy. There's not like an addendum to that list, of guys you just blew?

No. Except with my first boyfriend, I've never been one to just fool around. I always go all the way. So that number is all the guys I've had intercourse with.


That number doesn't include girls.

Stan looks like he might faint.

Here we go.

Don't freak out. I've only had one same sex experience.

You slept with one girl?

It was one experience, but there were actually five of us that participated.

Five at once?!


Five?! I've only been with four women! You've had sex with more women than I have!

No. I'm included in the five. There were four others.

Oh, so you've had sex with as many women as I have! That makes me feel much better.

It was all one night. A sorority thing. We were drunk, there were five of us that got together on a lark.

You had a lesbian orgy on a lark?

I don't know why, but "girlfriends who just may be super-sluts" humor always makes me laugh. So I was onboard from the get-go. But "One Night Stan" still had to maneuver through some tricky waters as we have to buy into some iffy motivational logic. As Stan becomes increasingly self-conscious about his lack of sexual partners, Julie gets it in her head that he should sow his wild oats. So she offers him one night to go out and have as much sex as he can. Which technically wouldn't be a "one night" stand. Because there are potentially multiple people involved in the night. That's like a fraction-night stand isn't it? Actually, that's a good question. If you have sex with multiple people in one night, what "stand" is that? I'm confused. Anyway, Julie tells him to sleep with as many girls as he wants as long as it's before sunrise tomorrow morning. Of course, as we men know, just because you've been given permission to have sex, doesn't mean you'll actually get any sex. Believe me, I wish I could use that line. "Hey, I've been given a free pass tonight. Will you have sex with me?" Please allow there to be a world where that works. Anyway, it's in Stan's desperate attempts to lay some pipe that the script takes off.

At first reluctant, his buddies convince him that this is the best thing that could ever happen to a man and if he doesn't take advanage of it they'll kill him. His very first opportunity is with a MILFish client of his video game company. Stan makes a tentative move on Milfy only to find out that this isn't a MILF at all. It's a TILF. As in "A transfender I'd like to fuck". I don't know how many of you have ever been out with a TILF before but it can be a bit of a shock to the system. Which Stan finds out firsthand as the TILF puts his hand on her penis. Ultimately Stan decides not to have sex with the Tilf. He then rushes back home to target the apartment complex slut. She agrees to have sex with him, but only if it can be a three-way...with another guy. Stan figures sex is sex and agrees, but when a third sword swashbuckles onto the ship, Stan figures enough is enough. Next is a trip to the local club with his buddies where they find the trashiest girl on the dance floor (a self-proclaimed nymphomaniac). She needs to have sex *all the time* so they go back to her trailer. Just as they're about to have sex, Stan notices her two children staring up at them. He figures children watching mommy have sex isn't cool and leaves. Next up is my favorite sequence of the script, "Book Club Girl". His friends convince him that there are tons of sluts at the bookstore so he goes there only to stumble into a weird book club. He immediately begins chatting up a really cute girl. But the girl is acting strange and keeps asking him what his favorite book is. When she's 100% clear that his favorite book is also her favorite book, she takes him home. It is there that Stan learns that the book was actually code for a particularly...specific sex act. If stuff like this really happens, you won't catch me at Barnes and Noble anytime soon. When all hope is lost, what's left to do? Hire a hooker of course. Needless to say, that doesn't go according to plan either.

In the meantime, Julie starts having doubts about whether she did the right thing. This leads to a total meltdown where she questions whether she's really over her one true love. So while Stan's out there desperately trying to get laid, Julie pays a visit to her old boyfriend to get closure. As sunrise nears, both are in danger of cheating on the person they love, and this seemingly smart decision by Julie very well might end their relationship forever (she should've consulted me. Letting your boyfriend bang other women tends to have negative effects on a relationship).

Here's my problem with One Night Stan. It's really hard to buy into the premise. I talk about this in a review I did for another script called "Permission." I simply don't know anybody in my life who would allow someone they loved to have a one night stand with someone else. Do you? I understand this is a movie but there has to be some level of reality here, right? But what compounds the problem is that Stan doesn't really want to cheat on Julie. So now you have a situation that's hard to buy with a character that doesn't want to do it. The motivation for him to cheat is...what? So I had a hard time getting over that setup.

But once you do get past it, One Night Stan is hilarious. Friedlander's got the funny going on all cylinders here. I can't tell you how many times I laughed. The whole Book Club sequence has "classic scene" written all over it. And the cool thing about "Stan" is that we haven't seen any of these situations before. So many writers take a concept like this and basically recreate their favorite movie from top to bottom. All of the humor here felt fresh and original, which is I'm sure why "Stan" stood out from all the other contenders that crashed and burned in their attempts to land a sale this month.

Anyway, if they can somehow fix those two structural problems, I heartily endorse this jumping onto the big screen.

[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[ ] barely kept my interest

[x] worth the read

[ ] impressive

[ ] genius

What I learned: Break rules. Even the ones I tell you not to! You may have noticed that this script was 116 pages. That goes against a rule I just touted only days ago. That comedy specs should be under 110 pages. Just goes to show that I'm not always right (it's rare - but it happens) and that every rule can be broken. I actually encourage breaking a couple of rules in each screenplay. Just don't go breaking all of them. Pick and choose - and make sure there's a reason behind your disobedient ways. Rule breaking tends to work a lot better when the writer knows why they're breaking the rules.