Monday, April 27, 2009

Aaron and Sara (BFF)

Genre: High School Rom-Com
Premise: A nerd and a cheerleader explore four years of high school as best friends.
About: Landed on the 2007 Black List with 7 votes, I believe this sold last year. It will be directed by controversial director and all around nutball David O. Russel (I Heart Huckabees, Three Kings).
Writers: Chad Gomez Creasy and Dara Resnik Creasy

I was really looking forward to this script. When Harry Met Sally is one of my favorite movies of all time and easily the best romantic comedy ever. So when I heard someone had written a high school version of it, I began banging my head on the wall and angrily muttering, "Why didn't I think of that??" We've seen a million high school movies before, but none which take us through all four years of the experience.

Then I read the first few lines of Aaron and Sara and got really fucking worried. Aaron's opening scene has him fucking a teddy bear. I thought, "Ohhh noooo. All this hype and another American Pie ripoff?" Fortunately the scene is an anomoly. There isn't a single one like it in the rest of the script. What we get instead is a simple story about a great friendship that may or may not turn into something more.

We meet Aaron, your typical dorky high school Freshman (who wants to get into Yale), and Sara, your typical smokin hot high school Freshman (who wants to bang the soccer team). The two neighbors are forced to drive to school together and it's a disaster from the get-go. Aaron is inquisitive and sweet while Sara is cold and cruel. As far as she's concerned, Aaron is below her. She's only weathering this ride because her mother told her to. As soon as they get to school, Aaron is just another dork in the crowd.

But as time goes by, being locked up in such a small space forces a friendship to blossom, if only to avoid the 20 minutes it takes to get to school. As they move into Sophomore year, the odd couple quickly become best friends, helping each other through the daily drama of the toughest 4 years of your life. Their best friends, BJ and Jayden, fall for each other quickly, leaving Aaron and Sarah as the 3rd and 4th wheel everywhere they go. It's a great way to describe them because they're never apart but they're never together.

Sophomore year turns into Junior year and Junior year turns into Senior year. They get older, mature, chase guys, chase girls, experience the death of a friend, and hang out for endless hours in Aaron's basement playing Grand Theft Auto.

When they do chat, most of their conversations revolve around what every high school conversation revolves around: sex. Aaron is saving himself for that perfect girl while Sara has sex with anything that walks. Although a twinge of jealousy surfaces here and there, for the most part whenever they're involved in a relationship, the other is supportive, with Sarah going so far as to beg Aaron to have sex with his girlfriend. It's kinda nice since in the end, they want what every pair of best friends want, for the other to be happy.

If I had to wage one complaint against Aaron and Sara, it's that the years weren't distinguished enough. Whereas Sophomore year felt different from Freshman year, Sophomore through Senior year pretty much felt the same. Each year of high school is different. Each title has its own distinctive identity. Remember the way the years felt in Mr. Holland's Opus as they jumped from time period to time period? Granted they had more to work with, but I was looking for that same feel here and never quite got it. I couldn't even tell you how to fix this but to hit the movie out of the park, it absolutely needs to be done.

But Aaron and Sara gets the relationship part right. These are two best friends who can't figure out for the life of them that the person they love is right in front of their face.

I don't know about you but I feel like every high school movie for the past 15 years has been exactly the same. Aaron and Sara provides the kind of twist the teen high school genre desperately needs.

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

What I learned from Aaron and Sara: Aaron and Sara has an interesting structure in that it basically has 4 acts (the 4 years of high school - duh). In addition, there's no driving force behind the story. There's nothing that Aaron and Sara are trying to accomplish other than to experience high school. This doesn't exactly propel the story forward, like most agents/managers/producers would like a story to do. So why does it still work? That's a good question and it's something I'm not entirely sure I know the answer to. My guess is that since we know where we're going to end up (the end of high school), it allows us to calm down and enjoy the ride. I think it works.