Monday, January 16, 2012

Two Night Stand

Genre: Comedy/Romantic Comedy
Premise: After committing her first ever one-night stand, a young woman begins her walk of shame, only to realize she’s been snowed in. But the worst is yet to come. When the man she slept with wakes up, she quickly realizes she hates him.
About: 2 Night Stand finished in the middle of the 2011 Black List. This is Mark Hammer’s breakthrough screenplay.
Writer: Mark Hammer
Details: 98 pages (This is an early draft of the script. The situations, characters, and plot may change significantly by the time the film is released. This is not a definitive statement about the project, but rather an analysis of this unique draft as it pertains to the craft of screenwriting).

Emma Roberts for Megan?

I really hope today’s writer, Mark Hammer, isn’t the same Mark Hammer who starred as “Old Man” in Meet The Parents, seeing as that Mark Hammer died back in 2007. That would reflect REALLY badly on the Black List, if dead people were making it. Although I guess it would explain all the zombie scripts.

Lame jokes aside, it’s time for some lame jokes INSIDE. As in “Inside” this script. Haha. Actually, that’s not true. Two Night Stand is by no means a bad script. But unless you’re 22 years old, I’m not sure you’re going to like it too much. It’s sort of like Scenic Route but with a vagina. And if I remember correctly, you guys weren’t loving that one (I still stand by it as an interesting piece of screenwriting!).

But I will say this. You are one bold motherf*cker if you try and write a romantic comedy that takes place in one room. This isn’t a contained thriller where you can throw in a bunch of sweet twists and turns the second things go slow. It’s just two people talking about their issues and stuff. Which means if those two people aren’t captivating beyond all reason? And their dialogue isn’t the greatest dialogue in the universe? It’s going to be Bore City. So, is this script Ricky Gervais circa the 2011 Golden Globes or is it Ricky Gervais circa the 2012 Golden Globes? Read on to find out.

22 year old recent college grad (and I’m assuming very cute) Megan spends her days surfing the internet and watching TV. In other words, she’s my hero. Her gorgeous roommate, Faiza, has been enduring this for months and is finally fed up with it. She confronts Megan on why she’s been such a lazy worthless pile of excrement and tells her she needs to get a job!

But see, Megan’s still getting over her devastating breakup with her fiance and, as a result, can’t muster up the enthusiasm to re-enter society. So Faiza gets an idea. Megan needs to get laid. She needs to meet some random dude and take him to the bone zone! This’ll put a period on her mourning and allow her to move on. Megan’s a little reluctant at first but decides, “What the hell?” It just might work. Pause it. If I can just interject here for a moment. WHERE THE HELL ARE THESE WOMEN WHEN I’M OUT ON THE TOWN?? Unpause. Right, so, after Megan can’t get into a bar, she comes home and meets some random guy on the internet and asks him if she can come over and have sex with him.

Pause it again. WHERE THE HELL ARE THESE WOMEN WHEN I’M ON THE INTERNET??” Unpause. Megan goes over, the two get drunk, and we cut to the next morning, after a wild night of sexual escapading. Embarrassed that she’s stooped this low, Megan gets her clothes together and tip toes out the door, trying to disappear before the guy wakes up. Pause it.


Kidding! Just a joke there ladies. Sort of. So yeah, Megan gets outside only to realize the biggest snowstorm in New York since Pocahontas and John Smith shared a tent, has trapped her in this apartment. With this dude. Who she doesn’t know. And had sex with.

Up until this point, I kind of liked the script. We were moving towards something. The story was pushing FORWARD. But here’s the issue with one-location scripts. Once we get into that location, there’s no more going forward. Your characters are stuck together. And now, it’s purely about how interesting those characters are and how entertaining you can make their interactions.

Your best tool once you’ve backed yourself into this corner is conflict. And that conflict has to be pretty intense because the whole movie rests on the drama in this room, and if you can’t create drama, you don’t have a movie. The problem with Two Night Stand, at least in my opinion, is I didn’t feel that conflict was authentic. I see this in a lot in romantic comedy scripts, where the writer knows he has to keep things interesting, so he makes the characters hate each other, without really knowing why. He just knows that it needs to happen.

So out of nowhere, these two just started hating each other. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. It just happened all of a sudden. This led to a lot of forced dialogue where they attacked each other about their sexual prowess, their relationship status and everything else in between. Some of it was definitely amusing but the whole time I couldn’t stop wondering what had caused these two to get so worked up about each other in the first place.

Here’s an idea (spoiler alert). Later in the script, Megan finds out that Alec (oh yeah, that’s the guy) has a girlfriend. Instead, she should’ve found that out right away, like as soon as she woke up. She finds some piece of evidence that proves he has a girlfriend. She’s disgusted with him. Tries to leave. And when she has to come back and face him, she just starts going off on him about it. THAT I could believe. Now the conflict has some basis in reality.

OR possibly she doesn't tell him she knows, which could lead to all sorts of dramatic irony during their conversations.  He could tell her that he's one of the most loyal men in the universe.  His middle name is loyalty.  And Megan is just stewing inside, waiting for the right moment to pounce on him about what she knows.  

I also would’ve looked for ways to involve the rest of the building somehow. You may not have the luxury of space to play with. But you do have, presumably, a building full of potentially interesting characters. Have a few memorable people you can shift in and out of the apartment. The creepy maintenance guy. The hot neighbor Alec formally had a fling with who does NOT like Megan at all and who Alec never officially “ended” it with. If the Koreans next door were also the managers, and Alec was late on rent, that could lead to some interesting conflict when Megan had to go over there to use the bathroom (the bathroom in Alec’s apartment has overflowed). Alec begs her not to go but she does anyway, which leads to the manager storming over and, of course, demanding Alec’s rent. I don’t know, it just seemed like there was so much more opportunity to play here, and instead we stayed focused on these two talking to each other for 60 straight minutes. It’s not that it’s bad. It just gets a little…stale. I mean usually when you pull out the “You wanna get high?” scene, it means you’re plum out of ideas.

I also had a bit of a problem with the tone. Parts of it felt like an indie-comedy (especially the premise), with a 500 Days Of Summer vibe to it. Other parts (like scaling the building) were broad enough to be outtakes from How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. But I don’t think you can write a movie like that that takes place in a single apartment. I mean, this isn’t a part a Matthew McConaghey type would play. Not that there are rules to that sort of thing. But I just felt the indie vibe lent itself to a slightly more realistic tone.

Anyway, I’m probably over-thinking this. Like I said, the script wasn’t bad. It’s just that the forced conflict threw me and the single location got stale after awhile. I was hoping for a little more out of this one.

[ ] Wait for the rewrite
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Do not repeat in your description what your characters have just said or done. In Two Night Stand, when Megan and Alec first wake up, they make a few jokes to defuse the awkward situation. Right afterwards, we get this line of description: “They’re making the best of the awkward situation with humor.” You don’t need to tell us that. We just saw it ourselves.

What I learned 2: Scriptshadow Moratorium. I am disallowing, from this point on, female character backstories that include finding out their old boyfriend/husband was gay. I have read this in possibly over 200 screenplays. I’m begging the writing populace out there. Stop using this. Please!