Thursday, February 07, 2008

What not to write

Over on Drunk Writer Talk, we've often discussed how much we've all learned as writers from watching certain well written (in our opinions) TV shows.

In contrast, I've had a few "what not to write" moments watching movies...

I blogged about the horrible Penelope when I saw it at the 2006 Film festival. They really blew that movie in so many ways. So sad since it starred the adorable James McAvoy.

And tonight I saw 27 Dresses. Didn't hate it... but was far from loving it and haven't completely analyzed why yet.

But one thing... And my take-away lesson from the movies tonight. Do not write a scene where one character expresses their undying love -- basically the most pivotal and emotional (should be) scene of your story -- with one character on stage in front of a crowd and using a microphone. Not unless you've got a really compelling and unquestionable reason for said character to do it this way rather than in private.

Crazy storytelling choice. Crazy. I think the movie had already lost me--zero chemistry between the leads--but that stuck several nails in the coffin. Okay, maybe I did hate it.

Anyone else see this movie? Was I just in a bad mood?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Maureen, how are you? I did see it and thought aspects of it was cute. Of course there weren't really any surprises but sometimes it's nice to know everything is going to work out okay. But I should probably totally add that I developed a huge crush on James Marsden so may have been more forgiving than normal. I totally agree with you about the stage/microphone thing. I even leaned over and mentioned it to my friend. In my neck of the woods you publicly declare your feelings for a man, well that just may be the last you'll see of him. The other scene that didn't cut it for me was when the sisters have it out in Daddy's shop. The littls sisters lines were especially cliche in my opinion.
Rene

Deborah said...

Really?

I loved 27 dresses. I did think the microphone scene was a bit cliched (although I loved in in The Matchmaker), but over all I had a lot of love for this movie. I also hated the powerpoint scene too and some of the character interactions seemed a little pat... hmmm

Still loved it.

Maybe it was the sister thing and the fact it made me cry...

Nadine said...

I saw that movie too with my roommate who has a very low tolerance for the cliched and whatever streches the limits of believability too much, and we both hated it. I didn't *hate* it, hate it, but I thought it had a very promising start and quickly went downhill with the lazy writing and plotting.

A) Both male leads were yummy but no chemistry whatsoever btw anyone in this movie.

B) The snarky best friend started off hilarious (though cliched) but then became a caricature since every single line was delievered in the same overdone snarkiness.

I think maybe that's a big reason I didn't like most of the characters... only the two leads had any depth to them at all, and while I agree it's a "genre" movie and I shouldn't expect too much emotional complexity from it, I can't help but think... why not?? Isn't that whole fake gloss that writers of romantic comedy cast on a story that most fuels the criticisms of anything female-centric as being too cliched and melodramatic as opposed to truly dramatic? Marian Keyes manages believability, complex characters AND a happy ending at the same time, and the effort she puts into every one of her novels always shines through. Jennifer Weiner, Emily Giffin and Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez also manage it.

I think the underlying problem with scenes like the the public love declaration is: why? If you're going to have a character do something no thinking, rational person would normally do, it has to be properly motivated. if it isn't, the scenes falls flat, as unfortunately, a lot of scenes fell flat in this movie.

Kristen Painter said...

I want to see it, but haven't yet. Maybe I'll call up some of my chicas and see if they want to do a movie day.

Maureen McGowan said...

It was certainly a good lesson in making sure your characters' motivations are clear, that's for sure. Especially if you're going for an over-the-top, cliched, "cute" scene.

And the friend bugged me too, Nadine. TOTALLY stereotyped. No indication of why those two women would even be friends. She made no sense to me.

There were some good lines in the movie... but overall it fell flat.

I was wondering with some of those scenes that should have been emotional, like the stuff between the sisters, whether I needed to know more about filmmmaking to analyze what was wrong for me. It seemed like the camera was cutting back and forth... or they'd had to edit it all together from multiple takes. I got no sense of any tension or emotion between the two women.

Sigh. I really wanted to like it.

Glad you did, Deb.

Hey, Rene!!! Long time to talk!

Marilyn Brant said...

Okay, well, you've convinced me to wait for the DVD on this one :-)!

Louisa Edwards said...

I find it hard to believe you were just cranky. I can't say the premise looks like a recipe for success.

By the way, tag, you're it! Blame Kristen Painter.

Diana Peterfreund said...

it's been a while since i saw a good romantic comedy. mainly because of these "microphone" scenes. the microphone scene RUINED Music and Lyrics for me, which I thought was otherwise a good film.

And I didn't care for Notting Hill or Love Actually,a dn they both had them as well.

Kimber Chin said...

Yep, public declarations of love bug me also. It is like the person needs the group to keep him/her "honest."

Actually I dislike those big mushy "I love you" scenes whether they are public or not (so don't expect any of those in my writing). There shouldn't be a big production about it. The actions should have given it away long before any words were spoken.

Nelsa said...

Also saw it and while I didn't 'hate' it (I thought James Marsden very cute and Katherine Heigle's character wussy yet sweet)I agree on the microphone declaration as totally WTF?.

I was waiting for the big, intimate, emotional payoff between the two of them and got ... the entertainment for another couple's wedding reception. Bleh.

Also bugged me that when they got drunk and finally did the deed they had to go back to the car to do it? Huh? They were already in a town (town had a bar and a breakfast place - it didn't have a motel??)

Still, I can't quite place it. Even with all its faults I still kinda liked it (for the fluff no brainer piece that it was)I saw it with my teen daughter who enjoyed it. But I am now worried about the next 'wedding' picture that I want to see with Patrick Dempsey (Made of Honor). I love Patrick and really enjoyed Enchanted so they better not screw up my next bit of fluff.

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