A Caucasian chef in a struggling family-run Chinese restaurant takes on a sleazy powerhouse competitor determined to shut it down.
How It Works
Email Rob the first ten pages of your feature length screenplay (in pdf. format) along with a logline and title. Every Friday one of us (or a guest reviewer) posts one writer's work along with notes and a:
Trash It (Start over.)
Take Another Pass (You're onto something, but it needs more work.)
Writing broad comedy with goofy idiots isn't for everyone.
You have to truly love it and understand the science of it to have a prayer of making it work. In short, you need to be smart to be stupid. I've written a bunch of broad comedies... the one that this reminds me of the most is my first movie, which was about a lovable idiot who goes on a mission to Mars.
Two things about that lovable idiot.
First, he was LOVABLE.
Second, he was a brilliant idiot.
Broad comedy must be grounded in some kind of logic. The character is goofy, loopy, clumsy, odd... whatever you wish... but the world around him must be somewhat grounded or everything seems ridiculous and the audience loses interest.
By the way, that's my biggest problem with the way my first movie turned out. The director went too broad with the world around the main character, and the whole thing got very juvenile very quickly.
I've given the writer a ton of specific notes in the pages themselves, but here are my basic thoughts.
1. CHARACTERS! I get no real sense of the people in these pages. Here's what I can tell you about David. He's in his 20's, he's clumsy, he loves cooking, I'm not sure if he's any good at it, and he's broke.
That's it. I can't tell you why he wants to cook, I can't tell you if he's passionate or just weird, I can't tell you if he's a dreamer or a creep.
2. COMEDY. You have to be more inventive. Want to light a restaurant on fire? Come up with a more interesting way. Want a sassy comeback? Surprise us. There's just not enough creativity in these pages. They feel generic... I've seen all of this stuff before a million times.
3. ECONOMY. Many of the beats in these first pages feel superfluous.
4. ROOTING INTEREST. Make us love this guy. We want to root for him... or at least, we should. Right now, he's coming off like someone I'd probably take a restraining order against.
5. IT'S 2012. No libraries. No scrawled index cards. No friendly neighborhood employment ladies...
6. KNOW YOUR SUBJECT. You're writing about kitchens and cooking like someone who just discovered this weird new "food" thing last week. Be true to the world and the subject. The idea that an ambitious young cook would dare work from a MAGAZINE??? You have to be more informed...
Comedy is hard. Broad comedy is very hard. Maybe the hardest. Getting the tone is difficult. You're not making any new mistakes here, which is the good news. Get them all out of your system quickly, and then right this ship. I'd start over, and I'd start over thinking, "How do I make an interesting human that our audience can identify with and root for?" Use that as your jumping point... NOT "how can I make a wine rack fall over?" Don't let the jokes drive the characters and story. Always character and story first, and the jokes come out of that!
TO THE WRITER: was I hard on you? Yes. Was I harder on you than the business will be? No. I want you to succeed. I love broad, silly comedy. I love physical comedy. I believe in it, and I know that there's an audience for it. Take what I've said to heart. You're attempting a genre that most people think is so easy, it's beneath their contempt... and they're wrong. Know that you're writing something that's very, very tricky and very, very easy to mess up.
Watch some of your favorite broad comedies, and really think about how they establish their characters. Watch what they take "seriously," and watch how they establish their world, villains, obstacles, etc.