Thursday, September 06, 2007

One story at a time please. Not two at once!

I've never attempted one of those screenplays that tell two or three stories at the same time. I'm not talking about a plot and sub plots, but a screenplay with many characters (a family or group of friends), where they all seem to be the protagonist and all have their story to live out. So perhaps before I bitch about one I've seen I should have a go at writing some good examples, but I believe if I can't make money with crap, no one should!

I fondly remember a film called Parenthood with Steve Martin and a load of other well known actors. Now, I'm not going to watch it again after writing this in case I spoil my memory of it, but I remember it working well. There were many characters all living out their own story (many were complex stories), and when it came to the end, all had been resolved and I remember a balanced film (but I think a lengthy one - I could check IMDB but...).

The other week I watched Trust the Man.

What on earth was that about?

Advertised as a Rom Com with Mr X Files, I sat down to watch to it and found myself confronted with that (minus the 'com') with another story running in parallel. Yes, it tried the many story model. The writer probably understood it is difficult to pull off so only went for 2, but God it was painful to watch. The stories were rushed (to be fair that could be the director's fault), and I guess there was some 'Rom' but the 'Com' was so out of place it seemed unnatural, and what did exist was a poor attempt at bad verbal slapstick (unless I invent a word that's the best description I can come up with).

I'll put my soap box away before I get to the ending, but it missed 'Romantic' by three solar systems.

I think that there isn't enough room in 90 to 120 minutes to tell more than one story well (unless you are a writing God, but there aren't many of those and they know a tough job when they see one), but I guess people will always try; and produce stuff like this.


Hmph! Rant over :)

5 comment(s):

Spunky Monkey said...

Didn't Amores Perros work along the same lines? Or, to state a reallt frivolous example, Love, Actually?
Or, am I missing something here?

Chris (ukscriptwriter) said...

Love Actually. I forgot about that one.

Oh go on then; I admit it. I can see where you are coming from, but I have to admit quite liking that film.

I'll go and stand in the corner for the rest of the day :)

Spunky Monkey said...

Aww. The film was good in parts, I admit. But overall, what a colossal waste of that colossal ensemble. The film had a huge, fantastic cast.

And you, enough standing in the corner. Come back and finish your scripts. I wanna watch those movies!

Mike M said...

Bable and Traffic pulled the multi-story telling together well. It's worth looking into how the writer connected the characters together.

Robin Kelly said...

Spot on about "Trust the Man". I think "Parenthood" is almost perfect.