Monday, December 3, 2012

Lessons from a Queue Bomb

Post by Jenny

Much like my stack of books waiting to be read, my Blockbuster movie queue is overly large and poorly managed. My husband and I often pick up the mail and find a movie we only vaguely remember selecting waiting for us. Usually, we’re willing to give them a try. And, oh, we’ve had some bitter disappointments.

The trailer for this weekend’s flop looked funny enough—young couples coping with the inevitable challenges of their child-rearing years. But although the actors were all talented folks who are capable of much better, the movie was dragged down to the murky depths of whatever lies slightly below mediocrity by the Twin Anchors of Scriptwriting Doom: a cast of unlikeable characters and cringe-worthy dialogue.

But even Queue Bombs offer lessons to writers—the first, which I unfortunately ignored, being: time is better spent with a good book than a bad movie. 

Regarding characters: there are villains I love to hate, heroes I hate to love, and a whole spectrum of interesting possibilities in between. So please, spare me the characters who are so one-dimensional and annoying that sitting next to them on the bus would send me into a prolonged episode of faked narcolepsy. (Now With 20% More Drooling!)

As for dialogue… The last few lines of this movie were so bad that I turned on my husband as if he were the guilty party and said, “Are you kidding me?” The actors themselves seemed embarrassed…or maybe I just hoped they had the good sense to be. The lesson here, which I have stumbled over many times, is that words which look clever on paper may sound flatly ridiculous when uttered by the mouths of real live humans.

And last but not least: sometimes, we are only as good as the advice we are willing to take.

As a writer, have you learned a good lesson from a bad movie?

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