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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

I was so bored by "White Chicks."  Do you think it was the screenplay?

Anonymous


This week's Answer: 

Some Like It Not

I appreciate your question, Anonymous.  (Your first name isn't "Alcoholics," is it?)  Never mind.  Not focusing on the bawdy and literally bathroom humor -- which some prefer and others prefer not to see -- I believe the main problem with the script of White Chicks is that it got lost in all the forced jokes.  The main concept in a general way pays homage (at times, you could say "steals" -- but "homage" is a much gentler term) to the classic film, Some Like It Hot, one of Blake Edwards' s comedy masterpieces, but it doesn't hold together nearly as well due to several reasons:

REASONS "WHITE CHICKS DOESN'T HOLD TOGETHER AS WELL AS "SOME LIKE IT HOT"

                                                    

1.  There's not a strong enough overarching conflict in White Chicks as there is in Some Like It Hot (that being the two protagonists continually needing to stay out of the clutches of the gangsters that are looking for them).

2.  The two protagonists in White Chicks are not nearly as different from each other (as themselves and even as the debutantes they dress up as) as the protagonists are in Some Like It Hot (who are very different from each other both as themselves and when they dress up as women musicians).

3.  Although the screenplay, White Chicks,  is causally connected from scene to scene, many of the scenes are not essential to an already superficial storyline, thereby causing it to drag considerably, whereas Some Like It Hot has a driving well-paced storyline, including the "slower" scenes, which are written with steamy allure and romantic tension (unlike the excruciatingly slow scenes in White Chicks).

4.  Some Like It Hot tells a unique story that is based on a bizarre situation, which produces humor naturally.  White Chicks obviously started with a premise written for humor and wrote a story around this premise, thereby effecting humor that is not natural, but, instead, obviously contrived and strained.

A soundly-crafted screenplay must, above all, hold our attention.  Once it begins to wander (our attention, that is)... it takes more "effort" for the screenwriting to pull it back.  Where was I? (see what I mean?)  So it's best to never let it drift off, in the first place.  And, drift, our focus does as we journey through the world of White Chicks.  In an attempt to "entertain" us, it leaves us off at certain stops along the way that we never asked to stop at, and leaves us there far too long, falling into one of the biggest traps when writing humor:  not ending early enough.  

Even a seasoned show  as "Saturday Night Live" (too many seasons, you may wonder) suffers often from the same malady.  Scenes often -- and I mean "often" -- continue far too long, stating the same joke in different forms.  We get it.  We got it.  That's very funny.  Ha, ha, ha.  Yes, that's funny, too -- but didn't the other cast member say just about the same thing?  Oh, somebody else has made an entrance and they're... saying just about the same thing, too.  Ha, ha.  Okay, now... they're all... Didn't I hear and/or see that joke before?  Oh, yes.  Now I remember.  I did.

A minute ago.

And a minute before that.

And a minute before...

DcH 

that.

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