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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 know that “Last Holiday” is a big box office deal now, but I didn’t like the movie at all.  Do you think there was a problem with the screenplay?

Harold from Kentucky

This week's Answer: 

Endless Holiday

Harold, thank you for contacting me.  I did see Last Holiday last week the last day of the week (but I wasn't last in line) and must admit that I did find the script wanting.  Now “wanting what?” is the question, wouldn’t you agree? (How about “a good story”?).   As cheery and uplifting and positive as the screenplay was (read “saccharine, schmaltzy, and cloying”), it was not easy to sit through, not only because several people in the theatre where I was viewing this joyful film were engaged in other activities other than watching a movie, i.e., talking to their friends (even on cell-phones!), but also because I knew I had seen the same story (more times than I can count) and was hoping upon hope that there would be some twist, some surprise, some something to pull be out of the quagmire of ennui that I found myself trapped in.  Not that cartoon-like snowboarding, base jumping, cooking, heath spas, a lot of snow, an unrealistic romantic relationship, more snow, more cooking, looking for food for cooking, a woman who thinks she’s dying doling out unwanted platitudes like there was no tomorrow (at least she thinks so) and deciding to save everybody who she meets on vacation, and more snow aren’t all wonderful elements that could make up a wonderful story.  It just happens, in the case of Last Holiday, they didn’t.

It would have been nice if the author or authors had taken just a pinch more risk and hadn’t played it so safe.  Maybe, once the protagonist discovered she is going to die, she could have done something like the lead in the classic film, D.O.A. and try to hunt down those villains who implanted a deadly, made-up disease in her brain.  Or at least go after the ones who caused the machine to make it look like everybody had the same deadly,  made-up disease in their brains.  The more I think of it, that was the direction to go.  I can see the new title now:

D.O.H.:  Dead on Holiday

Or, on second thought, better to keep the original title, Last Holiday.  And hope that it is.



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