Ok, so here is my feedback from The BlueCat Screenplay Competition for my script, Union (currently a quarter-finalist). Fingers crossed that it advances. Here goes.......
What I liked?
What worked in this screenplay was a well written, good natured family/holiday comedy, with a good central plot arc, compelling characters, and a significant theme.
Some of the best of this screenplay were a number of very funny moments throughout the screenplay. Some examples are as follows. Page 45 and 46, very funny, “I’m pregnant”, followed by “I’m a lesbian”. The timing used here was also on point, and showed a sophisticated understanding of comic elements. Pages 81 and 82 were also very funny with the disastrous hunting trip. The scene on page 92, with the mayor on down, confessing their gay experiences in public, was also very entertaining.
The screenplay featured good emotional movement throughout. This was definitely a story with a strong moral center, specifically focused around values of family and acceptance. These thematic elements were a major driving force behind the central plot and character arcs.
Structurally the screenplay was successful in several ways. Scenes turned well with good beats of conflict. Act climaxes weren’t that pronounced, but there were major turning points and reversals placed in strategic locations, roughly based within a three act structure. The main character arcs, Barnaby and Hoyt’s in particular, worked very well in congress with the story’s central plot arc. Further more, from early on starting at the inciting incident, it occurred to me that the success of the screenplay would depend on two things, character dynamics and an increasingly complicated and tenuous set of progressive complications, and second act obstacles. I’ll get to the characters in a minute, but as far as the progressive complications were concerned, you delivered, and kept the screenplay engaging and entertaining.
There were a number of really likeable characters in the screenplay. You easily cultivated an audience investment in all of the family’s collective success, and specifically in Barnaby and Hoyt obtaining their objects of desire. With Barnaby it was about finding himself. With Hoyt it was about making peace with his family, his town, and his self. Both Barnaby and Hoyt had great emotional movement and turning points. Hoyt in particularly was a very dynamic and entertaining character. Though Barnaby, narrated the story and was technically the protagonist, in a way Hoyt’s desire to sort out his family was the spine of the screenplay, more so than Barnaby’s personal character arc, as it would seem. In this screenplay Barnaby’s own character arc, in all actuality, takes a back seat to the collective character arcs of the family members.
What needs work?
A big problem here is genre. Since this is a family/holiday comedy, with an adolescent protagonist, most of your audience is going to be either young adults or entire families. Your audience is young adults, while the content is very adult. The situations are often too thematically sophisticated for your demographic, and the humor is usually too edgy.
You’ve written a very good adult comedy in a family genre. A great example of where this is a problem is on page 68, the sex scene between Liz and Hoyt. This scene is very graphic and has very explicit conversation and content. This scene alone would guarantee you an R rating. Forget that you lose most of your audience demographic right there; no audience wants to see this scene. No one wants to see or think about their own parents having sex, and they certainly don’t want to see Barnaby’s. As a general rule, parents having sexual intercourse should be left out of any cinema altogether. There’s also a ton of cursing in this screenplay. Some of it could be cut without affecting the story, or the humor. Some of the bad language seems to derive solely from Barnaby’s narration, and that I think it would behoove you to tone it down.
The ending is a little sappy, and emotionally contrived. I liked the fact that Hoyt becomes friends with Pissbottom, but from the way in which it occurs, there isn’t any strong motivation or catalyst behind the change. Suddenly Pissbottom just breaks down and admits to Hoyt the reason for his animosity. This is fine, but maybe there can be something stronger which drives this change in Pissbottom.