Monday, March 8, 2010

Donnie Darko Screenplay: Awesome Set Up and Pay Off

I spent my teenage years being something of an emo kid. I was in a bunch of bands and watched Saved a lot. But, unlike many of my cohorts, I never ‘got’ Donnie Darko (well…to the extent that anyone can get that movie, I certainly didn’t understand what the big deal was).

The gang huddled together nearing a dozen times throughout my high school career, and watched that movie. But all I remembered was the fuckin’ weird rabbit and that I would rather be doing almost anything else. I barely paid attention.

Until last night. I rewatched the movie with Jane and was FLOORED.

Holy shit. The whole thing is, as the title of this post suggests, an incredible exercise in set up and pay off.

I’d have to re-watch and take notes to cite examples, but that’s not even the point of this post. There is no reason to cite specific examples, b/c it’s as simple as FIRST HALF and SECOND HALF.

The first half of the movie you’re kind of sitting there like…wtf is this movie? What’s going on? Why do all of these things keep happening?
Who is this old woman?
Why am I watching bizarre inspirational videos with Patrick Swayze for two pages of script?
What’s up with the jet engine?
What’s with the rabbit? The gun?
Is that really Seth Rogen?

But in the second half ALL OF THIS IS PAID OFF. So well. It’s seriously mind boggling. The end result is a movie that is so RICH and satisfying that it really is awe inspiring at times.

I’m an arrogant jackass, and don’t like to admit when things make me jealous, but the writing in this movie made me really, really jealous.

Waking up this morning I reasoned that we can definitely do that. Better, even (okay...maybe it! we can too!) And so can you.

Comb through your script looking for references, locations, clothing, lines, throwaway jokes, and see if you can pay them off.

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