Writing Movie “WRONGS”
By Jim West
Directed by Richie Keen
Written by Van Robichaux and Evan Susser
It’s the last day of the school year and the seniors are cutting loose with every prank imaginable. It doesn’t take long before the pranks aggravate the teachers so much that eventually pits two teachers against each other. That is the premise of this film. Two teachers fight after school. Laughing yet? I didn’t think so. The screenplay writers seem to have a budding career on their hands with upcoming film work on “Wedding Crashers 2” and “Sonic the Hedgehog”. Yet I don’t feel they may be quite ready yet to up the ante when it comes to laughs. Now comedy is one of the most difficult things to write. It is far easier to catch lightning in a bottle. Yet the cast has some great potential. Ice Cube has done his fair share of comedies. Charlie Day is a force to be reckoned with in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. Tracey Morgan is always a riot when he is on screen. Yet of the entire cast perhaps the one to get the biggest laughs is Jillian Bell. More on her later.
School’s almost out so here goes the spoilers!
Charlie Day plays Andy Campbell. An English teacher who is soft spoken and a pushover. His wife is pregnant and his middle grade daughter has a talent show she needs her dad to come to at the end of the school day. Of course no foreshadow is needed to see that being rushed for time will occur and things won’t go as planned. Ice Cube plays a hard-nosed, tough as nails history teacher who simply is called Strickland by both students and teachers alike. Of course just giving him a last name is by itself intimidating. Meh. Throw in a potentially womanizing Coach Crawford (Morgan), an overtly sexually charged guidance counselor (Bell), your take no prisoners Principal (Dean Norris), and a weird part for Kristina Hendricks playing a assumed teacher yet no idea of what class she taught beyond maybe French? With this mix of talent and characters the film should be ripe with great gags, goofs, and laugh out loud moments. Sadly this is where the film disappoints. The writer’s relied too much on the senior’s pranks as the ‘shock’ factor to snag laughs. After the first few this became repetitive and boring. There is a scene in the boy’s restroom that by the second time around it is just not funny. So with all this being said; how can we fix these movie wrongs?
First off either utilize Kristina Hendricks character more or cut her role out the film. I would just cut her from the film. Instead use Jillian Bell’s counselor character to catch Charlie’s character with the kid in the restroom scene. This could have went several different ways and possible improvising could’ve yielded some funny takes. One take have her appear interested in what was going on to play to her character’s craziness. Another way to play the scene would be have her look at Charlie in a different light and not be so sure if he should be beat up or not. Play her against Charlie for the rest of the film. Next, Ice Cube’s role should have been more than just menacing stare downs and yelling. Introduce some mind games. Have his character really show that as a history teacher he isn’t only about the aggression, but he can strategize and overcome his challenges with his brain as well. Maybe track down Charlie who is hiding from him in the school. During their fight when they go inside the school show them fighting classroom to classroom utilizing things in each classroom to hilarious effect. Example the science lab would have bunsen burners. Ice Cube should singe the hair off Charlie Days beard and that itself would be hilarious seeing him with a half burnt beard. Then in another class like math class Charlie takes a bunch of protractors and throws the like ninja stars. Use the school environment to comedic effect more in the film. Coach Crawford played by Tracy Morgan says dialogue that would indicate he is a womanizer especially targeting the single moms of students. There should have been at least one scene expanding upon this. I mean it is Tracy Morgan. Give him a scene to really cut loose. Overall the film falls flat because the two writers couldn’t imagine anything other than sight gags, and the school became a setting for the film than a character of its own.
Thanks for reading Writing Movie ‘WRONGS’.