Writing On Spec

An award caliber procrastinator discovers a new and dangerous pursuit to keep him from actually writing another script. Why another Blog? I love to talk screenwriting. I love to talk story. I live in Richmond, VA. It's almost easier to get produced than find another screenwriter here. We are the anti-LA.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Thank you For Smoking -- sort of

Spoilers beyond here.

I finally got around to watching Thank You For Not Smoking. I'd read the book and read the interview with the writer/director (Jason Reitman) in one of the screenwriting magazines. Now, I read where he said that he felt boosting the kids presence was important and he felt deepened the story. There were several added scenes created just to add/embellish create more screen time for the father/son relationship. For the most part, they were good, some really good and often funny. Really in keeping with the novel.

What I liked about this was that the tone of the novel was kept and, for the most part, it stayed fairly close to the book. The comedy really played well and it proved that this book really was ripe for translating to the screen - no special effects to speak of, good dialogue and a great modern day whodunnit wrapped up in a fabulous black comedy.

Problem is, they took out the story. WTF? I really don't get it. The movie, while entertaining, is really just 90 minutes of stand-up type comedy. It's a character study of a guy and his world. You really can't say, "this is a story about a guy who...." because although things happen to him and around him, there is no reason for any of it. They kept the kidnapping, but removed the whole purpose behind it.

Don't get me wrong - I've said it before - I love seeing books turned into films. I don't expect to see the same thing I read; however, I usually expect to see a *story* in the film. Even the worst adaptations tend to keep that damn much. In this case, they dumped the story and kept the characters. And what a shame.

I can't imagine why this was left out - and it wouldn't have added much more to the length of the film. Then, at least the movie would have made sense - it certainly would have received better reviews and word of mouth than it must have received as it is.

As it stands, this movie makes a great starter for the book. It allows you to see the characters in the book so well and would make for an even better read. The casting and acting were first rate and the scenes with the son add some depth to a character in the book that was a minor character.

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