A lesson in inactive protagonists. This story could've worked, but the execution is so poor.
Rotten Tomatoes: 45%
HOW BREAKING DOWN FILMS HELPS YOUR SCREENWRITING
As a screenwriter, you no longer have the privilege of watching movies for pure entertainment. You can try, but it's our goal to ruin it for you. Kidding... well, not really.
Watching films and breaking down the beats is one of the best ways to learn screenwriting. Knowing which beats are present or lacking and how they are functioning or not functioning in any given story strengthens your ability to execute those beats in your story. It's a great exercise.
So the next time you're watching, pull up your notes app and jot down the beats. Are they tracking? Why or why not?
Let's get into candy cane lane
The story is all over the place. The inciting incident (Chris losing his job and becoming obsessed with winning the house decorating contest/ $100k in order to have a good Christmas - not providing for his family or starting his own carpentry ) doesn't connect with each family member's problem (Carol's promotion, Joy's school choice/independence, and Nick's math deficiency/love of music) so following their storylines feel like distractions instead of steps towards Chris' goal or even complications to it.
Chris' social proof is set at the beginning. He's a carpenter. Each year, he builds his own Christmas decor by hand and loses to his neighbor, who decorates the commercial way. His carpenter skills don't help him reach his goals nor were they used to help him actually win the contest. So, his social proof doesn't matter. What lesson did we learn from this? Your skills don't matter?
Chris didn't seek out any of the rings. They all came straight to him.
- Turtle doves land on Chris' car.
- French Hens invade Carol's factory because Pepper takes them there.
It's like she's helping Chris while trying to hurt Carol, but to what end? Which is more important: stopping Carol from getting a promotion or stopping Chris from getting the rings so he can become a part of her tiny town?
- Milking Maids appear in Nik's band room.
- Leaping Lords obstruct Joy's track meet.
- Wedding rings. Nuff said.
Our protagonist is not active in his pursuit of the rings as if the stakes - turning into a tiny person - mean absolutely nothing.
The track meet is a full on distraction from the storyline. If Pepper didn't come to them, Chris' family would not have retrieved more rings.
Why did Chris steal the tiny townspeople? What is he trying to accomplish? How does this get him closer to finding the rings? It doesn't. It leads Pepper directly to him.
5 rings 11 times is 55 rings. Just me? Do they only sing the 12 days of Christmas 8 times?
Rules: If it takes 8 dings for the curse to take place, why does Chris shrink at the first stroke? Pepper changed one clock, but everyone else's remained correct. Is her clock the only one that counts? Can we not depend on real time?
Holly writes to Santa to help transform the tiny people back into human beings. She uses Santa to one-up Pepper, but when Santa arrives, it's clear that he isn't all powerful and that Pepper, somehow, has a say over what goes. Why? Who is Pepper? And if we can't count on Santa, who can we count on?
So, Chris wins the contest because he had a big tree that made a big bright light? I vote for the neighbors with the blowup decor.
How did Chris purchase the Christmas store? With the $100k in tacos?
Even my mother was confused, and she likes EVERYTHING. Below is her commentary:
- They don't have track meets in December!
- Mother: Who is that?
Me: A track coach from NC.
Mother: How'd she get in there?!
- Now, how did their wedding rings get into the story?
I may as well have let her write this critique.
What say you?
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