A lesson in reveals. The reveal does not work to the story's benefit. Let's get straight into it. #SpoilerAlert
Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
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 dashing through the snow
The point of a reveal is to provide a grand aha moment. It makes us quickly reflect on all of the information we've received and fully understand how they're all connected.
We spend a large chunk of the film not knowing why the bad guys are after Santa. We also don't know how Santa knows these bad guys are after them. In one moment, we're meeting the bad guys as they're given an iPad and the code so they can "collect" money from innocent people on command from a shady congressman. I'm still not sure what that means because we never see them in action. The next time we see them, they no longer have the iPad. Enter Confusion.
At the midpoint, we get the reveal that Santa came to deliver presents to the congressman and during an altercation with the bad guys, accidentally switched his iPad with theirs.
BUT HE DOESN'T KNOW IT. This is key.
Back to the reveal. Instead of feeling relieved or more intrigued after understanding how Santa got the congressman's iPad, I was asking, was it worth the viewers being confused for the majority of the film? My answer is no. It feels like it was a decision made to add complexity to the story but may not have been how the original script was written. What did we earn from not seeing this in real time?
Back to the iPad. Santa never acknowledges the mix up. Santa never informs Eddie, our protagonist, of the mix up. Yet, when Eddie is given the iPad after turning Santa in to the cops, he suddenly understands that the iPad belongs to the congressman and uses his name to open it after seeing a billboard.
This is a HUGE leap. I refuse to believe the screenplay had this major plot hole. Maybe it got lost on the editing room floor.
- The title is a misnomer. There's no snow.
- This is a kid's film. It's very simple. Very on the nose. The acting is mid. I repeat - THIS IS FOR KIDS.
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