TRAINWRECK has a perfect example of a False Loop!

Saw TRAINWRECK last night. It’s not very good. Sadly.

It’s very funny, but it doesn’t work as a movie. One reason: it’s boring.

The second reason is that the lead character, Amy, is so reprehensible and unpleasant to be around that, in the end, I wished I’d not spent any time with her at all.

The best thing about the movie (besides LeBron James) is Tilda Swinton. Look at her collected works, and find them amazing! Who she is in each movie is awesomely different, like a chameleon, depending on her surroundings. In TRAINWRECK, she is almost unrecognizable, oddly, even though they haven’t done much to her. Her voice gives her away. What an amazingly wonderful character! So well drawn.

Unlike the Amy character.

The trailer sets you up for all kinds of sexual shenanigans and bad behavior. That’s not what the movie is about. It’s about her relationship with her dim boyfriend who she dumps, her new boyfriend, sister, co-workers, and awful father, who she says loved her a lot, when he never really seems to have loved her at all. Plus, the love she has for her boyfriend, while discussed, is never really seen.

Anyway. The False Loop.

Which is when a character enters a scene, or series of scenes, and leaves in exactly the same spot they were in when they entered. No story motion. Which renders the scene worthless.

Normally, I would say “if the scene is funny and doesn’t move the plot forward, that’s okay. Keep it.” In this instance, I do not say that. A first year film student’s teacher would tell her to cut this scene, so why didn’t anyone tell Judd Apatow? Probably because he’s too powerful to have anyone speak the truth to him, which is an awful place to live.

The Bill Hader character has broken up with Amy. Good move, actually, but they try to make you think it’s a bad move. He gets a call from one of his clients saying he’s injured himself and needs Bill to come over to the locker room and help. Hader walks in and discovers that it’s an intervention. Chris Evert, Matthew Broderick, LeBron James, and Marv Albert are lined up to tell him why he’s been acting badly towards his now ex-girlfriend. They say some stupid things. They say some funny things. They say some incredibly stupid things.

Marv Albert acts like a person from another planet, without a shred of human consideration for other people… Commenting on the intervention as if it were a sporting event. What real person would ever do such a thing? It completely alters the tone of the movie. And it’s not funny.

Finally, Hader tells them they’re stupid, stomps out, and leaves exactly as he entered the scene. He has learned nothing. Grown, not at all. The entire scene is a waste of time. Nothing happened in the scene that affects the character or the story. It’s never mentioned or thought about again. If it disappeared from the movie, the story would not notice.

Therefore, because it is a False Loop, it should have disappeared in editing. Of the script, not the movie!

While I’m commenting on the ridiculous character Marv Albert plays, I bring up the superb (500) DAYS OF SUMMER. When they created the story, the writers made a pact. No one in the script was ever going to do anything that a real person would not do. Unlike most romantic comedies, e.g., the Marv Albert character in TRAINWRECK where the writers want the reader to say, “oh, this is a romantic comedy. I’ll accept insane behavior from people doing ridiculous and stupid things, because it’s a romantic comedy. Oh, I so get it. Check your brain at the door.”

Barf.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “TRAINWRECK has a perfect example of a False Loop!

  1. Thanks for an enlightening and fun post! Though I’m not a film student in any manner, I am a movie-goer (occasionally) and it’s helpful to read about movies to NOT see. But it’s really fun to read about why they don’t work. You did an amazing job of bringing that to life for me, the pedestrian. Next time I go to a movie, I always watch for the things you teach. I enjoy your articles, and keep my subscription active.Thank you! http://www.lisachapman.com

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Go see MR HOLMES while it’s still in the theaters! It’s wonderful. It’s the best thing out there right now. A perfect example of a little movie that’s doing very well. But, be careful not to trip over the old people when you leave the theater.

  2. OP

    Every person I know has agreed on this: the movie was boring. BUT for some reason the critics are biased to Judd Apatow and it did well among them. It’s puzzling.

    Great post as usual!

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      What movie should we all go see? I loved MR. HOLMES. Haven’t seen much else of late… Suggestions?

    • OP

      I’d say the new mission impossible. Not much else out there right now. I wasn’t a fan of Jurassic World. The pickings are slim right now.

      • yourscreenplaysucks

        Pickings are soooo much better on TV! Never thought I’d live to say that.

  3. skyeknightdent

    Not pertinent to the subject, but not sure where to put this question. How can I get your page to alert me when you have a new posting?

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      You sign up to Follow and you’ll get an email when I post something new. On my computer, anyway, it’s little blue box at the bottom right corner of the screen. “Follow.” Hope it’s there and hope it works!

      Will

  4. Veronica

    Been reading a lot of screenplays on the market lately and had a question. When you use a mini slug line. Is that supposed to be formatted as a scene heading like a regular slug line or as an action line?

    I’ve seen it used both ways. But if you use it as a scene heading there’s two spaces before it. And with an action line there’s just one.

    INT. KITCHEN – DAY
    John sprints into the
    LIVING ROOM

    So on Final Draft, should living room have one line spaced above it? Or two?

    Thank you!

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      My feeling is that every slug line is a slug line, and were the script to be numbered, each would have its own scene number. So, in your example,

      INT. KITCHEN DAY
      John sprints into the

      LIVING ROOM

      There’d be two spaces above LIVING ROOM, as it’s a new setting. The camera and crew would have to move to the new location.

  5. L

    I’ve noticed that audiences can be very hard on “unlikeable” female leads. But ask them what their favorite movies are, and they’ll name films like Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, Fargo, Taxi Driver, etc, with truly reprehensible male leads.

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