Cut and Pace

Profile: Lonely Goth chick connects with lonely middle-aged clothing salesman. A movie about connections that go beyond age and fashion that ends up rushing through its promising premise to get to a schmaltzy third act that plays like James L. Brooks getting prison raped by Touched By an Angel. Think The Odd Couple meets Lolita meets Terms of Endearmentmeets The Collected Works of the Lifetime Network.

Symptoms: Word on the street was that the first two-thirds of this movie made for great character studies but the last third blew. Indeed, the last act is a reprehensible pile of plot contrivances and clichs, but the first two-thirds is no picnic either. The mismatched couple connects for reasons known only to the guy who storyboarded this. We're never really shown why the girl, apparently numb to life, all of a sudden has it bad for a guy who sells adjustable pants. Sure, people can click for reasons only they understand, but you've got to at least hint at the reasons, especially when you make clear that their relationship is a confused mixture of genuine friendship and unresolved sexual tension. In lieu of insightful action, we get a lot of knowing glances and “Love is . . .” slogans in heart-heaving scenes accompanied by the kind of swelling music one normally associates with movies about lost pets. Diagnosis: Though your tale of a teen who hates her annoying and cartoonish mother and shows it through self-mutilation has beaten Kathie Lee Gifford's kids to the punch, at least we know why they'll hate their life.

Script Doctor Prescription: Take that last act out in the yard and shoot it. You have a good premise and a couple of potentially interesting characters. But you have to allow us some time to visit with them. Your whole point is that someone's real self lies beneath that side they choose to show the world. Yet you never really let us underneath the girl's tattoos or the man's lethargy. They become friends because they say they are. There is a hint of sexual tension because they say there is. If you throw out the last act, you'll have plenty of time to let them and their relationship develop. Slowly. Since this is a movie about little people taking little steps, you should build your climax to scale: perhaps hooking up with this responsible older man has made it possible for the girl to reach career aspirations that force her away from him. Whatever—just show us. The devil—and your movie—is in the details.

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