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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Trapped (review)

Greg Iles’ Be a Famous Hollywood Screenwriter Seminar

FADE IN

BLACKNESS

  • GREG ILES
  • (voiceover)
  • Hello, I’m Greg Iles, the screenwriter of such Hollywood hits as Trapped and er, Trapped. Would you like to be a famous screenwriter like me? I want to share my expertise with you through my Greg Iles’ Be a Famous Hollywood Screenwriter Seminar, which is absolutely essential for would-be screenwriters. At only $195 for a three-hour session, this is a bargain when you consider the money you’ll be raking in in no time. Still not convinced? Here’s a sneak peak of what you’ll learn in my seminar. Let’s join Trapped, already in progress…

INT. SOMEWHERE

KEVIN BACON has his MENACING FACE on as he CREEPILY MENACES a nice young blond woman. Everyone she knows is now only one degree of separation from Kevin Bacon.

  • KEVIN
  • I am menacing you. I am a creepy guy, am I not? Just count your blessings that you’re not in the second act, when I menace Charlize Theron with my willy, which is now contractually obligated to be a character in all my films. Did you know, it gets its own assistant? Imagine that.
  • WOMAN
  • GIMME BACK MY BABY!
  • KEVIN
  • Geez, lady, don’t worry. You’ll get your baby back when I get the money. Calm down — I’ve done this a million times, and it always goes smoothly. Just so we’re clear, we’ve never met before, I have no personal animosity toward you, and I’m only in this for the money, right?
  • WOMAN
  • Right. No prior connection whatsoever. Just a money thing.
  • KEVIN
  • And I am completely conveying the impression that I really do know what I’m doing, in a sick, twisted kind of way?
  • WOMAN
  • Absolutely. No complaints there at all.
  • GREG
  • (voiceover)
  • Let me jump in here right now and tell you that no matter what all those other screenwriting “experts” say, there is simply no reason whatsoever why you cannot establish your characters as behaving in one way and with one kind of motivation and then later on have them behave in a completely contradictory and opposite way. This helps create something we insiders like to call “suspense” and makes your movies much more interesting. Now, back to Trapped

INT. HOUSE. NOT LIKE YOUR HOUSE. LIKE THOSE HOUSES YOU SEE IN MAGAZINES

  • CHARLIZE THERON
  • Ooo, la le la. Life is so perfect, it’s a wonder Ashley Judd herself isn’t here. Maybe she’ll play me in the movie.
  • LUIS MANDOKI
  • (voiceover)
  • Hello, I’m Luis Mandoki, the director of Trapped. Don’t worry, I’m not selling a seminar like my buddy Greg. I just want to point out that in fact the original idea here was to cast a sitcom mom and throw this flick up on Lifetime with the title Oh Dear God No No No No No No No No No Not My Baby No No! So whatever you think of Trapped, if could have been much, much worse.
  • DAKOTA FANNING
  • (exudes cuteness)
  • Mommy?
  • CHARLIZE
  • Oh my goodness me, but you’re just about the most precious little thing imaginable, aren’t you? My perfect, perfect, perfect baby!
  • DAKOTA
  • (exudes cuteness)
  • I’m not a baby, Mommy, I’m six. And I have asthma. See all the medicine around the house? I’m not perfect.
  • GREG
  • (voiceover)
  • Don’t be afraid to give your characters little weaknesses like debilitating illnesses that might throw a wrench into your villain’s plans. It helps make the characters more believable and, as we say in the business, “real.”
  • KEVIN
  • (bursts into room)
  • Oh my God I’m so totally evil. Look at me slink around, smoking a cigarette and wearing a ratty leather jacket.
  • PRUITT TAYLOR VINCE
  • You’re so evil that I’m afraid of you, and I’m your sidekick.
  • GREG
  • (voiceover)
  • More of that “realistic” “weakness.”
  • KEVIN
  • Here, Pruitt, take the kid and put her somewhere safe.

Pruitt takes the kid and EXITS to somewhere safe.

  • KEVIN
  • Now, onto the fun part: menacing the mom in that creepily sexual way that will force her to assert herself and fight back and Not Be A Victim.
  • GREG
  • (voiceover)
  • It’s very important to avoid clichés like the plague. Just because we’d all expect a woman to submit willingly to the sicko advances of a creepy home invader and child kidnapper doesn’t mean you have to let that happen in your script. You can create a lot more of what we screenwriters call “tension” if you allow your characters to behave in ways we don’t expect.
  • CHARLIZE
  • You screwed up this time, Kev. I’m not like those other moms who just let you have your wicked way, and my kid is not like those other kids who weren’t sick with illnesses that could flare up at any time and ruin your plan!
  • KEVIN
  • Damn! But have you considered that maybe this isn’t about money? Maybe I’m hurting on the inside and this is the only way I can articulate my pain?
  • GREG
  • (voiceover)
  • Look! Two tips come together in this scene! The female protagonist chooses to “fight back” to protect herself and her child — who could have expected that? And the male villain reveals that, contrary to his clearly well-established previous life of crime, there’s more to him than just money: he has a secret, tender heart, too. My God, the tension is unbearable, and I know how this all turns out, unlike the audience, who will all be in “suspense” waiting to find out whether the mom will prevail and the bad guy will be defeated!

INT. SOMEWHERE ELSE

  • STUART TOWNSEND
  • Hello, I’m Stuart Townsend. My major claim to fame is that I narrowly avoided being badly miscast as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. I actually was badly miscast in Queen of the Damned, but no one saw that movie. Here, I am perfectly cast as the totally devoted husband to Charlize who wasn’t tempted by the idea of a night of cheap, sweaty sex with Courtney Love–
  • COURTNEY LOVE
  • Hi. I’m Kevin’s partner in crime, by the way.
  • STUART
  • I’m cute and have a cool Irish accent, but other than that, I don’t actually do a whole lot here besides watch Courtney bathe.

Courtney GIGGLES.

  • STUART
  • I’m not sure what it says about me as an actor that this ineffectual dolt is the perfect role for me. Maybe I should call my agent… Court, can I borrow your cell phone?
  • GREG
  • (voiceover)
  • Again, we are surprised by the unexpected uselessness of the man in the female protagonist’s life. Also, it’s important to learn how to use “foreshadowing,” which is what the cell phone business is here. “What do cell phones have to do with everything?” the audience is wondering now. You better believe that no one is getting up for more popcorn or a trip to the john at this point.

EXT. CREEPY X-FILESY WOODSY PLACE

  • GREG
  • (voiceover)
  • It’s important to “create complications,” otherwise known as “killing time in the second act.”
  • KEVIN
  • Wait, Greg, Luis, the kid was hidden away, and now we have to reunite her with her mom for a scene? This seems cruel to me. You know, I’m a dad, too, and this just seems like it’s gratuitously unkind. What’s the point of this flick again?
  • GREG
  • We’ll worry about that later. Just talk about anything, Kevin.
  • KEVIN
  • Um, okay… So, uh, this flick isn’t so good for playing Six Degrees of Me, cuz it has such a small cast, but at least Pruitt Taylor Vince is here, and he’s one of those great crossover character actors who does both big Hollywood movies and little indies. So that gives me a ton of new connections.
  • PRUITT
  • Uh, we were both in JFK like ten years ago.
  • KEVIN
  • Oh yeah. Hey, remember when I was a real actor? Those were great days.
  • CHARLIZE
  • That is like so totally not fair to yourself, Kev! You totally did crap like Footloose like eons ago, too, and My Dog Skip was like completely wonderful and only two years ago.
  • DAKOTA
  • (exudes cuteness)
  • I like movies about puppies.
  • PRUITT
  • Still, the best thing you’ve done lately is that American Express commercial. Man, is that funny!
  • DAKOTA
  • (exudes cuteness)
  • Doesn’t anyone else think it’s funny that he’s got that piggy nose and his name is also Bacon?
  • KEVIN
  • Why you little…!

INT. WHEREVER STUART AND COURTNEY ARE

  • STUART
  • (on the phone)
  • Hello, unnamed friend who hasn’t appeared in the film before, I’m so glad you happen to be a vice president at the major cell phone company in my greater calling region. See, my daughter’s kidnappers are using phones on your service, and I just know you can trace their calls. Right?
  • FRIEND
  • (over the phone)
  • That is absolutely no problem, Stu, and I am happy to help and appear in your film. Hi, Mom!
  • COURTNEY
  • Even though our cell phones will be our downfall, they’re so convenient! Kev, Pru, and I are constantly checking in with one another whenever we do a kidnapping, and with the Friends, Family and Felons Plan, we get unlimited night, weekend, and crime-spree minutes to everyone in our calling circle! And we get just one bill a month for all three of our phones!
  • GREG
  • (voiceover)
  • Don’t be afraid to introduce characters and situations late in the film, just as you need to them to advance the plot! This can add an extra special “twist” that surprises the audience.

EXT. THE THIRD ACT

  • GREG
  • (voiceover)
  • Go for a “shocking” reversal in the third act. If your script has taken place entirely within a few rooms up till now, then get into the great outdoors. Throw in planes, helicopters, tanker trucks, car chases, gunfights, explosions, you name it. It’s not possible to go over the top when reaching for an exciting climax to your story, so go for broke!

FBI agents in a helicopter CHASE Stuart and Courtney in a small plane CHASE Charlize and Kevin in a sportscar CHASE Pruitt and Dakota in a pickup truck. Stuart WIGGLES THE WINGS of his plane, which is a SIGN to Dakota that Daddy is on the way, which causes a tanker truck to EXPLODE and all traffic on the freeway to come to a halt and everyone to get out of their cars/trucks/aerial vehicles.

Charlize CHASES Kevin with a GUN. Courtney CHASES Stuart with a CELL PHONE. The sound of GUNFIRE and cell phones RINGING.

  • DAKOTA
  • Daddy!
  • COURTNEY
  • Kevin!
  • CHARLIZE
  • Stuart!
  • KEVIN
  • Courtney!
  • STUART/CHARLIZE
  • Dakota!
  • DAKOTA
  • Mommy!

The FBI arrives and arrests everyone.

  • PRUITT
  • Damn.
  • STUART
  • The body count is enormous — landing my plane on the freeway caused a 13-car pileup — but my baby and my wife are safe! Hurrah!
  • GREG
  • (voiceover)
  • Always end on an up-note. Remember, audiences don’t want to be reminded of all the death and horror that happened along the way to your happy ending — they want to leave the theater with a spring in their step. Let them!

MPAA: rated R for violence, language and sexual content

viewed at a public multiplex screening

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