Youngstown Blvd
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Overall
Concept
Story Structure
Character
Dialogue
Grammar
Budget (1-Low / 5-High)
Rating: 3.4/5 (1 vote cast)

Youngstown Blvd

An alienated teen plots to shoot up his school as a senior prank, but plans go awry when he falls in love.

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  1. Profile photo of hallbergmd
    hallbergmd says
    September 18, 2013, 7:19 pm
    Overall
    Concept
    Story Structure
    Character
    Dialogue
    Grammar
    Budget (1-Low / 5-High)

    Overall – This screenplay has potential, but eventually the promise of the film (getting inside the mind of a Coumbine-esque teenage kid who’s contemplating blowing his classmates and himself away) is lost. One issue is the pervasive MJ use…this character is less Holden Caufield, as the author suggests, and more Stoney McStonerkins gets high by himself, with his uncle, with his friend, and with his girlfriend. If MJ is going to be so pervasive in the screenplay, it has to MEAN something. Take a film like American Beauty, where MJ use is prevalent. For Ricky, MJ represents financial independence and a way to defy his authoritative father. For Lester, it’s a way for him to take off the reigns of Corporate America. For Eli, in this film, it’s something for him to talk about in VO to show how much he knows about smoking pot.

    Concept – An excellent idea for a film. This topic is obviously very germane with the increase in school violence and the dramatic school shootings that have occurred recently. However, Eli, like Hamlet (who is mentioned in the movie) just kind of messes around, not really changing as a character, and certainly not letting us, the audience, in on whatever growth is occurring.

    Story Structure – This is a sequence of events rather than a story of growth or evolution. Scenes tend to include more detail than they should, and much of Eli’s interactions with others appears to be more about convincing us that Eli is an “Ok dude,” rather than advancing the plot.

    Character – I really vacillated between 2 – 3 stars here. Eli is not a convincing character. Just about everything we KNOW about Eli is either something that he told us in a voiceover (which end up sounding much like canned countercultural comments we’ve all heard a zillion times before), or because some other character tells us something great they see in him (but that we don’t really see for ourselves). Similarly, the other characters (other than Eli’s mother and father) exist to prop him up, tell him how great he is, or if nothing else, that he’s a fun person to get stoned with. His girlfriend just up and tells him he likes him, and that he has all of these amazing qualities, but we do not have even the faintest sense of what Eli did that made her consider him in the first place.

    Dialogue…Generally quite good. This is referring to the actual dialogue, and not the voiceover, which in almost all instances is just exposition that could be teased out in a more dramatic way.

    Grammar – Good. A few noted misspellings of words and punctuation, but nothing egregious.

    Overall impression – A good and timely idea, but ultimately not persuasive. Fundamentally, it seems like Eli’s conflict is with his father, so why is he planning on killing everyone in the school? Look, I understand the concept of emotional displacement (ie, Eli’s hatred of his father plays out in his anarchist plot to murder everyone in the school), but if that is what this movie is supposed to be about, significant strings still need to be tied together. If this movie isn’t about Eli’s relationship with his father, then why do I end up feeling that the only real emotion Eli expresses in the entire film occurs when his father is around? In order for this to work, we have to empathize with Eli, to understand that even if we wouldn’t unleash hell if we were in the same circumstances, we “get” why he would. Right now, Eli has a lot more positive influences in his life than many people have….a dedicated teacher who believes in him, an uncle who supports him, a smart friend who likes spending time with him, and a beautiful girl who seems to exist in the script to tell Eli how great he is. It doesn’t make a good case for the conflict and ambivalence that Eli is supposed to have brewing inside of him. Best of luck with this.

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