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"Five and Twenty Wives" by John Brooke

Logline: Mexican emotions explode musically as twenty five wives of the same husband meet all together for the first time — at his funeral.

Genre: Comedy - Fantasy - History - Romance

Cast Size: 10+

Production Status: Available (Please contact the author to negotiate the rights)

Contest: Feature ~ Round 2 of 3: Ten Pages (Apr. 2009)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent
16%36%42%7%0%

Comments Made During the Contest

Adam Grage (Level 4)

The first line--EXT. MEXICO...so we are looking at the entire country of Mexico? I'm guessing you meant a Mexican City. I would suggest either noting a specific name to the city (i.i Mexico City) or just state Mexican City in the slug.

I am not familiar with any of these songs so i don't know what rights they have but I wouldn't state any music references unless they are public domain. I know this screenplay is devised as a musical but the structure seems wrong I would think if a character is going to sing it should be stated as such in the dialogue.

You shouldn't be specific to how a character looks regarding face shape and eyes. It doesnt really add anything to the script's importance. Since the character could look somewhat different and it wouldn't affect the story.

I like some of tha characters that you have developed here but the repeated interruption of additional wives got old fast. I would move the script along fast once the premise is developed that El Gran had multiple wives.

I think you have an okay start here. I liked the opening scene--very dramatic. the shift to a more comedic feel felt strange though. But the comedy bit works so maybe shifting the opening to convey that feel better might be an idea. Just a suggestion though. It's dry in spots as a lot of sitting and talking between the wives is the bulk of most of the scenes right now.

Ammar Salmi (Level 5)

Nothing kept me interested. May be I didn't felt anything about your script because I didn't know any of the songs you mentioned. I wonder how many reviewers out there know these songs. The dialogue was good. The description as well. But it's the story that I'm talking about. It felt so flat. May it's just me and the genre you chose.

Aralis Bloise (Level 4)

The idea itself its really good. I laughed out loud when I read the logline. What I read however, feels like it should be a lot longer and it was crammed down to fit the 10 pages of the contest. I think the story needs to take a little more time developing. Is this meant to be a musical. I'm picturing something like Moulin Rouge which would be just great, but if that's the case, then you need to tell us the actual lyrics to the songs. I get the feeling that the songs are meant to be significant but we only get a line and then the word "etc..." If the lyrics are taking the place of dialog, we need to read them and if they are just soundtrack suggestions, then maybe they don't need to be on the script. Another thing that comes to mind is: I speak Spanish, so I understood everything but I wonder if someone that doesn't might miss some stuff. I'm honestly not sure what would be correct in this case, but you might want to check that out just to make sure all of your audience gets what you are trying to say.

Austin Jones (Level 4)

First off, very original! Bravo! I have no idea where this is going though. I'm assuming that it will be more of meeting each wife and hearing her story as each tries to prove who the rightful "wife" is which right now is very one noted. I am very excited by the idea of all these women making claims and watching the highjinks to follow but I think there needs to be some direction and purpose and I don't see that just yet. I think you have a great eye for the visuals but sometimes they seem "over" crafted. I do love the style you are creating and it is great to see something set in period. I guess my biggest issue is with all the MUSIC descriptions. I don't speak Spanish so with the exception of one title (The Troublesome Bull) I have no idea what the relevance is for putting these in your script. If they are relevant then translate them so we understand what they add to the overall story because if the reader doesn't connect the dots between the titles and the story then it is just like you are informing your sound designer what songs he should be pulling…you know? Like I said I love your style of writing and your use of vocabulary but sometimes it does come off as showing off. Maybe that is just me and if I'm the only one to say that then by all means trash that note. Over all very nice work and great technique. Best of luck and I look forward to reading more!

Brian Wind (Level 5)

I'm not sure why, but I found this pretty difficult to read. It could be the Spanglish dialogue, it could be the beefy descriptive paragraphs or maybe it's all the Spanish song direction. For whatever reason, I had a tough time getting in to this one. It did not flow well. Some of the characters were well crafted, others felt one dimensional. The situation at the hospital with all the wives was funny on it's own, but the way it was handled in this script actually seemed to decrease the humor of it. Overall, I don't know... I had a very hard time getting in to this.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

Wonderful scene setting - the fact that I don't understand Spanish and didn't know the songs wasn't an issue for me.

More of an issue - the masses and masses of characters you introduced - I couldn't keep a grip on them all in my mind. (You need to be very sure they are all necessary - especially those you have named - that they all have a function that will further the plot)

Quite honestly, though this is well-written, I find it hard to imagine how this story could be sustained for the length of a feature film - I feel as though I've seen it all already, to all intents and purposes - a lot of fiery Latin women who will fight like cats to establish their rights.

As a musical, I'm sure it will be vibrant - but doesn't even a musical film need a plot that has some substance?

Slight technicality - you use Present Continuous Tense a lot (is looking,is arguing, is demanding, are working, are preparing) when Present Simple would be better - leaner.(looks, argues,demands, work, prepare)

Chris Keaton (Level 5)

Wow, I can't say that I am a expert on musicals, but if they were singing the tune and then saying their lines this would be 30 minutes by now. Isn't that why songs in musicals give out the dialog and advance the story. This just seems like music set in the background. It looks like it could be fun, bit right now, I'm not really drawn in.

Notes:
- You really can't register a title, but you can register the screenplay.
- Are these songs copyrighted? If so do you have the rights to use them? I guess that doesn't matter at this point.
- Lose the word 'is' from your vocabulary, write your action blocks active.
- I really don't think music in the background makes a musical?

Chris Messineo (Founder)

Great title and logline.

However, I was concerned when I read the logline on how you would be able to intertwine all these stories into a one compelling narrative and I'm afraid that has quite happened yet.

First, who is the protagonist? Who do I care about? Give me someone to root for (and someone to root against).

Second, I like all the Mexican "flavor" throughout, but it is too much for me to follow. I have no idea what these songs sound like or are about. You need to find a way to communicate the emotion of them.

I think if you can find a different way to introduce us to this story, perhaps a character who is new to this world - like us (maybe a stranger in town), it might work better.

I hope that helps.

Dan Lennox (Level 5)

I liked the title, and the logline has co

Great opening sequence you had me hooked from the start. Your writing is very good and the first ten pages are pretty tight. One thing that bugged me was the whole music thing. I am not familiar with the music that was written into the script, and therefore, it did nothing for me in terms of establishing mood or atmosphere, and a waste of line space.

Your dialogue was great. I loved it. It was realistic, tight, and believable. Overall this was very good, and makes writing reviews easy. Nice job.

David Birch (Level 5)

your project was very ambitious...in fact, it was one of my highest grades in the first round...i like you dedication to the setting, but your writing came across a little bloated and flowery...additionally, your constant insertion of music titles is viewed as and automatic rejection by a studio...

Dom Kullander (Level 3)

I'm not particularly well versed in this genre of film, nor do I speak any Spanish, so I will attempt a review based on what my first impressions were.
How do we know the citizens are 'revolution-weary'- what do we see?
I found it difficult to keep up with all the wives (though perhaps this is the point?) It was confusing to the point that the plot just became a sticky web of characters thrown together.
Do we need to know all the song titles? You are clearly very sure in your own mind of the asthetics of this story, but the constant updating of sound cues got in the way a tad.
The mise en scene fitted in with your theme nicely, your script was able to capture the dusty Mexican setting well.

Erich VonHeeder (Level 4)

This was one that I was really fascinated by in the logline contest…can’t wait…
Here are the notes I jotted down as I was reading through your script:

*
Nice descriptions. A very smooth, easy style.
*
Wow. Bloodbath. That’s quite a scene for a logline promising a comedic musical. (I can picture you right now wincing and saying "I didn't say anything about a comedy in my logline." But 9 out of 10 people will see UNEXPECTED POLYGAMY as a comedic premise.)
*
Here’s the problem: I’m REALLY expecting this to be a musical. And some little musical interludes at the beginning of scenes isn’t going to cut it! I want lyrics and NUMBERS…and by my count you’re already running out of time to deliver a rip-roaring opening number. I’m tapping my foot (impatiently, and to a gentle latin rhythm in my head).
*
Okay, this definitely isn't going to be a comedy.
*
“Manuela sings El Disgusto.” Oh no. That’s all we get of the songs? The title? I am troubled! I’m enjoying your writing style immensely and it’s a fascinating tone you have going on here and I’m willing to get on board, for sure!! But…I hate to say it…if this is a musical and you’ve withheld the LYRICS to the songs…yikes. That’s a deal-breaker.
*


I think you are a fine writer, and I’d be interested to read and/or hear the music that goes with this. But I just can’t see this one moving on. The hook with this one was that it is a MUSICAL and I think a lot of people voted on their excitement for that.

To not give us any lyrics…it undercuts this script, I’m afraid.

Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)

A great start. My biggest suggestion would be to write leaner. Try to say the same thing with less words.

Page 1: "Music fades out on cue after SUPER." Where is the SUPER?

Page 1: "The driver has been killed instantly." I would suggest that you always write in present tense. So this would become: "The driver: killed instantly."

I have noticed numerous words that end in ING. Lots of screenwriters do this. I prefer a more active voice. Example: "A light rain begins to fall washing away the blood." Consider instead: "A light rain begins to fall, washes away the blood."

In addition to words that end in ING, look for the words IS and ARE. Same thing, try to rewrite in a more active way. Example: "El Gran’s bullet-riddled naked corpse is stretched out on an army cot. The Doctor works furiously, cosmetically preparing the body for tomorrow’s open casket state funeral." Consider something like: "The Doctor works furiously on El Gran’s bullet-riddled naked corpse, on an army cot. The doctor prepares the body for an open casket funeral."

Look for ways to say the same thing in less words and in a more active voice. For example: "DOÑA LUZ CARRAL (late 30s), the Hero’s first wife, is looking down at his body. She is a classic Spanish beauty. Almond shaped eyes under dark brows, set in a heart shaped face." Consider instead: "DOÑA LUZ CARRAL (late 30s), a classic Spanish beauty with almond shaped eyes under dark brows, looks down at his body."

Felice Bassuk (Level 4)

This one has promise and could have humor, but it doesn't entirely work for me yet. One problem is that, since I don't speak Spanish, much of it is lost to me, especially the music. I don't know how the music reflects the action. Does it support it? Contrast with it? Mock it? Also, there are far too many Spanish words that are not commonly known. Each time I ran across one, it impeded the flow for me. Putting the English translation in parentheses would help.

With so many characters introduced, I really got only a very small sense of most of them. And except for Dona Luz, all the wives seem pretty much the same -- mean and nasty.

Stylistically, there are a lot of spelling errors: lightening (should be lightning), coronel (colonel), woman (women for the plural), who's (whose), etc. Lots of punctuation errors, too.

Gwenhyver Davies (Level 1)

I really like the concept here – what an intriguing situation!

Characterization of the wives is good. I’m sensing you have some distinct personalities that will take the story to interesting places. They are all different enough so as not to be confused with each other – important when there are so many characters!

The music is a bit confusing. Music is clearly very important to the script, but as a reader unfamiliar with what the pieces sound like, it’s difficult to know the meaning of the music. For example, is the tone of the music complementing or in contrast to the action? In my humble opinion, it would be a good idea to find a way to clarify the importance of the music.

You do have a very clear writing style – an do well in creating images for the reader to understand visually. An example, ‘They resemble a flock of unhappy grounded vultures’ – what a brilliant image!

On page 2 El Gran’s body is being prepared ‘for tomorrow’s open casket state funeral’ – these words appear somewhat redundant (I am being picky now!) – I.e. how exactly is that being shown? If the words are crucial to the viewers understanding, then perhaps consider communicating the information in a different way.

There’s a great humour underlying this script. Such a morbid topic - such a bizarre situation. For example, when Dona Luz looks at her husband’s twisted face and the Coronel remarks ‘When our good doctor makes El Gran presentable’. Also, on page 6 when Coronel Lara remarks ‘Very Well, but this is absolutely the last wife that will be admitted to this ward tonight’ – then queue another wife! Brilliant.

I like where this story might be heading. The interactions between the wives will be fun to watch and there are plenty of questions raised by the first ten pages to keep me reading and wanting to know more. Good job!

Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)

It's a bit tough to keep track of so many characters. It's also difficult to appreciate the songs without knowing just what they mean. Perhaps you should include a translation.

Jess Flower (Level 3)

This is probably just me... so bear with this comment. I was really confused. The beginning action sequence was very good, but when some of the characters began to be introduced, I found myself losing track of the number of people. Then I would always be looking for the Spanish to be translated by another character or explained in the action and I just couldn't. I could just be tired too...

Kevin Carty (Level 4)

MUSIC?!!?? EN ESPANOL por QUE por que esto? Big no no on the music in scripts do not insert music it is useless to a spec script. You can put it in but don't give the name even if you have the ok but I'm ok with use lyrics as long as it is relevant to the story. I am not GOOGLING WHATEVER IT MEANS IN SPANISH I got a whole lot of script to review and yours is not getting special treatment sorry.

Capitalize your characters you really ought to think about your audience. What is a vaqueros. Do your best to make sure the audience doesn't get confused by your use of spanish words.

Break it up Hombre o Chica, yes, I understand the language but don't see the point of all the latin references in the action. Make it readable and not confusing. i would call this fair but you try to make it creative so??? Subtitles are your friend. Good will do fine for me.
No matter how unimportant CAPITALIZE YOUR CHARACTER NAMES.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

I have to thank you for including the rating on the cover page. It's helpful to the ones with kids.

I really liked the first several scenes. Very generous descriptive. I really like how they switch spanish at times and I like it that you didn't care to translate. That sets the mood.
I also want to note the title, it's a clear set message - the movie is a comedy.

But when all the wifes started arriving...(from page 2 on) I'm thinking maybe you could find another way to show us that they are all there to mourn him. What if after first two arrive you cut to five and the colonel can read their names from the paper so that we know who is who. Their screaming is not really important is it? If not then I would try to cut a lot of it and leave in only pertinent information. Of course this is just an opinion but see what the others say. I strongly feel that you have to cut and use other visuals to let us know who is who or who has done what to whom.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

Thought the premise of this story was a good one. Obviously, a lot of research and work went into writing it.
While many parts are quite visual, there is so much to read and comprehend. Wondered if this screenplay might make a better story than a script.
There are elements distracting from what may be an interesting story. All the music suggestions are a problem. Additionally, so many in Spanish, probably unrecognizable to many.
Not everyone understands Spanish, and without translations, the read is slow. The essence of the story is lost trying to sort out this kind of detail.
Isolated the "wives" looking for some distinction. There is some in their descriptions, but the dialogue sounds familiar with each one.
Dona Luz fondly reiterates how she and El Gran were married, Betita is pregnant, Esther vomits -- some intriguing tidbits, but believe the work needs editing to fully understand it.

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)

Most of the music that is specified by the script is background music. The characters themselves only sing two songs on-screen: Manuela sings El Disgusto on page 3 and she further sings El Toro Relajo on page 4 in the same scene. I foresee four problems with this song selection.

First, only Manuela is singing, which wouldn't be the case were this to be in the musical genre. The other cast members surely would be good singers, and they'd be able to join in and sing group numbers together. Second, with action-songs only present in one scene, it makes the other scenes look limp and flavorless in comparison. Third, this scene is going to be VERY long with two songs interspersed amongst all the other action and dialogue. Fourth, Manuela looks like the main character, since she gets to sing two songs right out of the gate and no one else does. Perhaps you want Manuela as the main character, but if not, you'll need to give other characters songs to sing.

The visuals, especially of the assassination, are wonderful. "Twitching scarecrow of a doctor": awesome description!

The rain on page 2. It almost looks like it's symbolic. I hope that the rest of the screenplay uses the rain in similar fashion, and that it's not just a one-shot symbol.

The middle scene, where the women meet each other for the first time on screen, seems dialogue-heavy. Obviously, we have to get to know a lot of people in a short amount of time, but I think there needs to be more action somehow. The Director will (if he's got the smarts, which he should) probably use swirling camera shots to enhance the confusion that the Coronel is feeling, but the stakes could easily be heightened by women struggling with a guard, a couple face slaps, someone riding in on a horse, stuff like that.

Betita sings insults on page 5. Those need to be written out.

"Manuela is attending to other things" on page 7. That also needs to be spelled out, just a quick explanation. Is she straightening a dress? Sewing? Breaking a bronco?

"Arriving at the gates to the cemetery..." This requires a new slugline. We're no longer in front of the hotel.

The crackling animosity that you've painted is almost palpable.

Rating: Good.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5)

I have to admit that I have never seen, read or reviewed a musical script before this one. I don't know any of the songs you're using. I can't tell when people are singing or just talking... I'm totally out of my element here...

I do know this, though: I LIKE it!

Good work.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

When I read the logline I wondered how you would manage to deal with twenty-five (plus, counting other family that would be at a funeral) characters, most of them, presumably, as the title and logline is about them, who are going to be supporting or main characters.

Well, my fears came true: it was really hard to keep track of so many characters, just for ten pages. Trying to read the whole script without a character sheet would be harder.

The way you have written it here, it feels as if these ten pages have worked through most of the originality of the idea as portrayed in your logline. I hope there's quite a bit more to the story than what is in the logline. I for one don't find the idea of a whole movie solely about twenty five women arguing and singing very appealing.

The atmosphere and location were set very well with the opening description, and I liked the dark humor of the murder scene.

"Initially reserved but as the tequila flows they soon loosen up. Off come the veils and one by one they recount how they first met El Gran..."
This sounds more like a brief summary of what's going to happen than proper action. It would be more effective to mention one by one them taking their veils off before they start talking about meeting El Gran,

I like the set-up, the characters, the bickering, everything, but the twenty-five wives make it hard to be invested and follow the story properly.

Maurice Charlot (Level 3)

I don't get it.

The story didn't grab my attention. The formatting needs a reboot. The action is at a standstill, the morgue scene is too long and its not really funny. If this is supposed to be funny.

I like the concept but the excution wasn't there. A rewrite is in order.

Melissa Mitchell (Level 4)

You have the potential for some very funny stuff here, but if that was your intent, you haven't taken advantage of it. Sorry, but as Esther says at one point, "This story has no meat on its bones."

One of your scenes works well because of the change it shows--the shooting scene, but the others drag. The introduction of the wives and their interactions could be handled in 2 pages. The action describes how the first five wives don't like each other, so why do they stay together? What is the point of all of their speeches to each other when nothing changes? The audience will demand real conflict, change, action and reaction.

I'm having great difficulty with the idea that these women think they are "wives." What makes a wife in their culture? Can a man have more than one? Is there divorce? Do they really think the others are "no longer" wives or "never were" wives? They only seem mildly inconvenienced by their supposed husband's death. In some instances, they seem more dismayed to discover each other, but even that doesn't carry the emotional weight it should. If you intend for these characters to be comedic, they'll need a comedic point of view but also real emotions.

After 10 pages, all of the characters, and especially the wives, are stereotypes. Blond, brunette, and red-headed do not make characters. A character is what they do, and so far we've only seen pointless talk and maybe some praying and drinking, none of which matters to the story.

Who is your main character? What does she want? What happens on page 10 that, forgive me, fucks up her life? As written, the hero's death isn't it.

I realize that your music references are deliberate, but I don't think a screenplay is supposed to contain directions about music that the characters don't hear (characters sing in only one place). (What makes emotions "Mexican"?) I recommend that you delete these references even though I'm sure you love the music and would like to see it used in the scenes. As the writer, it's your job to tell the story, to offer a blueprint for someone to make a movie.

A number of picky items:

You cannot register a title, so the mark is unnecessary (and incorrect).

I'm not buying a Dodge roadster or dum dum bullets in Mexico in 1923. Do you mean Colonel and not Coronel?

The Spanish may also alienate viewers and readers if you're intending this for the general American market.

Dona Luz: "Thank you for allowing me these few minutes alone with him..." She's not alone with him. The doctor and Lara are there also.

Lot's of places say "woman" but should say "women."

Micah Ricke (Level 4)

I really liked the first three pages, but then the pace really slowed down, almost too much (for my taste).

As far as the writing, there are a few awkward phrases, but nothing overtly distracting. Overall, it is very well written.

To be honest, I cannot claim I'm hooked enough to continue reading the script. I'd give it a few more pages and see what happens.

Best of luck.

Michael Heeney (Level 2)

This is an interesting case where the scene descriptions feel much better written than the scenes themselves. It feels very novelistic, and though it hurts to cut good writing, a lot of them should be shorter. Too many characters were introduced in too short a time - there wasn't a clear protagonist. All the women seemed equally annoying (to me, at least). The madcap premise could be hilarious or grating, depending on actors, but there's definitely an audience for it.

- Don't think you should specify musical choices, that tends to be the director's call. Some of the lines entirely in spanish could confuse audience members.

/exec anal teacher mode

ON PAGE 11 WHO's SHOULD BE WHOSE RAAAGH.

/end anal teacher mode

Overall, it was well written, but I'd like to know more about these women's internal lives (what they do when they're not harassing each other), or at least about the protagonist's, before they all burst on screen at the same time. I think you need a lot more set-up before the inciting incident of El Gran getting killed.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5)

Overall: I think the main problem with this is that the wives' characters are not different enough. They all speak similarly and you rely on physical differences to make tham clear from one another. Secondly, in a musical, lyrics should be written out as they are part of the narrative and often give insight into the characters and back story.

Here you give the song title as if we should know the songs.

The scene in the funeral parlour is repetetive, over and over and over with each new wife.

Characters: too many, too alike. Betita stands out because she is screaming all the time but she is not likeable. I don't identify with any of them and have no idea who the protagonist is.

Dialogue: Full of on the nose exposition and very samey.

Story: Can only see this being more of the same if 20 more wives are to be introduced.

I didn't like the logline and there's nothing in these 10 pages that changes my mind.

Neal Barringer (Level 0)

The first few paragraphs gave me a pretty good sense of your style. But, I feel you are writing rather prosey. And, it doesn't really help me visualize your intended image. "Distant thunder promises rain" is just one example of a phrase that doesn't help the visuals.
then, there are the musical cues. They don't help me visualize the movie because I don't know the song you're referring to.

Pete Barry (Level 5)

This turned out to be quite different from what I expected. Frankly, it turned out to be a lot different from any screenplay I've ever read. You've definitely taken a bold step into very artistic territory, and that alone is worth something. It's a lot more grave than your logline suggests; I was sort of expecting merry chaos.

The music is causing me some trouble. When your logline read "musically" I assumed an original musical. "Musically" appears to mean heavily underscored, plus occasional bursts of song from the characters. The songs appear to not be originals, though I'm unfamiliar with them. If this is a Mulan Rouge style musical, that might work, but it's going to scare away producers who are going to need the rights. One way or another, you MUST write the lyrics into the screenplay. You keep saying that characters start singing, and give us the song, but we need to know what they're saying to each other. It's also distracting to the reader to be continuously bombarded with obscure songs in the description. If you don't know the songs, it adds nothing.

The Spanish is another problem. Throughout, Spanish is just mixed in with English, which sometimes just doesn't work - "en la manana", "What is the problemo?". There's a point when the Spanish is in quotation marks - "perras feas". I'd suggest at least seperating Spanish from English with italics. Also, my Spanish is awful, but either I don't understand certain lines at all, or your Spanish isn't always correct. For instance, the Coronel asks the doctor "La derecha?" The context suggests he means, 'is that right?', but 'derecha' means right, as in, not left. Maybe he really is asking about the victim's right side, or something, but that's totally not clear.

Some of the language is great, like "a twitching scarecrow of a doctor". Some almost borders on Shakespeare, like the eagle/roost/gallo banter, playing on the bird metaphor. At times, you throw in one too many adjectives, making for some crazy descriptions. The worst offender is "a sultry sexy red haired jade eyed emotional bombshell". You need to whittle down some of that to get a cleaner description.

The characters, unfortunately, are mostly delineated by their physical descriptions, and their situations. I kept having to go back and check who was who. They don't have unique voices to give me a sense of each individual character. I was once advised that you should be able to read a screenplay without character names over the dialogue, and still be able to tell who's who. I'm not sure I buy that entirely, but this story, where you have twenty-five potential protagonists, really needs to try to get those voices to emerge.

Again, it's a very unique screenplay, and I hope you continue to develop it. I hope my comments are helpful, and good luck in the competition.

Rick Hansberry (Moderator)

I struggled through this one. I felt the opening had promise. It was rich with visuals and drew me in to the time and place. The music cues would not normally be in a spec script but at times help the reader understand the tone and feel. In this case, I was lost and the lyrics didn't help me at all. The tone of the piece as the procession of wives appeared was hard to grasp. I could see it playing as a comedy but that wasn't really the intent. I saw it as an escalating drama with tension but there were too many snippets of beginning and end and not enough foreshadowing. I began to lose track of characters half-way through. It was a lot to take in. My biggest issue was that the funeral occured in the first ten pages. It almost seemed like you aimed to write a ten page script rather than just the opening of a feature. In a feature-length script, the funeral would probably be the end of the first act at the earliest, given your logline. If you plan to get into the stories of each of these wives, you need to foreshadow some of their backgrounds a bit better and set up bigger payoffs down the line. A lot of things happen here but I didn't get the sense it was going anywhere. I am ranking each script personally to arrive at my top own Top 10. Your ranking is: Not in my Top Ten.

Rob Gross (Level 4)

I like the title and the logline.

The setting is vague at the beginning. With the "shiny black Dodge roadster" I didn't know where we were in time.

Then the Super came, and I thought we were flashing back. I can't really tell.

You write "The Nation's Hero" , but how do we know that it's the Nation's Hero? It wouldn't show on the screen.

I loved the description of Delgado and the Doctor. Very clear and succinct. There seem to be a lot of characters thrown at me in a very short time, and to offer more confusion are the long names of the wives. You describe each one differently, well done. It seems they sound similar.

I could see the wives showing up, one by one, and the comedy of the dialog. I think this is an area that you have opportunities to make the characters more distinct and memorable. Think about making an actress want to play these roles. They banter about their sex lives with their husband, and the babies that were born, but not much else. Nothing too substantial here, but plenty of opportunity to foreshadow or reveal some information.

I loved Coronel Lara's line.."very well, but this is absolutely the last wife that will be admitted to this ward tonight"

And thoroughly loved the last scene, with the introduction of the Twenty MORE wives. That was awesome.

After getting through page 10, I would say I'd want to read more to see what happens. I hope you get to the next round.

Good luck.

Rustom Irani (Moderator)

The musical numbers mentioned assumes that the audience is familiar with the tune. I could look it up and hear the tune but this is an inherent problem with musicals. Unless the audience is familiar with the play, song, or musical number you will leave the audience flummoxed.

Also, you have quite a cast introduced in the first two pages alone. It becomes difficult to keep track of who's who, affects pacing and causes some confusion. I just go with the flow and don't pause to take it all in.

Some of your descriptions also takes liberties with being poetic and not adding to plot except serve as colorful digressions into character traits.

The long action chunks can be made terse and each wife given something more than physical traits to set her apart. Currently their voice sounds the same to me and no one really stands out except Esther. Purely because she has some breathing room and some one on one dialog with Soldad.

The best aspect would have to be the assassination and I wish the rest of the ten pages was executed with such a twist and panache.

Right now I'd want to wait before reading on and would probably love to hear the music.

Do your characters sing? I don't really know.

All the best.

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

While I really liked the logline and concept at first, in reading it, I feel there are just too many wives for the average reader/viewer to keep up with. I got where my head was spinning just reading ten pages.

I think if you were to make it three wives or even five.. it would be easier to keep track of. Now maybe visually it would be easier as then you could see each wife, but reading this gave me a headache as I struggled to keep up.

The writing is good, tight and funny in parts. I enjoyed that.

Sarah Daly (Level 2)

This is very well written but perhaps a little over-descriptive. You capture the passion and vibrancy of the scenes but the pace is hindered somewhat by the bulkiness of the description. Also, I would leave out the musical and other direction you have included as this just pulls us out of your story. The concept is good but I felt I wanted one protagonist to anchor the story - we need an 'in' to all the chaos and I don't think we have that, so I felt a little distanced from the story and its characters. Very lively with great dialogue and real passion though. I do think you need to nail down the hook - it doesn't feel as if we're waiting or hanging on anything yet, and we probably should be at this point. Nice language, good setting of tone but your narrative structure and approach is just a little off.

Sasha Clancy (Level 4)

The two areas that I rate in this contest that carry the most weight are whether or not the first 10 pages are a compelling beginning and does it deliver on the promise/premise of the logline.

Does it have a compelling beginning? Not for me. IMHO you haven't introduced anything that would make me want to watch this movie past the first 10 minutes. I don't see where you are going with this. Obviously, there is conflict implicit in the 25 wives vying or money and power but if it's 90 more pages of them bickering back and forth at each other, I don't desire to read it. If you have more of a story, you haven't alluded it at all.

Does it have an inciting incident? Yes.

Is there a theme stated? Not that I could find.

Does it deliver on the promise/premise of the logline? In the first 10 pages, you have covered the entire logline, introduced the wives and the fact that the husband is dead and they are all meeting. There is no hint of what you plan to do with the next 90 to 100 pages of screenplay. Your logline was very intriguing to me; the first 10 pages significantly less so.

Other comments: The dialog is very stitled and on-the-nose. Part of me thinks you did this intentionally to highlight the absurdity of the situation in a comical way. However, I'm not entirely convinced that's what happened. I'm not sure where you intend to market this screenplay. Unless people are familiar with the songs and speak Spanish, the story doesn't make any sense. It almost strikes me as a Mexican screenplay that has been translated into English because it is so heavily dependent on people understanding Mexican culture, songs and language in order to understand the story. I'm not saying that's what you did, it just strikes me that it could be. You use a lot of detail and description. Some of that is good and creates your "voice". However, at other times, this borders on sounding like a novel instead of a screenplay. An example of that is "Twenty five flies, each buzzing to get into the ointment." You have some typos. I don't take off for those but you should fix them before you send this out.

Scott Merrow (Level 5)

A very well written screenplay, and probably a unique, interesting, funny, and touching story, but tough to review. First of all, the music will obviously play a big part of your movie, but I'm not familiar with any of it, so all the descriptions of the musical numbers are wasted on me. Not necessarily a bad thing -- if it's important for the movie, I guess you have to put it in the screenplay. But it makes the screenplay just that much more difficult to read for the uninitiated (me). Then, all those wives! After a while, it became a big jumble (and this is just the first ten pages) as the next wife came in, with a different hair style, telling a different story. On the written page, it's very confusing. (At least, it was for me.) There are some really funny lines. I laughed out loud at "No, I meant, will you keep the house now that he's gone?" Overall, it's a good read and should be a fun movie. I look forward to reading the rest of the script.

Shane Shearer (Level 4)

You wrote this quite well. I just couldn't get into it. It's not my cup of tea, so I'm not properly equipped to critique this without going into details about how much I don't like it (which I'm currently doing). I gave it a good because the craft is good but i also only gave it a good because the story didn't attract, nor resonate within me.

Shaun Bragg (Level 4)

I'm sorry to say this but I don't like this script. I have nothing against the writer but this lacks a lot of things. The dialouge was very bad. A knowledge of the characters world would bring forth much more believible dialouge, people just don't talk like that in movies anymore.

The details were elaborate at times and when introducing a song just write the the title and the artist not the lyrics also.

A lot could be done to make this a better script maybe shrinking some of your actions down a bit.

Listening to the people(hispanics/whoever) you depect in your script you can get asense of how these ppl converse if they talk like that in the real world then fine, if not work on it.

Shedric Bragg (Level 3)

A over the top comdey "Five and Twenty Wives" reminds me of one of those outrageous 80's comedies. The dialouge is campy and the structure needs a bit of work.

The story isn't the best. A re-write is in order.

I liked the opening scene. The very long scene when the wives are introduced was too long and repetitive.

Tim Westland (Moderator)

Title - not good for a movie, I fear. Sounds like a child poem.

Logline - I remember this from the first round of voting. What exactly is "Mexican emotion" and how is it different than any other persons emotions? This really isn't a logline, it's a tagline.

It's evident that you know how to write... but you write a LOT of description and the story just doesn't move. Too many characters (I know that's the point - lots of wives - but what with them all having latin names and none of them seeming any different in voice or temperament, they all seem the same and hard to keep straight.

Your use of "MUSIC: etc, etc." is pretty annoying, takes me right out of the story and is not something that is done by the screenwriter. That's like Camera Direction. You can't dictate what music is going to be used in the film, so being specific is just odd. Further, the chances of your reader knowing any of those songs is almost zero, so you're simply wasting space, time and effort. Describe the music instead. Soft mariachi music... guitar solo... melodic horns and violins, etc.

Overall, this was so overly dense and the characters all had the same voice that it just didn't do anything for me.

I think you need to learn to become a lot leaner with both description and dialogue. You need to make sure your characters say things that further the story, otherwise it's just lots of banter that accomplishes a lot less that the pages should.

Ultimately, the promise of the logline isn't in these first 10 pages. There's music, but none by the women and it's always just background music. I thought this was supposed to be a musical.

Tom Shipley (Level 4)

I think you definitely have a vision for this film, but I don't think it's translating to the page right now.

Couple notes: After reading the logline and first 10 pages, I'm still not sure whether this is a musical or not. There's music in it, and a brief bit of singing, but there isn't a musical number within the first 10 pages. Now, I'm not quite sure what the structure is for musicals, but if this a musical, should there be a musical number within the first 10 pages?

Also, the music that acts as a segue is kind of confusing. I'm not sure it's relevant to anything and seems like the kind of detail that a spec script should not have. It's not part of the structure of the story and seems like it could easily be cut by the director. If something's not essential to the story, I think it's best to keep it out of a spec script.

As far as the story goes, I thought the beginning was a little rushed. I had the thought that maybe we should spend a little more time with the colonel. Give him a small, self contained scene to set up his character and maybe elude to his fondness for women, before having him killed. Doesn't have to be too much longer than it is now, but I think I'd like to see a little more set up there.

My other big thought is that once the wives start showing up, it's just a lot of talk. And there are so many new characters showing up, it's gets kind of confusing. I think you need to slow down and be more careful with your action description and mete out the dialog more carefully.

As I said, I think you have a definite vision for this script, but to me, it's still unclear exactly what that is. Is it is a full-out musical? If so, I'd consider putting in a substantial musical number (at least along the lines of Ewen McGregor singing Your Song in Moulin Rouge.

Tomisin Ogunsanya (Level 1)

I feel that the plot is very interesting and the way he describes the scenery is very vivid it as if you are actually there. I also liked the fact that he did not just write it all in English and added that it would translated. This makes it very authentic. The plot seems unique though, and I liked the fact that the setting is not in an urban area.

Tommy Merry (Level 4)

Title: Sounds familiar but I can't place it.

Logline: Wow, 25 wives interacting. Must have been one busy muchacho.
Not sure how this would be written but good luck.

Overall: Not certain what the reference was to the opening song or lyric
but I hope the screenplay is not dependent on it. I'm having a difficulty
with all the detail of the screenplay, slowing down to the the jist
of the meanings seems deflate the flow of reading it. Again with a reference
to a specific songs that no one (at least us Gringos knows :-) Again there is
a third reference to the music. This seems more like a production script.
I cant see the need of mentioning songs that are not obvious hits that
will take the scene to a new level of meaning. More and More. I guess this
is a musical of unknown music numbers.(perhaps originals??)

All of the overuse of musical reference aside, the dialog never really grabbed me
and although the premise hold much promise, I didn't see it developed as
much as it could be. I think if you went much lighter on all the detailed
descriptions of every item, let more whitespace and room for imagination
of the reader occur, your would have a piece that's easier to read. There
is a lot of details to get through that can be added beyond the first 10 pages.
Just my opinion - I realize that art is very subjective - Good Luck in the next round!

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus)

The wriing has a good deal of poetry, which I like quite a lot -- very professional and interesting.

The characters have personality and it was an enjoyable read.

I love the doctor going about his business in this chaos.

The opening images are wonderful.

The wives -- I would like one to be completely different from the rest. While they are different in appearence, they seem to be alike in temperment. I think if you have one resigned to the fact that he is dead, and that is the most important thing (maybe somber) and accepting, it would really add contrast to the other wives.

Loved CORONEL LARA as well -- perfect dialogue and description.

Very well done -- my only concern, keeping this storyline going without anything else to hold it in place.


Comments Made After the Contest

John Brooke (Level 5) ~ 6/1/2009 8:22 AM

What a wonderful creative playground this is for a beginning screenwriter. Thank you everyone for reading through my first ten pages and for your valuable insights, guidance, and suggestions.

Yes, I tried to pack too much into those ten bloody pages. Based on the input you Movie Poets have provided. The first ten pages of my rewrite will bear little resemblance to the one you have reviewed this month.

Thank you all sincerely for your honest remarks.


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