Writer’s Desk: Rules? What Rules?

So Seth Rogen has a book out. That may surprise some who just think, “The guy from Knocked Up?” He’s almost more writer / producer these days than charter member of the Judd Apatow comedy mafia.

Rogen and his longtime friend Evan Goldberg have something of a screenwriting machine going, ranging from instant classics like Superbad to series like Preacher to, well, The Green Hornet. So they know how to put words on the page and make something out of it.

Of the advice they gave to The Script Lab, one item in particular jumped out:

Any rule can be broken. They’re just basic guidelines that you can just shatter if the moment is right.

It seems obvious, but really it is not. We all have rules that get stuck in our head, from hanging that gun on the wall in the first act to the number of red herrings to give your detective hero before he/she finds the killer (by the way, that number has been scientifically calculated as 4.5).

But each and every one of them should be hurled out the window with great force the second they get between you and your story.

Screening Room: ‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising’

neighbors2

People with lesser imaginations might have imagined that after the bong-huffing and keg-emptying rager that was Neighbors, there was nothing else to be done with the concept. But it appears that Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are still irked to be living next door to a party house, only now it’s a rogue sorority instead of fraternity. Because: equality.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising opens this Friday everywhere. My review is at Film Journal International:

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising starts with Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne), one-half of the film’s perpetually befuddled Gen-X couple, announcing her pregnancy to Mac (Seth Rogen) by spewing vomit on his face while they’re having sex. It ends in a curiously anti-climactic scene with the Radners enraptured in honeyed two-child McMansion bliss. In between those polar-opposite moments roils a helter-skelter of moments that read like something stitched together almost at random from the notebook leavings of Rogen and Evan Goldberg (just two of the five credited writers)…

Here’s the trailer:

New on DVD: ‘Take This Waltz’

Earlier this year, Sarah Polley’s heartsick love triangle melodrama Take This Waltz came out and was summarily and quite unfairly ignored by audiences. It’s out today on DVD, make sure not to miss it. My review is at PopMatters:

Somewhere inside this full-tilt lovesick blur is the kernel of a wildly uninteresting story. Woman in cozy relationship sans fireworks becomes attracted to new fella, with whom she has fireworks galore, but a dubious future. What to do: stay with husband or fly off with fling?  Play the good wife or bad mistress? There’s a spinning galaxy of clichés for writer/director Polley to choose from here, but somehow she skips past them (well, almost all) and delivers a shimmering and raw ode to the ferocity of desire and the heartbreak that so often follows it…

You can see the trailer here: