Saturday, September 7, 2013

watch out for that first step

Subtitle: Notes on a script revision while sitting in the backseat of a car (but typed while waiting for a meeting at the conference center... that's a long subtitle) - part two.

There's a silly bit when Phil's with Nancy and calls her Rita. He claims he's saying "'Orita." "It's just something I say when I make love," he explains. "You know--'Orita,' 'Orighta'--it's like 'Oh, baby' or something."

Though the film never makes any real attempt at quantifying the day count, this version has a scene with the book calendar that really doesn't make sense without the context of the original, except Phil does tell Mrs. Lancaster at this point that he's been in Punxsutawney for 211 days." This particular iteration of Phil has a tendency to casually tell people what's actually going on--though no one believes him, of course; they just think he's eccentric, I suppose. Mrs. Lancaster humors him and adds, "I hope you're finding things to do in our little town." His response, like Phil on the later dates with Rita, is a bit too much, a bit too on the nose:

Yes, well, I'm getting a little tired of casual sex so today I thought I'd rob a bank and buy myself a really expensive car.

While this does link directly to his rock bottom in this version (still to come), it comes across a little weird, and I've got to wonder why he needs another expensive car when this draft has his Lexus already.

There's an extra costume, which makes for a little overkill, and might be a little too local, a little too American. Phil is shown buying the new car and he wears a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform for this. And then, a scene later, he's dressed as a cowboy for the date with the French maid... who has a name, yay--Laraine. And, his date is both more brief and a little more weird--he tells Laraine, "I have this movie theater fantasy I want to talk to you about." Again, while this works on its own, in theory, it seems like too much detail, and it comes after he has just said he's getting tired of casual sex.

There's a bit more of a montage of Phil's "adolescent" phase--he gets tattooed, does some drugs, and ultimately ends up with a party the script calls "outtakes from Fellini's 'Satyricon.'

Heavy metal is blaring from the radio, as several unsavory looking men and women are partying down, a few already passed out, sleeping off whatever hit them. Someone is knocking loudly on the door, shouting complaints about the music. A beer bottle smashes against the door.

Phil is sitting up on the bed with Angie [previously described as a "slut" teamed with "another overweight, not very pretty MADONNA WANNA-BE, both in too-tight jeans and bullet bras"]. He has his arm around her shoulder and a fifth of Wild Turkey in his hand.

And, he says:

Yeah, but eventually you'd just get tired of screwing around and then you'd want a real relationship, wouldn't you? ...Someone decent, someone who you respected, who respects you. ...It's tough to find a relationship like that especially if your time is kind of limited. But you still have to try, don't you?

All this is true enough. Hell, those last couple lines are true even if you aren't just stuck to one day repeating. But, this early draft just tends to overexplain, too much telling, not enough showing. Phil's last line here, his rock bottom party: "There's got to be more to it than this."

Well, yeah. But, this borders on just moving his voiceover--where overexplaining makes more sense--into dialogue, just for the sake of not having voiceover.

There's a tiny bit of the original Rita left over from before--Rita was the older, more experienced one in the original, Phil the first timer. She tells Phil, "Doing stories on the Punxsutawney groundhog is not my ultimate goal. No offense." This sounds like something Phil would say, not Rita. Rita's already, in this draft, the one who thinks the whole groundhog thing is cute. She's also still drinking hard liquor in this draft--her drink of choice is Tequila, with lime. I think Sweet Vermouth on the rocks, with a twist, fits her better. It's got a sort of sweet innocence to it like she's ordering a Shirley Temple, but the details of the rock and the twist make it distinctly adult.

I don't know if "Didn't you just ask me that?" was an ad lib but there's no response to Rita's question about deja vu here.

An interesting detail--not contradicted by the film, but also not shown by it--Phil has not only removed the distributor cap from the van, he has apparently "bought every distributor cap in this town."

There's an exchange with Nancy--since she doesn't show up in the movie cowboy scene, this is her return--that I think is pretty funny, because it from her perspective it might be even more confusing than Phil just knowing her name. Phil says, "Hi, Nancy." Nancy: "Hi. Do I know you?" Phil: "No, I guess not. I thought you were someone else."

Phil's stalking of Punxsutawney Phil with a gun is still in this draft, so I suppose Bill Murray hadn't been cast yet. For the sake of explanation, supposedly the bit with the gun was cut because they thought it would be too similar to Murray's bits in Caddyshack.

There's also an extra scene of Phil trying to attack the groundhog with a knife in front of everyone at Gobbler's Knob.

Awkward Guy has a name as well--Tommy.

There's a shot in this draft that would have been funny, but in the film it wouldn't work. Instead of seeing Phil jump to his death, we're inside Ned's office as a body drops past the window. Since a) Phil jumps from atop the hotel and not an office building, it wouldn't work practically, and b) since this sequence is played for the bleak drama of it, this brief laugh would be out of place. There's also a final description here--"Phil is sprawled there like a broken puppet, lifeless"--that is a bit much for what's ultimately a family friend film.

(Plus, isn't Phil a broken puppet the entire time anyway?)

And, I'll end this part two with a line I really wish were in the film. In the "god" scene, Doris saying her lines despite the conversation going on between Phil and Rita is funny, don't get me wrong, but the "Waiter" has a great line in this version.

Phil: --but I always wake up the next day without a scratch, without even a headache. I'm telling you, I'm immortal.

(I prefer Murray's version of that last line, anyway, "I am an immortal.")

Waiter: The special today is blueberry waffles.

Rita: Why are you telling me this?

Waiter (shrugs): Because some people like blueberry waffles.

I love that line, even though Doris' presence in the film, half confused by the conversation and half oblivious, is also funny.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: I don't know, to not be a broken puppet. Maybe.

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