As the film ‘Mama’ continues to do well at the box office, I cannot help but wonder ‘what if?’ You see, I was actually asked to adapt the story into a screenplay. Unfortunately, studio executives were anything but pleased with my work. Below are their notes on my script.
p.1 – The film opens in 2008 with a man going crazy and killing his business partners and estranged wife after “learning that ABC has cancelled ‘According To Jim.’” It seems unlikely that the cancelation of a TV show would be motivation enough for a man to go on a murderous rampage, let alone a TV show as unpopular as ‘According To Jim’
p. 4 – You have the man driving away from the scene of the murder when he hits an icy patch and his car shoots off of a cliff “for what seems like an eternity.” You then suggest that we show this by having the man “check his watch” as the car continues to fall. It’s hard to believe that a person would grow impatient if they seemed to be falling to their death.
p.6 –p.11 –Let’s just have the man immediately figure out that the cabin is abandoned. Having him knocking at the door for what appears to be five minutes in real time would seem like an eternity and would undoubtedly lose the audience’s interest.
p. 13 – You have the man about to kill his kids when ‘the sound of a rifle cocking is heard. The man slowly turns around. It is a ghost carrying a gun.’ Why would a ghost need a gun? Let’s think of a spookier way for ‘Mama’ to kill the man.
p.14 – The girls’ uncle finds them in the cabin in 2013, surprised that they’ve survived five years. Then you suggest we demonstrate the passing of time by having one of the girls ask who won the 2008 Democratic Primary. It seems unlikely that a child who was 3 at the time would have any interest in such matters and if she did, why wouldn’t she just ask who was elected president?
p. 19 – The psychiatrist is intrigued by the girls’ drawings of a mysterious figure they call “Mama.” It looks very similar to Martin Lawrence in a dress and a fat suit. Then you have studio executives who worked on the film ‘Big Mamma’s House’ walk in, grab the drawings and threaten to sue for plagiarism. What’s the point of this??
p. 20 –You have the psychiatrist drawing the conclusion that the ‘Mama’ the girls keep referring to is indeed the character from ‘Big Mamma’s House.’ Why would he draw this conclusion?? You never even hinted that the girls watched any movie in this story so far!
p. 21 – What do you mean credits roll?! The movie ends here????? There was no story!
p. 22- Okay you can’t do this. Your script says ‘The credits roll completely. Ask theater managers to turn the light on so some of the lame people will leave. Just to be safe, make the screen really bright so people will think the lights are on. About 10 minutes later, pick back up with the movie.” Nobody would stick around 10 minutes after any film ends! Why do this?
p. 23 – Mama tosses the girls’ uncle off of a staircase, sending him falling for ‘what seems like an eternity.’ And again, you ask that we show this by having him check his watch on the way down. Why do you think this is so effective?
p.30 –the girls psychiatrist realizes that Mama was a patient who had escaped from a mental asylum in the 19th century. The psychiatrist rolls up his sleeve and is ‘determined to send Mama to ghost jail, where she belongs.” This seems silly. Why not explore more about her past instead?
p. 31 – The psychiatrist arrives at the cabin in the woods and you instruct us to have Mama kill him by ‘firing a missile from a drone she is piloting.’ This is an even more stupid, non-spooky way to have a ghost kill someone and showing her wearing a pilot’s helmet and headphones, with attached mic would rob her of all scariness. Also, for the records, drones don’t have pilots.
p. 35 – It is revealed that in her life, Mama kidnapped the baby with whom she was separated and jumped off of a cliff and yet again, you have her checking her watch on the way down and you even want us to have the baby checking his watch. By now, you know how we feel about this.
P. 40 – Mama grabs one of the girls and jumps with her off of the edge of a cliff. The girl and Mama turn into moths and fly away. Then you have someone turn the light on in a house and the moths all return and fly around inside as people shoo them away. Let’s lose this last part.
p.40 – The end?? Right now your film is only 40 minutes long! That’s way too short.
Tim, thank you for your work but we’re going to look elsewhere.