Ah, sexual inuendoes.

(FYI: this post is a long one and probably only interesting to other screenwriters and lovers of the movie Bridesmaids… but maybe I’m just fascinating enough that even you arborists and phlebotomists will enjoy it too.)

I’ve been working dutifully on my new outline for my new script. It’s going fairly well, though I’m stumbling a little through the navigation of the key points in story structure. I feel like creating either the internal or the external conflict is easy, but figuring out one doesn’t necessarily serve you the other on a silver platter.

One of the big notes on my last script given to me by a smart reader at Emerging Screenwriters was that while my internal conflict was clear, my external conflict was not. This was a very good note for this little self-taught screenwriter. So I’ve been looking more deeply into how I illustrate these two in my new script. While my main character certainly has issues, have I truly defined his conflict? And while the outside world he’s in definitely goes through changes, does it go through a clear conflict?

I took a 3 hour “break” the other night from working on said outline to watch and take copious notes of Bridesmaids. Bridesmaids does not falter in following standard Hollywood structure. No ma’am. For starters, the thing is 2 hours on the nose (not to say that Hollywood structure has to start and end in 120 minutes exactly, but c’mon.) I wrote down every scene and at what page (or minute) every scene began and ended. For example, here is an excerpt from my note-taking:

STAGE FOUR: Higher Stakes and Worse Complications 

Scene 19 – Strike two

Page 57-68

  • They’re on the plane to Vegas. Annie is the only one in Coach, as she didn’t want Helen’s help paying for first class. But Annie is freaking out about flying and goes to Lillian for help. Helen gives her pills to calm her down.
  • Helen tells Lillian that Annie will be fine. There’s much more community in Coach.Meanwhile, the sister-in-law is irritating the air marshal and the two other bridesmaids are talking sex because the newlywed is totally inexperienced.
  • Annie comes back up to first class and is clearly messed up. It’s also clear how it’s no accident that Lillian and Helen are sitting together and Annie is sitting alone in Coach. She mocks Helen. She harasses the flight attendant.
  • The flight attendant starts threatening her and Helen and Lillian try to defend her, but Helen does it by saying Annie can’t afford to sit up there with them.
  • More funny interludes for the other bridesmaids.
  • Annie gets on the speaker as she is hallucinating.
  • The newlywed and mother-of-three kiss on the mouth. The sister-in-law helps the air marshal take Annie down.

Scene 20 – Are we over?

Page 68-70

  • They’re on the bus. Annie and Lillian are finally sitting together. But Lillian tells Annie that she shouldn’t be the maid of honor anymore. She says that Helen knows how to do this kind of stuff. It’s awful.
  • Driving home, Annie sees the cop and pulls over. She asks if he wants to hang out.

Scene 21 – Something for me

Page 70-75

  • Annie and the cop have a drink at a bar. She has told him her woes.
  • He tells her she has to bake. She says she lost a lot of money and doesn’t want to do it anymore. He says he doesn’t understand how she can’t just do it anymore.
  • He tells her she’s okay and that he’s been thinking about her. He says there’s something about her.
  • She goes home with him and they have sex. He says he’s so glad this is happening. It’s clear that he really cares about her, unlike the asshole.
  • In the morning, she apologizes for sleeping over.
  • In the kitchen, he has bought her baking supplies. He thought it would be fun for them to bake together. She says she doesn’t want to. He keeps saying how good she is at it. She says she should go. He says he doesn’t know why she’s so upset. She says he doesn’t know him and that he’s trying to fix her. She tells him last night was a mistake and she leaves. It sucks.

Scene 22 – Now what?

Page 75-76

  • Annie leaves a voicemail for Lillian about how she’s probably still mad at her. She wants to talk about what happened last night and how he was sweet and nice and cute and naturally she ran out. She just needs a friend to talk to.

Scene 23 – Is this the beginning of the end?

Page 76-77

  • Annie’s awful roommate wakes her up and says there’s a package for her. She says she would’ve brought it to her, but she knows Annie doesn’t want her touching her stuff.
  • The package is a pink box from Helen inviting her to the bridal shower. It’s Paris themed, just as she had suggested. A fucking butterfly flies out of it. Helen won.

I learned a lot from taking these notes. But the problem with learning a lot is that you then see all the things you need to fix. That being said, I now feel like my outline has an unclear internal conflict and zero climax. One thing I have to add about Bridesmaids’ typical Hollywood structure, is that in my opinion it doesn’t have an obvious climax. In fact, I kind of had to go looking for it… Most big Hollywood movies have the big scene toward the end when everything comes to a head. In many movies, it’s even the big wedding the whole story has been leading up to. But in Bridesmaids? Nope. Not even the wedding is the climax.

Being that I’m still finding my way through the basics of structure, I’m going to sell out a little bit more (yes, I’m totally fine with it) and I’m going to make a clear, obvious, standard Hollywood climax in my new script. Guess who’s gettin’ married on page 95!