What Happens in Vegas / Joseph M. Caracciolo, Jr.
Film Reviews | May 9, 2008 | Comments ()
Hi! My name is Joseph M. Caracciolo Jr., Hollywood producer and the man behind box-office smashes like Lindsay Lohan’s Just My Luck, Brittany Murphy’s Uptown Girls, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Simply Irresistible, and Swimfan starring that chick no one remembers! And I’m here today to tell you how you can make millions of dollars WITHOUT EVEN TRYING! That’s right, you heard me correct. This is not a gimmick: You can make a fortune, overcompensate for your small penis with fast cars, and own a huge Hollywood mansion with swimming pool that your child will one day drown in because of your neglect! But don’t let that dissuade you: Put that genetically ingrained neglect to good use by producing a Hollywood Romantic Comedy!
Just look at me, folks: I weigh 350 lbs., breathe heavily when I turn around to parallel park, break into a vile back sweat whenever I drive past a gym, and yet I have beautiful women crawling all over me wherever I go. I used to masturbate chronically, but now I have an Eastern European servant who does it for me! How did I gain this fortune and low-level fame? By following an easy five-step process that I’ve perfected over the years to guarantee the greatest amount of profit with the least amount of effort! And now, for the low, low price of nothing, I’m going to pass on all my advice to you before I have a Cheeto embolism on the golf course and keel over!
Joseph M. Caracciolo’s Five Steps to a Financially Successful Romantic Comedy
Cast: Before you’ve even found a script (it doesn’t matter, they’re all the same anyway), you need to assemble your cast. Think about your target demographic: It’s primarily women and the men they drag to see your movie. And what do women like? Television, of course! Studies have proven, time and again, that television is a female-driven medium. So what you need is a middle-tier television personality with an instantly recognizable face who doesn’t charge a premium for acting skills! Ten years ago, this was George Clooney. Now, you can either go with Patrick Dempsey or, if he’s not available, Ashton Kutcher, star of “That ’70s Show” and “Punk’d,” popular with both young women and cougars! That’s who I chose for my next project, What Happens in Vegas, and we’re expecting a huuuge opening. Next, in choosing a female lead, you should look for someone with an attractive body (again, to appeal to daydreaming men forced to suffer through your film), but someone who women won’t feel threatened by. In my case, Cameron Diaz is the perfect Butter Face — not so easy on either the eyes or the boner, if you get my meaning. Wink wink, fellas. As an added bonus, Cameron has a completely meaningless and undeserved Oscar nomination (faux credibility) and a history of personal relationships with celebrities, any of which could blow up right around the release of your film, which is the cheapest way to market your product!
Finally, this is the hardest part: The supporting best friends. Here, you want incredibly cheap but talented actors; after all, they will be given all the good lines. “SNL” and “Daily Show” personalities are ideal, though stand-up comedians will do in a pinch. In Vegas, I hired “The Daily Show’s” Rob Corddry to play Ashton’s best friend, who also gets all the good lines — all four of them, that is. Lake Bell, from “Boston Legal,” “Surface,” and various everything-but spank mags was hired to play the female best friend, basically an attractive body with the versatility of cardboard — empty but easily shaped (just like a woman’s mind, am I right?). In a very small part, you might also want to throw in someone with hipster cred who is so hard up for cash that he or she will jump at the opportunity to sell out. In Vegas, we got Zack Galifianakis, who broke his sell-out cherry for mere peanuts! And he’s good for at least a few thousand theatergoers who will attend our movie saying to themselves, “But Zack Galifanakis is in it — it can’t be that bad, right?” Wrong!
Title: Again, before you even choose a script, you should pick a title for your movie. Lame song titles or colloquialisms are ideal — they’re easy to remember, and say little about the actual substance of the film (of which there is none, as I’ll show you in subsequent steps). The important thing is that your title is already established, which is why I suggest stealing something from the vacation industry or, if you’re feeling particularly creative, make a play on words or use a pun! (This strategy has been effective for Bon Jovi for over 20 years). Puns are great because they encourage movie critics to make equally obnoxious puns in their reviews, which — rather than discourage attendance (by and large, America attends movies in defiance of critics — use this to your advantage), these puns reinforce the title, so it’s all headline-reading schmucks remember when they get to the ticket booth. What Happens in Vegas is doubly perfect because it suggest something both lascivious and family friendly, plus it has a certain tackiness that America digs! I mean, who doesn’t love Vegas!
Pick a Date: The release date is probably the most crucial detail, though even it requires little thought. We know that, on any given weekend, there are millions of people going on dates and most men, who understand the easiest route to the netherland, lack the creativity to do anything other than see a movie and go to dinner. In order to take advantage of that, don’t schedule your movie against other romantic comedies, thus splitting the vote, so to speak— ensure that you’re the only option available! Date-night is a great American past time — there will always be an audience, and the quality of the film rarely affects attendance. In the summer, you would be wise to position your movie against huge blockbuster movies targeted toward men (but not blockbusters capable of eroding your female audience, see, e.g., Iron Man) — we put Vegas up against Speed Racer knowing that few women would have any interest in it, and — even better — most men wouldn’t mind missing Speed Racer if it meant getting laid at the end of the night! I had my Eastern European servant give me a pat on the back for that idea!
Hire a Director: This is just a formality — choose someone inexpensive. Talent-level and competence is irrelevant. Just ensure that it is someone who doesn’t upset the actors, who supply the pretty faces for the movie posters. Studies show that unhappy actors have faces that are 10 percent less pretty. Moreover, you don’t want to hire a director who will attempt to extract an actual performance out of the lead actors — people don’t go to romantic comedies to see the their favorite celebrities act like someone else — they want to see the same people they are familiar with from the gossip blogs. Additionally, since gossip rags supply at least 60 percent of our marketing (for free, no less), we don’t want to step on any toes. (Please visit Webster’s Is My Bitch!)
Pick a Script: Finally, and inarguably the least important aspect of a successful romantic comedy, is the script. Choosing a script is simple, though the best romantic comedies tend to involve two or more elements stolen from other successful romantic comedies; Vegas was an exceptional find, since it was essentially a mish-mash of every other romantic comedy you’ve ever seen in your life (what can I say? Audiences are comforted by rote familiarity). When choosing a script for a romantic comedy, however, it is wise to look for several things:
Give the Characters Bland Generic Names: Ensure the leads have completely forgettable names, so that the audience never mistakes the actors onscreen for actual characters. In Vegas, we used Jack and Joy, so unmemorable that everyone afterwards will continue to refer to them as Ashton and Cameron, thus strengthening their own brand and making them happy, which — again — helps when it comes time to make a movie poster.
The Meet Cute: The meet cute provides the basis for the rest of the film, providing the circumstances from which the rest of the story will flow. So, obviously, you want to avoid high-concept meet cutes — the broader the better. In Vegas, Ashton — an immature doofus fired from his job by his own father — and Cameron — an uptight career woman (note that all career women should be portrayed as uptight, thus carefully reinforcing sexual stereotypes) recently dumped by her fiancé at a surprise party — meet cute in a Vegas hotel when they are accidentally booked into the same room. Thereafter, Ashton — playing on Cameron’s insecurities about her lack of spontaneity, for which she was just dumped — dares her to have one drink with him, which expectedly leads to drunken debauchery (read: pratfalls) and a quick Vegas marriage. (Note also: Never go against expectations, give the audience everything they expect — it’s what they want, no matter what focus groups suggest). Realizing their mistake the next morning, they decide to annul the marriage, but not before Ashton drops a quarter in a slot machine and wins $3 million, of which Cameron claims ownership of half by virtue of their quickie marriage.
The narrative hook, which follows the meet cute, should also be as preposterous as possible, grounded in day dream fantasies, like what you’d do with three wishes or if you were granted the power to go back in time. In Vegas, the hook is this: A judge forces Ashton and Cameron to live together as a married couple for five months before granting the divorce. The judge is played nimbly by Dennis Miller, a familiar “SNL” alum, who always comes cheap (it may be tempting, but never use Jon Lovitz — he’s instant box-office death).
Gendered Humor: Ensure that all of the script’s “comedy” revolves around male/female stereotypes: Women are clean, men are dirty; women love jewelry; men love to scratch their balls; women take longer in the bathroom; men will pee in the sink if forced; women want comfort and security; men want to fuck and be left alone with their video games and sporting events. And, most importantly for the purposes of a romantic comedy: Men never put down the toilet seat. Ensure that the script repeatedly plays on these stereotypes — female moviegoers may feign offense, but trust me on this: Women like to be reminded of their roles in society; it makes the appreciate that they have a man to take care of them.
The Ending: Always ensure that the couple ends up together. If the script doesn’t have them living happily ever after, change it. Moreover, the ending should always involve running, and should take place in either an airport or — if you’re feeling frisky — on a beach. It should involve an impassioned speech, delivered by the man to win the woman back (cobble together lines from a few Hallmark cards) and it should always involve a “callback,” or a reference to a joke earlier in the film. The woman should always, immediately, take the man back, no questions asked. Women are the weaker gender, always ready to take their man back if given any excuse to do so. Use this to your advantage — you never have to make the speech convincing. However, to be safe, after the big kiss, quickly roll the credits or throw up some bloopers, outtakes, or an extended dance sequence to distract the audience’s attention before they realize they’ve been hoodwinked once again and begin groaning. Save the one truly funny moment in your film for the credit bloopers or outtakes, ensuring that your audience leaves with a smile on their face. Waiting theatergoers standing in the queue will be comforted by these smiles, even if they ultimately fade by the time moviegoers get to their car, when the realization that they’ve just suffered through another stinker settles in.
And that’s it, folks: Follow these five, easy-to-understand steps, and you, too, can make millions off the backs of gullible moviegoers hard up for a two-hour distraction which might prevent them from having to actually speak to their dates, a demographic you can exploit for literally millions of dollars. In fact, by following my own strategy, I expect What Happens in Vegas to pull in $20 million or more on its opening weekend, before ultimately doubling my investment in DVD rentals, which is where the real money is at. After all, nobody wants a romantic comedy engrossing enough to prevent Johnny from his ultimate aim: To finger bang Jane on her parent’s couch under the guise of romance!
Joseph M. Caracciolo, Jr. is a producer of profitable but ultimately forgettable romantic comedies. He lives in Hollywood, California.