Day 11 - Script Analysis
Gearing up for today's production meeting, let's take a look at a few pages from the script. This is Scene 33. I use it here because it has most of the main characters together and establishes a lot of the conflict between them.
The main purpose of the opening dialogue, besides establishing the scene, is to show how Slide is getting used to the odd, sometimes one-sided interactions with Mack. Dialogue misdirection is one of my favorite tools to use, especially with characters like Mack, Chet, and Linny, who are all very strange in their own ways (more about them later).
Here Mack asks "Where's your game, bro?" which makes sense given the context of a basketball game, but then he goes right into asking Slide about his job. This wasn't just because I wanted to change subjects. There's a reason they're playing basketball and not baseball. Basketball is fast moving, with the ball constantly changing hands between players who are close to each other all the time. Even though a soccer ball changes just as much, the intimacy of holding the ball and of being so close to the other players isn't there.
The dialogue is meant to move at the same rhythm of a couple of guys playing one-on-one. No one has the ball for too long, but they're both facing each other and are pretty much nose-to-nose. This is important because with both image and words it establishes the chaotic place Slide is falling into.
This of course is your classic '80s villain interaction. Instead of sexual innuendos, Wheels speaks in beat-em-up puns. He's kind of pathetic but there's something undeniably fun about watching him do his thing.
Now Slide tries his hand at misdirection, answering Wheels' challenge with "I'll see you later." He's quickly figuring out how to deal with these people. Of course, Wheels has already trumped him by changing the subject from Allie to basketball. To Wheels, someone mentioning life choices and someone holding a basketball are two very related things. And they both mean it's time for a challenge.
So the conclusion of this bit of basketball/dialogue fits the characters. Mack, always intense and quick-to-move, treats his conversations with Slide the same way. Slide, introspective and always an outsider, plays basketball slowly and with hesitation. He thinks about his shots and gets pummeled because of it. Lastly, we have Wheels. He's like a freight train in conversations, destroying logic and reason with the sheer conviction of his manliness. In basketball, rather than play fast and confusing like Mack, or slow and deliberate like Slide, he knocks the other player over and slams the dunk.
I know it seems like a lot of themes and metaphor for such a simple scene, but that's what this movie's about. I don't expect anyone but art or media students to pick up on how closely the methods of basketball playing reflect on dialogue styles, but I do want them to experience the result of it, which is an effective scene that I think will hit them on more than one level, whether they know it or not.