Back in the dark, primordial days of early Hollywood, Jack Warner, the now legendary fat-cat founder of Warner Bros. Studios, famously declared that screenwriters were nothing more than “schmucks with Underwoods” (in reference to the state-of-the-art Underwood typewriters employed at the time). And while the craft and business of screenwriting has undoubtedly changed since papa Jack’s time, the truth is that screenwriters are still generally treated like the Hollywood equivalent of a urinal cake: no matter how hard they try to keep things fresh, they inevitably end up getting whizzed on.
Okay, so maybe my horrible urinary-tract style metaphor is a little on the extreme side, but the fact of the matter is Hollywood has maintained a long and proud tradition of marginalizing, neglecting and occasionally even abusing its screenwriters. It’s a tradition which came to a head last year during the messy Mexican stand-off that was the writers strike; a situation which resulted in countless film and television productions being dropped faster than Harvey Weinstein’s last colonic. Officially, the strike was fuelled by the WGA’s desire for a slice of the increasingly lucrative new media pie, but there’s little doubt that writers were equally driven by pent up frustrations after years of mistreatment and mismanagement at the hands of Hollywood studios.
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Ahhh, stoner comedies, that potent blend of humour and hemp has delighted movie-going audiences since the first time someone lit up a joint on screen. Yes, stoner comedies have a proud history within the annals of American cinema and given the success of the recent Seth Rogen action-pot comedy Pineapple Express, it seems only appropriate to look back through the smoky haze of time and examine the very best of the best. So roll up a fatty, break out the roach clips and prepare to finally drain that rancid bong water as Film Junk presents…
THE TOP 10 GREATEST STONER COMEDIES
10. Half Baked (1998)
Like Doritos, lava lamps and zig-zag rolling papers, Half Baked has become a staple in the repertoire of any self-respecting stoner. While itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s perhaps best known as Dave Chappelle’s comedic breakout role, the film also stars Canadian comic Harland Williams and long since forgotten Saturday Night Live cast member Jim Breuer (Goat Boy, anybody?). The plot follows Chappelle and company as they decide to start selling pot stolen from the medical research clinic where they’re employed. A local drug dealer soon finds out that theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re cutting into his action and hilarity – and over the top weed jokes Ã¢â‚¬â€œ soon ensue. While the film isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t nearly as funny as ChappelleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s later work on his now defunct television series The Chappelle Show, Half Baked does have a few hilarious moments, including a drug-fuelled cameo from Bob Saget and of course, Chappelle strutting his stuff as rapper and ganja connoisseur Sir Smoka Lot.
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Hello and welcome to the first installment of Screenplay Junkie, your weekly look at the schizophrenic world of Hollywood screenwriters. I’m your columnist Adam Volk, film school reject, comic and video game geek and unabashed screenplay junkie. By day I work as a writer for a small Canadian video game developer, by night I’m a wannabe screenwriter trying desperately to break into the industry and cram my hack drivel down Hollywood’s gaping maw.
So what can you expect to see here each week? The answer is probably best summed up by the old theory that postulates a thousand monkeys working on a thousand typewriters could somehow create the world’s greatest novel. Hollywood of course, seems to have adopted this model head on and when you stop and consider some of the cinematic travesties unloaded on unsuspecting audiences, it’s not too hard to imagine chimp feces cluttering the floors of the writer’s room at most Hollywood studios. Of course, there are also some decidedly non-simian writers working in the industry. Screenplay Junkie is all about exploring the overgrown jungles of Hollywood and separating the primates from the predators when it comes to the strange world of screenwriting. Along the way we’ll check out the latest in screenplay reviews and news, take a look at some of the upcoming screenwriters in both LA-LA land and abroad and examine films both past and present from a screenwriting perspective.
Of course, a column is only as good as its readers, so that’s where you come in. Got something to say? Have a comment, column suggestion or rant you’d like to make. Feel free to drop me a line at: email@example.com or better yet, post a comment here on Film Junk.
So welcome to Screenplay Junkie, the place to be for your soon-to-be weekly dose of Hollywood screenwriting goodness. Let the monkey poo-flinging begin!