Book Reviews


By • Jan 29th, 2010 •

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What’s the quickest and most painless way to learn to write a screenplay?

No, it’s not the Robert McKee bonding weekend, which I have always thought must have been based on the brainwashing chapter in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATEā€¦.

It’s not an “Insider” class on the Internet led by some dweeb in his pajamas exactly like you pretending to be a “major Hollywood agent.”

It’s not an MFA from a fancy film school where your graduation speech will be given by someone who used to be Michael Eisnerā€¦. (Neither fun nor painless.)

If you want to learn the bones of commercial screenwriting practically in your sleep, do it in your undershirt while eating Haagen Dazs and laughing your head off – and pay only $13.95–go to Amazon right now and order HITCHCOCKED, the new novel by Hal Spear and Rocco Simonelli.

Hal Spear is a comedian who has written for the likes of Jay Leno, Drew Carey and Howie Mandel. Rocco Simonelli is a screenwriter with a string of commercial successes (including co-creation of THE SUBSTITUTE – 1,2 and 3). He is also the author of a book about independent filmmaking (Shoot Me), and has taught screenwriting for a number of years. Together, they have produced a wisecracking thriller starring a film professor and the proverbial smart and gorgeous girl who’s-not-as-tough-as-she-seems. The professor – Marlowe, no less — is the person central casting would have sent if they suddenly woke up in 2010 and had to cast BRINGING UP BABY. And Cary Grant was dead and everyone else was from New Jersey. Denise Brigham is an amalgam of every heroine from Kate Hepburn to Jessica Beal – the fantasy girl every hero wants to end up with.

Being that Marlowe is, like Indiana Jones, commissioned from his post in a college, the nerdy professor of film sees everything in terms of movies. A lovely repartee develops between Denise and Marlowe, testing each other on their knowledge of movies and giving the reader clues to how the villains can be foiled. The villains — swarthy and villainous – lead the pair on a romantic romp through the history of Hollywood.

The pace is fast – perhaps too fast to allow for the organic growth of character. But that’s quibbling. HITCHCOCKED is the verbal equivalent of a box of Cracker Jacks – and the prize is that it is every bit as tightly constructed as a good movie. Figure out how the authors did it and all that stands between you and the next AVATAR is several hundred million dollars.

For the purpose of full disclosure (sounds like a movie starring Marlowe and Denise) Rocco Simonelli was the author’s colleague at the School of Visual Arts for 10 years. He is every bit as funny in person.

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