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If "THE FALL GUY" (2024) Were Submitted for Coverage

This weekend, I saw THE FALL GUY!



I was super stoked to see this movie; it looked so fun and exciting in the trailers. Plus, I LOVE when movies really "go there" in some way. In this movie, they "went there" with the stunts.


However, I felt the story never really.... "got there." ;)


So I thought it'd be fun to write my thoughts in the form of a coverage report! (click here to jump right to it) (and click here to jump to the coverage summary)


As you'll see from what I wrote, a movie doesn't have to have a perfect story to get made.


So what does a movie need in order to get made?

Simply: a company that wants to make a certain type of movie.


That's it!


Quick disclaimer before we get into my "coverage."


I analyzed the movie as if I were reading the script version of it. So none of what I comment on will have anything to do with acting, directing, or any other aspects of the filmmaking itself -- just the story.


I approached this coverage as if I were reading THE FALL GUY for a studio who wanted to make this type of movie, and as if this were the first draft I'm seeing.


....... Okay another comment before we get into this, I am FULLY aware I'm a tough critic. I mean, just look at what one of the companies I read for said about me:

Mic is in the top 25% toughest script readers

And I'm going for that #1 toughest reader spot this year ;)


But it's only because when I'm analyzing a story, I'm looking to help make it the best it can possibly be.

Does a story have to be the best it can possibly be to be considered good? NO!

My job is to point out opportunities for improvement.


SO! Regardless of what I have to say here, this movie got made and is earning millions of dollars! Which, at the end of the day, in the film business, is the most important thing.


Now enough preamble! Let's get into it.




 

COVERAGE REPORT


Rating: Consider with revisions


Title: THE FALL GUY

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime

Length: 126 minutes (pages)


Logline (from IMDB): A down-and-out stuntman must find the missing star of his ex-girlfriend's blockbuster film.


Revised logline (based on notes below): A retired stuntman becomes the star of a real-life action movie when he agrees to do one last job that isn't what it seems.


Reader Comments:

Just when it seems like the action in "THE FALL GUY" has reached its peak, the stakes rapidly heighten and another killer set piece begins. This story is non-stop thrills, with everything audiences love about action movies, from car chases to death-defying stunts to giant explosions that surely no one could survive... But our hero, COLT SEAVERS, a former stuntman who becomes involved in a whirlwind of chaos after agreeing to work on one last film, comes out on top every time. The set pieces and stunts are the main attraction of this script, and these alone will certainly appeal to a wide audience -- and of course provide excellent marketing opportunities.


At its core, this is the action movie to end all other action movies. With such a fun, silly, and campy engine to fuel the story, it was disappointing to see the plot often divert from what should have been its natural state to focus on a love story that never quite lands. Although the first act puts the romance front-and-center, there's a lot of plot to cover that's completely separate from this aspect of the story. So it's moved past pretty quickly when Colt learns the real reason he was hired on his ex-girlfriend's directorial debut movie is to help find the missing lead actor, not because his ex, JODY MORENO, wanted him there.


Additionally, the often forced romance storyline took away from time that was needed to properly introduce characters, streamline and clarify the crime/mystery physical plot, as well as opportunities to flesh out Colt's personal arc. For a protagonist who endures so much over the course of the story, it's somehow vague what he learns in the end or even what his motivation was for doing any of this.


CHARACTERIZATION

Because the plot has a lot of moving pieces that need to be established throughout the script, there's less room to flesh out supporting characters. There are several scenes throughout the script where we see two characters engaging in what should be funny banter, but because of the lack of proper character-building leading up to these beats, the comedy tends to fall flat. This can even be seen at many points in the relationship between the two lead characters.

Despite an action-based premise with plenty of opportunities for physical comedy, the script often opts for dialogue jokes to drive the humor. But if we aren't given the chance to get to know the characters, the comedy doesn't land as well as it could.


STRUCTURE

The story goes on for quite a while before we learn what's truly going on. Although this is clearly intended to support the mystery of why the actor TOM RYDER has gone missing, we go far too long without knowing the crucial information that there's a sinister reason behind it. Yes, Colt does see a dead body in Ryder's hotel room, but there's no clear connection between this dead body and Ryder's disappearance.

For all we know, Colt was given false information and this hotel room isn't Ryder's -- there's no evidence to support that it's his room or, if it is his room, that he was even there recently. There could be some sort of visual clue, or further context in another scene, to support that Ryder is involved in the death of this man.

We only find out around the midpoint that Ryder accidentally killed his stuntman. At this point, the stakes are much stronger and the plot becomes far more interesting to follow. Now it goes beyond a missing actor who's likely just on a bender like we've been led to believe -- it's a missing actor on the run trying to escape being charged for murder. It would be beneficial to introduce this aspect of the plot sooner, so we as an audience can have a stronger reason to become invested in this journey.


COLT'S ARC + MOTIVATIONS

In the opening scenes, Colt narrates over the day where he suffered an injury during a stunt-gone-wrong that ended his career. He explains how important stuntmen are and how little they're appreciated despite everything they go through. It seems this theme will drive Colt's arc, but instead, once the plot truly begins when he agrees to work on Jody's movie, his arc is driven by his want to rekindle his relationship with Jody, who seemingly wants nothing to do with him.


This makes it difficult to want to root for him, until of course around the low point when we learn of his own stakes in this plot: Ryder is trying to frame Colt for the murder of his former stuntman, then kill him so it looks like a murder-suicide.


Once it gets personal, the plot feels more intense and engaging, which points to a missed opportunity to reframe the narrative so it's less about the romance and more about Colt's journey to prove himself to himself.

Like mentioned in the beginning of the story, Colt lacks proper recognition for his hard work (people don't believe in him), then he suffers an injury and leaves his career for good (he doesn't believe in himself), and now he has to do the very thing that ruined his life in order to save himself. He basically becomes the star of a real-life action movie despite wanting nothing to do with the film industry anymore, and through this journey, he learns to believe in himself again. THAT's a strong, compelling narrative with a clear theme that's pushed aside in favor of an underdeveloped romance plot.


COLT + JODY ROMANCE

The story may actually be stronger without the romance plotline at all, but if it must stay, there are opportunities to better integrate it into the main storyline so it plays more effectively. Mainly, by clarifying Jody's stakes in the physical plot sooner, and potentially by rethinking the sequence of events on the set.


There's no clear, direct connection between Colt's desire to win Jody back and his mission to find Ryder, the missing star of Jody's movie. Although the only reason he agrees to search for Ryder is so that Jody can continue making her movie, it feels like a fruitless endeavor, especially since Jody doesn't seem to care that Ryder is missing, his absence has no effect on the making of her movie (that we can see), and she has no idea her producer, GAIL, tasked Colt with finding him.


Put simply, Colt is setting out to solve a problem for someone who doesn't know he's doing it and doesn't care about the problem to begin with (and plays hot and cold re: a potential relationship with him for most of the story).


Gail does mention to Colt that they need to get Ryder back so the movie can be completed. However, she does not mention what we learn around halfway into the story (when Colt overhears a PA say it to someone else), that Jody will be put in "director jail" if production shuts down her debut film. If Gail had made it clear to Colt that this is Jody's ONLY shot at being a director, it would help motivate why Colt goes to such great lengths to help Jody without her knowing he's doing it.


The stakes can be reinforced along the way as the production begins to fall apart when Jody runs out of scenes to shoot without the lead actor. Maybe there could be a beat where the studio executives come to visit the set, and they don't like what they're seeing. Anything to directly connect Ryder's absence to Jody's stakes (her only chance to be a director) and Colt's motivation to solve this problem.


The romance plot would also land a bit better if more time were spent in act 1 fleshing out the relationship between Colt and Jody. What we're mainly seeing is a bit of flirting, with no clear indication as to how serious they are about each other. It would be great to maybe see a brief scene where they're not on set -- something where the chemistry between them can really play out, and provide a "goal" for us as the audience to want to see these two achieve by the end of the film. Without a clear definition of the height of their relationship, it's difficult to identify what we should be rooting for.


Overall, clarifying the stakes and connecting the romance to the main plot more, in addition to fleshing out Colt and Jody's relationship in the opening few scenes, will help this storyline feel more natural to the plot.


MAIN PLOT LOGIC HOLES

Although overall the plot made sense and was compelling once all the moving pieces were established, there were a few moments that could have used further clarification and/or a stronger set-up.


First, the fact that Jody, a first-time director, is making such a big budget movie... It's the least believable aspect of this plot. It would really only make sense if she were put in this position because the producer, Gail, is setting her up to take the fall for Ryder's crimes. However, this isn't the case -- she's already the director of the film before Ryder kills his stuntman.

It may be worth considering restructuring her storyline so Gail promotes her to director after the murder, without Jody knowing this is the reason. This not only increases the stakes (Jody would be under more stress + more desperate to make the film work if she's stepping in to complete it for someone else / being given the chance to prove her worth), but also clarifies how she ended up in this position as her first directing gig.

When this truth is revealed, it could serve as a strong low point for Jody. Also, learning that she was only named director for this film because Gail knew it was going to fail would more properly motivate her + Colt's actions in the climax when they pull off a major stunt that could potentially ruin the entire movie they're filming.


The other main concern was it wasn't entirely clear why Ryder made Colt's stunt fail in the beginning of the story. Although this is an excellent twist that ties Colt to the main plot in a personal way (and adds more depth to his internal arc -- he himself wasn't the cause of his downfall, it was Ryder! He never had to stop believing in himself!), it lacked a strong enough motivation on Ryder's part for this beat to truly land.

It would be helpful to seed Ryder into the story more, so we can get to know him as a character and understand his motivations. Ryder does tell Colt he sabotaged his stunt because he felt Colt was stealing his thunder, but when we see this scene play out in the beginning, the focus is almost 100% on the romance between Jody and Colt, providing very little opportunity to set up Ryder's arc effectively (which is further proof that the heavy focus on the romance is hindering several aspects of the main plot).


A major factor in the plot is that Ryder is missing -- but does he need to be missing from the start? This is one of the main reasons we don't have enough time to get to know him. Consider showing a brief scene (before Gail calls Colt to offer him the job) where Ryder is on set, acting pompous and entitled + demanding the stuntman hide his face more. This would help clearly establish a pattern of behavior for Ryder, solidifying this trait about him. A scene like this would also introduce us to the stuntman so we can actually know who he is when we later see him dead in the ice bath, which will draw a clearer connection between Ryder and the dead body immediately.

Additionally, showing some of the tension on set before Jody is promoted would introduce the stakes upfront (Jody is having to save a movie that's already not working well), and more clearly motivate Ryder murdering his stuntman instead of it being mostly an accident like it currently plays as. If Ryder was conniving enough to cause Colt's accident in the beginning, it would only make sense for him to be conniving enough now to intentionally murder his stuntman for the same reasons he sabotaged Colt.


Lastly, in the climax of the story, it felt contrived that the only way Colt and Jody could get a confession out of Ryder was by catching him off-guard in a surprise car chase stunt. Although it is funny that Colt is trying to force a confession out of Ryder while speeding around recklessly in the desert, it seemed like we still could've had this fun stunt in addition to getting the confession in a more logical way.

All they really need to get Ryder to confess is have Colt talk to him one-on-one. So what if Jody lures Ryder into a trailer, where Colt is waiting for him, and someone else is secretly filming? They get the confession on tape, then Ryder runs to the DIT to steal the footage. He could then get into the stunt car in attempt to flee the scene, but Colt gets inside with him, and the set piece can continue pretty much as is from there.

Separating the confession and the car chase will help this climactic beat feel less distracting, and more believable.


MAIN TAKEAWAYS

This action movie to end all action movies contains various unique, marketable set pieces and stunts that have the potential to attract a wide domestic and international audience. However, the underdeveloped romance plot often forcefully overshadows the main storyline, which was complex enough to require more clarification and streamlining than the length of the story (with all the elements included) allowed. This script would benefit from being refocused to center the protagonist's arc in a way that isn't solely motivated by romance, but instead on his journey to believe in himself while embarking on the high-stakes physical plot the story revolves around.



 

WHEW!


Believe it or not, that's not all I had to say.



But usually when a story has larger structural issues like mentioned above, I tend to stay more "big picture" in my coverage even though I take very specific / detailed notes regardless of what I'm analyzing.


If you're curious, here are the "page notes" I wrote down as I watched the movie (revised after the fact only to include the characters' names after i learned them hehe. everything else here is what i thought, as i thought it):


PAGE NOTES (rough)

  • didn't need to see colt's entire walk up to ryder -- could've just cut to ryder saying that the jawline is clearly off / there's too much of colt's face


  • cut the trailer scene in beginning, it gives us nothing that the walkie talkie cute chat doesn't already provide. or replace the trailer scene with something that shows these two outside of work. what are they like away from it all? what does the best of their relationship look like?


  • valet guy could've said "don't do any crazy stunts with my car, wouldn't want that to break too." or something that alludes to colt's accident.


  • should've seen colt doing a car stunt at some point in the opening since car stunts are mentioned and seen so much later on. we would have no idea he's a stunt driver as well until he's on set -- only that he's a stunt man.


  • seed in colt's nervousness to perform stunts in the parking lot driving scene to support his nervousness on the beach


  • is colt an unreliable narrator? he said in the beginning that jody stopped contacting HIM, but in the directing scene, she makes it pretty clear that HE didn't contact HER. if he wasn't telling the truth in his voiceover, why? is there a reason the audience shouldn't trust him?


  • "i can hit the rock better now" is hilarious


  • the lengthy directing scene at first doesn't seem to work but it goes on so long it becomes funny. then goes on too long and feels redundant. could've used some fast cuts back to colt doing the stunt over and over as she gives super minute directions that are clearly just about her issues with him as a person


  • a lot of jokes are too inside baseball re: film industry, or we simply don't know enough about the characters for it to be funny. the conversation between gail and colt in trailer falls flat even though it's clearly meant to be funny. we don't know gail or honestly even colt well enough for this banter between them to land. and the post-it note joke about ryder makes no sense without any set-up; we've never seen this man with a post-it.


  • montage of the relationship would play better when he's on the plane heading to set. he could be hyping up the good times he had with jody in his head, only for it all to be destroyed shortly after he arrives and she wants nothing to do with him. we need more context for their relationship anyway, we have sooo little heading into the set scene.


  • the girl in ryder's house attacking colt is funny but makes no sense. why is she going so hard? who is she? this speaks to a larger issue -- the movie overall lacks a lot of context on character but tries to source the comedy from characters.

  • why did jody call colt literally right after leaving the hotel??? also why was she in the hotel and where were she and gail going?


  • love story has absolutely nothing to do with physical plot. jody should be mote affected by ryder's absence, which motivates colt to go find him


  • wish we saw jodi in act 1 talking with colt about how she would fix the movie's story so when she does it later for her own movie it feels like old times. this could also plant the seeds of her becoming a director in the beginning, because otherwise it's just like "oh yeah, this girl? she wants to be a director" and then suddenly she is.


  • finding out ryder killed his stunt double would be good midpoint (coming back later -- omg that was the midpoint. but it felt like the climax after that insane car chase. how long is this movie??)


  • dynamic between ryder and colt is hilarious; kinda wish we had more


  • don't get why ryder sabotaged colt in the beginning?? it's a solid twist but makes no sense. what is his motivation??


  • why would jody beat the shit outta this guy in her trailer when he isn't fighting back at all


  • is this movie is just an ad for the "i was made for loving you" song lol


  • how is this car stunt gonna convict ryder?? once they start talking in the car it makes sense, but still, why is this so complicated? couldn't they have gotten this confession without the stunt?


  • did the stunt coord know colt was alive? who all was involved in planning this stunt? clarify


  • i almost wish gail put jody on this movie BECAUSE she could easily make her take the fall for the crimes, instead of her legit being the director and then the murder randomly happening


  • jody has 2 low points. karaoke and when she thinks colt is dead. this is why the midpoint felt like a climax -- it happens right after jody's first low point.


  • colt is not exactly an active protagonist, or at least it's not clear why he went through all this. stakes of director jail should be clear upfront so we know what is motivating him.


  • colt falling backwards out of the helicopter with his two middle fingers up is funny af.


 

Soooo you've seen how I analyze a story. Why not submit yours for Revision Notes, which is most comparable to the coverage above? ;)


I don't just write educational blog posts, y'know... I'm running a business here too 💅


Now that the shameless self-promotion is out of the way, that's it for this post! Can you believe it?!



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4 commenti


Ospite
10 mag

Question. Why did you make the logline more vague than the IMDB one?



Mi piace
Mic
Mic
10 mag
Risposta a

i did it to reflect what i suggested in the coverage -- to frame the narrative from colt's perspective and re-center the plot on the selling point: "a retired stunt man becomes a real-life action star."

this is a huge shift in how the story is presented, which likely means the specifics of the plot would change quite a bit in order to support this new idea, so i left it vague.

i also worded the logline this way to make it clearer upfront what the marketable idea of this script is.



Mi piace

There's always room for improvement in the movie industry, especially now.

Mi piace

Ospite
07 mag

Me @ this review


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